Raishin was unable to comprehend the nature of the thing flying towards him.
The air was distorting and undulating. If he had to put it into words, it was like a blade with no tangible form. The invisible blade had multiple layers piled up on top of each other, and whirling about, it gouged out the pavement while heading straight at him!
That invisible “something” was cutting up soil and gravel, about a metre in diameter. If he got caught in it, he would wind up as mincemeat.
Raishin was already moving his body. He had hopped away like a grasshopper.
Springing his whole body, he jumped a bit further to compensate for some margin of error in his perception, but the magic arts field of effect was bigger than it looked.
Lighting grazing his left arm, the sleeve of his uniform was ripped apart.
It was a dull feeling. There wasn’t any pain. Even so, unable to use his left arm, he fell down onto his right side. Flipping himself up, he assumed a guarded stance.
He knew whose handiwork this was. He had recently seen this magic art up close.
Was she finally casting aside her slow façade and revealing her true colours? If so, then he was in trouble. He wasn’t sure if he could hold out before Yaya came…
“No! Rabi, stop!”
The attacker’s killing intent towards Raishin was… probably non-existent.
Frey was holding on tightly to Rabi, trying to hold him back with all her strength.
Magical energy was leaking out from every corner of her body. However, it didn’t look like she was doing it volitionally. In a panicked state, Frey was tightly clinging on to his neck.
Something was obviously wrong with Rabi.
The first thing was that his eyes were different. Normally round and cute, they had the ferocity of a wild animal now. His fangs were bared, and saliva was dripping from his jaws. He was staring at Raishin like a wild beast that had caught the scent of blood.
Was he in some sort of trouble? Was the machine part of him malfunctioning?
He forcibly pulled Frey, who was still looking back over her shoulder, out of the way. Rabi jumped at Raishin aiming for his throat, but Raishin had fallen on his back and caught Rabi in an overhead throw, planting his foot into the dog’s abdomen for added effect.
Crouching low, he reached for the harness on his waist. Pulling out a cylindrical container, with one hand he pulled out the safety pin. The moment Rabi recovered, and turned his nose in Raishin’s direction, he threw the object.
There was a loud bang. An explosive force, as well as a bright light that obscured any field of vision was released.
Eyes spinning, Frey tumbled down onto the floor. Rabi took two, three steps back before he too, fell down.
Waving the smoke away, Raishin slowly stood up.
He lifted Frey up, lightly slapping her cheeks.
“Hey, snap out of it. Are you ok?”
Her vision slowly swam back into focus. As soon as it settled, Frey sprang to her feet.
“Don’t worry. That was just a stun grenade, it wasn’t lethal.”
Frey lifted Rabi up. After a short while, Rabi lifted his head up, a blank look on his face. Tilting his head slightly, he started sniffing with his nose.
It was the same useless dog as ever- or rather, it was Rabi.
Frey clung to Rabi’s neck, hugging him tightly.
After that, as though she had remembered something, she turned towards Raishin and politely bowed her head.
“Sorrkew very much…!”
It looked like she had combined both sorry and thank you very much.
“I don’t really get what just happened, but it looks like things turned out just fine.”
“Yes, thank you… Uu?”
“… You’re hurt.”
She was staring at Raishin’s left arm.
The wound on his left arm was much deeper than he thought. There was a deep cut where the skin had split. Even though it had just grazed him, the wound was pretty bad. If it had hit straight on, it might have cut through the bone totally.
Frey rummaged behind her waist, and opened up a pouch. She took out an antiseptic and a bandage, and with experienced hands performed first aid on his wound.
“Sorry for the trouble. By the way, do you always carry that around with you?”
“It’s because I… often… get injured.”
“That’s because you’re pretty clumsy.”
In shock, she repeated “Clumsy…” a few times.
“So. Something must have happened. What was it?”
Frey quickly fell silent, hanging her head.
“You weren’t deliberately targeting me, were you? Why did the magic art activate?”
“Uu… I’m sorry.”
