Instant Death / Instant Death Chapter 21
A pigeon with the voice of Edelgard began its report.
A carrier pigeon, a magically spawned species that played a large role in this world’s information network. Carrier pigeons, unlike the art of direct long distance transmission through magic, didn’t require any particular experience in high-ranking magic to use and as such found a lot more everyday usage.
The location was Lain’s home.
In the parlor thereof, two sages were facing each other across a table; one was the master of the mansion, sage Lain. The other was the one responsible for summoning Yogiri Takatou and Tomochika Dannoura into this world, sage Sion.
Edelgard’s voice made it easy to imagine how badly she must have been panicking when making the report, but the essence of the message was clear.
Sage Santarou had died, and the two ungifted candidates may be responsible.
“This is why I called you here.”
Lain had summoned Sion to her mansion on the grounds of having something to discuss with her.
“My, you’re concerned about my candidates?”
The responsibility for the sage candidates fell on the sage that summoned them, which also meant that other sages didn’t particularly interfere in the summoner’s treatment of his or her candidates.
“Now that a sage has died we can’t let them walk freely anymore, for being candidates they’ve already overstepped their bounds. Also, this incident has taken place in my domain.”
Santarou’s territory was the region around the kingdom of Mani, but in his pursuit of the Aggressor he entered that of Lain. Trespassing another sage’s sphere of influence while repelling an Aggressor itself wasn’t big enough of a deal for Lain to mention, but in the case of a sage’s death the ruler of the incident’s region could expect more than a few questions of responsibility coming their way.
“You don’t have any evidence it was them, do you? From what I’ve been told Santarou-san headed out to intercept some big robot, wasn’t that what killed him?”
“Possibly. However, even just the suspicion of a sage candidate being capable of killing a sage is reason enough to deal with them immediately.”
Lain was interested in the ungifteds’ power and had intended to watch over them for a while longer, but now the situation had turned too urgent to allow that. Unconcerned by Lain’s displeasure, Sion replied.
“If they could kill a sage then they wouldn’t really be candidates anymore, would they? Might as well make them sages right away if that were the case. But still, I’ve seen both of them close up and neither struck me as very rich in potential.”
“So how do you think Santarou died?”
“Well, Santarou-san had absolute control over all archetypes of magic, right? The number of magic spells he could use was easily the highest among sages. And sure, he knew how to use that magic efficiently, adapting to whichever battlefield he ended up in, but in the end his spells’ actual power wasn’t all that special. A jack of all trades, master of none, basically. Isn’t it quite likely he got himself killed because of some slight miscalculation?”
“Sure, that sounds simple enough, but Santarou had close to no injuries. There was a bone fracture, but looks like that was postmortem. The actual cause of death is unknown, and from what I’ve heard from your acolyte the two candidates appeared capable of something like instant death magic.”
“Well, Youichi-kun is quite the worrywart.”
Sion let out a sigh, her entire attitude saying ‘What are you getting at?’, and continued.
“Let’s say they are the culprits, why would they kill a sage? You said Santarou-san didn’t have any external injuries, right? Meaning they didn’t retrieve his philosopher’s stone.”
“Yeah, the report didn’t mention anything about his torso being torn open. And sure, it might be odd for someone to kill a sage and then just leave him there, but it’s not like there’s any point in trying to think up a motive for them. Be the actual circumstances as they may, I’m going to deal with them. Not that I require your permission, I just thought I’d discuss it with you beforehand.”
“Deal with them, you say. Weren’t you against murder as a matter of principle?”
“I don’t remember being that idealistic. Unlike other sages I just don’t kill for no reason. Doesn’t mean I’ll hesitate when I do have a reason.”
“Fine then, do as you wish with those two. I actually expected you to have called me here for a different reason.”
“Also related to Santarou-san, actually; I’m talking about Kurayami. Apparently Santarou-san said he drove it away, but it’s still in this world. That’s what I expected you want to discuss.”
“The question of who’ll be responsible for repelling it next, basically?”
Now that Santarou was dead there was a vacancy in the sages’ territory control. The one to end up with carrying its responsibility was likely to be either Sion or Lain, both of whose domains bordered on that of Santarou’s.
“Ah! Now that I think about it, don’t you owe me now?”
Happy with her own idea, Sion softly clapped her hands together. Lain could tell what she was getting at.
“Fine, I’ll handle it.”
Someone had to do it and it wasn’t like Lain had any reason to go out of her way to avoid the responsibility. Furthermore, if that was going to be enough to get even with Sion then all the better.
“Then I’ll be taking my leave.”
With that, Sion’s business was settled and she promptly left the mansion.
In the now empty room, Lain addressed seemingly no one.
“You called? Lain.”
And suddenly, a man’s voice responded from behind her.
“Gather the Anti-Death Battalion and head to Hayabusa. You should find two Japanese called Yogiri Takatou and Tomochika Dannoura there, deal with them.”
“Wait a minute, what? You want me to head out for just two Japanese? What the hell?”
“It’s just two, but there’s a definite reason to get rid of them. They’ve got something like instant death magic, so there’s a decent chance a regular troop wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“Ahh, aight, I see. So it’s cause we’re the most suited for the job, eh? Can’t kill what’s dead.”
The Anti-Death Battalion was made up of roughly 100 units, most of them undead or golems: a whole troop of soldiers immune to instant death magic.
“But hey, why bother with the whole gang? Dispatch me alone and I’ll settle it myself.”
Masayuki was one of Lain’s adherents ―― a vampire of her blood ―― and an accordingly high ranking undead himself.
“Capturing them will most likely require that much personnel. In fact, recruit new soldiers on-site if you don’t have enough.”
“Oioioi! Hey, aight, hey now, you saying I can wreck Hayabusa if necessary, that’s what you mean, right?”
Masayuki’s voice was full of delight; from one moment to the next he was in a great mood.
“If necessary, exactly. Don’t act out of line, you hear?”
“Don’t cha worry! I’ll handle it, you go ahead and expect some nice results!”
Lain gave him a warning, but Masayuki hardly seemed to have heard it.
“I was going to head there myself, but sadly I’ve got an Aggressor to take care of.”
Taking care of a sage killer was no small matter either, but Aggressors were still a higher priority.
“Yeeeah, I’ll leave those mystery dudes to you. The whole blood drenching, flesh scattering and atrocious dying you only get when slaughtering puny humans is more my thing, you know me.”
Masayuki and his battalion should have more than enough might to take care of the matter. If the two ungifteds’ battle strength really relied entirely on instant death magic then there was nothing they could do to save themselves.
――However, if not even the Anti-Death Battalion can handle them…
It was a one in a million chance, and Lain’s hope.
End of Act 2