“Were you surprised? Even though shishou looks like this, she’s at the SSS rank . Wait, I think that was a while ago . . ? . ” (Arnold)
“Fun!, even if it’s been a long time since I’ve been active, a midget like you wouldn’t even be a decent warm up . ” (Rarashik)
Rarashik said as she laughed . Hiiro felt frustrated . However, he could not say anything . In reality, he couldn’t even lift a finger against her . And to think she wasn’t even using her full power .
(What a monster…to think these kinds of people were called top rankers . )
Even if they’re human, can an SSS ranker be this powerful?, As if reading Hiiro’s thoughts, Arnold began to explain .
“They’re strong . The difference between a person with an SS rank and one with an SSS rank is significantly huge . Honestly, the only people that can obtain an SSS rank are freaks of nature . ” (Arnold)
“Who you callin’ a freak?” (Rarashik)
*Smack (or Punyuchi~tss)
Ignoring Arnold whose face was buried in the ground, Hiiro looked back at Rarashik .
(Should I use it? The word [Pry]…?)
If he used the word [Pry] he would be able to view the target’s status . He was tempted to use it in order to obtain an absolute numeric evaluation of her strength . But in order to use the skill, he would have to write the word . If he were seen…no . Without a doubt, Hiiro was convinced that he would be noticed before he could even initiate the skill .
He really wanted to confirm her abilities, however, if his strange movements attracted her attention and caused him to be cornered, that would be the end . Thus, he decided to stop for now . Hiiro determined that a chance will definitely arise at a later date . This was definitely the first time that Hiiro displayed any signs of weakness .
“A-alright then . I kinda want to get the conversation going so…Hiiro, don’t do anything unnecessary, okay?” (Arnold)
Hiiro remained silent . Seeing this rare sight, Arnold’s eyes widened .
(To be able to get that Hiiro to shut up, my shishou is impressive as always . )
Thinking as such, Arnold turned his gaze towards Rarashik .
“Actually, Shishou, I want to ask you a few things about the war . ” (Arnold)
Hearing this, Rarashik’s face instantly turned became hostile . She gave him a glare that made Arnold jump in panic .
“I don’t believe it but, are you guys saying you want to go off to war as well? (Rarashik)
“Eh? Ah, no, that’s not what I’m trying to say… but when you say it like that, then it’s as we thought . A war is starting, right?” (Arnold)
“The question’s not whether there will be a war or not, our forces should’ve already reached the border by now . ” (Rarashik)
“Seriously?! Then what’s gonna happen to this continent now?” (Arnold)
“Who knows?” (Rarashik)
“Master!? What do you mean, ‘Who knows!?” (Arnold)
“If war has already started then there isn’t much you can do you about it . Unless, Arnold, you want to try and persuade the king to withdraw?” (Rarashik)
“T-that’s kinda…” (Arnold)
There was no way for a group of mere adventurers would even get a hearing . However, it also didn’t feel right to leave the issue as it is and continue to act as a bystander .
“What happens, happens . The thing about war is that it can only end when one side is declared the loser . But I doubt that the Evila or the Gabranth will surrender . ” (Rarashik)
“So you say, but we’re talking about a war . Wouldn’t it leave the world in ruins?” (Arnold)
“Well, seeing how we rushed into war in such as state, we will never know when it will end . The days of rigorous everyday battles may continue indefinitely . ” (Rarashik)
“Earlier, I’m pretty sure you said that they are already at the border…” (Arnold)
Arnold took a map out of his pocket as he inspected the layout of the continents .
The Gabranth continent was connected to the Evila continent by a bridge . It was very similar to the bridge that connected the Humas Continent and the Gabranth continent . However, the structure and materials of the bridges were completely different .
The bridge that connected the Humas and Gabranth continents was 10km long and 10 meters wide .
However, the bridge that connected the Gabranth continent to the Evila continent was 30km long and 30m wide . Furthermore, it was constructed out of a special ore called “Xrude Ore” which boasted supreme toughness and was incredibly firm .
There was even a rumor about an SSS ranker that used such ore to create a sword that slaughtered countless monsters . Ever since such a rumor was confirmed, the usefulness of Xrude Ore was substantiated and irrefutable .
The reason behind the substantial difference between structure and material of the bridges is quite lengthy . Once upon a time the Humas and Gabranth worked together to create a bridge just as long and wide as the Gabranth-Evila Bridge . However, there were numerous strong and powerful sea monsters that attacked the bridge . The people managed to fend those monsters off for some time but eventually it collapsed from the relentless onslaught .
Construction of a more robust bridge was undertaken with incremental progress over the years . Ever since its completion, it continues to withstand attacks from sea monsters, remaining firm and reliable as it provides safe passage from one continent to the other .
