The day after the finals of the tournament.
The composite Golem had taken heavy damage during the match, so for now it was in the care of Professor Andagi in his laboratory for testing of its self-repair functions and monitoring the progress of its repair.
Kou had gone to the professor’s laboratory immediately following the match for inspection and repair, so he had been in this single room of the laboratory assisting with experiments since yesterday.
「Good morning, Professor. Breakfast has been prepared.」(Sayaka)
「Oh, is it that time already?」(Andagi)
「Vooooh~」“Good morning, Sayaka~”
The professor and Kou had been holed up in the laboratory all night; they calmed down a little upon hearing that breakfast is ready. Pulling an all-nighter had taken its toll on the professor’s old body; his hips and shoulders were making noises. Kou seemed fine as he did not require sleep.
「Have you been observing him non-stop since yesterday?」(Sayaka)
「Yes. His recovery speed is fast, you see, so I couldn’t let my eyes off him at all.」(Andagi)
As he left the room to eat breakfast, the professor explained that he had finished observing the progress on the internal repairs, so now he was observing how well the armored skin would be able to repair the damage and whether it would be able to return fully to normal.
「Kou-chan, are you okay?」
「Voooh-vo-vauh~」“I’m mostly back to normal now~”
Kou was lying on a table, attached to monitoring equipment. Some marks of the harsh battle he had gone through still remained here and there, but all of the smaller wounds had already disappeared. The only places where scars still remained were where the attacks had been strong enough to penetrate his armored skin completely.
「I see... Kou-chan, you were amazing yesterday.」(Sayaka)
Sayaka was relieved to hear about Kou’s well-being. She had an enjoyable discussion with Kou about the tournament and Gawiik’s group and then left the room, saying she had to prepare to go out.
「Voaauh?」“Are you going somewhere?”
「Yeah, to see Layos-sama for a bit.」(Sayaka)
He might be feeling depressed, so she was going to cheer him up. Sayaka had received the permission needed to enter and exit the royal palace district, which was still valid now. She seemed to know where Layos would be.
「That guy, even though he looks like that, he has some delicate parts to him as well.」(Sayaka)
The noblewomen who gather to try to gain the favor of the First Prince Layos. Feeling that both of them are carrying a heavy burden, Sayaka let out a sigh. Judging from her behavior and words, he could imagine that Sayaka has some kind of misunderstanding about the Prince Layos and the noblewomen who chased him around, and replied simply with『I see.』
「Well then, I’m going to get going.」(Sayaka)
「Vaah-vooh~」“See you later~”
Wearing a dress a little simpler than normal town clothes, Sayaka headed towards the royal palace district on foot, choosing not to use a carriage. As she came out of the magical research district and reached the entrance to the royal palace district, the familiar gate guard called out to her.
「Yo, if it isn’t Saya.」(Gate guard)
「I heard you’ve been taken in by the abnormal professor, but you seems well.」
「I feel bad for him when you call him abnormal~」(Sayaka)
After exchanging pleasantries with the gate guard, Sayaka passed through the gate and headed for a place she knew that Layos often visited when he was feeling down. The royal palace district was an enormous area with the countless mansions forming a maze inside.
There were places with benches and small streams running through, but most of the district was contained inside. Even Sayaka, who had lived here before, was only familiar with a small portion of it. She knew that if she walked down a street that she was unfamiliar with, she would get lost.
「Shortcut, where’s the shortcut~」 (Sayaka)
The royal castle in the center was the first level and the area where the lowest-class nobles lived was the eighth level. In between was the sixth level which was the section where most of the middle-class nobles lived, containing parks and plazas. Passing through that, Sayaka reached the fifth level that contained yet more parks and plazas.
Around here, the stone passageways changed to polished, marble-like stone. Going up another level, the passageways were lined with carpets. Her destination was a gazebo in one of the parks that dotted the fifth level.
As Sayaka walked along the plaza beneath the castle she encountered a large group of noisy people. They were familiar faces, but not people that she could celebrate meeting again. They were the middle- and high-class noblewomen who had conflicted with Sayaka for Prince Layos’s affection when she had lived in the royal palace district.
「Oh? I was wondering what kind of maid servant had gotten lost around here.」
「Well, would everyone look here? There’s a Butterfly Lady here.」
「To let this vile prostitute in here, I wonder what the gate guard was thinking?」
「I am sure she must have tempted him with her body.」
Sayaka cursed her misfortune as she tried to leave. But she was surrounded! The maids and servants that were following the noblewomen around were giving her looks of pity.
「I wonder where you think you are going?」
「The way home is that way, you know?」
「No, I have something I must attend to. Excuse me.」(Sayaka)
Though they were standing in front of her as if to not let her pass, Sayaka tried to walk to the side along the castle wall. But she was surrounded once more. The noblewoman who seemed like the leader of the group placed her hand against the wall to block her path and looked down at Sayaka with a smile overflowing with elegance.
