|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3181 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1411 words|
Sero was still smiling as he said that, which sounded almost like a warning.
Mira struggled to understand what he meant, but after a short moment her face froze as she realized her mistake. Mira then hesitantly turned her gaze up to look at Sero, and a moment later she said, 「It seems you’ve already noticed…」 before hanging down her head in hopeless resignation.
「I don’t know how to really put it, but considering how strong you are, you should try to put in just as much effort so no one notices, if you’re trying to hide it I mean. Though I guess only other former players would notice anyway, so maybe you don’t have to worry as much.」
Former players had the ability to Examine others, making it easy to see if they were of the same lineage. And of course, all of them knew of the existence of the Vanity Case, which could alter their appearance. On top of that, the Nine Wisemen were the most popular people amongst players. Taking all of that into account, it was not impossible that others could figure out Mira’s true identity.
「Hmm… Thank you very much for your concern.」
The Vanity Case could alter one’s sex, not just the appearance. In a way that was the ultimate disguise, but not even half as effective on those who knew it was possible. Even more so if they used to stand out in the past as well. Mira also realized all of that now, and then asked in a sulky tone, 「So, since when did you know?」 Sero seemed slightly apologetic as he answered, 「I thought it was possible the first time we met.」
「No… So you had a suspicion since way back then? That’s quick… I wish you had told me back then…」
When they first met, Sero had hinted at the possibility of her being Danbulf in their conversation. Mira began recalling that conversation, grimacing when she remembered that question.
「I didn’t have any proof of it back then. And it seemed like you wanted to hide that fact. That’s why I figured it was best if I got to know you better until you decided to tell me yourself.」
Apparently Sero did not want to expose her secret, but rather wanted to be a friend she could trust with it.
「That’s quite an honorable disposition.」
Mira smiled as she said that, then stood facing Sero, coughed and stood with her chest puffed.
「The Wiseman’s Pupil Mira is merely a front. In truth, I’m none other than Danbulf, one of the Nine Wisemen!」
Mira declared loudly, her tacky pose looking somewhat forced.
「Thank you very much for telling me. I’ll carry this secret to the grave. Though you could’ve told me in a much more normal way…」
「Doing that would be too embarrassing to bear…」
Danbulf had used the Vanity Case, giving birth to the beautiful Mira. She could never imagine talking about that with a straight face. But regardless, it was hard to tell who felt more embarrassed after that exchange.
「Anyway, let’s regroup with the rest like Kagura told us, shall we?」
Mira switched topics saying that, and took a look around the rocky mountains surrounding them. A moment later she opened her terminal and checked the map to see their location.
「That way. Let’s get going then.」
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Mira quickly summoned Pegasus, climbed on its back, then pointed behind her saying, 「You go here.」
Sero nodded, placed a hand on Pegasus, and mounted behind Mira.
At Mira’s signal, Pegasus unfolded its wings and took to the skies. In a way they looked like a prince and princess riding on a celestial stride, but the princess stood prideful and haughty, making it hard to imagine someone would paint such a picture.
They spent a bit more than ten minutes flying above the mountains. The morning breeze felt especially nice. Their destination would come into view soon enough, but then Mira had a strong feeling something was amiss.
「I just realized, why did Kagura choose to go riding on Piisuke? Riding on Piisuke means the effect of incoming wind will be stronger, and Piisuke won’t be able to go as fast as possible. If she was truly in a hurry, it would’ve been faster to let Piisuke go on ahead, and then switch places.」
If Kagura was truly desperate to go back quickly, Mira’s suggestion would have been faster. Piisuke was fast enough to travel from the center of the continent to a city on the western beach in six hours, meaning his speed was roughly three hundred kilometers per hour. It would take around ten minutes to go from their location to Sentopolly at that speed.
But Kagura had chosen to ride on Piisuke herself. Mira knew Kagura had to be aware of how much that changed her speed, which puzzled her. But Sero did not seem to have any doubts, simply looking at the distant sky while muttering, 「She probably just wanted some time alone.」
Sentopolly came into view far in the horizon. Kagura was there, riding on Piisuke, talking to Mizar, the commander of the platoon that took down the control systems.
「Say, Mizar. Did you find Reesha?」
Reesha, the spirit Kagura met when she first arrived in this world. The wind spirit that kindly lent her a hand when she was confused and struggling to comprehend her situation. Also the reason Kagura formed the Fifty Bells.
Rescuing Reesha from the hands of Chimera Clauzen. That was Kagura’s dearest objective.
『No, she wasn’t. We tried asking all the spirits we rescued… but lamentably none of them had heard of her.』
There was a cage with many trapped spirits underneath that facility. Maybe Reesha was there, Kagura hoped. But Mizar dashed her hopes, his voice pained as he replied.
He knew of Kagura’s objective, so when they discovered those trapped spirits, he asked about Reesha first, looking for her. But none of his efforts bore fruit.
「I see… Did you find any other places then? Any info on where they kept other spirits?」
『No… We questioned everyone from Chimera we caught alive, but they all insisted there were no other places. Apparently the cage they used to trap them is rather specialized, and it won’t work anywhere else except near a ley-line.』
A cage that could contain spirits, who were powered by the energy of nature. Such a device required very specific locations, so there were no other places where they could build one. They delivered all the caught spirits to the cage underneath that facility. If a captured spirit was not there, then that meant they had already…
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『Still, umm, you know, maybe she managed to escape on the way here, perhaps… or she could be hiding somewhere far, far away…』
Mizar desperately tried to cheer Kagura up, but halfway through his own voice began to falter, fading with a bitter smile in the end. He felt guilty for saying that while being aware of how unlikely it was.
During their long fight against Chimera Clauzen they had never seen them be as clumsy as to let a spirit escape, not even once. Their expertise was that great. That was another reason why they had been unable to catch any of them until recently. And that was why his attempt at encouraging Kagura was all the more painful.
「Mm…yeah, thanks Mizar. Mira and Sero should be heading your way, good luck with your next mission.」
『Alright, we’ll receive them like heroes.』
Kagura’s voice rang bright and clear as she changed topics. Anyone could tell she was obviously pushing herself to sound normal, but Mizar did his best to reply enthusiastically as well.
「I’m sorry I was late.」
Kagura ended the communication and muttered into the air, watching as Sentopolly, bathed in the morning sun, grew bigger in the distance. In cue with that moment, tears began streaming from Kagura’s eyes, trickling down her cheeks with nothing to stop them.
Whether from regret or guilt, Kagura cried thinking of Reesha and Multicolor, her best friends she knew for only a night. Her cheeks soon flushed red, and she wailed like a child.
Up above in the sky there was no one to hear her sorrowful lament, her long cries vanishing into the clouds.