Tears were slowly forming at the edge of her eyes.
“Don’t cry. I’m not mad at you or anything.”
“I said I wasn’t. I’m just curious. The thing looked strange to me.”
Frey had sunk into a determined silence. Raishin sighed.
“Look, I’m going to say it frankly. I might be a villain, but I’m no demon. I don’t plan on withdrawing, neither do I plan on losing. But when it comes to a listening ear, you could at least try telling me before dismissing that idea.”
Frey looked lost. Her gaze wavered back and forth, looking up at Raishin-
And decided not to. She probably was getting cold feet.
“Things have already reached this point, don’t just stop now. Spill it. Why are you trying so hard to assassinate me? What are you hiding? And also, does this have anything to do with the Sword Emperor-“
“Let’s erase her, Raishin.”
Suddenly, a different voice cut in.
Because he had been so focused on Frey’s expression, Raishin had failed to notice her arrival.
Her shadow grew as Yaya appeared closer.
Like something that had been unzipped, Yaya’s words flowed on endlessly.
“Resorting to using Machinart, this person is an assassin in both name and deed. Please give Yaya the order to defeat her. Yaya will make sure that there’ll be nothing left of her.”
“… Like I would say such a thing.”
“Be more decisive! At this rate you’ll really be in danger! Raishin will-“
“Don’t worry about me.”
“-be led astray by those two lumps of fat…!”
“Ah. Your true intentions have leaked out.”
“In any case, all vixens should be massacred by-ah!”
By the time Yaya had noticed it, Frey was already increasing the distance between them.
Hugging onto Rabi’s back, her scarf fluttered behind her as they ran away. Whether Frey was unexpectedly skilful, or Rabi was the one who was skilful, she didn’t fall off his back as they disappeared from sight.
There was an awkward silence.
A moment later, Yaya was sobbing convulsively.
Large tears were falling from her face as she cried. Her magical energy going haywire, her teardrops were instantly crystalised, forming orbs of water with the density of steel.
“Hey, stop crying like that. Are you hurt somewhere?”
“Raishin is so cruel… casting Yaya aside so that the both of you could have a lover’s rendezvous…”
“Are you wilfully ignoring the wound on my arm? And speaking of which, this is the first time I’ve heard of any secret rendezvous.”
The sobbing continued. Yaya was considerably upset. What with all that had happened in the past few days, and the incident last night, she was more unstable than she had ever been before.
Attempting to fight the first battle in this state would be troubling. Even though there was nothing wrong with him, Raishin tried to improve the mood of his partner.
“Come on, stop being such a sourpuss. A third-rate puppeteer like me can only rely on someone like you.”
The crying was replaced by silence more ominous than ever before.
“… Then, how are you going to help my mood improve?”
Instantly, Yaya’s eyes were sparkling. This is bad- thought Raishin, but it was already too late.
Yaya was clasping her hands together, her eyes closed, and face thrust out.
… This position. It couldn’t be.
She wanted a kiss?
Cold sweat ran down his back. They were in a bad spot. People had already started to gather around them. Undoubtedly, they had heard the racket earlier, and came to see what was up. Additionally, this was right in front of the dormitory, so he was aware that there were countless faces staring out of the windows.
“Raishin… Hurry… <3”
She urged him on in a sweet voice. How the hell can I possibly do that in front of other people, he instinctively thought. But if he ignored her now, there’d be hell to pay later. It was a dreadful prospect.
Sweat flowed from his pores. He was paralysed like a deer caught in an oncoming truck’s headlights.
Abruptly, he felt someone’s presence.
Someone was approaching without making a sound. And quickly too. It wasn’t the speed of a normal human. By the time he had finished thinking, the thing was already right behind him.
Something hit his back with a thud.
If it was an assassin’s dagger, Raishin would have certainly be dead, but,
“Raishin! It’s been a while~!”
Something was hugging his back tightly, something soft and light, and that something was a girl’s body.
Looking at the innocently smiling girl, both Raishin and Yaya exclaimed at the same time.