『What a pain...』
Careful not to let her impatience show on her face, Sayaka thought about whether she should try to force her way through or go around. A person walking on the other side of the corridor happened to notice them. It was a man wearing the clothing of a royal member, with a young male attendant and a knight following him.
「What are you doing here.」
The Second Prince Suaro casts a dubious look towards the group of noblewomen standing here as if to block off the corridor.
In contrast to the wild nature of Prince Layos, Prince Suaro seemed like a gentle man. He seemed intellectual, but seemed like he was nervous.
The noblewomen immediately offered their greetings and flattery to him, but they could not speak coherently.
Prince Suaro’s conflict with the First Prince Layos was well-known. Even the noblemen who supported each of them engaged in conflict every single day. They feared that if they showed too much support for one side or the other, the noblemen of the other side would glare at them.
Therefore, they could not be too enthusiastic in their praise. They could do so with the First Prince who had already been decided upon as the heir to the throne, but it would be better for them not to become too intimate with the Second Prince.
Sayaka decided to take advantage of the fact that the attention of the noblewomen was focused on Prince Suaro to leave. None of the noblewomen noticed Sayaka, but as Suaro was handling the noblewomen with a reserved approach, he noticed Sayaka with the corner of his eye.
『That girl... Might be useful again.』
Karen had visited the laboratory with the messenger bird on her shoulder, so Kou had left the composite body for now to possess the messenger bird. Gawiik’s group had decided to use the tournament winnings to buy everyone new equipment, so they were taking a break in the city until all of the items they had ordered were delivered.
Karen had come to the professor with requests for a resupply of magical tools and new armor. And, of course, to visit Kou. The items that could be bought in the lower area of the city were only ordinary items and strings needed to be pulled to obtain armor with special properties. That being the case, it was cheaper and more reliable to order from well-known magical technicians.
「I’m getting a new bow as well~」(Karen)
Gawiik had sent Karen with the message that they were planning to make trips into the imperial capital’s dungeon, so Kou should participate from time to time. Kou thought it might be good to try possessing dungeon monsters again.
In the evening, Sayaka came back to the laboratory. With no time to rest, she began preparations for dinner. Kou had already returned to where Gawiik’s group were staying and the professor was making something in a research room separate from the one that the composite body was being inspected in.
「You can rest, you know? Saya-chan, you’re tired from being with the prince, aren’t you?」(Sarta)
「... Sarta-san, you’re imagining something weird right now, aren’t you?」(Sayaka)
Sayaka gave Sarta a reproachful look while saying that she would not do such things. Sarta teased her, wondering if that’s the truth. Suddenly, a familiar messenger bird fluttered in.
Kou, who had been told by the professor to return to the laboratory by evening, replied with letters of light as he drank water from the water container for the messenger bird. He was to take the completed magical tools back to Gawiik’s group with him.
「Oh, you’re here, Kou.」(Andagi)
Feeling a little hungry, the professor had come out to pick away at the ingredients for dinner. He beckoned Kou towards the research room. Sayaka scolded the professor and told him to at least eat the things that had been prepared properly first. Chewing some vegetable-like thing in his mouth, the professor returned to the research room with Kou following him.
Kou could not ride on his head or shoulders for various reasons.
This was the room for his work as a magical technician, creating new magical tools. On a wide table there were various minerals that were half-finished magical power vessels, catalysts and tools of unknown use. From among the tools on the table that was more suited to be called a manufacturing stand than a table for research, the professor picked up a magical tool that he had completed just before.
「Pyui?」“What is that?”
「It is something that becomes the core of a summoned beast; a “Summoning Stone”, so to speak. I am going to teach you how to use it, so pay attention.」(Andagi)
As the professor poured magical power into the Summoning Stone, it acted as a catalyst and the summoned beast that was carved onto its surface began to take shape. Normally, catalysts for summoned beasts produced an artificial personality for the beast depending on the magic used, so suitable raw materials were needed.
A catalyst that acted as a core did not necessarily have to be a mineral, but they were often easy-to-obtain, easy-to-use gems or bones that contained magical power. The professor had adjusted the Summoning Stone with the technique of summoning magical soldiers in exchange for the control to maintain its body.
「Well, this is something that I just put together in my spare time and thought it might be perfect for your body.」(Andagi)
Before long, what formed with the Summoning Stone as its core was a black-haired boy, around twelve years old in age. It was a human-shaped summoned beast created from magical power. Kou remembered what he learned about summoned beasts that were used for things outside of combat when he visited the House of Butterflies for the composite body’s sexual intercourse experiment.
