Just as he had thought, there was a great commotion going on inside the academy grounds.
Even though it was already this late, the students had gathered, and were jostling one another to get a better view.
At the front of the crowd, a rope with the words ‘Keep Out ‘had been hung, and Raishin could see the figures of the disciplinary committee members moving busily about, illuminated by their flashlights.
Spying Felix’s figure in the midst of the activity, Raishin jumped the rope.
Recognising Raishin, Felix smiled up at him.
“Yo, you got here quicker than I expected.”
“Save the sarcasm. What’s the situation?”
“Another automaton has been done in. You want to see it?”
He nodded. Felix signalled another member on the scene to take over, and he guided Raishin inside the garden.
For a brief moment the worst case scenario flashed through Raishin’s mind.
It couldn’t be… There’s no way that it would be…
He quickened his pace. Suppressing his urge to break into a dash, Raishin followed Felix.
Seeing through his thoughts, Felix spoke up.
“Your automaton’s not with you tonight?”
“I went out into the city. I could ask you the same—“
Suddenly, a doubt crept into his mind.
“Where is your automaton anyway? Now that you mention it, I’ve never seen it before.”
“Obviously, I’ve left mine in the Locker. I am a member of the rounds, you know— with the Night Party this close, if I were to bring it out willy-nilly I’d be opening myself to attacks from ruffians like yourself.”
It was true. Charl had been attacked by a group of ten. To avoid that sort of trouble, some participants had chosen the quick and easy solution by not bringing their automata out with them.
“I see. So instead of using your own, you were planning to use mine instead.”
“Don’t say it in such a spiteful way. Well, I can’t blame you if you want to think that way. To me, you’re—“
Someone cut in from behind, leaving Felix’s words hanging in the air.
An out of breath Charl charged over to them.
“Yo, Charl. Did you go out into the city with him?”
He was sharp. Even though he wasn’t rebuking her, Charl still winced.
“Wait, don’t get the wrong idea, I was just—“
“Now then, Raishin. The victim is over there.”
Felix coldly cut her off, pointing towards the shadow of a thicket.
Surrounded by a number of disciplinary committee members, a half destroyed automaton was horizontally down on the ground.
This time, the body was in one piece. The automaton was a female model. A scar indicating the heart had been ripped out was present. Shining a light on the wound, the area had been partially melted, but different from all the cases up till now, it had retained its shape considerably.
The automaton’s skin was jet black— it could be concluded this was clearly nothing like Yaya’s.
Looking at the automaton’s head strangely caused a memory to stir.
Directly opposite him, there was a student crying while clinging on to the remains. It looked like he was mourning its death. Looking at his face, Raishin finally remembered.
He belonged to the group which had attacked Charl yesterday; the student who was controlling the Undine automaton. He wondered if this meant this was the Undine. The body’s condition was very different from how he last remembered it, and it threw him off for a second.
It should have been more obvious to him, but the translucency of the body was a result of a magic art converting the body into a liquid state. By default it was a sturdier construct, as expected.
Charl briefly looked down on the student, dumbfounded.
Then with her eyes burning with a fierce fire, she spun around on her heel.
With his back still turned, Felix stopped her in an unexpectedly strong tone.
“I think it would be better if you stopped involving yourself with Cannibal Candy from here on out.”
“Leave Cannibal Candy to the disciplinary committee. Also—“
Felix turned to face Charl.
He didn’t have his usual smile on his face, but his eyebrows were furrowed in sadness.
“I understand your feelings. It’s unfortunate, but I’ll gracefully back out.”
“You’ve chosen Raishin over me— that’s what’s you have decided, am I right?”
Charl stiffened up in shock.
“No, you’ve got it all wro—…”
“… There’s still work to be done here. I’m sorry, but could I ask you to leave? Also— I don’t think we should see each other for a while.”
Dejectedly turning away, he left.
Charl turned as pale as a ghost, trembling all over.
“What… What should I do…”
“Hey, calm down.”
“Felix… hates… me…”
“Calm down. Look, it’s all just a big misunderstanding—“
“Leave me alone!”
Brushing off Raishin’s hand, she ran off like she was bullet fired from a gun.
Her slim shoulders vanished into the distance. Raishin could only stare in blank amazement at her disappearing figure. Unable to believe what he just saw, Raishin muttered to himself.
“It’s not something worth crying over, right?”
His words were carried away by the night wind, disappearing like the ocean foam.