Chapter 34

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The Occupation of Ophelis Hall (4)

 

The rain was still falling heavily outside.

The sound of rain falling echoed throughout the wide main hall of Ophelis Hall.

After Taylee and his party came in and closed the main entrance, the sound was replaced with the tapping of the rain hitting the outer wall.

Lightning struck, briefly lighting up the hall.
Ed was sitting in the center of the hall, greeting Taylee and his party with a blank expression.

“Ed… Rothstaylor…”

Though he had been excommunicated from the family and no longer had the right to call himself a Rothstaylor, for Taylee that name would always be the same.

“You… Why are you here, in Ophelis Hall?”

Taylee’s voice was cold.
It has been nearly half a year since the incident and his emotions had subsided quite a bit, but for Taylee, Ed Rothstaylor was a person he could never become close with.
……

Both Ayla and Elvira were well aware of this fact.

“……”

Elvira quickly understood the situation that was developing in front of her.

The marble floors of Ophelis Hall, which were always kept sparkling clean, were now covered with muddy footprints.
Cabinets had fallen over, no longer in place.

These were the leftover traces of the group of students that had gone charging through, and the man sitting quietly in the center had to be guarding the path.

“Hahaha.
What should I say? This is by no means a normal situation.
This is too fun.
It’s beyond my expectations.”

Elvira let out a loud laugh.
She didn’t know everything that was happening, but what she did know was that things were going to get interesting.

“I’m sorry but,”

Ed, who was still sitting in the middle of the hall, spoke.

“I can’t let you go any further than this.”

If they were to ask why? Naturally, there was no reason for him to answer.
There was no sign or implication that he would do so.
Even though he didn’t express it with words, it was written in his appearance as he sat there with his mouth closed and his face expressionless.

Following that, Elvira's response was obvious.

“Haha, this is too fun.
Do you really think you can stop me if I say that I'm going to pass?”

Elvira Aniston was a 1st year student in Silvenia Academy’s alchemy department.

Students in the alchemy department didn’t train directly for combat.
Most of the students focused on interpreting the structure of magic, exploring the properties and sources of matter, and analyzing and studying the efficiency of various herbs and magic reagents.

However, if you were to ask if it’s okay to ignore students in the alchemy department when it came down to a combat situation? The person being asked would have no choice but to shake their head in denial.

The students of the alchemy department owned all sorts of magic reagents, wore different types of magic tools, and could easily control the entire battlefield… They were joker cards that created variables in combat related situations and had the power to completely reverse the difference in power.

Seeing the students of the alchemy department overflowing with their uncontrollable antics even made the professors in charge of them admire them.
Even though the magic department was rumored to be full of freaks, the alchemy department was even worse than them.

Elvira Aniston was considered to be the biggest freak in the entirety of the alchemy department.

Though she didn’t specialize in direct melee combat or magic, she was at least at a level where she wouldn’t be pushed around by a 2nd year who could only use beginner magic.

Elvira chuckled loudly.

“If you don’t want to get hurt, you’d better move aside.”

Already, Taylee was giving Ed a look dripping with hostility.
The fact that Ed, who had very little to do with this situation, was sitting in such a place and blocking their way seemed to have made him fully aware that something was wrong.

It didn’t seem that this story would end with a peaceful demonstration and statements from the lower students.
That gut feeling began to bother the entire party.

Even then, the situation itself was still not too burdensome.

Even though Ziggs had once said that Ed’s beginner magic proficiency was quite excellent, right now his lack of absolute firepower and the sheer difference in numbers between them was something that couldn't be overcome.

It was 3 vs 1.

A swordsman that was starting to hone his skills, a magician who could use magic at an average level of a 1st year, and an alchemist who boasted the greatest skills amongst her grade level.

Ed continued waiting in the middle of the hall, looking quite intimidating.
But that didn’t mean he would be able to overcome the overwhelming gap in power.

Taylee drew his sword.

