Chapter 3-1

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Although he knew that he wouldn’t be seen, Raishin was still tensed up as they exited through the gates of the academy.

Normally, he would be able to just walk out by himself, but now there was Komurasaki next to him. The iron barrels sticking out of the eye-holes in the gate weren’t spitting out fire, but it made him uncharacteristically nervous.

It was like being held at gunpoint, and all he could do was to maintain the unbearable silence.

After exiting the gate, they walked on for a bit, before stopping in front of an automobile.

“It’s the military’s car~ C’mon, get in!”

His hand being pulled along by Komurasaki, he entered the car. The car’s driver seemed to have been briefed beforehand; once he felt the car shake as “someone” got in, he started the engine.

Cutting through the town, they moved on towards a more rural area. Breaking off from the main road, they turned into a farm road which was muddy from a combination of rain and lack of sun.

To avoid raising any suspicion, the car stopped before the orphanage came into sight.

With Komurasaki leading the way, they proceeded on foot.

The buildings in front of them looked like it belonged to a rich farmer.

Two-storied, and made out of stone; there were two of them and both were superbly constructed. In the middle of the grounds there was a tall silo erected as well as a smaller wooden shed that looked like it was used to house animals.

“That’s… a cattle barn, right?”

“Yup. But huh, I totally can’t smell any cows at all~”

Her small nose twitching, Komurasaki sniffed about. She was right though, the foul odour of cattle manure was absent.

“No matter how you look at it, it doesn’t feel like an orphanage at all. Are you sure this is the place?”

“It’s definitely here~. I was supposed to walk in a 43.189 direction, and 22.546 kilometres from Shouko’s place.”

Komurasaki wasn’t mistaken. There was a signboard above the entrance to the premises, and “Orphanage” was clearly written on it. Judging from their appearance, the people in charge appeared to be from the nearby monastery.

Slipping by the signboard, they entered the nearest building which was the small shed.

It appeared to be previously used as a resting place for the farmhands. A man who appeared to be some sort of sentry was standing there, but of course he didn’t notice them at all. Yawning, he stared at the farm road.

The musket leaning next to him caught Raishin’s eye.

(This place is ridiculously secured.)

The security was nothing to sniff at. The sentry didn’t have to be armed, but he was.

They headed towards the centre of the grounds, where the suspicious building was.

The construction of the building was even more impressive up close. It was massive and solid. There was no doubt that the people who had this built were loaded.

Strangely though, the windows were all secured with iron bars.

“Ah, look, Raishin! Doggies!”

Pulling his jacket, Komurasaki turned towards the direction of the cattle barn.

The enormous entrance was open, allowing the interior to be seen. There was a steel cage inside, but instead of cattle, they contained dogs.

Sorely tempted by them, Komurasaki looked like she wanted to go inside. Her free-spiritedness was like a butterfly that had just been released. Seeing no other way around it, Raishin turned to the direction of the cattle barn.

A Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Shepherd, Doberman, and a Collie. In addition to these, there were several other mongrels inside the cage. They all seemed to be breeds that were exclusively used as police dogs or in the army. Armour covered their legs and shoulders.

If he had to guess, he’d say they were automata.

The breeds were different, but there was no doubt they were the same type of automata as Rabi.
Raishin entered the barn with Komurasaki following behind him, but the dogs were fast asleep and didn’t notice them at all. It looked like they weren’t operating at full capacity, although it was possible that they were in their normal state. But Komurasaki’s hidden form was deceiving their senses.

“They’re so cute~ I wanna raise one too~”

Komurasaki had stuck her arm through the steel cage in an attempt to touch them, but her arms were too short and she couldn’t reach the dogs.

Even with her little white arm flailing awkwardly, the dog type automata didn’t wake at all. Their twitching ears made them look entirely like real dogs.

Suddenly Raishin halted, feeling a strong sense of unease.

(This is odd. These dogs, even for automata- aren’t they’re a bit too lifelike?)

The way these were constructed made them the polar opposite of Loki’s automaton, Cherubim. If anything, they were closer to Yaya. Automata that strongly resembled the real thing.

(Was there really a need to make them this close to resembling actual canines?)

If they were meant for military use, they would be fine even if they looked slightly mechanical.

Scratching his head, he went deeper inside.

In the middle, there was a room made out of stone.

This was the only strange construct within the barn. It had a thick steel door, and a seal that looked to be the work of a magic art was placed upon it. The peep windows were bolted with iron bars. Its appearance brought to mind a certain something.

— A prison.

“Raishin, what’s wrong~? Are you interested in what’s inside?”

“Let’s open it.”

“Eh! But if you open the door, the doggies will all wake up!”

“I don’t see any type of barrier on it that will trigger an alarm. If we open and close it quietly, there shouldn’t be any problems.”

Retrieving some tools from his pouch, Raishin began to pick the lock. Any 3rd party would have been unable to detect the noise that he was making. The dogs themselves displayed no reaction to the sound of Raishin picking the lock.

With a final click, the door was unlocked.

It slowly opened.

“…It’s empty?”

There wasn’t anyone inside.

Komurasaki and Raishin stepped inside the room and as he turned to close the door behind him,

“What business do you have here, brats?”

Unexpectedly, a voice could be heard.

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