“The Gedult Bridge, huh…if they cross that, then it’ll turn into a full blown war…” (Arnold)
“Yeah, and it’s looking like it’ll happen real soon . . ” (Rarashik)
Hearing Rarashik’s words, Muir face showed a dejected expression .
“Why… . why would they start a war?” (Muir)
Arnold gently rubbed Muir’s head . Upon seeing Arnold comitting such an act, Rarashik began teasing Arnold . “Hou~ If you do something like that, it’ll look like she really is your daughter . ” (Rarashik)
“Of course . Muir really is my daughter” (Arnold)
In reality, Rarashik expected Arnold to grow flustered at her teasing, and was genuinely impressed with Arnold as he calmly made that declaration .
“You’ve grown up a bit, didn’t ya? Arnold-boya” (Rarashik)
“Of course, I’m already 37 this year . ” (Arnold)
“Hahaha! True, true, so you’re finally at that age huh?” (Rarashik)
In the face of her unbridled laughter, Arnold stared at her with half-opened eyes .
“More importantly, why didn’t shishou go to war? Were you not invited?” (Arnold)
“Hmm? Of course I was . Isn’t it a given that I was invited?” (Rarashik)
“So? You didn’t go?” (Arnold)
“I have no interest in fighting a losing battle . ” (Rarashik)
“A losing battle?! There’s no way to know that at this point… . ” (Arnold)
“Who do you think I am? Of course I can tell . ” (Rarashik)
“…haa? But, our king isn’t so stupid that he would start a war with no chance of victory, right?” (Arnold)
“Well, it seems that the King has something up his sleeve . Besides, it seems that my damn brother went with him . ” (Rarashik)
“Your brother did?” (Arnold)
“Aa, because my damn brother was there, they were capable of going to war . ” (Rarashik)
“Well, your brother was the one behind the creation of the< > skill . ”
Muir and Hiiro, having no idea what they were talking about, tilted their heads to the side with a puzzled expression . Noticing their confusion, Arnold immediately gave an apologetic smile .
“My bad, my bad . Shishou’s brother is a researcher for this kingdom . He’s the one responsible for devising the method of using the < > skill” (Arnold)
“That method involves this bracelet…but” (Rarashik)
Rarashik showed them the bracelet fitted on her wrist . It was the same bracelet that Arnold and Miur had . It seems that the person that created those bracelets was Rarashik’s brother .
“I’m pretty sure it was called…< >, right?”” (Hiiro)
“Aa, although if the owner is able to establish a contract with a spirit, the bracelet will be granted a name . ” (Rarashik)
Arnold contracted with a wind spirit so his bracelet became a < > . Muir contracted with a thunder spirit so her bracelet became a < >
“This bracelet allows one to draw upon the < > skill during battle . By the way, the person that conceived the < > skill was shishou . ” (Arnold)
Hearing this info, Hiiro was honestly surprised . He could not believe that the person who gave the Gabranth the ability to fight with magic was the person right in front of him .
(Actually, considering the movements she displayed earlier…)
Seeing Rarashik placing her hands on her hips and puffing out her chest proudly, Hiiro felt the bitter emotions he had earlier resurfacing .
“Oji-san, you became the disciple of a really amazing person!”
Muir, deeply moved by what Rarashik accomplished, rejoiced by raising both of her hands in the air .
“Nahahaha! Keep praising me little lady! Nothing will come from it, though . ” (Rarashik)
Seeing his master passionately laughing due to her good mood, Arnold became slightly embarrassed, his cheek stiffening as his face contorted into a wry smile .
“…haha, so, shishou? Continuing where we left off, what makes you think that they are going to lose? Don’t they have the < > skill that you developed? Even with that, you wouldn’t be able to say whether they are going win or lose” (Arnold)
“Are you an idiot?!” (Rarakshik)
“An idiot!?” (Arnold)
Due to the sudden insult, Arnold involuntarily repeated her words .
“For the Gabranth who are unable to use magic, being able to use the < > skill would definitely be something that the Evila will not be able to overlook so easily . ” (Rarashik)
“T-then!? . ” (Arnold)
“Even so, abilities and the history of the magic itself are two different things . ” (Rarashik)
“Magic history, huh?” (Arnold)
“I think I get it . So to summarise… . ” (Hiiro)
Before Hiiro could conclude his summary, Rarashik’s eyes lit up with sparkled curiosity . It seemed that it couldn’t be helped but to voice his thoughts about her now before he could move the conversation along .
“…you’re a chibi-usagi . ” (Hiiro)
“What kind of summary is that!?” (Arnold)
Arnold plunged in with a tsukkomi . The person in question, however, having her expectations popped like a balloon, began to laugh uncontrollably . .
“Nahahaha! That’s certainly a great summary, bad eyes-boya!”
