“Isn’t there something you should say?”
“… Ugh, I’ll take responsibility for what’s happened.”
“Do you think just ‘taking responsibility’ for this will solve the incident?”
Rivelia berated Isaac with such enthusiasm that her face seemed to brighten up with each passing moment. Isaac could only duck his head, gritting his teeth as he reminded himself of Krent’s face. Krent’s hasty conclusion had led to chaos spreading throughout the entire district. The entire police force and all of the North Bears and elves were deployed to calm the scrambling residents, who were running away from an imaginary curse.
The estimated costs for the initial damages totalled 700 thousand Giga. If the fire that resulted from the stampede was included, it would easily surpass 1 million Giga. And the complaints regarding emotional distress were sure to follow from residents. This was too heavy of a consequence for a single misunderstanding.
“And where do you think you’re looking? Do you not even possess the most rudimentary of manners in you?”
Rivelia shouted annoyingly as Isaac continued to avoid looking at her.
‘Hng. Please, consider my situation too.’
Isaac had tried everything to take the lens off, but it was futile. The lens did not budge, as if it was glued onto his eye. Thanks to that, Isaac could see Rivelia’s body as clear as day, but he didn’t dare look at Rivelia directly in fear that he might do something he wouldn’t be able to rectify.
But Rivelia’s continued pressure tipped Isaac over the edge. He cared not about the consequences of his next action and lifted his head up. All of Isaac’s muscles on his face melted in sheer delight the moment he saw Rivelia, and any attempt to fix his expression was impossible.
“W, what is it, Sir Isaac!”
Rivelia felt as if she’d been undressed by his eyes, and her body itched all over as if insects were crawling where Isaac was looking at. She instinctively covered herself with her arms.
“What do you mean?”
Now that the situation had come to this, Isaac decided to go all in. Nobody seemed to notice the existence of the lens. Even the agents of Central, who came back because of the sudden ‘curse’ incident, didn’t realise that it was present during their intense interrogation of Isaac. Perhaps it was strange to think they would notice a contact lens in a world that hadn’t invented it yet.
Rivelia’s face turned bright red as she tried to shout back at Isaac. She may have been a first-rank knight and a sword master with the title of ‘Queen of the Sword,’ but she was still a woman. She didn’t have the audacity to speak such vulgar words with a straight face.
“W, whatever! Just leave!”
Isaac quickly left the Mayor’s room, expressing his relief with a sigh as he closed the door behind him. He was prepared to suffer in that room for the entire day, but the lens helped him escape much quicker than anticipated.
“Tsk, she actually does have some good points when you get down to it…”
Isaac smirked, reminding himself of Rivelia’s provocative figure. X-ray vision had always been every man’s dream, although this lens was slightly different.
“Ah! You’re making that face again!”
“… Isaac is perverted!”
Kunette and Reisha’s approach stopped when they saw Isaac’s face twist with primal instinct. It seemed they had been waiting for Isaac outside the mayor’s room as he was getting scolded.
Reisha’s shout brought Isaac back to reality, and with a couple of dry coughs, Isaac regained composure and spoke in a plain tone.
“What’s wrong, Reisha?”
“Umm, are you really okay?”
“… Isaac, you’re not sick, are you?”
Isaac smirked in response to their worried look.
“There’s no need to worry. I received a full check-up, and the results all came out fine.”
“Phew, that’s a relief.”
Reisha made a sigh of relief. At the end of the day, she was partly responsible for creating the chaos. She had been worried sick that Isaac was in trouble, but thankfully, he was fine.
“What do you mean it’s a relief? Do you have any idea how harshly my father scolded me…?”
Krent complained to everyone while Reisha made a bright smile, as if liberated from a heavy weight on her shoulders. Kunette stuck herself onto Isaac’s leg. Goldman, who was both Krent’s father and Guild Master of Rivolden Merchant Guild, was furious when he received news of his son being responsible for the incident that threw the entire city into chaos. He was worried that this incident would cause Isaac to turn against him completely, especially since their relationship was tenuous at best. Goldman made the final decision to pay for all of the damages as a way of apologizing.
“Shut it! Go away! Don’t you ever come close to me. If I could, I would rain curses upon you.”
Isaac declared his animosity, but Krent replied with a heartfelt laugh.
“Don’t you know? Merchants get cursed at wherever they go.”
“Weren’t you a knight?”
“Huh, I am a knight right now, aren’t I?”
