Raishin stared at the unexpected visitor, struck dumb by her sudden appearance.
There was no way he could be mistaken. Her bewitching beauty was exactly as it was when she first appeared in front of him two years ago. In no way inferior to the dolls she created, she was as dazzlingly beautiful as any of them. Also, the voluptuous breasts that had mesmerized Raishin were as sensual as ever.
Like that night, there was a beautiful girl accompanying her tonight as well. Her face looked like Yaya’s, but she had silver hair and her eyes were more dignified. Also, she was a little taller.
“Shouko, why are you…”
She put her finger to her lips.
“Raishin. Is something wrong?”
The pretty boarding master peeked out of the office with a doubtful look on his face. Raishin thought “oh crap.”, but managed to say,
“Nothing. Everything’s fine.”
The boarding master withdrew his head.
— He can’t see them?
“Let’s go to your room.”
Shouko whispered into his ear. The faint smell of her jasmine fragrance caused the boarding master to frown suspiciously, but not even in his wildest dreams could he have guessed that was such a peerless beauty standing there.
A magic art to hide one’s presence. That was something Yaya’s sister machine, Komurasaki, was skilled at.
Having understood the situation, Raishin feigned an air of ignorance towards the boarding master as he retreated back to his room.
If he was honest though, all he wanted to do at the moment was to go search for Charl, but since Shouko had gone out of her way to come visit him, she wasn’t someone he could brush off.
Returning to his room, barely had Yaya jumped up towards him when she stopped in surprise.
Shouko looked at her in the way a mother looked at her child,
“You seem energetic enough, Yaya.”
“Yes. Yaya’s functions are perfectly normal.”
“If you’re perfectly normal, why are there traces of tears on your face?”
Someone abruptly cut in. The beautiful girl walking behind Shouko reprimanded Yaya.
Yaya took a step back, her wariness on full display.
“Since when were you there, big sis Irori?”
“Oh? Are you so out of it that you cannot even count the number of visitors? Or have your eyes gone bad? Are they just there for show?”
“That was just sarcasm. Yaya is totally focused.”
“With an attitude like that, surely you have been causing nothing but problems to Raishin, haven’t you?”
“T-that’s not true at all…”
“So you haven’t been having wild delusions over Raishin and resenting him, burning with jealously over your misguided suspicions, crying, losing your temper, and flying into jealous rages?”
“N-n-n-no, I h-h-haven’t…”
“Really now, you should learn from Komurasaki. She doesn’t complain about getting simple tasks, doesn’t get lose herself within delusions of love, and just works hard to fulfil her duty. In the first place, you—“
“Uuh… sis is always so mean to me…”
Ignoring the two sisters, Raishin held out a chair for Shouko and poured some tea.
“So Shouko, why are you at the academy?”
Needless to say, the academy’s security personnel were pretty strict. Sneaking in with an automaton was a dangerous gamble. Even if said sneaking in was covered by a high level magic art that killed off their presence.
“I couldn’t sit still because I was worried about you, boy.”
She flashed him a flirtatious glance. Her breasts were pressed together and the nape of her neck was tantalisingly visible, causing Raishin to clutch his nose.
A cold killing intent from Yaya drifted over from behind him, causing his blood to freeze.
“Don’t tease me like that. There’s a legitimate reason for you being here, isn’t there?”
“Cannibal Candy might prove to be a more troublesome opponent that we thought.”
It appeared she had gotten hold of some new information. Sitting up a little straighter instinctively, Raishin waited for her to continue. However, Shouko calmly sipped her tea, and changed the subject, to his irritation.
“That was quite the reckless stunt you pulled, boy. I heard you got into a scuffle with ten automata.”
“… It was a one on one at first.”
“And then you ended up destroying none.”
“I did destroy some. Half was Charl’s handiwork, but all ten ended up as scrap—“
The lens buried inside the eye patch flashed. He felt the eye stare at him from deep within like it was buried in a bottomless ravine, and found his excuses dying halfway out of his mouth.
“Do not misunderstand, boy. Puppets aren’t humans.”
Those were sharp words. Yaya’s shoulders stiffened at her cutting remark.
“Your naivety borders on hubris. Until you stop the heart, an automaton will not die. Your act of compassion then could return to stab in the back one day. The ambition you harbour is not so easy that you can achieve it without staining your hands. Take that sentimentality and cast it away into the deepest pits of the earth.”
“… I cannot follow that order.”
He knew he was being childish, but Raishin still stubbornly refused.
“Automata have a sense of self. They can feel pain and they can feel pleasure. They even have hearts. How does that make them any different from humans?”
“Foolish child… You still do not understand anything, boy.”
With a hint of pity in her voice, Shouko coldly spoke.
“If you kill a human, the law classifies it as murder— if you destroy an automaton, it’s only considered damage to property. It matters not what you think, boy. Open your eyes to reality. There is a chasm separating the two.”
“Even so, to me, automata are human as well. If you stop an automaton’s heart, it’s the same as killing a human. I don’t care what society thinks, that is what being a puppeteer means to me.”
“… It’s only going to get worse, you know?”
“I am prepared for it.”
