4.3 Arbitrary Disturbances
For some time now, the movements of the first years have been unnatural. Despite all the battles taking place, Loki believes it more prudent for combat to be avoided for a bit longer. Support to that premonition soon follows.
“Groups 11, 46, and 50 have left the designated area.”
While on the opposing side,
“Group 37 is leaving the designated area.”
A teacher hurries and slaps on a con sensor.
“Please respond. You’ve left the designated area. Please return, immediately!”
Loki and the other teachers watch in silence.
“Are you complying?”
[… … … …]
Not only is there no response, the noise signaling they are in contact stops.
Loki steps away during that short gap. The present number of reinforcement units are insufficient. They are not enough to keep up with the unfolding situation. Furthermore, during that span of time, another group deviates from their route.
Loki says, “Please continue monitoring.”
Loki takes command of the growing unrest without hesitation.
“Everything is alright.”
She is fed up by the dark clouds setting in over the headquarters. That the current arbitrary actions of the students are being selfishly made is obvious. Was I overconfident in my abilities?
Regardless, while she doesn’t know the reason for the current situation, she does know someone is actively going around hunting mamono. With a heavy heart, she goes to a con sensor and speaks as though she is admitting her mismanagement. “My apologies. There are 5 groups leaving the designated area. They…”
However, before she can finish responding, [I thought as much…]
“— —! You already knew?!?”
[I had a feeling.]
The sound of the ground rumbling carries over from the con sensor.
[Don’t worry. I’m on my way.]
“I will be troubling you with this.”
[I have an idea over what’s going on. I’ll reinforce them one by one just as they leave the designated area.]
“Understood. Their coordinates are…”
—Noble Diamond, Role Call!!—
Arus pulls back his chain just as the transmission ends. His surroundings crumble while a massive amount of something resembling black ash flutters about.
Arus expands his field of view before setting off. By using space interference magic, he searches for powerful mamono within a 1km sphere.
His brain can grasp and project three-dimensional space. By copying mamono as objects, he is able to learn their size and shapes. However, unlike Loki, he cannot filter them through the strength of their mana. As such, he is unable to accurately determine their ranks. He can only make conjectures based off his intuition and experiences. Yet despite that, his deductions aren’t too far off the mark.
Arus confirms that none of the surrounding mamono, regardless of their rank, are reacting to him. Afterwards, he opens his eyes.
“They’re the closest?”
He then takes off in their direction upon confirming so. Saying that he moves with god speed wouldn’t be unreasonable. Not even the trees, which should be a hinderance, slow him down. He merely uses them as footholds to spring himself forward.
The closest group is easily over 2km away. Arus covers the distance in under three minutes.
The group is startled by his appearance. Their vigilance is natural considering Arus is wearing a mask.
A man at the front of the group calls out to him. He has well kept, short, dark brown hair. In his right hand is an expensive looking and well decorated sword. “Bastard, who are you!?”
“A reinforcement unit dispatched from headquarters.”
The man clicks his tongue and rests his sword against his shoulder. “Che—! You already noticed?”
“You have left the designated area. Please turn back immediately.”
“Too bad, we’re going to keep going forward. Besides, as far as I can tell, there are no rules stating we can’t leave the designated area.”
“You’re the supervisor?”
“Yeah, what of it?”
The group is no longer functioning as it should. The supervisor is taking the initiative to hunt mamono and having everyone else follow along. Originally, the first years were to have the initiative while supervisor provided them with assistance. The current situation undermines the purpose for the combat training.
He’s probably one of those upperclassmen who were in the Director’s office.
The first years behind him tremble with fright as their eyes look all around. A young pupil in the middle of the group with a slender frame speaks up. He says, “Senpai, let’s do what this man says.”
“Shad up, don’t order me around!! Don’t you want to improve your ranks? Then do as I say!”
The young student flinches into himself and shuts his mouth.
Arus says, “So that’s how it’s going to be?”
“Ahn?” As the supervisor turns around, Arus drives a knee into his solar plex. “——kahaa!!” He faints in an instant.
Arus catches him by his collar and drags him along while saying, “Aren’t there any decent people…”
With that resigned sigh, he glances towards the group. He speaks through his mask as he says, “Once you’re in the designated area, you can reach headquarters by heading directly west.”
The group stares at the masked and cloaked Arus with dumbfound amazement. However, they immediately return to their senses.
“I’ll take this guy. If you follow me, you won’t encounter any mamono.”
Arus turns west and takes off. His knife turns into a sword as a blade of mana extends from it. The moment a mamono appears before him, he slaughters it in an instant despite carrying a man over his shoulder.
In less than a minute, several hundred meters are covered. There, within the designated area, two members of the reinforcement unit are found waiting. As I thought, wearing a mask puts them on guard.
Once Arus calls out to them, they realize he isn’t a mamono and lower their AWRs. “I’ll immediately be heading off to the next group. Take this guy back to headquarters. Although, if he becomes a hinderance, feel free to toss him aside.”
They’re not aware to their supervisor’s deeds, but Arus contemplated discarding him a couple times during the trip.
