Looking at my face reflected in the mirror, I see my own half-open eyes with shadows under them.
Last night – Actually, just a few hours ago – I was in the imperial capital of Limia.
It’s still dark, but the sun has been coming up late these days.
When we got back, it was already nearly morning.
「Everyone in Asora is strong, aren’t they...」(Makoto)
As I wash my face, what I’m thinking suddenly comes out of my mouth.
When Shiki and I returned to Asora, we were welcomed by the Orcs and Dwarves, as well as Tomoe and Mio who had come back before us.
The results of their battle were astounding.
Not only did they return before us, they suffered almost zero casualties.
I was told that there were zero fatalities and only two injuries.
The Kaleneon dominion is small, but a country nonetheless, and they had secured it.
I think I’ve overestimated how much power is needed to possess armies and countries in this world. This thought had occurred to me earlier in Limia as well.
I mean, look.
The Green Berets, the Spetsnaz, the Australian commandos, Cobra, the CIA, the KGB, MI6, the FBI...
Err, I think my list is slowly changing as I go.
When you see those really amazing-looking armed forces or special intelligence organizations on television or in movies, you get the feeling they have amazing military power, right?
It’s a good thing that there weren’t any casualties, so let’s just be happy that I was wrong in my expectations.
Even the injuries were mild, like a Lizard’s tail being stomped by a Highland Orc.
「I wonder if Shiki is alright.」(Makoto)
I received an explanation that I didn't really understand, saying that the enemy’s general was a strangely glossy, palm-sized dragon that Mio showed me.
Tomoe also mentioned that there were cliffs instead of national borders.
An interruption prevented them from reporting any further.
As a report on what happened on our side, Shiki explained that we engaged Sofia and Lancer and finished them. He did this with a happy expression that didn’t even try to conceal his sense of accomplishment.
Tomoe and Mio’s presence suddenly became restless, though their expressions remained the same.
As Shiki was about to go into an explanation about our contact with the demons and details about the goddess’s power, Tomoe put a hand on his shoulder and Mio seized his hand.
They both demanded a detailed explanation.
And then the two of them took him away for a discussion – no, an evaluation meeting – and I haven’t seen him since.
In the end, Ema had to take over. I was grateful for her summary of events, then I dismissed the rest of Asora.
So that everyone could rest, we decided to hold the victory celebration that Ema suggested the next day.
In other words, it’s tonight.
Right now Ema’s tired so she might still be sleeping, but someone has probably taken command and started making preparations for the party.
But I can’t do that.
In fact, the battle we fought last night was an irregular one. We’re supposed to be finishing off the mutants in Rotsgard today.
「Though I think it’s odd to call them mutants after fighting Io and Sofia. I’m still sleepy~」(Makoto)
Even so, I have to go to the academy in the morning.
That means that I can sleep for only another one or two hours.
Rona said something that worried me too, and I’m thinking that the demons might have had something to do with the mutants that gathered in the wealthy district.
It seemed like there might be demi-humans living in Rotsgard that are on the demons’ side.
Hyumans or demons.
Now that I think about it, I don’t know which side demi-humans would choose.
It’s actually strange to think that they would fight against the demons without any conditions.
Since, except for the few that are being treated well, demi-humans aren't seen as people by hyumans.
In that case, even if there was a merit system, there would be those that think that the demons are better, since they give them rights.
Not to mention that up until now, the demons only had cold, frozen lands. So there are probably demi-humans who had no choice but to approach hyumans so that they could live properly.
When I saw that army... This thought occurred to me on the other side, too, but I honestly think that the Demon Lord is an amazing person.
「Yeah, come in.」(Makoto)
「Good morning, Boss.」
「Oh it’s you, Lime. Good morn–」(Makoto)
「Sorry for bothering you so early in the morning. I was sent from the academy to come and get you immediately. You should go to the academy ahead of time.」(Lime)
「Is everyone there already?」(Makoto)
If I recall, Lime was supposed to regroup with Mondo and the dwarves at the academy.
But he came to wake me up.
「Yes. It seems the headmaster wishes to clean up already. Also... It is astounding that he is saying this so late, but it seems he wishes for us to pretend that we acted at his request.」(Lime)
It is quite late to be saying that.
