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Chapter 4 – Julis and the Orphanage
The next day, Ayato and company were summoned to the royal palace by Jolbert.
“Yes. Well, I don’t really know, either. According to the police, it seems to be the name of yesterday’s criminal.”
They were in the same room as yesterday and Jolbert’s casual outfit was practically the same, too. The only difference was that Maria was not there. Apparently, one of Jolbert’s mistresses stayed in bed due to the shock of yesterday’s incident and Maria went to visit her. What a really wonderful relation.
Ayato and company were also asked a lot of questions by the police yesterday, but partly due to the fact that they were the King’s honor guests, it was a polite interaction and they were freed earlier than expected.
“They say that he’s an internationally wanted criminal. He seemed to have been in Asterisk in the past and errr, if I remember correctly… huh? Which academy did he attend again?”
Jolbert folded his arms and pondered as he forgot. It made one wonder whether he treated this seriously even though a criminal attacked his royal palace.
“It’s Allekant Academy, I think. He’s a celebrity in that field.”
Having spoken in his stead was Claudia.
“When you say celebrity, do you mean something like winning a ?”
“No. Gustave Malraux was in the ranking of up-and-coming students, but he has never participated in a . He is ── one of the members who brought about the .”
“!” “ I see, I remember now! So that man is the !”
Julis half rose to her feet with a startled face.
“When you say , you’re talking about the hostage incident which occurred in Asterisk in the past, right? It’s said that the Captain of the Star Hunter Guards settled it alone…”
“Yes, it’s the greatest terrorist incident in Asterisk’s history.”
Claudia nodded to Kirin’s words.
Though Ayato did not know the details, he had also heard that name before. It was the incident which was the origin of why the Redevelopment Area was born.
“…So that means that man with a mustache is a terrorist?”
“No, it’s slightly different. The was an event which brought about 77 criminals including students’ sympathizers too, but about a quarter seems to have money reasons. Gustave Malraux was among them.”
When Claudia took out her portable terminal and operated it, multiple space windows opened.
All of them seemed to be news regarding the terrorist incident.
“All these are incidents recognized for Gustave Malraux’s involvement. A terrorist is to the bitter end someone who only aims to achieve some political purpose, but he has no such thoughts. That can also be surmised from the fact that after the , he cooperated with various terrorist organizations with different principles and position.”
“In other words, he moved only for the basis of work, huh ── wait a minute. More importantly, what do you mean by after the ? If Captain Lindvall settled the incident, wasn’t he caught at that time…?”
However, Claudia ruefully shook her head to Ayato’s words.
“The masterminds in the as well as the main members were mostly caught, but about seven people succeeded in escaping. Gustave Malraux is one of them, and that’s precisely why he’s famous.”
His name would indeed be famous after that.
“There are still many unclear parts about the though. The guard captain had reported everything about the details until the event resolution, but the background and processing after the incident were kept in the dark under the Integrated Enterprise Foundation’s supervision. It’s one of the taboo topics in Asterisk.”
The face of Julis who said so was clearly displeased.
“So… What kind of ability does that man have as a ?”
Answering to Kirin who timidly raised her hand was as expected Claudia.
“Gustave Malraux is a who was called an unparalleled genius in the conversion construction technique of mana from his school days. His ability is… as you saw last night, something like using magic beasts.”
“Even if you say magic beasts, that one was man-made, right?”
Ayato remembered last night’s chimera. Although it moved well, it was clearly not a living creature.
“Yes, of course. Up to this date, there is no ability user who succeeded in creating a life (living one), and it’s also said that it’s theoretically impossible. You could say that that was a living body model in which the skeleton, muscles and body tissues were all made without exception with conversion by mana.”
“Our ability is the power of image. If you spoil it, the power will be weakened; conversely if you establish a firm image within your mind, the mana’s movement will speed up and the power will be enhanced, too. Although there is no universal benchmark, in the case that you materialize not a phenomenon, but a substance, the ingenuity of the image is often effective. At first glance, it totally looked like that magic beast was alive. No matter how strong the ability is, it’ll first be impossible to materialize an image to that extent if you normally think about it.”
Julis who was the only ability user among the people present indifferently explained.
“But, Gustave Malraux made that possible. With his overflowing talent and by spending a great amount of time.”
“It isn’t his own words, but some people among the arrested terrorists have testified for that in order to create a new magic beast, he needed from several months to several years depending on what he wanted to create. By spending that much time, he would surely squeeze an image to the details.”
A few years is again, quite a patient story.