“Group 46 has been retrieved. As expected, the supervisor was the problem.”
[Such a situation….]
“Loki, allow the reinforcement units to hit the supervisors as required.”
[Understood… However, contact has also ceased with some of the reinforcement units.]
“Che! Either way, dealing with the supervisors is somewhat more important.”
[Certainly, I will act accordingly.]
Thus, Arus recovers four groups. In each of them, the trouble originated from the upperclassmen usurping control. From the second group onward, he didn’t bother asking the supervisors any questions and just knocked them out. Each time, he considers feigning it was an accident.
The current time, judging from the position of the sun, is a while past noon. According to the schedule, the extra-curricular lesson should soon be coming to an end. Students should have started returning and be gathering at headquarters. Afterwards, only one sixth of the class, those who volunteered, will be allowed to continue until evening.
Arus takes off for the final group. At the moment, that group is pressing further and further away from the designated area. Their current location is past where Arus and Loki carried out their extermination early in the morning. Simply stated, while no mamono of A rank or higher have been detected, no one would be surprised if the harder to detect mamono of B and C rank were found prowling around.
[Requesting rescue for the aforementioned group 11.]
“On my way.”
Arus further increases his speed. His robe flutters, turning into nothing more than a glint to the mamono he dashes past.
–Five Noble Diamonds at Attention!–
“Cavsor-senpai, we’ll be leaving the designated area at this rate.”
“Forget that and just keep going!! “
Tesfia and her group have subjugated three more mamono since their first battle. Each time, the third year Cavsor criticized them and issued complaints. As such, she looked at him and said, “In that case, please give us an example.”
Then, after fooling around with an F rank mamono and defeating it, he changed and started actively searching for more. Yet even after leaving the designated area, they have yet to encounter any.
Cavsor shouts with blood shot eyes, “Hurry up… Hurry up and show yourselves. I’m gonna kill you!”
Tesfia’s group feel a sense of crisis, yet they are unable to abandon their upper classman. Tesfia doesn’t understand why she isn’t, but feels it might have something to do with her responsibility as an aristocrat and her rank.
I’d be betraying all that I am if I abandon him.
Cavsor grumbles a hex like mantra to himself built up from deep-rooted delusions. “With this I’m a triple digits too. At best, I can push back the Faver family for a year.” Whenever a branch blocks his way, he lops it off with his sword type AWR.
As aristocrats, the interactions within Cavsor’s Denbel family are nonexistent. However, the Denbel family head is a parent with similar standing to the head of the Faver family. As such, Tesfia’s name often comes up as a form of pressure.
The heavy responsibility to not lose against Tesfia drove Cavsor into a corner. He was hostile towards Tesfia from the start, but then she enrolled into the same academy as him. That coupled with her achieving a ranking similar to his own filled him with indignation.
Tesfia, even till the present, is unaware of those circumstance.
The extracurricular lesson provided Cavsor the greatest opportunity to bolster his position through combat. Yet, that brazen Faver girl, despite not having any combat experience, is massacring any mamono that appears before her. It’s like she’s on a hunt. This isn’t a hunt, yet she’s on a hunt.
Despite Cavsor having taken everyone outside of the designated area, not a single mamono has been encountered.
A group member’s face twitches with doubtful anxiety as she can be heard saying, “Somehow, isn’t this strange?”
Her unease spreads to everyone else.
Tesfia also finds the situation off. “That’s right…” Some how or another, she feels as though it’s a sign. As such, she immediately wants to encounter a satisfying mamono for Cavsor so they can return to the proper route.
Cavsor leads the group of six to a clearing with a lake. The lake is neither wide nor deep, but it carries a mysterious majesty to it. At most, its depth would barely be enough to submerge Tesfia. Regardless, the pristine clear water projects the lake’s bottom in minute detail.
Massive trees flood the lake’s surroundings. Nothing there can be considered small. Sunlight filters down through the leaves, creating various beams of light.
Their fascination is fleeting— — A sound carries down from above.
Everyone looks up at the same time. A massive tree appears before them. While its age is undeterminable, there is no question it is oldest and most solemn of the verdant sea. At it’s peak… looking down at them, upside down, with eyes full of hostility is a 20m wide spider-like mamono.
“— — — —!!”
A school girl’s hand rises up like a marionette’s and she falls over while saying, “What… that…”
The members of the group turn their heels on the girl and take off like rabbits without looking back.
“Do… doing something… that…”
“Impossible, impossible, impossible, impossible… we-we’re dead.”
Even the girl kicks and flails about in a desperate attempt to move away.
“— — — — — —!!!!”
Their cries go from being laced with doubt to despair.
“Why!? ….Why are these here!?”
The fleeing group members continue to cry out.
Tesfia looks towards them. No one has an answer that question. Tesfia herself can’t even come up with one.
Clusters of mamono that were hiding in the shrubs are revealing themselves. They appear in various shapes. There is no commonality among them. Slowly, they surround the group and cut off the path of retreat.
While their situation is the result of their actions, everyone can’t help but feel they were lured in.