“What is your purpose here, Ed Rothstaylor? Tell me what is going on upstairs, right now!”

Ed didn’t open his mouth as he sat still, continuing to stare at the party.

“If that’s the case… I’ll just have to force you to open your mouth!”

With those words, the battle began.

Taylee kicked off the ground as Ayla got into position and started gathering mana.
The moment that Elvira tried to reach into her alchemy bag, which was filled with all sorts of reagents, Ed kicked his chair and stood up.

 

– Crash!

 

The chair was rolling around on the floor as Ed began to gather magic power in his hands.
Elvira could immediately grasp the flow and basis of that magic power.
It was the beginner level wind magic, ‘Wind Blade’.
But who was the target?

Taylee, Ayla, or Elvira?

Out of the three, the one that Ed, as a magician, had to be the most conscious of was Taylee.

The most important thing for a magician to keep in mind during battle was maintaining distance.
Victory could only be achieved when they could continuously gather magic power and cast magic.

In a battle between magicians, maintaining distance was less important.
But when there was a fighter that was skilled in close combat involved, it became the key to victory. 

As soon as the swordmaster closed the distance, a magician’s chance of winning was completely gone.
That meant that the first target that Ed would try to take down was Taylee McLaure, who was approaching him.

Meanwhile, if Elvira and Ayla’s supporting fire hit Ed… It would be an extremely easy victory for the subjugation team.

 

– Whoosh!

 

However, his ‘Wind Blade’ wasn’t directed towards the party… it was instead aimed at the sky.

The blind spot in their train of thought, the ceiling.

In the luxurious and large main hall, a single stroke cut the connection that was supporting the chandelier.
With a screech of metal, the huge chandelier crashed right into the center of the main hall.

 

– BOOM!!

– CRASH!

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Of course, there was easily enough time for Taylee to react.

The forward momentum of his body was offset by him having to quickly kick off the ground in the opposite direction.
After a short while, the main chandelier stood in the spot where Taylee had been moving.
Dust rose, obscuring the view of the hall.

“Kyaaah!”

“Ayla! Are you okay?!”

“I’m fine, Taylee! I just fell down because of the shock, that’s all!”

After the loud crash that filled the hall faded, the sound of people talking started to fill Ophelis Hall.
The students that were trapped in their rooms were starting to get anxious.
They seemed to be starting to seriously consider breaking down the walls and doors of the expensive building to escape.

The first one to succumb to that fear was Clevius, but it didn’t seem that he had come out of his room quite yet.

“Elvira! Are you—?!”

“Don’t worry about…!”

 

– Whoosh!

 

Elvira's bound citrus-colored hair flew.
A few strands were cut by the ‘Wind Blade’ as it flew through the air.

The blade’s target hadn’t been Elvira’s hair, but rather the bag she was wearing—the one that was full of alchemy supplies.
The leather was torn and the magic reagents that were inside were pouring out.

 

-CLATTER!

 

Ed choosing to send the large chandelier crashing into the floor without any hesitation had been completely unexpected.

They thought that, after trading blows for a few rounds, they would eventually be able to defeat him.

The antique interior of Ophelis Hall had given off an atmosphere that it should never be damaged.
The unconventional act of destroying that expensive-looking chandelier without any hesitation… How was he going to take responsibility for that?

It seemed to Elvira that Ed’s behavior was reckless, but Ed Rothstaylor was never the type of person to do something so drastic.

If things went according to plan, the entirety of Ophelis Hall would end up completely destroyed.
Nobody would care about the fact that the main hall was ruined, nor would they end up being held accountable.

Since he knew that fact quite well, to him even that magnificent chandelier was seen only as a tool to create a variable in the fight.
Of course, from Elvira’s point of view there was something wrong with Ed’s attempt to prevent the party from entering any further.

‘Looking at that…
That means that he’s serious, right? There must be something going on upstairs.’

Elvira looked back at the reagents that were scattered all over the floor.

