52. The Power of a Mysterious Technique
Is it that surprising my opponent landed a spell? Felmenia and Lefille rush up to Suimei as the small shadow scurries off into the night.
Felmenia says, “Suimei-dono!”
Lefille says, “Suimei-kun!”
“….” Suimei, despite receiving their gazes, examines the tenacious, black, mist coiled around his left arm.
Felmenia says, “Suimei-dono…. How are you feeling? You appeared to have been afflicted by that person’s dark magic….”
“Yeah, it hit me. It passed through my fortress’ walls.” Suimei holds his left arm out to her and reveals the dark magic still clinging to it. Even though his glove and the cuff of his shirt remain undamaged, the black mist did penetrate through his fortress’s walls; black bands are coiled around his arm and hand. The sections of skin they cover are drying and wrinkling.
“Th- that is?”
Suimei speaks with a grim expression as he says, “Where it got me. Even among astral attacks, it’s pretty powerful. It doesn’t just stop at the astral body, but goes on to influence the flesh.”
Lefille stands on her toes to get a better look and says, “Are you going to be alright?”
Suimei speaks as though his situation is someone else’s problem. “Not one bit. It’ll rot off if I don’t do anything about it.”
Felmenia says, “That’s a serious problem! You need recovery magic! Wait, would recovery magic even be able to heal this…?”
“Oy, oy, calm down.”
Lefille says, “What are you saying, Suimei-kun! Necrosis isn’t some trivial issue!”
“It’s fine. Since my astral body was damaged, recovery magic won’t have any immediate effect.”
Felmenia breaths out a sigh of relief at Suimei’s nod. To her, the wrinkles on Suimei’s arm look terrible, but his actual condition— might not be that bad? Receiving a deep wound to the astral body is similar to receiving a terminal illness. It is not an ordinary injury. Time is needed for its restoration. The left arm will simply not be useable for now?
Suimei once more looks at his left arm. At that moment, a patrol whistle rings. “….And the military police arrive.”
–Faster than a speeding ★ Cute Star–
The late military police came running to investigate. Suimei and his group prepared themselves for rigorous questioning to the events that transpired, but the military police indirectly seemed to know what happened. They only asked a few simple questions.
—At present, Suimei wonders if any of that served a purpose. The military police came late, asked a few questions, and then left as if everything was already resolved. Even if they came to investigate of their own accord, this isn’t a situation where they can just look the other way.
According to what Felmenia heard, the military police find Elliot to be a nuisance. He may be the Yuusha and cooperating with the Empire to resolve the coma incident, but to the military police, he’s an outsider who barged in on their investigation, usurped control, and now uses them as his hands and feet. Furthermore, all of the achievement will go to Elliot. That this cooperation is the result of the Salvation Church isn’t enough to motivate them to perform better.
Apparently, the soldiers[i] are secretly wondering if the coma incidents won’t be resolved by someone else. Suimei, as a “someone else” candidate, is included in those wonders. Of course, even then none of them are willing to cooperate and anticipate any help he could provide as acquiescence. Still, the military policemen who always reek of alcohol are placing their bets on Felmenia. That fact implies a different truth. Regardless, none of that seems to be the primary reason for the deteriorating situation and growing negligence.
Suimei sighs as he looks at the military police. The lack of progress in their investigation makes them listless. The consultant they brought in from the spell caster’s guild to make up for their lack of knowledge on dark magic does nothing more than shakes her[ii] head. That’s when the military police cordoning the area become excited.
A man wearing a military uniform soon steps forward through the gathered soldiers. “—What a coincidence. I heard that the person here was the Yuusha’s opponent, but to think it was you.”
His voice and appearance are familiar to Suimei. He met the man a few days ago when Liliana was leading him to the library. “If I recall… we met a few days ago. You’re with the Imperial Army. Why are you here?”
The man closes his eyes, but his expression doesn’t change at Suimei’s question. “There’s no need for me to tell you that. You only have to do one thing right now. Tell me why you are here, Suimei Yakagi.”
