The back of the person that had defended Charl was covered in blood.
He was still in the middle of treatment. Underneath his torn up clothing, his naked skin was covered in swaths of bandages. Said bandages were torn in places, making them absolutely useless. In such a state however, the bandages didn’t fall off him because they were stuck there by the half dried blood.
He was wobbling on his feet.
It was clear he didn’t have enough blood in his system. Even then, Raishin had protected Charl.
Her vision grew blurry and she covered her mouth with her hands.
“I’m sorry Raishin… so sorry…”
“I told you not to apologise. It doesn’t suit you, scary dragon girl.”
“But… because of me… you ended up getting hurt so badly…!”
In a strong, sharp voice, like he definitely didn’t want to admit it, Raishin chose to flatly deny it.
“You’re the one who’s hurt badly.”
A cold anger, like a silently burning flame, drifted over from Raishin’s back.
His anger and his intensity enveloped Charl’s heart, which had been sliced open and tread on.
Ever so slightly, the pain eased a little.
Hugging onto the injured Sigmund, she lifted her face up.
“Do you not understand the situation here..?”
Across from them, Felix was staring at Raishin and Yaya with a perplexed look on his face.
“Listen carefully to me, Raishin. Cannibal Candy’s true identity is Charl. As the disciplinary committee chairman, I have an obligation to capture her and bring her in for—“
“Heh. This is such a lousy performance; even the scenario is third-rate.”
Felix’s face twitched.
While staring at Felix, Raishin supressed any emotion in his voice as he spoke.
“No matter how many enemies she faced— even if say, there were ten of them, she wouldn’t kill a single one.”
He thought back to the day when he had first met her.
In the aftermath of that battle, it was clear Charl hadn’t killed a single automaton.
“The Raster Cannon is an attack with a large range that is extremely hard to control. The power behind it also isn’t something half-assed. With that in mind it took considerable skill to not kill anyone, even though there were so many of them caught in the blast. The enemy had just performed a cowardly sneak attack on her— no one would have any objections or complaints if she killed them there and then in the course of turning the tables.”
Finally, Raishin declared aloud.
“Even though she herself was in danger, she was still concerned about her enemies’ life— there’s no way someone like that could be Cannibal Candy.”
At that moment, Charl’s heart was filled with immense warmth, like the sun was shining directly on it.
She’d always thought she was all alone.
There were only enemies surrounding her. Things like friendship and trust were concepts that she was fated not to have.
Even now there was someone who understood her and believed in her.
Felix disappointedly starred at Raishin, before starting to laugh.
His carefree voice had a hint of provocation in it as he asked Raishin.
“In that case, what do you plan on doing?”
“Obviously, I’m going to defeat you and put an end to Cannibal Candy’s rampage.”
Next to Raishin, Yaya braced her herself, lowering her posture.
There was a sharp glint in Felix’s eyes.
“You wish to go up against me?”
“Yeah. Both you and Lisette, who’s standing next to you.”
Charl couldn’t comprehend what Raishin had just said.
Timidly, she asked Raishin,
“Did you just say Lisette…?”
“It’s exactly as I said. That person over there was serving as the chairman’s assistant up till just now.”
“But it used a magic art… so it’s an automaton, you know?”
“Sit and watch quietly. I’m gonna smash that ugly helmet and expose her face for you to see.”
“That’s quite a boast there, Raishin. If you think you really can pull it off, just try it, I dare y—“
He heard Yaya acknowledge the command from far in front of him.
To Charl’s eyes, it looked like Yaya had turned invisible. It took a while for her to realise that it was just an afterimage left on her retina.
The exchange took place in an instant. Yaya used a bare hand to catch the sword, before thrusting the other out sharply at the automaton.
The Valkyrie jerked her neck away to avoid the blow, but Yaya’s finger tips grazed her helmet.The mask portion crumbled like it had been torn off.
Yaya took a huge leap backwards, somersaulting as she landed. As her foot touched the ground, the Valkyrie’s mask fell onto the floor, revealing her face for all to see.
It was an unsociable emotionless face.
It was unmistakable— that was Lisette Norden’s face.
Charl’s eyes widened. She tried to say something, but her words failed her and she remained speechless.
“Calm down, Charl…”
Sigmund whispered coolly to a panicked Charl.
“A puppet’s face can be easily changed at will… Lisette Norden was definitely a human up to a certain point in time… mostly likely she was murdered and he replaced her with his automaton…”
It was easy to make an automaton’s face resemble a human’s. Present technology and techniques enabled the creation of joints and the feel of skin that closely resembled a normal person.
Felix had modified his automaton, and had it take Lisette Norden’s place in school.
He had deceived everyone. The disciplinary committee, the boarding master, the professors. Also, he had deceived Charl.
While feeling everything she had believed in crumbling one after another, Charl started to shiver as her consternation grew.
She didn’t know what to believe in anymore.
On the other hand, Raishin was the picture of calm as he spoke lightly, ease in his tone.
“Your metallic mask is fine, but I think you look prettier this way. What’s your real name?”
“Don’t be stupid, Raishin. I have no reason to tell you such a thing.”
“Don’t butt in, Felix. I’m talking to her, not you.”
Felix fell silent. His pride had been hurt, and his pretty face was distorted in anger.