All kinds of low-grade reagents had fallen, but none of them were broken.
After all, these were reagent containers that were reinforced using a spell cast by Elvira.
Until Elvira canceled the spell, the bottles wouldn’t lose their strength.

The moment Elvira tried to move her body towards them…

 

– FWOOOSH!

 

A pillar of fire extended from Ed, separating Elvira from the reagents.

That wall of fire that stretched out in a straight line was created by the beginner magic ‘Ignite’, but the scale and heat itself wasn’t normal.
It was the results and a clear sign of his extremely repeated practice and his mastery of ‘Ignite’.

Ed’s fire wall divided the main hall into pieces, as if he was cutting cake.

A 2-, 3-, 4-layered wall of fire.
The flames surrounding the chandelier separated the main hall into separate spaces.

‘This…
isn’t good.’

Building a battlefield naturally, like the flow of water, Ed Rothstaylor's judgment was quick and accurate.

Elvira was the core of the subjugation team.
However, the most fatal drawback for an alchemy student was that they had almost no direct combat power unless they could rely on their magic tools or reagents.

Even if it was just a bag full of her alchemy supplies, Elvira’s power was halved just because the contents had fallen out.
With the wall of fire set up, she wouldn’t be able to reach them.

Usually, alchemy students wore emergency magic tools in the form of a ring or necklace.
Elvira, who was overconfident in her skills, didn’t do so because it was too much of a pain.

She wondered if it was really possible that he had predicted this moment to that extent, but she shook her head as if admitting that there was no way he would be able to do such a thing.

Anyway, using such a large scale ‘Ignite’ would be difficult in the long-term for Ed, whose amount of magic power was average.
It looked like he was aiming for something.

'Kghk…’

There was a very brief moment where she had lost concentration at the shocking sight of the chandelier falling down.
It ended up being a big mistake that allowed him to throw out an attack without any hesitation, with full determination to hit her bag. 

‘Fortunately, there’s still some things left…!’

Elvira took out a small glass object from her shirt.
It was a magic tool in the shape of a rabbit.
That magic tool had been left out in advance because there was something else that she was researching.
She had gotten lucky.

By smashing it on the floor and breaking it, Elvira’s artificially created familiar spirit manifested.

 

– ‘Krrrrrr…’

 

It was a rabbit. 

But its ferocious molars and sparkling eyes didn’t belong to a herbivore.
Its size was no different than that of a dhole or a jackal.

Elvira quickly gathered her magic power and carved a fire resistance spell into the rabbit’s skin so that the familiar spirit could go through the fire.

Since it was crudely created, she was sure that it was going to have a bad effect on the familiar spirit’s body, but… It didn’t matter if she just used it this one time and then threw it away after…
Blood sprayed out of the rabbit’s skin as it screamed in pain, but Elvira forced the fire resistance spell into it.

 

– Fwooosh!

 

Another strike of ‘Wind Blade’.

Perhaps he had determined that Elvira no longer had any combat power, as this time it headed towards Ayla.

“Kyaaah!”

 

-Clang!

 

Taylee’s ‘Elemental Slash’ blocked the ‘Wind Blade’.

“Get it together, Ayla!”

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The hall was filled with a wall of flame as well as the huge body of the chandelier and the dust that rose from it falling.

He couldn’t follow Ed’s movements as he kept moving in and out of the small spaces created by the wall of fire.

'Kghk…!

The wall of fire was able to be controlled to some extent by the one that had cast ‘Ignite’.
There was no reason for it to create any smoke or grow any bigger in size… but the heat was real.

Taylee was someone who was born to the way of the sword.
He could cut down fire or wind if he so desired, but his growth was still lacking so he couldn't control it over a wide range.

He might have been able to break through the wall of fire, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to defeat his opponent, who constantly kept moving locations.

On top of that, in a furious rage… Ed was blatantly aiming towards Ayla.

Ayla Triss might be well versed in magic knowledge, but in terms of combat power she wasn’t very strong.
She was at the level of a 1st year student who was just starting to learn beginner magic.
It was impossible for her to use the defensive magic that would enable her to block Ed’s high proficiency beginner magic.