Did he hear my name from Liliana? To Suimei, the man’s tone is more of an order than anything else. He straightens his posture and asks, “Sorry, but would it be alright to have your name?”
“I am a Communication’s Colonel of the Imperial Army, Rouge Zandyke.”
Where have I heard that name before?
Lefille raises her eyebrows in surprise and murmurs, “One of the Seven Swords…”
–More Powerful than a ★ Cute Star–
Magic lamps illuminate the surroundings of the latest coma incident a bitter orange. Many restless shadows are created by their burning lights. Rouge, having sent Suimei and his party home, watches the military police carry out their investigation when a small shadow in military uniform appears.
Rouge speaks without turning his head. “—Where have you been, Liliana?”
Liliana becomes nervous as she says, “Following the, evening wind…”
“Didn’t I tell you to not go out needlessly?”
Liliana shrinks upon being reprimanded. “I, apologize…”
Liliana flinches as Rouge continues, but he doesn’t pay it any mind. “Well, no matter. Have you been informed about the situation?”
“I was able to, hear most of, it from the military, police.”
“Is that so? What is your interpretation of their situation?”
“No change. The criminal’s target, was another aristocrat of poor standing. Right now, without conducting a proper, survey or filing a proper, report, they have decided to gamble, on the Yuusha.”
“Of poor standing… you say?”
Liliana nods at Rouge’s repetition of her words.
The military police’s lack of motivation is no surprise. Acting for the sake of the Empire’s upper class on behalf of the Salvation Church chips away at their moral. Furthermore, the Yuusha who joined them is an ineffective leader. Even with his help, they still arrive late to the scene of the crime. Neither the Yuusha nor the Aristocrats will be a threat. —Those are Liliana’s thoughts as she turns her back to the crime scene—
“Although this situation seems to be in my favor, it has stirred up those around me.”
Is he complaining because of the difficulties these incidents bring him?
There is no disputing that the aristocrat she assaulted today, along with all the aristocrats that she has assaulted until now, feel uncomfortable with Rouge’s rise from commoner status. Worse, they’re also maneuvering to remove him. Right now, those people, having been targeted in a series of incidents, are casting unnecessary suspicion on to the Colonel.
Her actions are wrong, but if she becomes negligent in eliminating those aristocrats due to fear, they will sooner or later crush Rouge as they bury him in their envy. Therefore, even if her actions come at the cost of herself, she will do anything for the Colonel, for her adoptive father who picked her up and raised her.
While Liliana is in the middle of strengthening her resolve, in the middle of apologizing to him in her heart,
“Ye- yes?” Having her name called out while lost in her thoughts exposes her inattention.
Rouge, however, doesn’t reprimand her, but instead gazes at her as though she were about to disappear. He says, “About that Suimei Yakagi from before.”
“Something about, that man?”
“I want more information about him. Get in contact with him and investigate.”
The man who’s both Liliana’s adoptive father and superior officer issues an unexpected order. She says, “Investigate Suimei, Yakagi?”
“Correct, he appears to have come in contact with the culprit. He mentioned it by chance during my interrogation.”
“Colonel, do you believe he’s, the culprit?”
“That’s unlikely, but I am curious.”
“….Understood, Colonel.” With that said, Liliana follows Rouge and joins the military police with their investigation.
–Able to Leap Tall ★ Cute Stars in a Single Bound–
Ever since the encounter with the culprit behind the coma incidents, Suimei has spent his time researching to cure to the dark magic infecting his arm. Currently, he’s in a corner of the Empire’s esteemed library skimming over the spines of books.
“Hmmm, dark magic…”
According to Felmenia, one of this world’s experts on magic, out of the eight attributes of magic, dark magic has the distinction of being particularly difficult to wield. More than that, however, falls outside her field of study. She also mentioned that a dark magic user[iii] resides in Aster, but that person’s reclusive nature makes asking for help impossible.
The vast collection of books offered by the Empire’s Imperial Library isn’t much help either. The few tombs available on dark magic are useless. The problem isn’t that wielding dark magic is heresy, but that the spell caster’s body will be destroyed without a strong aptitude for the element.
