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  Report and Unrest  

The night after things had wrapped up in Dormundt, Tsukasa received a phone call from Shinobu Sarutobi, who’d gone to the city alongside Masato and Elch.

“Evening, Tsukes! Long time no see. How’s the crew?”

“Good. Due in no small part to the sugar and pepper Merchant sent over. Everyone’s glad that our menu’s expanded. And you guys?”

“Oh, we’re golden. I’m, like, in my element here. Being cooped up in the mountains is no good for a journalist like me, y’know. A reporter with no news is like a fish out of water. But here in the city, it’s like I found my ocean again.”

On the other end of the phone, Shinobu sounded downright elated.

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself… I hear things got a little hairy over there.”

“I mean, I wasn’t there for most of it, but Massy did go on a bit of a rampage. I think he was just happy to be back on the grind, like me. But hey, it’s thanks to that we got all those supplies, right?”

“True… Although, I have to say, I wasn’t expecting him to buy a slave.”

“Oh, you know about Roo?”

“Yeah, Merchant sent me a picture.”

“I hear she cost him a pretty penny.”

“That’s Merchant for you. He’s good at making money, but he spends it like there’s no tomorrow. When it’s something he really wants, that is.”

“Oh yeah, he totes has the hots for her. He can’t get enough of her smooth brown kiddie skin…”

“Try not to tease him too much. He knows the right way to spend money. That’s one of his great virtues.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. C’mon, it’s not like I’m totally tone-deaf over here.”

Shinobu roared with laughter, to which Tsukasa replied, “As long as we’re on the same page,” before broaching the main topic.

“Now then, I’d say that’s about enough catching up. Your battery’s not going to last forever, after all. Let’s hear what you’ve learned.”

“Wow, now who’s the buzzkill? After all the long, cold nights I’ve had to spend alone over here, the least you can do is entertain me a little. Boooo.” For all her complaints, though, Shinobu did finally start giving her report.

“There’s actually too much info to go through at once, so I’ll write up all the stuff I learned about this country and its history and send that over to you later. For now, here’s the TL;DR: First, as far as magic goes, I got a veteran to tell me a bit. Basically, it works about how you’d expect. This world has four types of elemental spirits—fire, water, earth, and air—and by communing with them, you can do stuff like throw fireballs and call down bolts of lightning.”

“That sounds pretty useful, especially considering how undeveloped this world is.”

“Yup. That’s why anyone who can use it is respected, no matter where they come from. Now, that said, they’re super-rare. Most of them live in the capital. The only one around these parts is the First-Class Mage at the lord’s castle.”


“Ah, sorry, sorry. First-Class Mages are the ones who serve the empire. There are also Second-Class Mages and Prime Mages. Second-Class Mages are basically like students, so they’re all at the magic academy in the capital. First-Class Mages are Second-Class Mages who’ve graduated. It’s kinda like the difference between trainees and full-time employees. Then, out of all mages in the empire, the cream of the crop get the title of Prime Mage. I’ve heard it goes even higher than that, though. Rumor has it that there are people who can cause natural disasters all on their own.”

“Is there any kind of magic that allows the user to traverse worlds or summon someone from another world?”

“Mmm, I haven’t heard of anything like that yet. Magic’s rare to begin with, so info’s pretty scarce. I figured the First-Class Mage in the lord’s castle might know more, so I’m planning on getting in contact with him next.”

“Got it. Well, even just learning that our assumptions about magic are largely on the mark is more than I could have hoped for from a one-week investigation. Thank you.”

Shinobu replied with a singsong “Sha-sha.   No problemo.”

“…Now, as far as the Seven Heroes thing goes, I did get one big piece of info, but…long story short, I kinda hit a wall.”

“How so?”

“Well, for starters…it might be related to this old, dead religion called the Seven Luminaries…but that’s all I got so far. See, a couple hundred years ago, the Freyjagard Empire wiped them out. Freyjagard operates under the law of survival of the fittest, with the feudal emperor at the top of the food chain…and the emperor didn’t take too kindly to having a religion that placed God above him. It wasn’t just the Seven Luminaries, either. He took every religion on the continent, burned their holy books, tore down their churches, brutally killed their followers, and ripped them up by their roots without leaving a speck behind.”

“…Religious persecution, huh.” Hearing Shinobu’s report set a flame of ugly hatred burning in Tsukasa’s chest.

This entire country was messed up. A nation and its laws should exist to protect the people who live in it. But here, the masses were being violently oppressed to support a small privileged class. That…could hardly be called just.

Shinobu was just the messenger, though. There was no point shooting her. Tsukasa suppressed the fury in his chest and continued listening.