As a result, unless Taylee was next to her constantly protecting her, she could be easily defeated at any moment.

If Taylee were to boldly close the gap to try and defeat Ed, then Ayla would be completely defenseless. 

“Taylee! It’ll be better if I leave the hall…! At least until you win…!”

Ayla was clear on the fact that she was nothing more than a burden.
Even though she knew she was a nuisance, she was able to come up with an immediate solution rather than being worried by it.

Now that the situation has become like this, It was better for Ayla to escape to a safer place.

 

– ‘Kyaaaaaaaaaak!’

 

The giant rabbit, imbedded with fire resistance, rushed towards the chandelier.
There was almost no burden in terms of magic power, and since it was a familiar spirit that was simply made it was difficult to expect any great results.
But at the very least, for a moment it will be able to stop Ed’s movements and expose his position.

“Taylee! If you could narrow the distance between the two of you, would you be able to defeat him?!”

Amidst the flame, Elvira shouted.
At that moment, she had lost most of her magic tools and reagents.
Even so, she was still able to create a chance to defeat Ed.

“It’s not about whether you can or can’t! You have to do it!”

“Alright! Sounds like a plan!”

Elvira grinned.
She put on her wet robe and jumped through the wall of flames.

“Elvira!”

Taylee let out a cry of shock as Elvira ran across the thick walls of flames and rolled on the ground on the other side.
She quickly shook off her burning robe and threw it.
On one side of her head there was a flame that she quickly put out, leaving a burnt patch of hair behind.
Her right forearm also looked a little burned, but she decided to not worry about it right then.

Magic reagents were scattered all across the floor.
She was only away from them for a short while, but she missed them all so much.

Ed Rothstaylor’s tactical advantage came from the fact he took control of the space and obscured their view.

If she were to use the reagents or magic tools, it would require her to take aim and throw them.
That would take up too much time.
Because of that, the only choice they had left was to take advantage of the difference in fighting power.

“It looks like you’ve prepared quite a bit, but on our side there’s a warrior who can fight in close-combat…!”

She picked up a magic reagent that was quite valuable and threw it at the chandelier the middle of the hall.

 

– Clink!

– FWOOOOOOOOSH!

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator – Plumper

Proofreader – Harley

* * *

A heavy magical energy permeated throughout the room.
A reagent made by chopping up chestnut flowers along with brown mushrooms that was given a ‘discharging’ spell.
The effect itself was so famous that everyone knew what would happen.

The restraint of diffusing the magic power in the area. 

The temporary suppression of the byproducts created by using magic power. 

A drug that was like a magician’s natural enemy.

The principle of it was that, by twisting the flow of magic power irregularly, it would become difficult to use.
It wouldn’t work for middle-high class magicians who had a high proficiency in Mana Resonance, and the effect itself only lasted for a few minutes at most, so it was hard to use unless it was a short-term battle. 

However, her opponent was only using beginner magic.
It was the perfect time to use it.
Taylee clearly must have understood that fact, as he quickly took an offensive stance.

The wall of flames that had filled the hallway was now fading away.

Across the chandelier, hidden in the dust and ash, was a man covered in blood.

A hunting dagger was held in one of his hands, and in the other was the dangling corpse of a rabbit whose body was as large as his own.

He was covered in the rabbit’s blood as he kicked the corpse with his foot.
The rabbit rolled over on the floor, quickly turning to ash and disappearing.
She had bought enough time, her part was done.
For the amount of effort that she put into making it, the results weren’t that bad.

The man’s right shoulder was scarred from the rabbit’s teeth, and his uniform was covered in blood.

However, he was still standing there as he watched the party without any change to his expression or movements.
Just looking in his eyes was terrifying.

“Ed Rothstaylor!”

Taylee ran at him, shouting as Elvira checked the labels on the reagent bottles one by one. 