It was her first time seeing him make such a face. For the first time in her life, Charl experienced the sharp pain that disillusionment brought with it.
Lisette looked like she was thinking about it, before telling him “Eliza”.
“Ok, Eliza. Let me ask you this. Will you not retreat now?”
“A tool cannot choose its master. In other words, you have committed no sin. I will not blame you for killing all the people you have killed so far. So, retreat now.”
Lisette—Eliza— fell further into though, before speaking.
“Please sleep talk only when you’re asleep, you maggot.”
“Is that your own will?”
“It looks like you’ve misunderstood something.”
A split second later, Eliza’s emotionless façade crumbled away.
A wicked smile that seemed to reach her ears etched itself on her face.
Her violent laughter sent a chill down Charl’s spine as Eliza spoke.
“Do you hate eating?”
“… It’s a relief to hear you say that.”
Raishin’s presence changed.
The anger that had been burning up inside him— it was now a frigid killing intent.
He held out his right hand with his left propping it up. Releasing magic energy, Raishin shouted.
Yaya moved like a speeding bullet. The enormous magic energy that Raishin released entered her back, pushing her forward at an explosive speed.
Countless spears of water greeted Yaya as she dashed forward.
The spears were shot out in quick succession like a machine gun, but Yaya didn’t stop. Unbothered by the rain of spears falling on her, she charged forward like a fireball.
From Charl’s position, she couldn’t see things clearly, but it looked like the spears had no effect on Yaya. The torrent of water which was strong enough to penetrate Sigmund’s armour was unable to pierce Yaya’s skin.
Yaya closed in on Eliza in an instant. Dodging her sword, Yaya adjusted her trajectory by ninety degrees, jumping upwards. Drawing her extremely white thighs inwards, she coiled up her legs.
Then with all of her might, she brought her heels downward.
Yaya’s attack struck Eliza’s head unerringly.
In that moment, the sound of a dull splash reached Charl’s ears.
He eyes didn’t betray what her ears had heard. A large volume of water splashed up and out as Yaya’s legs went through her head.
Eliza’s body turned into water droplets and was scattered all over the place. Obviously though, that wasn’t the end. The droplets began to coalesce, forming a pool of water. The pool of water rose up to take the shape of an automaton— becoming Eliza again.
Eliza wasn’t just able to control water; her body could turn into a liquid state.
This was extremely similar to something Charl had already witnessed first-hand just the other day, inside the academy. The one who used such a magic art was the puppet that had been devoured by Cannibal Candy.
Its name was Undine. The magic art that the automaton was equipped with was exactly the same as Eliza’s.
Could it be…? Cannibal Candy was able to use the magic arts of the puppets he had devoured?
“I see your automaton relies on sheer brute force. Unfortunately for you though, Eliza cannot be defeated through punches and kicks.”
While laughing, Felix taunted Raishin.
“I have already seen how you fight, and it is absurdly simplistic. You shout the attack you’re going to use, and you pin the enemy down. Such a vulgar, barbaric and primitive style. To compensate for this weakness though, you came up with a battle plan. By attacking in combination with your automaton, you can come up with complicated tactics… However—“
Felix waved his hand. In response, Eliza attacked.
She fired out four spears of water in succession. All of them were aimed at Raishin instead of Yaya.
Throwing himself flat on the ground, twisting out of the way and jumping back, Raishin dodged the first three.
He was unable to dodge the fourth one, and it sliced his flank. Raishin sank down on his knees in pain, pressing a hand to stop the blood from flowing out.
“Look, your movements are so dull. Considering the state you’re in, it’s useless for you to fight in that way.”
Yaya, flustered, rushed over to Raishin. Raishin stopped her from doing so,
“Don’t get distracted. Kouen Nijuuyonshou!”
He channelled magic energy into her once more. Yaya had a pained expression on her face, but obediently moved to attack.
Approaching Eliza again, Yaya punched, kicked, and struck her.
It was a fierce onslaught. Water was splashed all about the place, forming a mist. However, Yaya’s attacks seemed to be meaningless. The droplets of water gathered almost immediately, reforming Eliza’s shape.
“You don’t seem to get it.”
Felix sneered, releasing a torrent of water aimed at Raishin.
This time though, his attack was read. Yaya quickly blocked off the trajectory of the shot, crushing the spear of water.
“I won’t let you lay a hand on Raishin.”
Felix clicked his tongue. Being as smart as he was, that one shot told him everything he needed to know.
This attack no longer had any use.
A spear of water had a straight trajectory. As long as Yaya stood in the way, it would be hard to hit Raishin. Yaya speed was several levels higher than Eliza, and she was as tough as steel.
It was a deadlock. Both sides lacked a decisive finisher, making it an unpleasant situation to be in.
Surprisingly though, Felix also seemed to hate the fact that they were in a stand-off.
“Well then, how about this?”
Preparing for a new attack, Yaya braced herself, but Raishin was unexpectedly pulled off his feet.
Raishin suddenly found himself hanging upside down.
Still upside down, Raishin was forcefully yanked into the air.
A bluish-white light of something—a chain was binding his feet together. Like a giant lasso, Raishin was swung in the air and sent flying into a magnificent pine tree.
Both Charl and Yaya cried out.
Crashing into the trunk, he spat out globs of blood.