“I tried checking out the villages near Dormundt, too, but…there weren’t any records or texts anywhere. I’m good, but even I can’t find something that isn’t there.”


Shinobu’s investigative abilities were far beyond those of the rest of the High School Prodigies. If she couldn’t find something, odds were slim that any of the rest of them could, either. Even so, though—

“It’s clear there aren’t any leads around the village. But still, the roots faith leaves in people’s hearts run deep. Violence can tear up the surface, but those roots will still be there. Any religious teachings that reached across an entire continent should have left footprints somewhere, even centuries later.”

Winona’s husband had probably stumbled across one such set of footprints. And if he could—

“Right now, the legend of the Seven Heroes is the one lead we have in our search for a way back to Earth… We need to follow up on it, even if it means scouring the entire continent. We need to find what’s left of the Seven Luminaries.”

Shinobu seemed to share his opinion, as she immediately agreed. “…You’re right. It’s the only clue we’ve got, after all.” However, her voice quickly took on a shade of unconcealed irritation.

“…But there’s one big problem there.”

“There is?”

“Yeah, it’s a doozy. See, what we’re in right now is northern Freyjagard. That’s comprised of four domains, and Marquis Findolph’s domain, the one we’re in, is at the northernmost point of the whole continent… But in order to leave it, they say you need the lord to give you a travel pass.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty standard for a civilization like this.”

“Uh-huh. From what I’ve heard, though, this Marquis Findolph guy is a scumbag of epic proportions—”


At around the same time as Tsukasa and Shinobu’s conversation, a shrill male screech echoed through Marquis Findolph’s castle.

“Youuu little whore!!!!” A corpulent, middle-aged man wrung a naked woman’s thin neck atop an opulent bed, his face red with rage.

“Ack, gah! P-please…”

“How dare you, how dare you, how dare you! How dare you try to deceive me! This is unforgivable! Utterly unforgivable!”

His pudgy arm could hardly be considered strong, but it was still too much for the slender woman to shake off.


Then, all of a sudden, the woman stopped clawing at the man’s arm. She went limp. The light faded from her teary eyes as drool dripped from the corners of her gaping mouth. When a drop fell on the hand clutching her throat, Marquis Findolph grimaced in disgust.

“Gyeh! How foul!”

He heaved the woman’s corpse aside, then grabbed the bell from beside his pillow.

“Inzaghi! Inzaghi, get in here!” he shouted, summoning his captain of the guard.

The man in question quickly opened the bedroom door and responded to the call. He was a hyuma with long hair, silver armor, and a gloomy countenance. The accessories on his ears and fingers were of a similar make to his armor, and he had a sly look about him. His name was Inzaghi, and he held the title of Silver Knight.

After bowing respectfully to his lord, he asked what was wrong.

“You called for me, my lord?”

“Inzaghi, clean up that trash at once!” Marquis Findolph pointed at the woman’s corpse, which had rolled off the bed to slump on the floor.

“Oh my. Did the girl do something to offend you?”

“Why, I should think so! That whore wasn’t a virgin! She even cut herself down there to try to trick me with a bit of blood! Not only did she rob me of my First Night Right, she plotted to deceive a noble! Do you think I ought to show mercy to this tart, Inzaghi?!”

Inzaghi shook his head almost exaggeratedly.

“Absolutely not, my lord. All common women of Findolph must give their virginities to its lord. Such is the law of this land. And when someone violates that law, they forfeit their right to live here. That is how justice is kept.”

“Well put. Well put, Inzaghi. You know what to do, then, I hope?”

“Indeed. I shall track down this girl’s family and any man she had relations with and have them executed.” After giving his answer, though, Inzaghi found he still had a bit more to say. “…But if I may be so bold, my lord, I fear that punishing the transgressor after the fact does little to solve the underlying problem.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You may be being too gentle with these commoners, your lordship. While lenience is a virtue among rulers, your subjects are quick to take advantage of it. Commoners are like wild dogs roaming the fields. Without proper discipline, they’ll never learn their place… My lord, might I suggest that we hold a little ceremony to teach these uneducated commoners exactly whose property they are and what Freyjagard’s absolute law is?”

Marquis Findolph contemplated the suggestion for a moment.

“…Hmm. True… You’re right, Inzaghi, quite right.” His gold teeth glimmered as a barbaric smile crossed his face.

“It’s high time these people know who owns them.”

Inzaghi smiled internally at his lord’s response, thinking how easily manipulated the man was. However, the Silver Knight was careful not to let any of his scorn leak out as he guided the marquis in the direction he wanted.

“If I might make a suggestion, your lordship, I heard tell of a village of greedy peasants who’ve recently amassed wealth beyond their status—”

It was a moment that marked the beginning of the next great trial the High School Prodigies would have to face.

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