According to Felmenia and Lefille, very few users of dark magic appeared in the past. Furthermore, those aforementioned users all suffered premature deaths due to their bodies being destroyed. None of their journals or notes remain either.
Suimei loosens the bandages wrapped around his left arm. That person’s black mist breached the walls of his gallant, golden, fortress. The dark moisture still tinges his hand and arm, drying them up and covering them in wrinkles. Right now, dark red blotches are appearing on his skin.
“Just what is this stuff?”
Fire, water, wind, lightning, earth, wood, and light are physical existences. Dark element, however, exists neither as energy nor matter. Whenever people do talk about darkness, they refer to either something that absorbs light or an empty area. The same applies to outer space. It is considered to be lacking in light, not filled with “darkness.”
Then again, dark matter and dark energy do exist. Those topics exist to validate the laws of physics and are considered theoretical “apparent matter” with theoretical “numerical values.” In that case, the power of darkness brings those theoretical concepts into existence by inputting imaginary numbers into numerology. Combining numerical values with something that doesn’t exist in this world allows for its creation.
However, concepts such as imaginary numbers and “apparent values” won’t be understood in a world where mathematics is underdeveloped. They’ll remain mysteries for generations to come. Not even the side effects generated by dark magic will spur the development.
There’s also the issue of absolute emptiness— enlightenment on that topic can’t be deduced through normal ways of thinking. It can interfere in casting, block light, and unleash astral attacks that damage the spiritual body: is there a single force in this world that unites those characteristics?
Laughter bursts from Suimei while he’s immersed in those thoughts, “Fu, fufufufufufu…..”
Finally, that feeling of crashing against an unseen wall, that feeling of pursuing the unknown, to reach out into the impossible! This is what it means to be a mystic scholar! Suimei reconfirms that what he’s feeling is real. It’s what motivates him to keep searching. Most of all, now he can add dark magic to his list of mysteries.
The level of civilization on this world is much lower than his own. The current era is probably the Steel Age.[iv] No, it’s much older than that. Either way, he needs to adjust the laws and theories of science and magic that he follows to match the time period. “I wonder if I missed anything?”
Usually, when considering the subject of astral attacks, the average magician turns to the pagan concept of goetia. By borrowing the power of mysterious existences, humans can pierce the spirit shell and attack the untouchable astral body. Other systems allowing for the same effect include witchcraft, old grand magic, and yin yang curses. Even negative thoughts can harm another’s spirit and soul if they’re intense enough. However, even though magic is what placed Suimei in his current predicament, the magic of his current world revolves around the premise of utilizing the elements. That makes finding an exception on magic used on him impossible.
Except, I’m positive I felt a grudge clutch my left arm back then.
—That’s it! Back then I spoke completely on instinct. Feeling such a disgusting attack got on Suimei’s nerves.[v] Foul magic fueled by hate and resentment shouldn’t be manipulated without protection. He probably wouldn’t have gotten as angry as he did had someone else been the caster. Why is a child using this kind of magic?
An image of Liliana runs through Suimei’s head. The criminal is about the same age as her. If it is her case, then, as a magician, it’s his responsibility to show her the proper way of magic.—
I’m confusing myself. I need to organize my thoughts.
His thoughts are all over the place. He’s connecting loosely related ideas to one another at his own convenience and accepting them as truth. Even though he’s making such conjunctures right now, there is no guarantee they will turn out correct. For one, Liliana doesn’t use dark magic. Therefore, she can’t be that shadow. She doesn’t need to be shown the proper way of magic.
He needs to be careful with his assumptions. Right now, he needs to focus on dark magic. It’s a force fueled by negativity. Then what role does the element play. Wrong, the element is the catalyst needed to utilize dark magic in the first place. If so, doesn’t that make his original premise wrong? He needs to delve back even further to uncover the secret to manipulating that—
“—!? Wh- what? Felmenia?” The loud shout into his ear makes his head jolt up as his thoughts are scattered.
