This chapter was sponsored generously by: David R. ($5), Michael G. ($20), Marvin T. ($10), Andrew C. ($65)
At the feet of a creature, so enormous and grotesque that it was difficult to recognize that it was a living being, were two silhouettes.
“I’m going,” said one of them, which barely had a vaguely humanoid shape that was just as grotesque as the enormous creature.
“’ai-’ai,” said the other silhouette, a black, human one of a size somewhere between a baby and a toddler.
The grotesque silhouette being waved goodbye then walked straight ahead, approaching the enormous grotesque creature… and silently melted into it to become one.
But a moment later, another grotesque figure emerged from the enormous one and split away from it.
“Banda, big Banda, li’l Banda,” said the small silhouette.
“I’m back, Meh-kun. I suppose you’re talking about the large me and me?” said the smaller grotesque figure that had newly come into existence. “So then, do you need an explanation, me?” it said, turning back towards the larger one.
“It seems not. Both of you are me, and a single moment of reconnection is enough to update my memories and abilities with no problems.”
“But I suppose creating one more of me and giving it to him is impossible. Well, it cannot be helped.”
“Nii-nii,” said the small silhouette.
The enormous creature remained silent.
“… Well then, let’s do that. It seems that I just happen to have a strange little something that I have no use for. Whether he can make use of it is up to him.”
At the beginning of that dream, Hiroshi thought it was the same scary dream that he had been having a lot recently – the same nightmare that he’d been having ever since that incident, a nightmare in which he was suddenly captured by villains, tormented and then killed.
In reality, Hiroshi and the other two kidnapped people hadn’t been killed. Hiroshi had lost consciousness partway during the incident, and the next time he opened his eyes, he had been in a hospital bed and the incident had been resolved.
He had told his parents that he was fine, and pretended to be strong in front of his friends at school, saying that he hadn’t been scared at all. But in truth, he had been completely terrified. And as if to punish him for lying, he was now haunted by this repeated dream of a version of the incident that was even more cruel than what had actually taken place.
Tonight, Hiroshi found himself surrounded by darkness as always, captured and unable to move. He thought that the dream was about to begin once more.
However, he was only surrounded by the darkness for a moment.
“… Huh? Is this an ocean?” he murmured as he suddenly found himself in a strange space.
It was like a bright seabed, covered in countless faintly-glowing, colorful corals and sea anemones, with seaweed-like objects billowing and dancing among them.
Hiroshi swam there, not drowning.
“Don’t you want power?” a voice called out to him suddenly.
It was a mysterious figure in a black robe with four eyes and a tear-like mouth that stretched from ear to ear.
Hiroshi thought that it was a monster. But he did not feel any fear towards it – perhaps because he remembered that his younger sister Mei had made countless scribbles of this monster, or perhaps because he had faint memories of being protected by it, or perhaps because he knew that this was only a dream. He himself did not know which was the real reason for his lack of fear.
“I do, I do want it, but… I don’t have any special powers like Mom or Dad,” he replied to the monster’s question.
Hiroshi wanted a special power like the ones his parents possessed. He wanted to become special. That was what he wished for. He was quite brilliant when compared to the children of his own age – not only in his studies and in sports, but he had also inherited his parents’ inherent qualities for magic.
But the only thing he was missing was a cheat-like ability. His parents, being reincarnated individuals who were aware that the cheat-like abilities were something that had been granted to them by Rodcorte, didn’t think anything strange of this and simply accepted the fact.
However, only the reincarnated individuals themselves knew that they had been reincarnated from another world. The adults around them, the children at Hiroshi’s school and Hiroshi himself – they were all unaware of this fact.
“I see,” the monster murmured. “If you wish, I will give you a source of the power that you long for. And I will teach you how to use a special kind of magic.”
“Really?!” Hiroshi said excitedly.
“Yes, really. First of all, eat this,” the monster said, holding out something that resembled a fresh internal organ towards Hiroshi.
Hiroshi’s face turned pale. “W-what is that?! It looks all slimy and it’s moving! It’s some dangerous stuff, isn’t it?!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. It has no artificial coloring or additives; it’s a completely naturally-derived… thing,” said the monster.
“Thing?! I’m definitely not eating something suspicious like that!” Hiroshi protested.
“Hmm, you have a very healthy sense of judgment… Now that things have come to this, I have no choice.”
The monster took the organ back and produced a pot from inside its pocket. And right before Hiroshi’s eyes, it began cooking something.