“I see. In that case, try as much as you can to stick to your optimistic principles.”
Although she was blunt, a faint but unexpectedly gentle smile surfaced on her lips.
Raishin was captivated by it. Of all the smiling faces he had seen up till now, this was by far the prettiest.
“About Cannibal Candy.”
Sipping her tea, she returned back to the topic at hand.
“It’s a far bigger enemy than you thought it was, boy.”
“The military thought the people who’d gone missing might provide a clue to narrowing down the true identity of Cannibal Candy. Naturally, they promptly began their investigation into the victims. However—”
“They couldn’t be found.”
“Exactly. Over twenty boys and girls just upped and vanished from the face of the earth. Cannibal Candy isn’t just eating dolls; he’s doing away with the owners— or possibly their corpses. Because of that it’s looking like he really does eat them.”
Hiding a corpse require a back-breaking amount of effort. A large number of killers were undone because of trouble with hiding the bodies of their victims. Burying the bodies left behind freshly dug earth. Carving up the bodies would leave massive amount of bloodstains. In the first place just moving the bodies alone would be tough. Keeping them alive and hiding them might be an easier option.
Nevertheless, they were talking about a large number of people. For an individual to be able to confine so many was unthinkable.
Was that why she referred to the enemy as bigger?
“The academy, the royal family, or even the British government may be involved in some way.”
“… You’re suspecting the academy of being in cahoots with Cannibal Candy?”
“Doesn’t it seem that way to you? The academy is policed by both security and the disciplinary committee. If someone were to try something, the two layers of protection would clamp down on them immediately.”
However, the reality was that Cannibal Candy was still at large.
Also, so many students had vanished and the cause behind their disappearance was still unknown.
If the academy was really pulling the strings behind the whole affair though, then the disappointing lack of results would suddenly make a lot of sense.
But that would mean the disciplinary committee, the campus security, and even the teaching faculty all were the enemy— wouldn’t it?
“It’s not too late for you to wash your hands off the matter, you know?”
For a brief moment, Raishin was strongly tempted by that course of action.
If he pretended not to have noticed anything strange… it wasn’t as if the academy would disappear if he continued living with feigned ignorance. At most, the student council would just exploit him.
Raishin had a goal. An enemy he had to defeat at all costs.
If he were to involve himself needlessly with other affairs and end up dying, then the only person he could blame was himself.
“There’s someone I can’t abandon.”
Having realised something, Raishin muttered it out aloud.
“She’s hopelessly rash, barbaric, short-tempered, and always alone by herself. Even so, she isn’t a bad person.”
His words came in bits and pieces as he continued voicing out his thoughts.
“For some reason I don’t know, she’s currently chasing after Cannibal Candy. Or possibly, that could have been her goal from the very start… at least I think so. Furthermore, I owe her a debt of gratitude… so I guess I’m obligated to her in some way… argh, dammit, what a pain!”
Ruffling his hair, Raishin raised his head up.
Looking straight into Shouko’s face, he told her.
“I want to help her.”
“… Did you forget our wager? You bet your life, boy. If you were to selfishly go off and die a dog’s death somewhere without my permission, I’d never forgive you.”
Raishin ground his teeth. Shouko was right. Just as she said, he couldn’t go off and die like that on his own. Needlessly charging headfirst into danger was something unforgivable. However—
He couldn’t just abandon Charl either.
Seeing Raishin’s frustration, Shouko sighed.
It wasn’t a sigh of resignation, it wasn’t a sigh to mock him, it was just a genial sigh.
“Yaya, come over here.”
Yaya trotted over. Shouko placed her hand on her chest.
Momentarily, a wave passed through Yaya’s body.
Raishin had no clue as to what had just happened. Nevertheless, Yaya’s eyes started spinning and she started to fall backwards.
“Yaya! Are you ok!?”
He hurriedly caught hold of her. Yaya’s eyes were still spinning, but she wasn’t visibly injured.
Without giving him any chance to raise his doubts, Shouko carried on imposing information onto him.
“Yaya’s Kongouriki is peerless under heaven— but even then, there are some things she cannot go up against. For example, Tyrant Rex’s magic circuit Gram.”
“Sigmund’s blast of light?”
“That’s not the most accurate description of how it works. Put simply, light is the result. When the atmosphere is annihilated, light is produced.
“Do you know what kind of magic circuit that is?”
“I can roughly guess. It’s a secret formula that is closely related to how the universe works. Because of that, there is no counter-measure for it. No matter how hard the object, or how mirrored the object is, they’re all powerless before that magic art. Basically, as long as it has form, it will be annihilated. If Yaya were to be hit by that head on, she would die.
Raishin felt Yaya stir slightly in his arms.
“One more thing. Yaya’s natural enemies are wind and water.”
“Yes. No matter how strong Yaya may be, she cannot hit something with no shape. Be careful when you encounter opponents with no physical bodies.”
Seeing the both of them nod, Shouko was satisfied.
“Well then, sorry for keeping you so long. Be careful.”
“Yeah. Let’s go, Yaya.”
After making sure that Yaya was in a proper condition, Raishin dashed out of his room.