Suimei, shocked at her method of calling out to him, says, “Was there a point to that?”
“No, it was just an idea.”
Suimei waves his hand as he says, “…Sorry for taking up your time.” He then gestures towards the corner of his desk where he’s placed a grimoire and magical items needed to decipher it. Once she’s seated, he asks her about her investigations. “How was it?”
“Sorry, I was unable to gather much.”
Even though having collaborators keep an eye out would be the most helpful, “As expected, hardly anyone wants to cooperate with us.”
Felmenia skulks as she says, “The devout appear to be transmitting the news to the rest of the Imperial Capital’s citizenry. The military police, to the contrary, are being rather cooperative.”
“Despite their position as military police, they lack faith in Elliot-dono.”
“As you should be aware, even though your competition against Yuusha-dono is a recent development, Yuusha-dono had already been searching for the criminal….. When he first joined the search, he was presented to the military police as the Yuusha by the Salvation Church. They cooperated, offered him all the information they had, and set off to apprehend the criminal.”
Using the name Yuusha with the backing of the Salvation Church is a clever hand, but there is also no denying that such a tactic can deteriorate another’s good will.
Felmenia continues, “Well, the military police officer who let this information slip was inebriated and had many malicious grievances. I suppose something like this is normal for Elliot-dono.”
Yuusha Elliot has a more diligent personality than Suimei surmised from their conversation at the Twilight Pavilion. This time, however, that diligence is working against him. He is unable to notice it either because of how it made him unable to join in the search. His inspiration has led to the faithful deciding to shoulder the burden of searching for the culprit themselves.
Felmenia says, “Could the military police be using us as a method of retaliation?”
“I’d bet they are.”
“How repulsive, behaving in such a manner despite the suffering of the citizenry.” Felmenia sighs in an attempt to lure Suimei into agreeing with her rebuke.
Suimei pushes his index finger against his temple and explains that the military police have multiple reasons for their apathy. “That’s partially true, but I’ll tell you the rest later.”
“Understood. By the way, what happened to the aristocrat we rushed over to protect.”
“He’s currently receiving treatment at home, but like every other victim, is still unconscious.” Back then, Suimei could only watch from a distance, but the man struck by the small shadow’s spell was immediately taken away by the military police to their station. He wonders if he’ll also have to visit him to finish his investigation. “Well then, I ask that you continue with your task.”
–It’s, ★ Cute Star-Man!–
Suimei decides to take a short break after hearing Felmenia’s report. He makes small talk as they make themselves comfortable on their chairs. “That reminds me, I’ve been wondering, but how am I able to read books and talk with you?”
Suimei’s past few days in the Imperial Capital made him aware of the discrepancies in language. First was the dissonance he felt during his conversation with Elliot. He’s also able to read the library’s books without any problems despite them being written in a different language—
“That’s because of the hero summoning’s divine protection. I recall that we had a similar conversation once before.”
“I wasn’t in the mood to care back then, but now I’d like to hear the details. How am I able to communicate with you?”
“A translation spell is automatically applied to those invoked by the hero summoning ceremony. From my understanding, the level of comprehension is proportional to the summoner’s level of education.”
“In regards to you and your friends, my level of education… Language is translated when concepts I am familiar with match with those of your world. Words originally not from your world will be converted to match your pronunciation. Conversely, concepts I am unfamiliar with will come out in your native tongue.”
If translation is restricted to concepts that exist, that implies that conversations on topics without concept will be limited. Back when Suimei fought Felmenia, she couldn’t understand the term, “barrier magic.” Dark magic is another limit. Such magic doesn’t exist on Suimei’s world. The simple translation he hears was made by combining the word, “dark” with “magic.”
Felmenia holds up her bountiful chest with pride. “Fufufu, in other words, my knowledge is what supports both Yuusha-dono and Suimei-dono in their conversations and in reading and writing.”
Suimei sighs as he says, “You’ve been a great help…”
Felmenia then inquires on a topic she has been hesitating to broach. “By the way, Suimei-dono, how was your investigation?”