It started a fire with the seaweed-like plants, then plucked one of the sea-anemone-like things growing nearby and squeezed a crimson liquid out of it, filling the pot. It then cut the organ-like object into suitably-sized pieces and added them to the liquid.
Soon, the pot was bubbling and boiling.
Hiroshi stared in bewilderment. “U-uh…”
The monster continued its cooking, its efficient movements making it seem like it was strangely used to doing this.
“Now that I think about it, it wouldn’t be good to teach a child to simply accept a raw item from someone they’ve never met before and eat it,” the monster said.
“Umm… Banda, right? Is it normal to give raw meat and guts to each other in the world of monsters?” Hiroshi asked.
“I’m surprised you know my name,” said the monster… Banda.
“Huh? Yeah, Mei keeps drawing pictures of you and calling you Banda, so I figured that’s your name,” said Hiroshi.
“I see. Well anyway, this is finished,” said Banda, producing a plate from somewhere and placing the pot’s contents on it.
Considering the strange ingredients that had been used to make it, it now resembled a slightly overly-red beef stew.
And despite the fact that this was a dream, Hiroshi could smell it for some reason.
“I-it looks delicious!” said Hiroshi in astonishment, as if unable to believe his eyes.
Banda held out a spoon and beckoned Hiroshi to eat once more. “Eat this if you want a special power. And if you want even more, I will teach you how to use a special kind of magic. No-attribute magic, whose existence isn’t known to anyone else in this world.”
Hiroshi woke up several minutes before his alarm was set to go off.
“… Huh, it was just a dream,” he murmured.
“I forgot to mention something,” a voice said suddenly.
Hiroshi turned around to look back to his pillow in shock, and found that Banda was there, staring at him with his four eyes and his fangs protruding from the mouth that stretched from ear to ear.
“Everything you saw in your dream is a secret. You must not use the magic I taught you in front of others, not even your parents. Do you understand?” Banda asked.
Hiroshi nodded, and Banda silently began to disappear.
“W-wait,” said Hiroshi. “Are you that ‘Eighth Guidance’ thing? Did you save us when we were kidnapped?!”
Banda stood still, and his head began turning on his neck. “Unfortunately, I can’t talk about that now.”
“Because it is a long story, and you will be late for school if I were to tell all of it.”
Unfortunately for Hiroshi, today was a weekday.
Over a month had passed since the kidnapping and subsequent rescue of the ‘Braver’ Amemiya Hiroto and the ‘Angel’ Narumi’s two children.
The police responding to the anonymous report had found the kidnapped children, the bodyguard and the babysitter, safe and sound. They had also found the criminals; all but one of them had been killed in a gruesome manner.
And the other thing they had found was the Eighth Guidance’s symbol.
The investigating authorities had immediately ordered a media blackout on the incident, called the ‘Bravers’ including the Amemiya couple to a meeting, and provided information to authorities in another nation in exchange for help with the investigation.
“… And yet, the authorities that offered their cooperation are only focused on investigating the survivors of the Eighth Guidance. The masterminds who ordered Hiroshi and Mei’s kidnapping are being left to do as they please,” Narumi murmured.
Indeed, the investigation efforts were being directed entirely at the Eighth Guidance rather than the kidnappers.
After all, the kidnappers were still humans despite being criminals, and it wasn’t wrong to chase the suspect that had slaughtered them in cold blood, but… the investigation was clearly doing more than merely chasing the perpetrator.
“You’re right. Saying that the kidnappers were just members of a foreign criminal group trying to extort money and calling it a day is overdoing it. There’s no way a group of ex-soldiers and mercenaries would prepare guns and a truck then attempt a kidnapping for monetary purposes in a foreign country,” said the ‘Titan’ Iwao Kazuki. “Well, don’t worry so much. They can chase the Eighth Guidance all they want, but we won’t let them get in our way. We’re doing everything we can to look into the information we got from the kidnappers’ driver, the guy called Woo.”
“And Narumi, it is not wrong to investigate the Eighth Guidance,” Amemiya Hiroto added. “Whether there really are survivors from their group, and with what purpose they saved Mei and the others… We need answers to these questions.”
Indeed, on the surface, it appeared that Mei and the others had been saved by someone who had left the Eighth Guidance’s symbol behind. But the motive behind doing that was unclear.
