The sound of the loud explosion reached all the way to where Charl was.
The ground rumbled, then there was a violent wind. Unrest began to spread amongst the disciplinary committee members.
“What was that?” “It sounded like it came from the Locker.” “Did something happen to the chairman’s assistant..?”
Felix raised his hand to quell the unrest.
“Teams C and D head over in that direction. Most likely, there’s some trouble going where Lisette is. She’ll definitely need backup. The rest of you retreat and form a cordon fifty metres away from here.”
One of the disciplinary committee members was surprised by the order, and spoke up.
“Chairman, that’s a risky move. Your opponent is the T-Rex!”
“I’ll be fine. I am a member of the Rounds after all—“
Felix grinned, his usual smile on his face.
“And my automaton has just arrived.”
Right on cue, something appeared behind Felix. Or rather, it would be more precise to say something was descending behind him. It was a female silhouette, and it landed with a soft thud.
It was an automaton wearing armour— if it had to be summed up in a single word, it would be a Valkyrie. It had on old-fashioned armour and was carrying a greatsword. The helmet covered her face fully, so it looked like some sort of demonic mask.
(This is… Felix’s automaton?)
It was Charl’s first time seeing it in person. It appeared to be the disciplinary committee members’ first time as well, as they were staring at fascinatedly. Sigmund grew wary, giving off a low growl.
“Now then everyone, please fall back.”
The disciplinary committee members glanced at each other, hesitant.
“Chairman, that’s an order we can’t follow. The enemy’s not only the T-Rex, she’s Cannibal Candy as well—“
“You still don’t get it?”
Felix’s voice froze over suddenly.
Unimaginable from the normal Felix, his voice was now as cold as ice.
“You’ll be in the way, is what I’m trying to say.”
Everyone got cold feet. It was clear to them what was about to happen.
Following Felix’s orders, they spread out in a circle, moving away in all four directions.
Their presences rapidly faded away into the distance. Eventually, the area surrounding Charl and Felix grew silent, and Felix quietly spoke, his regular grin back on his face.
“Let’s have a nice, long chat, Charl.”
Her heart grew cold. That regular smile now instilled fear inside her instead, and she asked him,
“Do you honestly believe I’m Cannibal Candy?”
“Of course I’m serious about it. It would be a problem if I weren’t.”
—What did he mean by that?
However, before she could voice her doubts, Felix continued to speak.
“Honestly, the original plan was for him— Raishin Akabane to defeat you. I was able to successfully lure him out on the pretext that you had gone missing… at least that part went off without a hitch. Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. I’d say he’s done enough for me.”
She had a nasty feeling. She felt her throat rapidly dry up as she asked,
“Did you do something to him as well?”
“I’ve just taken care of him. My comrades will take care of the rest.”
“Did you kill him!?”
“I didn’t. I just broke him, and his doll.”
“He was performing subversive activities inside the Locker.”
“Having to do that was just a slight modification to the plan. He still had some value to me, so it was a pity I had to do it. If he had opened my locker, then all would have been fine, but he just had to go and open the one locker I didn’t want anyone to open— so I couldn’t let him roam about freely anymore.”
Charl had no idea what he was talking about.
Charl’s brain was replaying a different line that Felix had spoken earlier.
Raishin was lured out— because he was searching for me?
“Why!? I don’t understand! You’re the one who dragged him into the whole affair in the first place!”
“Oh, Charl. To think I valued you so highly. You’re not very quick in the head, are you?”
Felix sighed. Giving her a look of scorn, he shrugged his shoulders.
At that moment, like a lightbulb going off in her head, Charl finally understood.
She finally saw the whole picture. As much as she didn’t want to believe it, it was the worst case scenario.
She bit her lips. Her knees shook. Speaking slowly, like she was emerging from a state of confusion,
“You… used… me…?”
“It was too good an opportunity to pass up, Charl. If you want hate something, hate the fact we were doomed to meet. Curse the heavens for putting both you and I into the academy in this year.”
No… Felix shook his head as if to say.
Like a giant crack on the earth, a dry smile emerged onto Felix’s face.
“Curse the fact that your Raster Cannon is similar to my Predator.”
Finally, Charl understood everything.
The situation had been like this all along.
Everything she thought she knew was actually reversed.
Felix didn’t show kindness to Charl because their magic arts were similar.