“Although, mana certainly converts all phenomenon or substances, but as a fundamental principle, it’s impossible to fix them. No, it isn’t that it’s impossible, but if one is to maintain such a huge magic beast’s body for a long period of time, he would have to keep converting an unimaginable amount of mana. Such a thing is impossible no matter how tremendous the prana one has.”
“Then, that was…?”
“If we’ve left it alone, it would’ve probably lapsed only a dozen of minutes.”
“In which case, it’s very convenient for terrorist attacks. After all, it isn’t necessary to retrieve it.”
“I see… There is also that viewpoint, huh.”
As Ayato said in admiration, Julis suddenly frowned.
“──Hmm? Ah, sorry, sorry. I slept late last night after all.”
When looking over, Jolbert was dozing off sitting on the sofa as such.
“Big Brother, you should feel a little tense. The royal palace was attacked, you know?”
“It wasn’t the royal palace who was attacked, but you guys, right?”
“Then, how about worrying a little about your cute little sister?”
“Hahaha, if I were to worry about you for something of that extent now, my body wouldn’t last.”
A sibling-like familiarity could be felt in that exchange between Julis and Jolbert.
At first, Ayato thought that they didn’t get along, but unexpectedly it did not seem to be the case.
“In the first place, to let a criminal through so easily, what are the guards here doing?”
“No, please don’t blame the guards for that. It looks like that Gustave man falsified his status with that of a Research Institute official of Galaxy, and the Galaxy’s ID which he used on that occasion seemed to be genuine. It can’t be helped. It’ll be impossible even for me.”
“An Integrated Enterprise Foundation’s ID?”
Claudia knitted her brows.
“Is something wrong?”
“Integrated Enterprise Foundation’s IDs are given only to people of the head offices or under the direct control of the organization. It is originally not something which should be available so easily...”
“He spoke as if he was requested by someone, so I wonder whether a big organization backs him… But, even if we assume that, why make such a request…?”
──There is someone who will be troubled if Ayato and the others join Claudia’s team.
Gustave certainly said so.
If he told Ayato and company not to participate in the , it could still be understandable. After all, they were respectively the tags which won the and were in the best four. Be it for a team aiming for the championship or for other academies, there would be no mistaking it that they were an eyesore.
But, telling them not to join Claudia’s team meant, in other words, it would be troublesome if Claudia’s team became strong; but any other team she could form would pose no issue.
(In that case…)
“Ah, that’s right. One more thing, I received a request from the police to assign guards for you guys, but what will you do?”
“It’s unnecessary for me, but if there is someone who needs it, they should do so.”
“…Actually, isn’t a guard necessary for the Princess first and foremost?”
When Ayato said so with a wry smile, Julis snorted as if bored.
“If they’ve spare energy to protect me, it’d be much more useful to invest it in the search for Gustave Malraux. We haven’t yet found even his traces, right?”
“Judging from the report I received in the morning, it looks like it. Well, our police haven’t that much of a staff after all”
Jolbert spoke like it was somebody else’s problem.
As a result of having talked at this place, it was settled that Ayato and company did not need guards.
“I Got it. I’ll tell that, in fact, you are stronger than our guards.”
Aside from a case of practical use of an organization or execution ability of a mission, when comparing only the simple individual combat ability, Asterisk’s students received a fairly high evaluation. This was because of the fact that characteristically, with many battle opportunities were more adapted to it.
Simply put, it meant that the , who were in a place where battles were actively performed like Asterisk, were stronger (Besides, there was also the fact that the use restriction of luxes, ogre luxes and abilities were loose, thus it was easier to accumulate experiences in actual fighting). Asterisk’s graduates were also no exception to this, and when they got used to a peaceful life after graduation ── even if one independently trained their body daily ── they could see that their combat ability dropped remarkably compared to their school days.
The world was still far from peace, and war and terrorism still existed, but even so they were controlled to some extent by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation and the occupation of always entering in the battlefield was extremely limited. Of course, average guards and police officers underwent training, but at least up-and-coming students probably exceed them in terms of combat ability.
But naturally, those with combat ability higher than Asterisk’s students were not few, either. The members of the Special Forces held by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation and those of the elite troops of major PMCS were incomparable with students in terms of combat experience, and there were also those who put themselves in the world of violence as a criminal like Gustave.
“If there was an army, there would have been more ways to do things; but we don’t have that.”
“Is there no army?”
When Ayato asked again slightly surprised, Jolbert plainly nodded.
“Yes. In case of an emergency, we are to borrow soldiers from the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. From Solneige and Frauenlob, that is. Besides, some military units should be stationed in the Research Institutes of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, but they probably won’t move unless sparks reach them.”
At present, the military section owned by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation and the PMCS far exceeded the military force of the existing nations. But still, the country’s polity needed to maintain a certain level of military force.