“No good. None of the reference material is of any help.” Suimei jokes about the hopelessness of his situation, but upon seeing Felmenia’s expression become stricken with sorrow, adopts a more serious tone. “However, I am in the process of coming up with countermeasures.”
“Yeah, that’s my current situation.”
“There is much we of this world do not understand about dark magic, either… Will analyzing it with only the knowledge form your world be enough?”
The information Suimei has thus far uncovered laces his tone with optimism. All that’s left is for him to observe dark magic once more. “I don’t think there’s anything magic can’t do. There isn’t anything on this world that can’t be uncovered. Well, that’s my opinion.”
Felmenia tilts her head and says, “There was something that caught my attention.”
“At the end of the dark spell caster’s chant, some words I had never heard before were added. They went…”
While Felmenia struggles to pull the words out of her head, Suimei says, “Argo, Lukla, Lagua, Skiot, Raphael, and Babylon… I believe.”
Felmenia’s pensive expression deepens as she says, “Yes, those. That was the first time I ever heard them. Just what could they mean…?”
“Excuse me for interrupting, but is everything alright?”
Suimei and Felmenia turn towards the voice. Standing behind them is a man dressed in the library’s white staff uniform. Suimei recognizes him from when he first came to the library. “Librarian-san? No, I’m just here for more research.”
The librarian smiles while saying, “Yakagi-kun…correct? You’re quire enthusiastic with your research today as well.”
Suimei, receiving praise for his diligence, gives a subtle smile while saying, “It’s nothing.”
Felmenia, unfamiliar with the man, says, “A man of the forest? Suimei-dono, do you know this gentleman?”
Is the phrase, “man of the forest,” supposed to mean elf? Suimei wonders if the term is an alias. After all, the librarian did introduce himself as an elf when they first met. He says, “This person is the librarian, Romion-san. He showed me around the first time I came here,”
“Is that the case? How unusual. From what I have heard, the forest people tend to distance their involvement with humans as much as possible.”
Romion gives Felmenia a wry smile. “I am often called eccentric for having left my native forest.”
Even if the conversation was self-propelled, the elves of this world match the descriptions of elves from Suimei’s world. They are forest people who close themselves off from the outside world. Suimei sets those thoughts aside and says, “Regardless, is something wrong?”
“No, I happened to be passing by and became worried after overhearing you mention dark magic.”
Felmenia’s eyes widen at Romion’s interest in the topic. “Are you familiar with it?”
“Yes, I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time studying it, so I am somewhat knowledgeable.”
–Cute Star ★ Man, Here to Fight for Truth, Justice, and the Cute Star ★ Way–
A discussion on dark magic can happen in the most surprising of places. Romion begins the moment he joins Suimei and Felmenia at the desk. He says, “Dark magic is one of the more powerful elements of the 8 attributes, fire, water, wind, earth, lightning, wood, light, and dark. No, saying dark. It is an evil magic… Why are the two of you researching it?”
“This,” Suimei holds up his left arm as he loosens its bandages.
Romion’s expression changes to shock. He readjusts his spectacles with a finger while saying, “That… that’s why you’re researching dark magic?”
Felmenia says, “Can you tell us anything based off what you see?”
“Before coming to this library, I was also a spell caster. My specialty was treating dark magic. Yakagi-kun, could you show me your arm again?”
Suimei, not having any reason to refuse, removes his bandages with a nod and holds out his arm.
Romion examines his arm for a while before releasing an admirable, “Ho.” He then says, “…The condition is stable. Normally, such a strong corrosive force of dark magic would have already reached the body’s core… Yakagi-kun, did you do this yourself?”
“Well, I just applied a healing spell that I’m familiar with.”
Romion’s expression does a complete one-eighty as he says, “No, that treatment was wonderful. I’ve never seen such splendid medical technique before. Where did you receive this dark magic?”
“Just from the culprit responsible for disturbing the city’s peace.”
“—That can’t be? You were targeted?”