The chestnut flower reagent that she had used would interfere with using magic power in this hall for a while.
It was a fatal blow to the magicians, Ayla and Ed.
However, since Ayla’s power was rather weak in the first place, it was worth it.

For Taylee, who used swordsmanship, and Elvira, who used magic tools and reagents, this was a brief moment where they had significantly more power.

Right now, it was their turn to attack and deliver a fatal blow to Ed.

 

– Clang!

 

However, Ed Rothstaylor didn’t intend to block Taylee.
Instead, he kicked down the cabinet next to him.

The thick liquid from inside the basin quickly began to flow across the hall.
It was the preparations that he had asked Kelly for in advance…

“This smell… It’s oil! Taylee!”

 

-Fwooosh!

 

Ed kicked a candlestick in the corner of the hall and knocked it over.
The oil began to catch on fire.
A new source of light swept over the dark hall as a new fire began to take over the space.

This wasn’t a magic flame that was caused by ‘Ignite’.
It was a real, oil-based fire.
The wooden parts of the chandelier, as well as the cabinets lined up along the walls, began to catch on fire.

“Are you crazy? This is Ophelis Hall!” 

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Elvira shouted at him.

Unlike the pillar of fire that he created using ‘Ignite’, the flame that was burning now was the equivalent of a natural disaster.
It would burn every single thing here equally.

If the fire ended up spreading to the hallways, there could even be casualties.

Thinking of that, she quickly looked around and once again, goosebumps ran over her skin.

Since it all happened so quickly, she didn’t have time to check properly.

There were less cabinets in the hall than there usually were.
Also, most of the excessively combustible pieces of furniture and valuables had been removed in advance, minimizing the number, and the smoke that was building up blocking their view was actually being let out by the open windows near the emergency stairs.

As said before, the floor and walls of the main hall were all made out of marble, and the main entrance and door leading to the hallway were all made of antique stone.
As long as this place remained closed off, there was a place for the fumes to go out, and a means to block the smell, a fire of this magnitude wouldn’t even be noticed from the hallway.
It was just a couple of cabinets that were burning in this magnificent hall.

The fact that the fire in this hall had been prepared in advance, so that it wouldn’t spread any further…

What did that mean?

“Everything was planned, even to this point…!”

Elvira clenched her teeth as she gathered her reagent bottles.
Flames were flaring out as a bright red light filled the hall.
In the center of it all, she could see the blond, bleeding fallen aristocrat.

If he had planned for this, he could have done it from the start.

If he hadn’t used ‘Ignite’ to create a fire he could control with magic in the first place, Elvira wouldn’t have used the chestnut flower reagent.

If there was a reason for him to progress the situation…

“That’s right! You can’t use magic anymore!”

Taylee yelled out again from the burning flames.

The biggest variable that was restricting Taylee’s movements was the presence of Ayla.
As long as there was no way for him to target Ayla from a safe distance, Taylee wouldn’t have any issue in closing the distance.

The heat of the burning flames was intense, but for Taylee, who was born to the ways of the sword, it was easy to cut through the flames.

Elvira was completely aware of the sense of confusion and discomfort that was creeping down her spine.

Though their opponent was just a regular 2nd year magic student, he was against a warrior that used swordsmanship and a top student from the alchemy department.
Just emphasizing the difference in power was hilarious.

But the way he handled everything thus far was too flawless.

It was as if he already knew everything about his opponents.
If they were to act in a certain way, then he was already prepared for it and had another move already prepared.

From neutralizing Elvira’s magic tools first, then making it difficult for Taylee to close the distance, to always being out of range of Ayla’s attacks… There was no flaw in his plan and there was no waste of movement in executing it.

Just how much fighting power they had, to what strategy they would use, or where their psychological weak spots were, even to what was in Elvira’s bag.
It felt like he had known every single thing.
It felt as if they were standing there, bare naked, and Elvira’s sense of confusion was only making things worse.

