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Chapter 80: Re-encounter (5)

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Author: Shizuku Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 3925 characters
Translator: Nomad English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1852 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

–––Olivia’s Perspective

I run out of the forest and head straight for the city gates. Usually I’d have to line up and wait for my turn to go in, but they allowed exceptions for emergencies.

“She’s hurt! Please let us through!”

I rush through the line while shouting loudly. The people quickly make way for me. I hurriedly bow to them in appreciation and rush up to the guards at the door, showing my student card from the Magic Academy.

“We were attacked by bandits and monsters in the forest, she got hurt trying to protect me.”
“Calm down. That woman… oh, it’s the automaton girl. I see, go through.”

The guard checks my student card and then Natalia, then a different guard opens the gate.

“Thank you very much!”

I thank the guards and the people who let me skip the line and run into the city.

“If you need help then… she’s gone.”
“She was carrying a person completely effortlessly.”
“Are all the students of the Magic Academy like that nowadays?”

I enter the city and make a beeline for the Magic Academy, but the streets are crowded, and there’s a limit to how far I can get by shouting I’m carrying a wounded person.

That leaves me with only one other choice.

“Second Divine Wind!”

I use a mobility skill and instantly jump up to the rooftops.

Unlike Full Divine Wind, this doesn’t grant me speed, but makes my movements far more nimble and gives me more stamina. That way I can run as fast as I can even on unstable footing like rooftops.

I jump from rooftop to rooftop, taking the shortest route possible to the Magic Academy and arriving there almost in the blink of an eye. I cross through the courtyard and go straight for the research campus. There I look for Miss Annabelle’s laboratory.

“Miss Annabelle! Are you there?!”

I shout as loud as I can, and after a few seconds she opens the door.

“You don’t have to shout so much for me to hear you. What do you need?”
“Natalia was protecting me, but now she won’t wake up!”

I knew I had to calm down before trying to explain the situation, but my mouth was moving faster than my brain.

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“Hmm, that looks quite serious. Bring her in.”

But seeing Natalia’s body was enough for her to have a rough idea. I follow her into the laboratory, and see Chris is here. She gasped seeing us, which was followed by a stifled cry.

Annabelle’s laboratory is filled with books and tools like my mother’s room. But unlike my mother’s room that’s well kept and orderly, everything is strewn around randomly here.

“Place Natalia on the couch there please.”

I do as told, making some space through the mess on the couch and placing Natalia on it.

“Olivia, just what happened to you two?”

Chris asks me with a worried voice, covering her face with one hand. I try to calm my thoughts before I explain what happened.

“Hmm, I can see the burn mark on her shoulder, but that shouldn’t be enough to shut her down like this. Something else must be the cause.”

Annabelle squatted down next to the sofa, carefully examining Natalia.

“There’s only so much I can tell from seeing her exterior appearance though. It’d be better if I could examine her inner workings properly.”

Her inner workings… I know!

“Wait a bit!”

I rush out of the laboratory and make a mad dash for my room in the dorm, grabbing an important pile of documents before returning.

“Miss Annabelle! Here!”

Her face remains the same as she takes the documents from me.

“What are these, Olivia?”
“Natalia’s blueprints. Mother gave them to me.”

She should be able to understand Natalia’s inner workings with that.

“Humhumm… are you sure about this? An automaton’s blueprints are essentially a compilation of the maker’s knowledge. Letting someone else see that is basically begging to have one’s skills stolen. I might be your mother’s pupil, but that still isn’t enough of a reason to be so careless about this.”

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I understand that a magician’s power relies on secret skills, and how dangerous it is to reveal those secrets to others. Not to mention that this is basically the memento my mother left me. But…

“You can take everything from the blueprints if you want.”
“Are you really sure about that?”
“Saving Natalia is more important.”

I can’t even understand half the words written on those blueprints. I need someone else to read them for me if I want to save Natalia. I have no reason to hesitate.

“Alright. But before I do anything I should tell you that I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to do something. Chris, get my tools ready.”
“Ah, right away.”

Annabelle began to read through the blueprints while Chris prepared the tools they needed.


–––Lacks’ Perspective

Many hours after Olivia carried Natalia’s body to the city, around the time when the sun began to hide behind the dense trees, Lacks moved after lying on the ground the entire time.

“God… dammit…”

Any regular person would have been long dead, but the demon’s power strengthening his body had managed to save his life.

“I’ll never… forgive them… And next time…”

He grumbled in a low voice, slowly forcing his aching body covered in dirt up.