「And... The important lecturers wish for you to say that in this incident, your actions were performed under their orders, which they gave to protect the people.」(Lime)
They’re all idiots.
In any case, listening to both of these requests is... impossible.
「Is that exactly what they said?」(Makoto)
As if Lime knows what I want to say, he nods.
「If I had to pick, I’d say the headmaster’s one is better. I’ll talk to Shiki and decide later. At any rate, I’d like to spend my first day or two doing as I like before I have to go to the academy.」(Makoto)
「As you say. By the way, Boss.」(Lime)
「There was a woman outside your room. Someone loitering around the shelter?」(Lime)
But there is no woman there now.
As he describes her features to me, I realize that he’s talking about the ane-san* who has been coming to talk to me about things on her mind ever since I saved her at the brothel.
If I recall, her name is Ester-san.
「Ah, no, it’s a person I brought to the shelter. I guess she’s the one I’ve talked to the most among the hyumans here. I wonder what she wants.」(Makoto)
「She disappeared after I gave her a single glance, so it must not have been anything important. I ended up imagining something indecent, thinking that she had surely spent the night here, hehe.」(Lime)
「... Spare me. Don’t think that you’re the norm, when you’re so popular with the Gorgons.」(Makoto)
「... Too much of anything is a poison*. But I think you should learn to enjoy yourself more, Boss.」(Lime)
「Yeah, yeah. Well then, shall we go to the academy?」(Makoto)
「Is Shiki-san not coming?」(Lime)
「I’ve been trying to reach him with thought transmission since a little earlier, but he’s not replying. He seemed pretty tired, too, so I was thinking that you could come with me, Lime.」(Makoto)
「With pleasure. Also, please accept my belated congratulations on your safe return.」(Lime)
「... Tomoe. She’s done it again.」(Makoto)
I wondered why Lime already knew, but I realize that Tomoe has probably been going around explaining to everyone.
Or it might have been Mio.
How is it that Lime knows, even though he never shows his face here in Asora?
「The merchants’ guild, the Lizards from the arena and the Arke were worried. They thought that we might have failed over here.」(Lime)
「It wasn’t really a success or a failure... Ah, tonight’s the celebration. You can drink as much as you want as well. Since I don’t think there’ll be any left tomorrow.」(Makoto)
Now I’ll go to the academy and take care of things there.
Maybe I’ll go and make a complaint to Root while I’m at it.
The demon collaborators that Rona mentioned are nowhere to be seen.
But there are three mutants that are all bigger than Io.
With bodies over four meters tall, they’re rampaging and destroying a part of the city.
It seems that they have the ability to fuse.
Although, they aren’t like “gachiin”, they’re more like “gucho... gucho.”
And in the end, it was decided that the ones who have to deal with it aren’t the academy’s army, but the Kuzunoha company.
The academy’s army, who were easily cleaning up the remaining mutants, were completely defeated by these mutants that have become resistant to all attributes.
But the damage from no-attribute magic wouldn’t be able to keep up with their regeneration, so it just became a wasted effort.
They've retreated, scattering like baby spiders, and now we’re left standing here.
「Ah, you don’t have to do anything, Shiki. You can just sleep.」(Makoto)
「I cannot allow that. For waka-sama to be working while I do nothing.」(Shiki)
「No, no, I’m not going to do anything either. Let’s leave it to the others, since it’s such a pain.」(Makoto)
Since Lime and Mondo are here, too.
Shiki somehow regrouped with our suppression force, but he looks even more exhausted than I am.
I have no doubt that he hasn’t slept.
He might have been in a coma, though.
When I was told to secure the surroundings and left out of the main suppression force, I was actually happy inside.
「Well then, we will go.」(Mondo)
Lime and Mondo take a step forward.
「We wish for you to leave this one to us. Since we did come all this way with our weapons ready.」(Lime)
Even the Eldwa workers look ready to fight, holding an axe whose height far exceeds their own.
If you were to ask me to describe how big the axe is, its handle is so long that it appears as if the axe is walking on its own.
They can’t walk around the city unless they hold the axe straight up.