Magicians were usually people who got flustered and ended up making mistakes the moment their magic was blocked.

However, his method of fighting closed the gap in specs and controlled the battlefield… He was more like a tactician than a magician.

If that was the case, then the current situation was strange.

Without being able to use any magic, he was just a useless piece of paper in front of Taylee, who was like a burning fire.

With just one prepared stance and perfectly timed attack, Taylee could cut down the flames and break towards Ed.
If he did that, he would be able to see his movement at a glance and even receive Elvira’s support.

If that was the case, that brief moment would be the key.
But Ed Rothstaylor was no longer able to use magic…

“Don’t, Taylee!”

Thinking that far ahead, Elvira screamed at him.

However, Taylee had already started to use ‘Elemental Slash’ to cut through the fire and narrow the distance to Ed… He had too much energy pushing forward, and he could no longer stop now.

Progressing the situation this far meant that he still had a ‘hidden card’ left over…!

He could somehow still attack, even without using magic… There was a physical long-range attack that Taylee and the rest of his party didn’t know about!

It was too late.
Ed Rothstaylor’s hand was revealed as Taylee cut through the flames with his sword… there was a bow.
He must have put it in the fallen cabinet in advance.

That bow… He knew how to use it?

He had already finished taking aim.

Taylee would not be defeated by a single arrow.
He could just swing the sword using his natural reflexes to simply deflect the arrow.
Rather than limiting Taylee’s movements, it could only create the opportunity for Ed to counter attack.

Therefore, in order to restrict Taylee’s movements, he wouldn’t have been aiming at Taylee.
Instead, it would be aimed at Taylee’s companion, who was sitting far away in the corner of the hall.

“Ayla…!”

By the time he realized, it was too late.
The bowstring was released, loosing the arrow.
It flew relentlessly towards its target.

One of the most common things that 1st year students learned was beginner defense magic.

It was a magic that minimized the ‘physical power’ that strikes one’s body.
It was also a type of magic that Ayla could use, but… coincidentally, Elvira’s chestnut flower reagent was effective against all magicians—friend and foe alike.

An arrow flew at Ayla, who had no method to defend.
Taylee used near superhuman reflexes to turn around and rush towards Ayla, but there was no way he could be faster than an arrow that was already flying through the air.

 

– Phwoosh! Crash!

 

But that arrow never reached Ayla.

“Phew…”

The sound of a glass marble breaking was heard.

Elvira had more than 20 types of magic tools, and this was one of them: ‘Claw Hand’.

It was a glass marble that had the power to attract small objects towards it, even from a distance, as long as it was within her field of vision.

The arrow that was flying towards the hallway towards Ayla suddenly lost strength as it fell into Elvira’s hand.

“Finish him, Taylee!”

As soon as he saw that, Taylee turned towards Ed with his eyes full of rage.

Elvira didn’t want to think about what was happening any more.
No matter how much he wanted to stop Taylee and his party from entering, crashing down a chandelier and setting everything on fire was just crazy.

Wasn’t this just supposed to be a demonstration of the lower students occupying the building?

She didn’t know what else was happening upstairs for him to go to this far to prevent them from going any further in Ophelis Hall, but… shooting an arrow at Ayla was completely over the line.
That was completely different than just simply threatening them with magic.

If such an arrow had penetrated Ayla’s fragile body, it may have even killed her.
That act was clearly a crime.

Thinking about it, Elvira tightened her grip on the arrow.
And the moment she looked at the end of the arrow… her breath caught.

The arrowhead had been removed.

The arrowhead, which was supposed to be sharp and made of iron, was cut off.
A bit of hay was even tied around it to offset the physical force as much as possible. 

It was a clear sign that he was trying to eliminate any sort of lethality.

Did he already know that it would be too hard for them to check the state of the arrow in such a high-pressure situation?

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Of course, if you are unlucky then you could be blinded or injured just by the impact from the shaft.
But even then, the direction in which he was aiming was between the lower abdomen and thigh, where there were very few vital points.
At worst, if you were unlucky, you would just be left with a bruise.