「I tried making it for the sake of it, but can you possess it?」(Andagi)
With Sayaka’s appearance having been used as a reference, its face had a foreign appearance. Kou confirmed that there was a hole in the back of its neck and rested the messenger bird Pii-chan on its shoulder to try and possess it. His earlier attempts to possess humans had not worked, but this boy was an artificial life-form.
To his surprise he was able to possess it without any difficulty. Vigor appeared in the boy’s lifeless eyes.
「Oh, you’re inside now. How is it?」(Andagi)
「I ken moof eet jost lake thur cermpasite bodu... Huh?」(Kou)
Kou spoke while producing letters in light as he usually did, but he was surprised that he could speak words, even though they had not quite come out correctly. The professor explained that he had originally made the summoned beast not with the intent of making it like a human, but to make it possible to communicate with words.
After trying some vocal exercise, his groaning voice was soon able to speak proper words.
「Now I can talk to everyone through words~」(Kou)
「Hmm, it seems that there are no problems with the possession.」(Andagi)
The composite body that was now undergoing inspection drew attention as he walked around the town, and had other problems like not being able to enter smaller stores. With this body, he could do shopping more normally. His life would become completely different.
Summoned beasts normally had limited operating time, but this one had been created with the intent that Kou would possess it, so it had been designed for maintaining the body only. Kou could provide the magical power it needed to maintain itself, so it did not require any additional catalysts to assist with that, so the problem of operating time was completely solved.
The composite body was the one registered with the Adventurers’ Guild, so it was a strange situation where the composite body was his main body and this was his alternate one. But once the composite body’s inspection was complete, he could spend most of his time in this smaller body. When needed, he could undo the summoning and produce the composite body to possess it.
From the outside, it would look like a boy transforming into a Golem.
「Yes, yes. Now go and show Sarta and Saya-jou.」(Andagi)
Incidentally, this boy-shaped summoned beast’s appearance had been improved from the most popular model of girl-shaped summoned beasts. The fact that the one who had created that model was the professor himself was a secret.
Knowing that it would not sell well if it was known that the professor was the one who designed it, he had made requests to the selling agencies to keep it a secret.
The clothes were a part of the summoned beast, so it was possible to change clothes by changing the magical power connections; the clothes that were currently available to it were boys’ town clothes and noble’s clothes. There was also a dress included from when it was still a girl-type summoned beast. According to the professor, it had been too much of a bother to remove it so he had left it there.
Kou, now a boy wearing town clothes, headed to where Sayaka and Sarta were.
「Sayaka, Sayaka~ Look at me~」(Kou)
「Eh? Who’s this?」(Sayaka)
「Oh, this boy... A summoned beast?」(Sarta)
Sayaka opened her eyes wide at the sight of this unfamiliar boy running in from the inner rooms of the laboratory, but Sarta, with the knowledge of a magical technician, quickly saw that it was a summoned beast.
「Eeh?! This is Kou-chan?!」(Sayaka)
「Yeah, the professor made another body for me!」(Kou)
Kou tried talking in Japanese, but his attempts turned out like a foreigner reading romaji. Sarta explained that he couldn’t speak in either language proficiently because he was not used to speaking yet.
In reality, when Kou tried to speak, the language that came most naturally to him was Japanese, but the summoned beast had been made to speak the language of this world. So the movement of his tongue produced some errors in his speech. In short, he could not move his tongue properly, so Sarta’s explanation was partially correct.
「Kyaa~ so cuuute~」(Sayaka)
Sayaka hugged him without thinking. At that moment, the bell that announced the arrival of a new visitor rang. It seemed that Prince Layos, who had received comforting from Sayaka in his favorite place desperately wanted to see her, so he had come to the laboratory, but –
「Who is this?」(Layos)
His voice was stiff as he saw Sayaka hugging this boy.
「This boy is Kou-kun.」(Sayaka)
「Kou... You say?」(Layos)
Sayaka was hugging the boy as if protecting him, but Layos did not find this amusing. Upon hearing Kou’s name his stiff expression turned into that of suspicion. The professor appeared to take his seat at the dinner table and offered an explanation.
「It is a man-type summoned beast that I created. Though in this case, it is a boy-type one.」(Andagi)
「Why did you make something like...」(Layos)
「There’s a demand for it.」(Andagi)
Andagi, under his alias, had received orders for them from ladies in their thirties. Layos sighed as he remembered that the professor was an expert in such areas as well.
「That’s... certainly profitable, I suppose.」(Layos)
「Well, if you are interested in them, I can make one for you as well.」(Andagi)
「I don’t need that. I am fine as long as I have Sayaka.」(Layos)
「What are you saying, taking advantage of this situation?」(Sayaka)
Layos sat opposite Sayaka, who had sat Kou beside her. Sarta quickly brought bread and soup for Layos to eat.
Today, dinner time at Andagi Magical Weapons Development Center was just a little bit livelier than usual.