Nobody knew if they could simply be thankful for saving the children. Pluto had once tried to kill Narumi, but stopped upon realizing that there was a small life within her. The fact that that small life had been Mei was not information that had been made known to the public.
Other than the ‘Bravers’ that had been a part of the operation that had taken place back then, this fact was known only to people belonging to various investigating authorities around the world, and even then, to only a limited number of individuals authorized to access that information.
Had the members of the Eighth Guidance whose corpses were never found actually escaped and survived? Or were there unknown members still remaining? Or had someone used the Eighth Guidance’s symbol to interfere with the investigation?
“And the others are just ‘cooperating’ with us; they’re not under our command or under the command of the police. We’ll just have to investigate the mastermind behind the kidnapping ourselves. Let’s let them chase whoever saved the kids and disappeared right afterwards,” said Hiroto. “We have more important questions to answer, though.”
“You’re right. It seems that Mei doesn’t remember anything, but it also seems that Hiroshi still sees it in his dreams,” said Narumi.
“He spoke to the kidnappers, after all. Even if he didn’t actually see them die, I’m sure it wasn’t a fun experience,” Iwao agreed.
Hiroshi had put on a brave face, but Narumi knew even without using ‘Angel’ that scars had been left upon his mind. Even an adult would be traumatized by what he had gone through. Simple nightmares could be considered to still be a minor way in which that trauma manifested itself.
“If only I had the power to heal people’s minds…” Narumi murmured.
‘Angel’ allowed her to link her senses with those of others and have telepathic conversations with them. However, it did not allow her to directly heal mental wounds.
Hiroto placed a hand on her shoulder to cheer her up. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Hiroshi doesn’t seem to be disturbed by those nightmares anymore these days. When I saw his face just earlier -”
Hiroto suddenly stopped mid-sentence and stood up out of his chair, then headed for the second floor where the children were sleeping.
“What’s the matter?!” Iwao whispered.
“I feel a strange kind of Mana. On the second floor…?!” Hiroto whispered back.
He stopped at the top of the stairs and looked around the second floor, but he couldn’t see anything happening.
“What now?!” Iwao asked.
“The Mana – it’s disappeared,” Hiroto replied. “Was I just imagining it?!”
He looked into the children’s room and saw that Hiroshi and Mei were asleep, then checked if there was anything strange with the guards, whose numbers had been increased following the incident. But he, Narumi and Iwao didn’t notice anything.
“Honey, the security system detected some suspicious Mana, just for a moment,” said Narumi, examining the security system. “This is… What could this be? Wind-attribute and light-attribute Magic appeared for just a second, and then it suddenly disappeared…”
It seemed that it wasn’t just Hiroto’s imagination. The security system had indeed detected the presence of Mana.
“It doesn’t seem like you were just being too nervous about things,” said Iwao. “But for Mana to appear and then disappear for no reason… Could it be that Hiroshi is only pretending to sleep and is using magic to play pranks on us?
“No,” said Narumi, shaking her head. “It seems that he’s been practicing magic really hard in secret, but he’s still a child. He shouldn’t be able to produce such a large amount of Mana.”
The Amemiya residence was equipped with a sensor that could detect Mana of the seven attributes – earth, water, fire, wind, light, life and space. The time attribute didn’t exist, and no-attribute Mana had yet to be discovered. The death attribute was difficult to detect in nature to begin with, and since there were no living sources of it currently in existence, sensors for it could not be easily made.
Given these circumstances in Origin, this security system was more than adequate.
But even that system did not know what had happened.
“If I remember correctly, Rikudou and Moriya were knowledgeable about things like this. Moriya should be arriving tomorrow, so do you want to try asking him then?” Iwao suggested.
Ever since Hiroshi and Mei’s kidnapping, members of the Bravers had been rotating shifts to protect the Amemiya residence as bodyguards. That was why Iwao was here today.
“… Yeah. But just in case, let’s try negotiating to see if we can be supplied with a sensor that can detect death-attribute Mana. Maybe there really are survivors from the Eighth Guidance,” said Hiroto.
The three of them spent a sleepless night deep in discussion, but early in the morning, a message arrived from the ‘Shaman’ Moriya – one saying that a mission had come up, and he was unable to go to the Amemiya residence that day.
Meanwhile, during Hiroto, Narumi and Iwao’s discussion, Banda was in Mei’s room, confused by what had just happened.
“What were those strange things?” he murmured to himself.