“Was he going easy on us…?”

Thinking that far, once again Elvira screamed at Taylee.

“Taylee! Watch out! He still…”

The moment she was about to say ‘He still has something left…’

 

-CLANG!

 

On the 2nd floor, the sound of a wall being broken and a coward’s scream filled the air.

When he came to his senses, Ed had already been struck by Taylee and was hanging against a wall.

“… What?”

Sitting quietly and leaning against the wall while watching Ed, whose body was covered in blood, trying to recover… Elvira once again had a strong feeling that something was wrong.

 

* * *

 

“Are you insane?”

The chandelier was broken and most of the cabinets were burned.
Ed sat against the wall of the main hall, which was a complete mess, and shook off his blood-stained clothes… but he still remained as expressionless as always.

“There must be a reason why you did all of this!”

Taylee fist trembled as he screamed at Ed.

Watching them, Elvira stayed silent.

After he was defeated, the obvious result of a match between a magician and a close-combat warrior, Ed eventually gave Taylee and his team access to the upper floors. 

Though they had a hard time, they managed to defeat him.

However, Elvira didn’t feel a sense of relief inside her at all.

Throughout the battle, Elvira’s heart… It kept on feeling like it was getting looked into, over and over again.

It felt as if the entire battle played out into Ed’s hands.

If Ed Rothstaylor was really trying to defeat Taylee, then he would have knocked the chandelier down without ever revealing himself.

It may have been different if he was just a foolish magician that was trying to show off his skills, but the difference in Ed’s appearance during the fight was indescribable.

She couldn’t shake the feeling that he had some sort of hidden agenda.

Taylee and Ayla seemed unable to think that far ahead due to the urgency of the situation, but Elvira was completely stiff, contrary to her usual childish appearance.

‘As expected, something is strange.’

Elvira looked at his face from behind Taylee, who was screaming in anger.

Despite his loss, he didn’t feel any sort of resentment.
He was truly just sitting against the wall, waiting for Taylee to stop screaming.

After a while, Taylee took a deep breath as he managed his emotions.
Then Ed spoke, raising his head.

“Are you done?”

Even though the situation has come this far, he never once lost that calm tone to his voice.

“If you’re done, go on up already.
Stop whining.”

He wasn’t even telling them not to go up.

“What did you say…?”

Elvira pushed Taylee out of the way as she stood right before Ed, looking down on him.
Coming this far, she couldn't help but ask him.

“Why did you go easy on us?”

Ed’s expression didn’t change a bit at that question.
Rather, it was Taylee and Ayla who were surprised by it.

“What do you mean, Elvira?”

“This person? Went easy? On us?”

Elvira continued glaring straight at Ed, ignoring Taylee and Ayla’s questions.

“Answer me.”

Again, there was a moment of silence.
But Elvira was unwilling to break it.

She continued to stare at him as she leaned against the wall, refusing to move until Ed responded.

But of course, she couldn’t keep on questioning him forever.

 

– Thud!!

 

The main entrance of Ophelis Hall opened up again.

The soft sound of the rain falling against the outer wall was briefly buried by the sound of the heavy rain coming through the main entrance.

Lighting struck.

In that brief moment, everything was illuminated.
A girl stood there, struggling to shake off the water that fell on her hood.
The girl who had stayed up all night picking her persimmon hairpin was revealed from the darkness.

Who could scold such a foolish, love-struck girl? It may have all been in her head, but even imagining such things was all her own choice.

However, the difference between one’s imagination and reality is sometimes cruel.

The boy who she had thought would show up to the pavilion looking handsome had been attacked by a group of people and collapsed on the floor, covered in his own blood.

Against the backdrop of the pouring rain, the girl’s expression in the darkness suddenly went cold.

Her usually bright and lively eyes were now empty, full of darkness.

“…What are you doing?”

With a heavy voice, she questioned them.

 

____

 

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