3.6 The Preceding Day~ Bottom~ Resolving the Heart
“Nevertheless, Director, let us do something too.”
“This has already been decided. There won’t be any changes now.”
The argument Arus hears from just outside the Director’s office makes him hesitate on whether he should continue inside. Regardless, he knocks in order to inform those inside of his arrival. While he no longer feels knocking necessary anymore, he does so because it’s expected of him.
He then enters without waiting for a reply. Waiting for permission to enter is all he’d be accomplishing otherwise. As such, he receives his reply at the same time he enters the room.
According to general etiquette, Arus should have refrained from entering. As such, he can only blame himself for the troublesome situation he walks into.
Arus, aware that he’s early, intends to wait inside, but the situation isn’t what he expected. Five male students face Director Cisty from across her long desk.
He tries rewinding time by shutting the door, but is called out to before he can succeed. In an instant, the five men turn away from the Director and glare at Arus with open contempt for interrupting their conversation.
One of the men, who’s no more than just a student, says, “You… what business do you have with the Director?” He then turns to the Director so that she can reprimand Arus for his rude behavior. She, however, doesn’t criticize him.
Arus, finding the entire situation troublesome, gives a simple, “Private business.”
The Director then says, “Would you mind waiting a bit for me?” She then recommends he take a seat on the sofa, implying that him getting involved would be pointless.
Arus thus enters the room with a reluctant bow. Loki trails in behind him to the shock of the five male students. Although none of them make a sound, never would they have expected him to be with her, the 2nd ranked student within the academy.
The previous tense atmosphere returns as the leader of the group renews their argument. Those behind him all refrain from commenting while stealing glances at Loki. She and Arus, however, remain silent.
“Director, we would like to be made part of the reinforcement unit. We’re worried about casualties just like you. Don’t keep us from partaking in this lesson.”
“How much more do I need to repeat myself? There’s nothing more I can do at this point in time.”
One of the four students standing by says, “Director, we are nothing more than five people. Many among the second and third years are clamoring about this. This ordeal is much too harsh for fresh first years.”
Another says, “Everything would work out if you made us into floaters.”
The claims they make only offer a comparative advantage. In other words, rather than taking command of a group, they want to move around on their own in order to provide better cover for everyone else. It is a proposal that undermines the purpose of the extra-curricular lesson.
Arus is furious. His tone grows heavier with each word as he says, “That’s what this discussion is about.” He speaks with enough strength to even force the other students into taking a step back.
He then tires of playing around with those children and, despite wanting to say more, lowers his blade. This is something they’ll never come to terms to without experiencing it.
The five students then look towards the two seated on the sofa. “Loki-san, you’re also a first year. We’d like for you to say something.”
Arus is surprised that they are familiar with Loki. Then again, that might just be unavoidable at this academy once her rank is taken into consideration. The biggest proof to his thoughts is the courtesy they showed her despite her first year status.
That silver hair girl asks Arus for instructions with her eyes. He thus signals that he’s fed up with the situation and that she should properly deal with them so that they will leave.
Loki then rises while keeping her expression flat. “I understand, this situation certainly is cruel for my fellow first years. While I am certain the Director has taken the appropriate actions to ensure their safety, I am also able to sympathize with your perspective. As such, please begin by listing your achievements.”
Loki’s question sounds exorbitant, but it’s very much relevant. The claims of those five about their usefulness aren’t persuasive without proof.
She deals with them purely using only words. As such, instead of asking them their rank, she requests to hear their accomplishments. However, nothing they can have achieved will surpass Loki’s successes.
“No, we rank at the top of…”
Loki’s cuts him off. That they have no accomplishments to name is expected. Her tone is laced with shock as she says, “Then there is nothing more for you to say. How are you able to claim you’ll be helpful without actual combat experience? Such a thing is ridiculous.”
They are stealing away Arus’ time by arguing unjustifiable claims. The words they speak are indirect. Loki’s expression is neutral, but before those men, comes off full of scorn.
Loki then glances at the door while saying, “We are finished here.”
The man once more turns to the Director while saying, “You’ll regret this!”
She also gestures to the door. “Nothing you say will convince me to reverse my decision.”
Fury crosses all five of their expressions. They say, “Excuse us,” and leave. The madman’s smile that crosses their faces as they shut the door behind themselves isn’t missed by Arus.
The Director collapses down on her desk with a sigh. The entire process left her drained. “Haa~”
Arus places a hand upon Loki’s head to praise her. Although the outcome wasn’t the one he desired, she did succeed in getting them to leave the room. He then says, “Who were they?”
“Second and third years.”
Arus isn’t interested in hearing about them and therefore makes his desires clear with his eyes. He says, “I understand that they wanted to join the reinforcement team, but for what reason?”