As if stuck onto a key point of Hiiro’s summary, Rarashik was held her stomach as it convulsed due to laughter . Hiiro obviously raised his eyebrows, making an expression that seemed to ask, ‘something the matter?’ In face of Rarashik’s sudden laughter, both Muir and Arnold could only tilt their heads in amazement .
“Nahaha! You are an interesting fellow, ain’t ya! Well, you’re free to call me what you want . As long as it’s not ‘little girl,’ I’ll make an exception just for you . ” (Rarashik)
“Ho-oh, ossan, your shishou has a quite an unfathomable depth of character, huh . ” (Hiiro)
“Kora! What’s that supposed to mean!?” (Arnold)
“Of course! Don’t compare me to a fellow like Arnold who resembles a decrepit old man!” (Rarashik)
“W-wait, shishou!?” (Arnold)
‘You’re obviously the older one here, shishou!’ is what Arnold want to say, however, he obviously could not say it even if his tongue was ripped out . If he did, he would undoubtedly wind up kissing the ground again . (TL: just imagine him sent flying into the ground, that is what “kiss the ground” would look like)
“So? You were in the middle of saying something, right?” (Rarashik)
Ignoring Arnold, Rarashik asked Hiiro .
“Well, magic has a very long history . Research from various areas and subjects has been conducted on various magic to improve its power and effectiveness . Compared to that the < > skill was created fairly recently, correct?” (Hiiro)
Rarashik said that she had thought of the skill, however, she herself, who had only lived for over 200 years, did not think that the history of < >was very long . That said, the history of the < > magic could only be about 100-150 years in length . .
“If experience was a stat that could be used to determine fighting capability, the difference between traditional magic and our < > is certainly quite overwhelming . Compared to the fleshed out traditional magic, < > has pretty much just entered its development phase . ” (Hiiro)
Listening to Hiiro’s calculated response, Arnold inhaled sharply as he redirected his gaze towards Rarashik .
“You’re pretty smart, ain’t ya . What was your name?” (Rarashik)
“…Hiiro, Okamura” (Hiiro)
“Okamura? That’s a pretty strange name . It seems like you’re the little girl’s brother or relative, but…?” (Rarashik)
*Giku-* Arnold started trembling . It was clear that Rarashik noticed that Muir’s hair that protruded out of her knit cap and Hiiro’s hair are of the same tint . She assumed that due to this similarity that Muir and Hiiro were siblings .
As Arnold was at a lost to how he should respond to this, Hiiro spoke up .
“We are of the same race, but not necessarily siblings” (Hiiro)
“Fun, the same race, huh” (Rarashik)
Rarashik compared the two of them as if she was searching for something .
(Let’s see… that silver-blue hair and those ears… no, that couldn’t be . If that was the case, then that ear shape should be slightly different…)
As soon as she determined that it was no longer possible, she discarded those that idea . Immediately following that, she chuckled to herself before she once again laid her eyes upon Hiiro .
“Well, whatever . It is just as you said, boya . Do you get it, Arnold?” (Rarashik)
“Um, the < > skill which has a shallow history, can’t win against magic?” (Arnold)
“That’s a given . The Evila will be able to use magic that < > users will not be able to use . Compared to them our magic is inferior . (Rarashik)
“But shishou’s level of < > is different, right?” (Arnold)
“Well, I’m the one who thought of it after all . After me would probably be…just the king . ” (Rarashik)
“Wait a minute! What about the “Three Beast Saints”?” (Arnold)
(Nn? The three beast-saints?)
Hearing an interesting word appear, Hiiro raised his eyebrows .
“Isn’t it obvious? They’re all just snotty nosed brats if you ask me . ” (Rarashik)
“Snot nosed…you know that they’re very influential people of this kingdom…”
Hou~ Hiiro felt something click as he gained an understanding due to Arnold’s words .
(Even among the Gabranth, there are people who are classified as being in the top class…huh? The Three Beast Saints? If presumably there is only 3 of them, that’s not a very notable amount)
It seemed that, according to Arnold, the three-beast saints were ranked next to king in terms of combat ability and influence . In Rarashik’s eyes, however, she seemed to have deemed them as ‘snot nosed brats’ .
“Well, leaving out the whole snotty brats thing, the number of people that can bring out the true power of the < > skill besides me is only 1 . Incidentally, they’re one of the people that are heading off to war . Do you really think those amateurs who take the lead in this war will stand a chance against the Evila?” (Rarashik)
Arnold was left unable to reject those words . From first hand experience, he can attest to the < > skill’s strength . However, he also knew that he wasn’t able to realize the skill’s full potential . If you apply Arnold’s situation to Rarashik’s explanation, the obvious conclusion drawn is that all the beastmen are unable to fully utilise the < > skill .