For now he believed it was best to return to the city and wait for his wounds to heal. But before he could take a step, a shadow appeared in front of him, the horned demon stepping out from it.

“Hey, looks like you had a pretty rough time there.”
“…Tsk.”

Lacks felt enraged with the demon, who had been watching that entire time without helping him. But he quickly got over that, at least the demon was still there.

“Alright, let’s make a pact.”

As long as the demon was there, he could form pacts to fulfill his revenge.

“I don’t really mind, but there’s no one around here. Are you offering your soul in exchange then?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll pay you later, like always.”
“Oh? How so? All deals with demons are paid in advance.”

Hearing that, Lacks stuck his hand inside his pocket, but then froze. He could not find the item he had put there before, and when he found a shard, all blood drained from his face.

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That was not really surprising in hindsight. The fight had been quite violent, so the chances for the Crystal Ball of Postponement in his pocket to survive safely were slim to none.

“I believe you misunderstood something. I only followed your ridiculous demands because of that crystal ball. But since you can’t bring me anything of value without it, I also have no use for you.”
“Sh-shut up! All of this is your fault for being so useless the entire time! I gave you so many souls but the power you gave me wasn’t enough to take down a girl-”
“Don’t get carried away now, pest.”

Lacks was starting to get riled up, but Flute’s cold voice made him go silent instantly.

“All the souls you offered were next to worthless. A proper pact with a demon usually costs at least one relative.”

The value of a soul offered to a demon depended on many variables.

First was the beauty of the soul. That was decided by the person’s physical abilities, magic skills, social standing and influence, and their mental stability.

Next was their connection with the person conducting the pact. The closer they were, the more valuable the soul, while an enemy would have far less value, sometimes being completely devoid of it.

Lastly, how the sacrifice was killed. If the person conducting the pact sullied their hands killing the sacrifice themselves, the soul’s value would go up, especially if that was done in front of the demon.

All in all, the person conducting the pact had the most impact on the soul’s value. In a way, it was a test of the person’s determination against relationships. Someone who was willing to kill a person close to them had the kind of determination demons valued.

But Lacks’ bandits were just a loose group of crooks who barely knew each other’s names. On top of that Lacks’ had always thought of just discarding them once he was done, and he had not even killed them himself. In the end, those souls were worth very little to the demon.

Flute had kept all of that from Lacks simply because he was not worth the trouble.

“I kept my side of the pact, I gave you strength equal to what you gave me. That you lost simply means that the girl was stronger than you.”

Flute had given him strength equal to the souls he sacrificed. Him losing was a miscalculation on his part.

“People usually realize the gravity of their requests, and offer something of equal value. It’s only pests like you who can’t grasp such a simple concept.”
“B-but you’re bound by a pact to me!”
“I’ve already fulfilled the pact. There’s nothing binding us. Not to mention that I have no reason to form another pact with you now that you can’t offer anything and no longer have that despicable magic device.”

The Crystal Ball of Postponement invalidated the gravity of pacts, allowing one side to delay payment with no repercussions. Such a device went against the very identity of demons.

But that aside, Lacks had barely fulfilled his side too. He always treated the demon like a tool, insulting Flute whenever anything little happened. There was no demon who would willingly seek to form a pact with him again.

“I’ll just act on my own whims now. I have some pent up resentments I really need to get rid of.”
“Hie-?!”
“Everything you did was the biggest insult to demons I’ve ever witnessed. Not even death is enough to atone for that.”

Lacks whimpered as Flute’s black eyes turned crimson. A moment later Lacks vanished in a golden flash. His windpipe was crushed, stifling his agonizing cries before his head and limbs were torn and chewed.

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“Oh, come on now. I was just about to have some fun with him.”

Flute looked dejected seeing the sudden intruder, or more like returnee. The Comet Wolf who had just stolen Flute’s prey swallowed loudly, and then timidly turned to look at her1, blood dripping down its jaws.

“Oo…uh…a…so…rr…y…”

Flute’s face went through a rollercoaster of emotions, from dejection to shock, before breaking into a good spirited smile.

“Huh, this day really was full of surprises. At least I’m in a better mood now.”

Flute sounded far more relaxed than before, almost like she had forgotten the man she was talking to just moments before, and vanished from there.

As the first stars began twinkling in the sky, the howl of a Comet Wolf was heard in the forest.



References

  1. Silva: I always forget Flute is a female demon…
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