“Isn’t it for the sake of their careers? Subjugating a mamono has a considerable effect over one’s ranking. That increase will influence their position within the military after joining.”
Both Arus and Loki find the Director’s explanation difficult to understand. “Is that how it is? In that case, they’ve failed to understand that the reinforcement unit won’t be proactively subjugating mamono.”
“I wonder how they interpreted the unit’s directives in order to attain such a conclusion?” A troublesome thought flashes across Arus’ mind as the Director adds, “Those students just now all descend from different houses.”
Such is the common way to refer to distinguished aristocrat families with a deep history. Their members are compelled by a sort of karma into attaining a rank that doesn’t bring shame to their family name. Their lives can even be called destiny.
Arus also once heard from a superior that insolent behavior follows with them. As such, his ominous premonition only worsens at the revelation. Regardless, he keeps it to himself and merely says, “I see.”
Even if he didn’t, the phase for proposing revisions has already been passed. Rearrangements due to criticism can no longer be implemented. Any unfavorable develops that arise will just have to be dealt with. To begin with, deploying students as reinforcements is something that has never been anything more than speculation.
Allowing such a burden to fall upon Loki is also practically unacceptable. She already needs to consider how she will be dividing the reinforcement unit in relation to the power balance of the approximately eighty groups. Her situation is one where adjusting the number of coordinators assigned to the reinforcement unit would be simpler.
Arus, however, can’t do anything to help her. He thus advances onto the main topic. “I’ll be deploying early tomorrow morning.”
He doesn’t explain why he refrains from heading out that night. Doing so would be tantamount to lecturing Buddha.
Mamono are more active during the night. No definitive explanation has been discovered yet, but at night, mamono are believed to have a characteristic where the wavelength of their mana undergoes a transition. The reason is because mamono are known to call out other mamono. If one is encountered, then it is said that many more will soon arrive.
As such, the true might of the mamono can only be encountered at night. Not because they become more ferocious, they’ve already reached that limit. Instead, those who encounter one will soon face an endless swarm from all sides.
Mamono will even gather from the blood of their own brethren. There are claims stating this is because of mana, but nothing is certain. Regardless, if Arus is to deploy for subjugation a day early, a hoard of mamono may end up being discovered the following morning.
The Director says, “I would appreciate if you could finish transporting the equipment.”
“That has already been taken care of. All that’s left is to drop everything off in the morning.”
Once the minor details have been confirmed, Arus says, “What about my combat clothes?”
“Right here, of course.”
The Director then reaches down and sets a case on top of her desk.
All this just to hand me some clothes is too much.
The Director says, “Here you~ go.”
Arus spins the case around and, despite his hesitation, unclasps the simple fastener. Since it comes from the Director, he’d be suspicious even if she didn’t set a prank. Anything could be waiting inside. This is all just needless worry.
His reaction upon opening the case is of silent discomfort. His first impression towards the outfit is that it’s weird. Yet, since he himself made the request, he has no right to complain about it. A single remark, however, is forgivable.
Arus’ face cramps as he says, “What bad taste.”
Behind him, Loki stands on her tiptoes. Once she gets a peek, her eyes shine.
“I wonder about that.”
The Director seems to believe expressing ones true emotion is better than holding it back. As such, her reply succeeds in surprising Arus who says, “Ehh!”
Within the case is a black cloth. On top of it is an eerie, white, kusunda mask. Openings have been made for the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Arus picks up the mask and taps it with the back of his hand for a quick verification of its strength. It doesn’t possess any magic properties, but the strength is guaranteed. Even the military uses that material to make shields.
The mask is expressionless, but not all emotion was stripped from it. The appearance differs from Loki’s impassiveness. The concept of an expression seems to have been shaved off after hardening.
Arus requested a disguise that would prevent his identity from getting exposed. That which was provided satisfies his conditions. As such, he says, “Thank you very much.”
He then hands the mask to Loki and spreads out the cloth that was underneath. It reveals itself as a simple robe reaching down to his knees. The material is very familiar to him. Both he and Loki both utilized it during their time in service. That stated, it isn’t widely used by magicians.
Despite being a first class article that has been reinforced by having mana fibers woven into the fabric, it’s honestly difficult to move in. While it does allow a limited degree of tai sabaki, most magicians refrain from using it. Regardless of those reservations, they also respectfully acknowledge it as useful.
Magicians who choose to wear articles made from such material usually do so out of curiosity or because they are trying to raise their skill. Arus and Loki are some of the few who wear them as a preference. In Loki’s case, she wears them because Arus wears them.
Arus says, “We have finished confirming our duties for tomorrow and have received the requested item. Therefore, we’ll take out leave.”