It was because their magic arts were similar that he tried to get close to her.
Everything had been carefully calculated.
He feigned concern about Charl to get close to her.
Everything he said to her was meticulously prepared as well. His gentleness had been a sham.
He was going to frame Charl with all his sins, and kill her as Cannibal Candy— that was his deceitful plan all along.
In short, Felix had been the enemy all along.
Felix was Cannibal Candy!
At that moment, Charl’s world literally crumbled into darkness.
There was no sound, no light; everything had vanished. Her muscles felt like they had been replaced with lead, dead weight which weighed down heavily on her.
Who would believe Charl’s version of events?
It would be her word against the disciplinary committee chairman’s. All the evidence conveniently pointed to her. In fact, there might even be some fabricated ones to help the case.
There wasn’t a single person that would believe, understand, or defend her. Even now she remembered Sigmund’s advice on making friends, but it was all too late.
Something warm began to drip down onto her cheeks.
Her emotions raged inside her. However, there was nothing she could do, and she felt an extraordinary sense of helplessness. Sobbing like a little baby, all Charl could do was to let her tears flow.
“This… is too cruel…”
“It’s regrettable. If it’s any consolation, I’m telling you about everything at the very least.”
“But why..? Why would you..?”
“Don’t be stupid. What other motive could there be for enrolling in this academy?”
Felix’s tone was light and refreshing.
“To become the Wiseman, of course. I am going to become the king of the magic world.”
Charl felt like a fist had been buried into her. She felt her brain go numb and her senses dulling.
Felix had a grin on his face, and his gentle tone was like his normal self.
“The Night Party is a merciless battle for survival, where the person who eliminates all other obstacles in his or her path gains everything— that was what you always liked to say.”
“I liked that part of you. As a matter of fact, I agreed with you wholeheartedly. It’s just—“
His eyes turned cold as he finished his sentence.
“—there was something about you I couldn’t stand… your naivety.”
He extended his hand out to the automaton beside him.
Magic energy extended out from his palm, linking him to it and firing up the puppet.
The magic circuit began to activate. With the automaton as a conduit, Felix’s magic energy was expressed as a phenomenon of physical alteration.
The invisible energy began to build up, before being released.
In a flash, a torrent of light shot forth from the puppet’s sword.
Actually— it was the sparkle of water.
Like an arrow, the fierce torrent of water flew straight at her. The water took the form of a sharp spear, aiming straight for Charl’s brow.
Sigmund leapt into action, using his small body as a shield to protect Charl.
The torrent gouged out flesh, causing fresh blood to spurt out and hit the floor. The little dragon was sent forcibly flying backwards, collapsing onto the ground.
“What are you doing, Charl…!? Hurry up and support me..!”
Sigmund called out to her. However, his voice didn’t reach her ears.
Felix prepared his next attack, focusing his magic energy. Even that didn’t enter her field of vision.
Charl remained sunk down on the floor, unable to do anything else but cry.
Her mind was a blur, but one thing stood out the most.
How am I going to apologise?
If it was just her, then it was fine. This was punishment for her own foolishness.
However, Felix’s schemes had also involved someone else other than Charl.
Because of my stupidity, those two—
He was a rude person, but meant well.
His automaton too, got dragged into this messy affair.
Now they were going to suffer because of her.
“Raishin… I’m sorry—“
Just as Charl’s apology left her mouth, the sparkle of water indicated something had slashed through the air.
Transforming itself into a lethal shape, the sharp end was about to neatly pierce both Sigmund and her—
With a clang, a metallic sound assaulted her eardrums.
She snapped back to reality. Jerking up her head reflexively, a most beautiful sight came into her eyes.
The moonlight sparkled dazzlingly, reflected through the water droplets.
The spear-like jet of water was blocked by them, dispersing harmlessly.
Two shadows appeared in front of Charl.
The one who stopped the water spear was a small and slender girl.
Directly behind her, with his hand on her back, there was a youth.
His bandages fluttered in the wind, and the girl’s hair did so likewise. His entire body was drenched in blood, the severity of his wounds obvious to Charl even in the darkness of night.
“Don’t apologise, you idiot.”
With his blood-stained back to her, his voice was curt, but there was strange warmth in it.
“There’s nothing you’ve done that you need to apologise for.”
He turned to stare at the enemy.
To protect Charl, he was going to fight.