Their situation is desperate. Worse, the knowledge they have for distinguishing the ranks of mamono is not applicable for most of the mamono there. Still, everyone can clearly tell that the spider mamono before them is B rank. As there is no A rank mamono present, it is the strongest one there. Furthermore, while the surrounding mamono are of lower rank than the spider mamono, that are still stronger than the other mamono Tesfia and her group defeated.
A rumbling rises up from the ground. The spider mamono leaps off the massive tree. Its overall length is at least 8m long. Its mass and the pressure it gives off makes Tesfia’s sword look like rubbish in comparison.
The number of feet it has is indistinguishable. Each one is different and where they extend from isn’t clear. Not even its face can be told apart from its head.
No, there’s no mistaking its face.
Countless red compound eyes open over what was a smooth black carapace. Its widening mouth is recognizable at a glance. Not a sharp tooth can be spotted among its black teeth. They are flat for the sake of grinding its meals.
The sight of it saps everyone’s will to live. It’s as though they’ve been enveloped by small roots that slowly drain them.
Cavsor’s hand trembles as he raises his sword.
“Impossible, impossible… I won’t die in a place like this!”
Mana flows into his hand and he releases his third spell of the day.
At the same time he swings down his sword, several fireballs fly at the spider mamono. His invoking of several fireballs is mid-tiered magic, yet the spider mamono doesn’t avoid it. Instead, it just flings open its mouth.
The fireballs envelop the mamono in an explosion upon crashing against it, but the action is meaningless. Only a few smoking burns mark its exoskeleton. From the start, Cavsor’s fireballs lacked the intensity to overwhelm the mamono’s large build.
Cavsor collapses upon seeing the ineffectiveness of his spell. His AWR drops from his hand and he clutches his head.
The strongest spell Tesfia can use at the moment is roughly the same strength as Burning Shot. While an argument claiming her Icicle Sword is stronger can be made, the difference is insignificant. If anything, she doesn’t even know if the current situation allows her enough time to invoke the spell.
The mamono attacking at that moment wouldn’t be anything strange. As such, everyone in the group realizes their situation is truly hopeless.
Tears birthed from fear prove Cavsor no longer has any will to resist.
The mamono delights at his despair. It relishes his terror as he cries out.
Tesfia says, “Not yet, it’s not over yet. Don’t give up.” Yet, her words of encouragement are weak. She also recognizes the hopelessness of their situation.
“And do what?”
The question rebukes Tesfia. She naturally isn’t able to come up with a way to flip around the situation. No one there has the power to take down a B rank mamono. That much is obvious from the magic they possess.
Yet, Tesfia, despite knowing that, can’t just give up.
“That’s… but if we just give up like this, we’ll die for sure.”
The mamono slowly close in on them. The idea that they can attack at any moment obstructs proper thinking. The only thought popping up within Tesfia’s mind is that she can’t give up.
Tesfia says, “That’s right!!”
She rushes up to the fallen Cavsor and forcibly searches his pocket. She recalls that just before the extra-curricular lesson started, the Director distributed emergency flares to the group supervisors.
She pours her mana into the crystal sphere and it flickers white.
Help will come… with this.
“Help will come soon. Until then…”
No one listens to her words. Their situation isn’t one where they can buy time. There isn’t anyone there who doesn’t understand that even if they were a few seconds closer to headquarters, their current location is still far away.
Their desperate situation has not changed. Everyone else has already succumbed to fear. Tesfia is the only one still holding her AWR.
Tesfia goes up to Cavsor and grabs him by his collar.
“If you’re the supervisor, then please lend me a hand!!”
His eyes are moist with tears and his pupils shake with terror. Tesfia looks down and sees his pants are dripping wet.
“……! Why!?” Tesfia clenches her teeth as tears drip from her eyes. “We’re only here… because you brought us here…”
Tesfia take her group members who are no longer able to stand due to their trembling and drags them to one spot. Some of them, she finds, have even fainted.
“No worries. I’ll struggle until the end.”
She clears away her tears, but even then, they continue to fall. Still, she stops wiping them away. She then raises her face and channels mana into her sword.
Despite her heart being bleached with fear, her desire to live doesn’t falter. Not even her impossible situation douses it. As such, her mana responds with magic.
The spider mamono, despite the situation, doesn’t budge. It merely releases a ghastly ring from its mouth as it sneers at her. In turn, its enormous abdomen shakes up and down.
At that moment, Tesfia dashes for the nearest mamono. From what she can see, they’re all C and D rank mamono, but she can’t accept dying without doing anything.
The mamono have their feet frozen to the ground. Unfortunately, it’s only lasts a short moment. The C rank mamono break away with ease. The ice holding them crumbles as though it were a minor snag.
Tesfia doesn’t panic, not even for an instant. How her spell would turn out was questionable from the moment she used it. To begin with, she doesn’t even have the leeway to set up any tactics. She’s caught up in a hopeless struggle where she can’t hold back from unleashing everything she has.
T/N: Wow, this explains a lot to what happened in the manga.