The Director’s expression becomes bright and cheery as though her burden is being lifted from her shoulders. Then, as though she no longer has a care in the world, she holds up her hand to wave them good bye. “Yes, thank~ you. Although I won’t be present tomorrow, I’ll be counting on you.”
Arus, despite wanting to confirm if she understands the situation, does his best to shut her out. Loki and I cannot save everyone from harm. Everything the students go through will become experience for them.
He’s troubled that she might be expecting too much from him
–Noble Diamond cubed + Noble Diamond squared=?? —
Arus and Loki return to their dorm after a short period of time. Their visit to the Director’s office took less than an hour.
As of that moment, the several teachers who will be assigned to headquarters has already been decided. All of them have been informed to Loki’s position as their coordinator. Not a single one objected to her appointment. Her being a triple digits magician was more than enough to shut their mouths.
Their main role will be monitoring the situation from beyond Loki’s 1km detection range. Also, thanks to the military temporarily granting access rights, they can even tap into residential detection magic. While the residential detection magic is nothing more than insurance, it has a high detection rate. Furthermore, it will only be used during emergencies.
The students will have tracking chips implanted into them so that their movements can be tracked. They are also being provided with signal flares.
Due to the circumstances, low ranked mamono are being ignored. Even then, not much change is seen. The protective barrier emitted by the Tower of Babel prevents weaker mamono from getting too close.
Arus and Loki finish their preparations for the next day and then, a bit earlier than usual, turn in for the night. They close their eyes knowing that next day’s extracurricular lesson is nothing more than a variation to their peaceful lives. For them, their tranquil days remain undisturbed.
Only being unable to conduct research could disrupt Arus’ serenity, not concerns. The obstructions he currently faces are nothing more than spice. Only later does he come to regret such notions.
Most students that night are unable to sleep due to their anxiety. The pair sharing a certain spacious dorm room aren’t exceptions. That silence currently lays between them isn’t their intention.
“Let’s do our best tomorrow.”
Alice understands that the courage being presented to her from atop of the neighboring bed is nothing more than a strong front. She and Tesfia are sharing their gloom with one another. “You too, Tesfia. You’ll take them down one after the other. If you find yourself out number and separated, retreat for a bit.”
“I know that. Alice, don’t forget to be careful.”
Bitter smiles cross their faces as their expressions relax.
Alice’s worry stems from her concern towards Tesfia’s group. Due to the groups being created through a distribution of rankings, many of her group members are lower ranked students of the same grade. While Alice could be said to be in a similar situation, there is a difference.
While both Tesfia and Alice are being supervised by an equally ranked, four digits, upper classman, Tesfia’s supervisor doesn’t have a good reputation within the academy. The third year Cavsor Denbel is an overbearingly prideful aristocrat who looks down on his underclassmen. Even Tesfia, who ranks only slightly lower than him, faces a difficult challenge in passing him her opinions.
“Alice, if you get defeated, run away immediately.” Tesfia then reminds her that mamono assemble at the presence of blood.”
Alice accepts Tesfia’s gentle warning without any resistance. “Right.” She is also confident that her fears will end as a needless worry. “Everything will be fine. But, if anything does happen, Al will lend us his strength.”
Tesfia puts on another strong front, but unlike before, her voice isn’t laced with insecurity. “…! I don’t need something like that guy’s power. I’ll get through this on my own.”
Despite the trivial joke, Alice’s unease doesn’t dissipate. She says, “You’re right, this is why we’ve spent all that time training.”
“This’ll be easy.”
Alice smiles despite knowing Tesfia is kidding. Tesfia gets caught up in the moment and also grins.
Neither of them are scornful. They also aren’t high from their lessons. While claiming they aren’t afraid would be a
lie, they are comforted by the fact that they’ve been trained by the strongest
magician. Wrapped around their hearts is
a veil. One protects them from being
eroded by fear.
T/N: I did not expect to finish this chapter so fast. I’m not sure if I should hate myself for putting myself through such a struggle, or be happy at the progress of how fast I was able to get it out. That said, don’t expect all of them to be released this fast. Special thanks to M4L4DD1CT10N for sponsoring this release~
Not much happened from this chapter. What was already known from the manga was fleshed out a bit more. The next chapter will be the start of a new volume!
 Means teaching something to someone who knows more than you
 えっ！ という意外感が出ていることからも理事長は本心から最良だと思っているのだろう。
 Body defensive movement where the receiver moves out of the line of attack and places herself in a more advantageous position to counter from. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_sabaki?oldid=487817473
 教師達の役目は主にモニタリングだ。 ロキの探知範囲１kmから離れた圏外の探知。