A little ways from the central auditorium, the doctor’s office was located inside the medicine faculty.
The academy was considered the highest institute for education in Machinart in the world of magic arts, but that being said, its students still numbered in the thousands. The doctor’s office had many consultation rooms, but there was only one in-house doctor stationed there permanently.
Currently, there was a female academic instructor clad in a white coat standing in front of that office.
Needless to say, that lady was Kimberly. She was lugging along a trunk that looked very heavy.
Kimberly knocked on the door, and the bustle of activity inside was immediately followed by an unnatural silence.
(Don’t tell me… I was too late?)
Placing the trunk down on the floor, Kimberly reached into her inner pocket.
Quietly removing a dagger, she prepared to kick the door and rush in… but before she could do so, the door was opened from the inside.
A half-dressed girl burst out from the previously closed door.
Her upper body was dishevelled, and she was clutching her undergarments closely within her chest in an attempt to hide them from sight.
Watching the female student’s figure as it retreated into the distance, Kimberly let out a long sigh. Putting away the dagger, she picked up the heavy trunk, and entered into the office.
There was a doctor inside, whistling innocently as he gathered some medical records together.
If he was ten years younger, he would have been considered a handsome young man. He looked a little worn out, but his good looks were more or less intact. Black frames adorned his face, and his necktie was fitted snugly around his collar. The whole appearance gave off a scholarly vibe, but he definitely wasn’t a delicate flower type. His gaze was sharp, and had a dreadful intensity to them.
Kimberly gave him the coldest of looks.
“As incorrigible as always, Doctor.”
“No, no, this is a misunderstanding, professor. I was obviously treating her. Think about it. We’re in the middle of lessons now, right? I needed to use the stethoscope, so I had her remove her top.”
“Save it. I’m not here to interrogate you over your private matters. But, I’d advise you not to walk alone at night. It’d be terrible if that thing dangling between your legs were to mysteriously drop off, am I right?”
His handsome face withered, and he closed his legs shut. Somewhat angrily, he turned towards Kimberly.
“If you’re not here to pry then what the hell do you want!? You’re ruining my fun here. Are you having abdominal pains? Is it menstrual cramps? If you’re having menopausal troubles I suggest you consult a private doctor elsewh—“
Whoosh, a pair of scissors on the table flew towards him.
Naturally, it was Kimberly who threw it, lightning quick and with great dexterity.
It grazed the doctor’s forehead and embedded itself into the wall.
“I really think you should hold your useless tongue for a while, don’t you think? Or perhaps it’d be better if I cut it off?”
“… I deeply apologise.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be done soon. I just wanted your opinion on something.”
“About Raishin Akabane.”
The moment she mentioned his name, the atmosphere froze instantly.
After a while, the doctor retrieved a medical record with a cold smile etched on his face.
“Whew. So, it’s finally come to this then.”
“I always thought the military, or the academy, or some intelligence agency from somewhere would come knocking sooner or later.”
“… Why would you think that?”
“Well, people would be interested in the boy. After all, that troublemaker did humiliate the heir to the Kingsfort line, even managing to steal his Entry into the Night Party. Because of that, Lord Walter has lost much of his standing. Did you read this morning’s Times?”
“What a foolish question. I make it my habit to read the papers while drinking my coffee every morning.”
“Heh. To think that the little lady who never even wrote a single love letter before has grown into such a splendid woman.”
The sound of the scalpel embedding itself into the wall sent a chill down his spine.
Cold sweat started to pour from his brow.
“Back to the actual topic, please. Have you noticed anything about Second Last?”
Wiping the sweat away, the doctor stared hard at Kimberly, before sighing in resignation.
“His wounds heal very slowly.”
“Hm… Now that you mentioned it, he did say the same thing himself.”
“He has very slow haematopoiesis, his cell division is also slow, and his nutritional absorption rate is bad.”
“… What’s going on with him?”
Holding up a hand to stop the perplexed Kimberly, he continued on.
“However, those were only applicable to the results from the first few days he was here. Subsequently his rate of recovery was normal. No, actually, if we compared it to all the lords and ladies studying in this academy, his constitution is actually superb. His wounds heal right before your eyes.”
“… In other words?”
“The results we’re seeing now is his baseline rate of recovery. It’s only directly after a battle that his recovery rate is drastically impaired. It would appear that his “healing power” is being consumed by something else. That’s right- it’s like collecting on a bill. Bills are such a scary thing, right professor?”
“Don’t bring in weird things into this. What’s your diagnosis?”
“Something is leeching away his life force.”
“— something like an automata needing energy to repair itself, am I right?”
“Thinking like that is only natural. But, normally you’d use magic energy for that. Using life force for something like that would be plain weird.”
“In that case, what do you make of it?”
“No, I’m not saying that you’re wrong. Unless it’s some sort of curse from a third party, or a new strain of disease I’ve never heard of before, the only answer is that his automaton is draining his life force.”
“However… Is something like that even possible?”
“I don’t see anything strange about it. In fact it’s pretty much the norm. If you are the owner of a Bandoll, that is.”
Kimberly silently locked the door, and sat down on a chair.
“Tell me the details. Now.”
Her interest was piqued. She might not have been aware of it herself, but her eyes were shining with a mysterious light.
The doctor sighed, and stared at Kimberly with pity in his eyes.
“You’re dragging yourself into another mess again.”
Kimberly feigned ignorance,
“Whatever are you talking about?”
“I saw the thesis you wrote for your doctorate. “Practical application of Machinart for the purpose of Anti-Machine warfare”- a rather straightforward theme.”
“Are you trying to find faults with my thesis? Well, reflecting upon it now, I guess it was lacking in content somewhat, and I suppose some parts were shoddily written…”
“I’m saying nothing of that sort. I’m telling you the thesis itself was bad. Even as a researcher, there are lines you shouldn’t cross. Anyone who saw your thesis understood straightaway. It was treading dangerously into forbidden research.”
It was clear from the expression on Kimberly’s face that she wasn’t interested in his sermon.
All the more the doctor was determined to make her listen, and carried on.
“The fact that you’ve become a professor at the academy is already an achievement you can be proud of. You should quit that questionable line of research, and start searching for your own happiness.”
“And I suppose your happiness is making passes at the female students?”
“That’s right, other than this, I— No, enough about me. I’m telling you to go out, reclaim and enjoy your youth, Amy.”
“Call me Miss Kimberly please, doctor. The girl named Amy already died during that war. Besides… it’s a little unfortunate, but I can’t end up as a simple researcher anymore. Even if that was what I wanted.”
“… What do you mean by that?”
Kimberly raised the trunk that was by her feet, and slammed it onto the table.
Unlocking it, she threw it open.
Inside the trunk, packed tightly such that there wasn’t even the slightest gap, were stacks of banknotes.
The doctor’s jaw dropped.
“I want you to keep a close eye on Raishin Akabane. Obviously, this will be an exclusive agreement between the both of us. And from this point onwards, you can essentially consider the British government and the academy to be your enemies.”
A devilish grin surfacing on her face, Kimberly asked.
“So, doctor, would you prefer this money, or would you rather get a sniper bullet as recompense for your co-operation?”
“… That’s a stupid question, professor.”
The doctor laughed. Meeting Kimberly’s sharp gaze with his own,
“Of course I’ll take the money.”
His honeyed voice was dripping with sycophancy.