But it’s not causing any problems in a situation like this, so I won’t say anything.
「So Lime and Mondo take down two of them, and the Eldwas can take the other. Good luck!」(Makoto)
「Now then... We’ll kill it in one blow with our first attack. Let’s go!」
There are three dwarves.
The one in the middle holds the axe on his shoulder as he points at the mutant’s right side, and they all charge in.
... Last night’s discussion, they heard it too.
The tension’s so high.
「Eh? Where’s Lime and Mondo?」(Makoto)
「Boss. The Tree Punishment will be fine, correct?」(Lime)
「Ah, I see. You’re right, shall we prepare a new symbol for the city’s revival? Two trees lined up. It might be a nice addition to our new special products for Rotsgard.」(Makoto)
「Mhmm, you can do what you want. Lime, the enemy is big, so you know what to do, right?」(Mondo)
「Of course. It won’t even take three minutes. Are you ready, Mondo? Wait, you’re already going in?!」(Lime)
「Don’t be so slow, Lime! They’re just slowpokes with large bodies, but somehow, facing such large opponents gets me quite excited!」(Mondo)
Lime and Mondo are lively, too.
Normally, I wouldn’t think that it’s an opponent that Mondo could use Tree Punishment on by himself.
It’s huge, and because the enemies are fused together, their combined resistance is unusually high.
But if Lime’s here.
Its large body is wrapped in light.
Lime specializes in enhancing the power of others.
Though there are a lot of athletes who play sports doubles and are proficient at drawing out their teammate’s ability.
Lime uses that concept as his special ability.
To compare this ability to opposing mirrors* is an exaggeration, but he strengthens and amplifies power.
For example, if he teams up with Mondo.
To a certain extent, when Mondo is trying to defeat an enemy with one use of Tree Punishment, Lime allows it to work on some opponents that would normally resist it.
Known as the Aquarius combo, the two of them have good compatibility.
It’s a clever ability that’s useful in any situation.
It’s a power that suits him, since he’s such a helpful person.
While I was thinking about this, two large trees have already been added to the city.
That’s pretty amazing.
They’re not just four meters tall.
They’re definitely tall enough to become a landmark of academy city.
And at the moment the Eldwas drop the axe – no, the huge axe that has somehow grown even bigger – on the other mutant’s head.
Splits cleanly in two.
The Karatakewari strikes the head perfectly.
Wait, that axe can grow even larger than its original size?
It seems like a weapon that’s really limited in what enemies it can be used against.
I don’t think it could be used in one-on-one fights.
During the long time the Eldwas spent living in seclusion, it seems they went and created a weapon I don’t really understand.
But there’s no regenerating from that.
As I look at the mutant that was split in half, I see its insides bubbling and swelling up.
Ah, they defeated it.
「Wait, it can’t be...」(Makoto)
I had a bad feeling, and I was right.
It bursts open, and the contents fall like rain down towards the city...
「Good grief, now the city is going to be covered in a foul smell, isn’t it. Never mind the center, but at least the parts of the city where it’s landing.」(Shiki)
Although Shiki is tired, he’s created huge magic circles overhead, slightly above the height of the buildings.
Not just one, but several of them in three dimensions, and the sky is covered with them.
I guess they form a spherical shape.
「Amazing, what a sight.」(Makoto)
「Not at all, I’m just using a weak power to burn up the raining matter; this technique was originally made to incinerate areas of land. I put up several of them and just altered how it looks.」(Shiki)
「Well, thanks to that, the city doesn’t have to take a mutant shower.」(Makoto)
「To swing that axe around without thinking. Those Eldwas must be punished later, as well.」(Shiki)
「As well, Shiki?」(Makoto)
「Waka-sama, please do not say it twice.」(Shiki)
Shiki is trembling delicately.
Let’s not touch on that any deeper, then.
At any rate, we’re finished now.
Now once the academy finishes surveying the area and declares an end to the state of emergency, the city will be restored to normal and be calm again.
... I really don’t get the sense that there was a battle here.
I stare at the huge trees, whose bright green leaves I can see swaying even from here.
I wonder whether those are evergreen trees.