Those handicapped Gabranth are going to fight the Evila, who have studied and compiled their knowledge of magic, to the point of being able to use their magic like their own limbs . What Rarashik is try to convey is that it is correct to assume that the Gabranth will not be able to stand a chance against the Evila .
“It’s too soon . It’s way too soon to be stirring up trouble with them . ” (Arnold)
Putting her hands in her white lab coat’s pockets, Rarashik let exasperated .
“So, you tried to stop them, Shishou?” (Arnold)
“If I was talking to people that listened then maybe I could have convinced them…It’s just that everyone was so enthusiastic about being able to use magic with the < > skill for the first time . There will always be someone stronger no matter how strong you get . ” (Rarashik)
“To think that shishou’s words couldn’t stop them…” (Arnold)
“Well, to them, I’m just a former martial arts teacher . I don’t have that much authority in the first place . If had some achievements under my belt like my damn father, perhaps they may have heeded my warnings . ”
“Is that so…? No, I think what shishou has achieved so far is definitely something worth respecting . ” (Arnold)
The ability to bring out the Gabranth hidden potential by using the < > skill is already a great feat . However, in Rarashik’s eyes, something of that level was probably not what she would consider an accomplishment .
“In any case, this is a war . It’d be nice if we are able to return from it without experiencing something tragic…” (Rarashik)
True, this was not a measly quarrel . This is for the Gabranth to measure the power of the Evlia, to find their own weaknesses and learn something from it . There is a high probability that they will experience something painful before retreating to safety .
“Sadly, the Gabranth are simple and naive . There is a possibility that they may get wiped out . ” (Rarashik)
“N-no way…” (Muir)
Muir voiced her dismay as her face grew pale . If the Gabranth army was annihilated, there is a high chance that the end of the Gabranth would draw closer . Even if Evila retreated, there is a chance that the Humas would take the opportunity to invade .
In the event that they do invade, the Gabranth would be enslaved by the Humas . Realizing this, both Muir and Arnold felt a shiver run down their spine .
Arnold and Muir knew all too well that the true horror of the Humas wasn’t their strength or their magic prowess, but their desire for domination, control, and greed . It is because of this that a future enslavement to them had to be prevented at all cost .
“I-is there nothing we can do?” (Muir)
“Didn’t I say it before? All we can do is let things run their course . ” (Rarashik)
“Y-yes, but…” (Muir)
“Or what? Do you plan on joining the war effort in order to prevent enslavement? With those puny arms?” (Rarashik)
Even though Rarashik’s words were harsh, they were indisputably correct . No matter what he would do, the situation would remain unchanged . Involvement in the war effort would only bring about several more corpses of Evila soldiers . Worst case, it would only increase the number of Gabranth bodies .
Seeing Arnold clenching his teeth, Rarashik could only spit out sigh .
“Well, we won’t be able to completely stop the flames of war, but in theory, we can delay the opening spark . ” (Rarashik)
Arnold tried to think of a method to delay the war, but he was unable to come up with anything . He had given up and thought that there might be no way to do something like that .
“Kind of . If it works, both sides will stay put . ” (Rarashik)
“What method is it?” (Muir)
“Didn’t I say? This is only a theory?” (Rarashik)
“It seems that neither side is likely to benefit from it . And even then, we need to find someone capable of doing it…” (Rarashik)
Arnold brought his hand to his chin, tilting his neck as he stared at Rarashik .
“E-exactly what kind of method is this?” (Arnold)
“…hmm? I think that boya over there already knows, right?” (Rarashik)
Saying this, Rarashik’s casually gaze laid upon Hiiro’s reflection . He held his arms crossed over his chest in an uninterested manner, however, after being spoken to, Hiiro turned his gaze towards Rarashik . Facing her, he spoke .
“Aa . ” (Hiiro)
Hearing Hiiro’s expression of affirmation, Muir and Arnold’s jaws dropped in disbelief .
Rarashik grinned in admiration .
‘Oi Hiiro? Are you serious?” (Arnold)
“Yeah, although I’m beginning to wonder how much of that you understood . Were you asleep the whole time, old man?” (Hiiro)
“Nahahahaha! To be treated like that by someone younger than you, you should be ashamed, Arnold!” (Rarashik)
“Gununununu… . Argh, whatever!I don’t care anymore! Tell me already!” (Arnold)
As Hiiro noticed Muir’s curious, glittering eyes staring at him as if pleading him to teach her what he had realized, ‘ha~’ Hiiro could only sigh .
“Why don’t you say it bo-ya? I want to see if you’ve actually got the right idea . ” (Rarashik)
Seeing Rarashik’s playful smile that felt like she was testing him, Hiiro felt pissed . However, even if he remained silent, the other two’s stares started to become a nuisance . Therefore, Hiiro reluctantly began his explanation .
“…ha~Listen carefully, got it . That method is… . ” (Hiiro)