Isaac sighed as he watched Krent question himself. Isaac would have believed the rumour that Krent had bought his title if it weren’t for the presence of mana within his body.
The sounds of explosions rang throughout the battlefield, the feeble screams of the soldiers muffled in its wake. What was once a mountain of dense forest was now barren, the earth exposed by the continuous barrage of shells. Leaves gently fell onto the ground as mud and dirt rained from the skies. The soldiers could only curl up and pray for a close end to the bombardment.
“Charlie Jang! Charlie Jang! Fuck, pick up the signal, you son of a bitch!”
“P, platoon sergeant!”
“O, over there…”
“… Shit! That’s the OP right?”
PR Note: An OP refers to an observation post, a position where soldiers can watch enemy movements and warn of approaching movement and artillery fire.
A shell landed directly on the OP. What was once a concrete bunker evaporated in the explosion, along with the platoon leader and his messengers, who would have had taken shelter inside. There was no time to be sad for the loss of comrades, for hell was still in full swing in front of him in the form of an artillery bombardment.
-… PP … stage.
“What? This is Alpha squad! Say again!”
When the faint words made through the static, he screamed into the radio.
-… Stage 4!”
Those were the only audible words in the torrent of static, but his spine chilled as he understood its meaning.
“Sons of bitches! Chemical bombs! Chemical bombs!”
As he screamed his lungs out into the radio, the soldiers around him quickly took out their gas masks.
“What are you doing, idiots! It’s stage 4!”
Perhaps the saving grace of being in the front line was they received priority for supplies. The soldiers quickly donned their protective gear and gas masks and replaced their filters.
The gas approached them like the hands of the grim reaper. Some of the soldiers failed to put on their gear in time or left some gaps as they equipped it. The gas made its way to the exposed soldiers, and they fell on their knees, grabbing at their hearts.
“Get the antidote! Where is it! Bring out the MARK–1!”
He tried to save the soldiers to the best of his ability, stabbing them with the needles holding the antidote, but the soldiers’ bodies quivered as if they were being electrocuted.
“Huuk! I, I can’t breath…”
“No! Don’t take it off!”
One of the soldiers who struggled to breath took off his gas mask out of reflex. He seemed to be at peace for a moment, but blisters began to form on his face, quickly taking over his entire face.
“Kuuk! I, it hurts. Aaak! Help!”
More skin peeled off his face each time he scratched at his face.
“… I’m sorry.”
Isaac woke up from his bed, cold sweat dripping from his back. Out of habit, he took out a cigarette as he grabbed at his own head in pain. Only when the purifying smoke reached the deepest part of his lungs did his heart begin to calm itself.
“… What a fucked-up dream.”
He thought he’d forgotten it. No, he thought he was past it. But ever since he came into contact with the remnant of the civilization that shouldn’t exist, his memories came back to haunt him, depriving him from all sleep.
“It seems like PTSD.”
The mental disorder commonly seen to those who suffered through war. The endless symphony of screams and explosions as bodies burned in the hellfire. The shells and bullets dropping on them like rain…
“Huhuhu, you’re going to start having dreams like this now of all times? What are you, jealous?”
Isaac washed his face with cold water and looked into the mirror. A man with black hair and black eyes looked back at him. His face slim, his eyes consumed by emptiness…
Isaac tapped his left eye. The lens was stuck onto his eye like glue. There was no pain from it, and rubbing his eye didn’t make any difference. His eye seemed to have gotten better, other than the floating strings of mana still disrupting his senses.
Isaac focused on his left eye and muttered.
“I guess I can’t just ignore it now.”
New Port City Routine Report
Confirmed the corpse of the ‘demonic’ turncoat. Central officially intervened due to the appearance of a demonic monster. Unable to determine the method and tools used to summon the monster. It is expected to be the work of the Queen’s artefact.
Unable to find the Queen’s artefact despite Central’s thorough search. Surveillance target has been reacting strangely. Highly likely that the Queen’s Artefact has transferred to the surveillance target.
Requesting permission to raise the surveillance level to 1.
New Port City’s strategy’s response team secret order
The Queen has refused to reveal the shape and use of her artefact. Unable to raise the surveillance level to 1. We have decided to invite the surveillance target. All actions that may make the target hostile to us are forbidden. The Directorate of Analysis has judged that the search mission to find the turncoats may have been leaked. There may be possible turncoats within Central, and keep an eye out for the presence of the culprit that assisted the ‘demonic’ turncoat.