Suimei summarizes his situation to Romion. He begins with the Goddess’ oracle commanding him to compete against Elliot and ends with his match against the culprit a few days ago.
Romion makes a grim face as he listens without interrupting. He sighs as he sort the information in his mind and says, “I see, that’s the reason… I’ve heard rumors about Yuusha-sama competing against someone, but to think that it’s your group.” He then fixes his pose and gives Suimei an earnest look. “How do I say this— Please stop.”
“You mean, stop searching for the criminal?”
“Yes, outsiders like me probably have no place in saying this, but your opponent uses dark magic. If you make any mistakes while receiving those spells, the outcome could be fatal. Just the shock of receiving a single spell could kill you.”
“Even so, I won’t abandon my companion.”
“But that shouldn’t be something to trade your life for. Granted, traveling with Yuusha-sama would be perilous…” Romion pauses for a moment, “A bit back, Yakagi-kun, you said Babylon. Are you familiar with that word?”
Felmenia frowns at his question. “You’re familiar with it…?”
“It’s an old word I haven’t heard in a long time.”
“If you are familiar, please, would you teach us about it?”
Romion gives Felmenia a solemn nod. “It’s a twilight name.”
“A twilight… name?”[vi]
“Correct, it’s a savage word born alongside our world’s magic. That cursed word is now lost to time, but has a special purpose— it amplifies the power of the dark attribute.”
“Yes, when it is added to dark magic, it increases the spell’s power by several fold. I believe dark magic users would most likely add it at the end of their chants.”
“Then, the dark magic user,”
“I’d dare say that the person becomes able to wield dark magic of considerable power.”
Felmenia holds her breath at Romion’s explanation. Romion then says, “I will say it once more, please stop. No matter how many lives you have, they won’t be enough.”
Suimei says, “However, we have no choice but to continue.”
“For the sake of your companion?” Romion releases a sorrowful sigh upon seeing Suimei nod. “If you’ll go that far, then asking you to stop would be pointless.”
“I’m sorry, even though we asked you for guidance, we’re ignoring your advice.”
“I understand, but you absolutely cannot let your guard down against the dark magic user.” Romion then bows while saying, “Excuse me,” and returns to his duties.
Felmenia has a somber expression as she says, “Dark magic with a twilight name… Suimei-dono?” Not receiving a reply, she turns towards him.
Suimei is lost to his thoughts. He sometimes mutters a few words while his gaze stares off into the distance. He glances towards the ceiling and says, “A… twilight name?”
T/N: You know, Felmenia’s prideful nature is kinda starting to grow on me… More importantly, we did it! New material! I didn’t think I’d finish it in time for this week. Collapses backwards The chapter was long and parts of it really had me stumped. Fufufufu, but I prevailed. Looks to the side to grumble This update would have been a lot better if once wasn’t released by skythewood and hikoki at the same time… I anticipated this, but still, it ticks me off. Pouty face
Anyway, I have a theory about dark magic. Maybe it’s that blessing from the evil god. That one that protects the mazoku from getting hurt. Romion did call it an evil magic.
Thanks for reading, if you notice any mistakes, please let me know,
[i] The text doesn’t specify anyone, it just says “they”. That could mean either the people or the military police. Since the context of this passage is what Felmenia heard, the next few lines could be read to mean the people. The few lines mentioning military police at the end are what convinced me to think “they” refers to the military police.
[ii] The text doesn’t specify gender.
[iii] The text refers to them as users instead of spell casters.
[iv] The text actually read the age of thermal fuel. That sounds like it means burning coal which implies metallurgy. I thought iron at first, but then comes the next line about that being too advance. People also use metal so metallurgy has been discovered. Whether by blacksmith or magic is another story, but metal can be used. Hence, I settled on the steel age.
[v] Another reading could be, Suimei was disgusted from having his nerves attacked.
[vi] The kanji when Romion says it can actually mean a few different things depending on the context. Felmenia breaks it down by sounding it out when she repeats and when those are translated, it means evening word. Evening doesn’t sound as ominous as twilight, so I changed it.