He had no need for sleep, so he had simply been loitering around the Amemiya residence when he noticed the presence of two masses of Mana that could not be detected by the naked eye, similar to himself.
They had slipped through the walls like ghosts, approaching the children’s room. But they were clearly not ghosts. Banda recognized that they were something like familiars, made of masses of Mana.
He had then attacked and defeated those familiars in an instant. He had simply stayed invisible and struck them with his body that was made of Demon King fragments, breaking the familiars and causing them to crumble apart with ease.
This had caused the Mana to scatter into the air, and he got a fright when Amemiya Hiroto noticed this, but he had stayed invisible and Hiroto had not noticed him.
“Either Rikudou is trying something, or a different group… Could they have been secret guards sent by the investigating authorities? If so, I might have been too hasty. Hiroshi-kun seems to have absorbed the part that didn’t quite fit in with me. Will they try something serious before he learns how to use no-attribute magic?” Banda murmured to himself.
When Vandalieu devoured the reincarnated individuals’ souls, there had been a part that he had not been able to absorb, so Banda had turned that into a stew and given it to Hiroshi.
It was an ability that regenerated Mana, but it seemed that Vandalieu had been unable to find a use for it as the regeneration it provided was so insignificant to him.
And now that it had been transferred to Hiroshi, its regeneration had decreased even beyond the original amount. However, to a child in Origin, it was equivalent to having acquired a source of endless Mana.
The Mana it provided would certainly decrease the amount of time Hiroshi needed to acquire ‘No-Attribute Magic.’
Banda had asked the main Vandalieu to give him an appearance that would give Hiroshi the best first impression when he appeared in a dream, and made it as fun a dream as possible. He had succeeded; although Hiroshi had been a little suspicious of Banda at first, he had followed his instructions.
Banda had turned horns and bones into coral with the Demon King’s luminescent organs and ink sacs, made his tentacles resemble sea anemones, and made his body hair wave around like seaweed. Taking the improvised cooking into account as well, Banda had to say, he had put on a pretty good act.
Since it had gone so well, he wanted Hiroshi to successfully learn ‘No-Attribute Magic’ as well.
“It does help me out that they made a convenient misunderstanding, though,” Banda murmured to himself.
A sleepy noise came from Mei’s bed.
“Ah, I’ve gone and woken you up, Meh-kun. Here, wriggle-wriggle,” said Banda, extending a tentacle of the Demon King towards her.
“Wriggle-wriggle!” Mei giggled happily.
Banda kept her entertained until she fell asleep once more.
Meanwhile, far away from the Amemiya residence, the ‘Shaman’ Moriya Kousuke’s face was pale with shock.
“Both of the artificial spirits I created were extinguished in an instant?!” he muttered to himself.
Moriya Kousuke’s ability, ‘Shaman,’ was an ability that allowed him to create artificial spirits with his own Mana and control them like familiars.
In Origin, spirits consisted of Mana of a single attribute that had gathered into a mass. They moved as if with an intelligence and emotions of their own. They were not living creatures; they were considered to be a kind of natural phenomenon.
Moriya was capable of creating spirits with his own will and Mana, and control them more precisely than other familiars.
This made it easy for him to break through modern security systems and wiretap, take secret pictures of or monitor targets. He had intended to use this ability to probe into the Amemiya residence – especially around the children. However… this attempt had broken into pieces, along with Moriya’s pride.
“How in the world were my spirits detected?” Moriya wondered. “It’s not Amemiya Hiroto or Narumi, and Iwao is out of the question. Could it be that there really is a survivor of the Eighth Guidance lurking around the children? Even if that’s the case, is it even possible for them to attack and destroy both of my spirits before being seen by them? … Or perhaps the enemy has an ability of a similar type to mine!”
There were old stories of warlocks that were capable of controlling evil spirits that were visible to the naked eye. There was a type of death-attribute magic that was extremely similar to the warlocks of these legends, and perhaps one of the members of the Eighth Guidance was capable of using it.
“If that’s the case… It would be bad for me to go near the Amemiya residence. If the enemy is controlling an artificial evil spirit that is similar to the spirits I create except far more powerful, then they might consider me to be an intruder and attack me. Whether I would be able to defend myself against that is… In any case, I must decline to act as the Amemiya family’s guard for today, even if it causes some suspicion. I’ll let Rikudou decide what to do.”
Just as Banda wished, Moriya had made a convenient misunderstanding. And so, the peaceful image of the Amemiya residence was preserved for now.