“…It truly is a puppet nation.”
“You put it bluntly, eh.”
Jolbert rather looked at Saya in admiration.
“But, as expected I couldn’t afford to leave it as is without taking measures when the honor guests were attacked. I took proper measures so as to not get in your way.”
“Do as you like. Are we done talking?”
Julis said so and stood up, but Jolbert stretched out a hand to stop her.
“Wait a moment. I said yesterday that I want to talk with you and Amagiri-kun, right?”
At his words, Julis stole a glance at Ayato.
When Ayato nodded, in a way as to say that it could not be helped, she once again sat down on the sofa.
- ψ -
“So, what do you want to talk about so much that you went as far as to have Claudia and the others leave?”
“Yes. There are two things, but… Now then, I wonder by which I should talk about first.”
“…Either is fine, so let’s quickly get it over with.”
“I see. Then, I’ll begin the one easier to speak about. ──Amagiri-kun”
As Jolbert turned to face Ayato, he said with a smile.
“Won’t you consider marrying Julis?”
For a moment, unable to comprehend what he said, Ayato stiffened.
That also goes for Julis sitting next to him as she became completely rigid like a stone, but her face immediately turned bright red and she began shaking.
“W-W-W…What are you suddenly saying, Big Brother?! T-There is also a limit to a joke!”
“Yes, well, I’m not saying to do it right now. How about beginning with the engagement for now?”
While splendidly ignoring Julis’ angry voice, Jolbert deeply leaned forward.
Ayato finally came to his senses and though flustered, honestly answered.
“N-No, even if you tell me such a thing so suddenly, I don’t know what to say… I mean, you may have misunderstood it, but Julis and I really don’t have that kind of relation…”
“Guh…! T-That’s right, Big Brother! In the first place, why’d you bring up the subject to Ayato while ignoring me?!”
Though Julis snarled at him, Jolbert did not even try to look her way.
“Yes, I’ve heard about your relation in a report from Flora. I was a little surprised though. But, that’s fine. It isn’t really a problem now.”
“It’s a big problem!”
There, Jolbert finally turned his gaze to Julis.
“I’m saying that while thinking about you, Julis. It isn’t as if you don’t know what will happen at this rate, right?”
“…Humph, mind your own business.”
Jolbert’s eyes were serious. Perhaps overwhelmed by them, Julis’ tone slightly dropped.
“What do you mean?”
“It means that if left alone, Julis will become like me in the near future.”
Jolbert exaggeratedly shrugged his shoulders.
To Ayato who was unable to understand what he meant, Julis said with a sour look.
“In other words, it means that I’ll be given someone convenient by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation.”
That meant that Julis would be forced to marry someone.
When Ayato realized that from her words, he received a shock greater than he thought.
“It’s fine for me. No matter what kind of woman is to be my partner, I have the confidence that I will love her. But Julis, you’re different.”
Julis was silent, but it was clear that her silence meant that he was right.
“Then before it’s too late, you should at least choose a congenial partner. You were able to get along as tag partners, and it’s not like Julis dislikes Amagiri-kun, right?”
“That’s… Of course, I don’t dislike him, but…”
Julis who muttered something in a subdued voice suddenly raised her face.
“Big Brother! Don’t tell me the reason why you organized the triumphant return parade yesterday was…!”
“Yes. I thought to make a light introduction.”
That explained why the two of them were sat side by side.
“B-But, why so suddenly…? It’s not like we’ve never had that kind of talk so far. And I remember that I’ve rejected all of them!”
“The situation has changed, Julis. You’ve won the after all.”
One could see that Julis had suddenly gasped.
“So far, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation wasn’t serious, so I was able to somehow manage it; but your value increases at a stretch due to this win. They will be definitely thinking about holding you down somewhere.”
“But if it’s now, I can still take the initiative. Nowadays, there is no annoying custom like social status, rather there is no better status than the ’s tag partner.”
Julis averted her gaze in frustration.
“With that said, how about it, Amagiri-kun? This country may be nothing compared to Japan, but at least, you wouldn’t live here in discomfort. I don’t think it’s that bad a deal.”
Jolbert said so with a smile on his whole face.
After a short pause, Ayato answered as to persuade himself.
“Certainly, there may not be inconvenience. But… there isn’t some kind of freedom there, either. Am I wrong?”
“There is nothing as complete freedom in this world. I think there’s no choice but accept some ties of obligation.”
“But, there should be room to choose how to accept which ties of obligation. Julis came to Asterisk to break that.”
To Ayato’s words, Julis raised her face as she was surprised.
“Choice, huh… isn’t it a luxurious desire? There are many people with no room for choice.”
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