In addition, we expect that the ‘demonic’ turncoat attempted to trade the Queen’s artefact but was eliminated by its aide when the information was leaked.
Initiate internal investigation. New Port City is closed. Unable to send reinforcements.
It is likely that the swarm of ‘angelic’ turncoats will cut off a part of itself to hide. Focus on finding the culprit that aided the ‘demonic’ turncoat. Behave as if Central’s only search target is the ‘demonic’ turncoat.
No other changes in the plan. Proceed as ordered.
“Hmm, I can see mana with this eye… and this stupid pen can draw mana. What kind of artefacts are these?”
The city was currently suffering from a sudden drop in the number of tourists, but that was a problem the administrative body was to deal with. Isaac left the work to them and locked himself on the rooftop as usual, but he wasn’t idle. He couldn’t possibly stay idle when he found items from his old civilization.
Isaac had seen many things that went against common sense as he lived in this world. But he kept his eyes and ears closed, considering them to be unrelated to him and pursued his dream of living in a rural village peacefully. How the world ran didn’t matter to him.
But instead, he was used as a sacrificial pawn for someone else’s political intrigue, and now, this stupid lens had glued itself to his eye. What was worse was that Isaac had been suffering from memories of his past ever since.
These bloody nightmares kept recreating his past. Even when he tried to act unconcerned, the remnants of his past would show itself, making it impossible to ignore anymore.
He visited the hospital’s morgue to find the apprentice warlock’s body in the hopes of finding some clues, but the only word he received was that Central had taken the body with them.
Without a choice, Isaac had to brute-force his way with the lens and the pen, and after a week of struggle, he concluded that the only similarities these items had with the pens and lens in his world were the looks. The functions were completely different. How the inventor created plastic was a question of its own, but the lens allowed one to see mana. The Monami pen, which could not be dismantled, drew not ink but mana that could only be seen by the lens.
Isaac showed a piece of paper with a drawing made of mana on it to Reisha and Kunette, who were quite skilled in magical arts, but they only looked back at Isaac and responded with a question as to why he was showing them a blank page. And after a day had passed, the mana drawn on the paper disappeared.
“Hmm, what do I do with this now?”
Isaac spun the pen with his finger as he pondered. Isaac was clueless when it came to magic. When he asked Reisha, she came up with the answer that mana is something that can only be felt and cannot be seen with anyone’s eyes. And that it’s impossible to ‘draw’ mana on anything.
That meant that the items Isaac held in his hand were beyond priceless. If this fact were to be leaked, every organisation that possessed even the slightest amount of power would try to retrieve the items.
Treasure brings blood, but Isaac wasn’t going to hand over these treasures without a fight.
Suddenly, light flashed into Isaac’s eyes when he looked blankly at his pen.
“Wait. How did that guy get this? It’s not something that a single person could just create, never mind own.”
If an object exists, a creator must exist. Whether it was a god, or dragon, or some magical race, there was only one reason the owner of this item would hide themselves in the slums.
“He must have stolen it.”
If so, the situation was serious. If there is someone who knew of the items’ existence, they would most definitely try to retrieve it.
“It’s not like I’ll gouge my eyes out if they ask for its return…”
Isaac muttered to himself, then his eyes caught the paper that he doodled on with the pen.
“Huh? What if…”
Isaac drew a circle on the paper and a star within it. Suddenly, a basic mana circle appeared on the paper.
“Huh? Is this the reason that guy could use magic?”
Isaac used the curse incident to fake sickness and forced Reisha to lead the investigation while he slacked off on the rooftop. Annoyed, Reisha visited Isaac every day to complain about her life. Isaac’s impulse of looking at her pervertedly soon dissipated.
The constant nightmares and fragments of his past plagued Isaac’s mind, and even the eye candy that was Reisha wasn’t enough to change Isaac’s bad mood. Even as the most beautiful woman in the world flirted at him, Isaac was distancing himself from her.
And it was during these times that Reisha mentioned that she couldn’t understand how a wyvern was summoned. That magic circle didn’t follow any rules or laws of magic and even lacked a basic magic circle to draw in the necessary mana to activate it. It was like a child mimicking a magic circle, yet it functioned perfectly.
It is what distinguishes fantasy from reality. It was a dream Isaac had given up on long ago, but now it seemed possible with the situation he had gotten himself into.
“Hm, maybe I need to learn more about it.”