TL: Eevee

1. I didn’t know then. (5)

#5 Their Story: The future hero’s story

Silver rain in the night sky.

But that was only due to the moonlight reflecting off it.

In reality, they were chunks of ice being dropped from extreme heights.

Destructive enough to annihilate anything on the ground, the devil’s strategy that sent two armies to hell in the Great War.

But right now, it was merely a backdrop for a beautiful dance.

Weaving through the rain of destruction with light footsteps.

And following behind those footsteps are indiscriminate destruction.

But the destruction never reached that small frame.

One step, and another.

The slightest deviation from the path meant being turned into unrecognisable meat paste.

But the girl in front of us was walking that path while smiling.

Everyone held their breath.

The screams of despair were gone now. All that could be heard was the sound of the silver rain’s destruction.

How much more time passed since then?

“What the hell.”

Someone’s curse seemed to mark the end of her passage through the silver rain of nightmares.

And I, seeing the girl rummage on the ground after slipping through the violence oh-so-easily clenched my fist as I stared at her back.

I knew perfectly well who she was.

My exact counterpart.

If I was No. 1, the foremost, then she was No. 1000 or the very last.

Up till now I didn’t put much meaning into the No. 1 title.

No, I had actually thought it was natural.

Although I had been sent here as a sacrifice of a hierarchy struggle, I had been trained in the style of one of the pillars of the Empire: the Raina Dukedom. Moreover, I had learned from the best knights since the age of 5.

I trained myself following my father’s words that I had to be the best, and I never thought I would lose to my peers.

But now, I was so ashamed and embarrassed at myself.

As someone that served the empire I knew full well what that silver rain was.

The six year war where seven nations including the empire had fought among each other leading their vassal and allied states.

In the battle that began the year I was born, the Empire was victorious, and that tactic had been instrumental in securing victory. That was why I feared it.

I had thought that the evil organisation had simply mimicked the technique that only the empire was able to use.

But that was a fake.

That was not the strategy the empire used.

Just an imitation.

Not the empire’s high-class skill, but a simple trick.

Because of that, I didn’t realise. Simply because of fear.

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As soon as I realised that I picked up my sword and ran.

“Do have a death wish?!”

A sharp scream.

It probably belonged to the kid that had been keeping all the kids in line since earlier.

The girl with sharp eyes that could recognise the umbrella.

But unfortunately her sharp eyes meant that she couldn’t recognise something either.

One step, then another.

Behind my footsteps, the sound of rattling earth.

The slightest nick would completely shatter my body, but I couldn’t stop my feet.

How much more time passed.

The longest time, but also at the same time the shortest of instances passed and somehow I managed to arrive where No. 1000 and the instructor was waiting.

No. 1000 was sitting on a small rock munching away at something.

As I walked in front of No. 1000 who had the same apathetic expression at both the sound of destruction behind my back and me in front of her, she looked up at me with those apathetic eyes.

“I’m not going to lose anymore.”

I said strongly to my opponent, no, to myself.

No. 1 and No. 1000 are irrelevant. The numbers from primary training should end at primary training.

Humans are beings that only ever move forwards.

So I will acknowledge it.

The being in front of me is currently the first existence that had ever surpassed me, and was my rival.

And on this day, I first developed my indomitable mind that instilled me to never give up, no matter what.

…Ah, with one exception.

#6 Their Story: Ria El Nermia

“That, is that possible?”

“I heard about it through the rumours, but is it really all up to its reputation?”

Goddamn it…

Listening to the whispers around me I could only sigh.

Just why was I suffering so much in this place?

Even like this, I was part of the strongest nation on the continent: the Karuan Empire.

And within the Karuan Empire, if you were to ask who were the strongest clan of magicians, nine out of ten would say the family of the Nermia Earldom; and I was their second daughter.

There was only one reason I came to this organisation named Howling.

In Howling, there was the possibility that the second half of the clan’s swordsmanship manual and the family’s seal was here in this place.

One day, my grandfather, the previous head of the family; currently having given up his right to lead the family and living life as a member of the Magic Tower visited home for the first time in three years.

And as Father was working on documents, Grandfather snatched away the seal he was using with a horrified look on his face.

It was then the family realised that that seal was not real, but an extremely well-crafted fake, and after that, multiple investigations were conducted through which we found that the second half of the clan’s swordsmanship manual had also been stolen.

The Nermia Family was a founding family of the Empire and a prestigious clan that produced many mages and sages.

To Nermia, swordsmanship was simply a self-defence technique for mages, and so that itself wasn’t much of a problem.

No, at the time, the magical physical strengthening being developed by the royal family was even more effective, so you could say that swordsmanship was essentially all but pointless. To be honest, it didn’t matter too much if it was gone.

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But the seal was different.

All the family’s affairs were ultimately the responsibility of the family head, and the object that represented the family head was none other than the seal.

The seal was the family’s diplomatic symbol and arguably the symbol of the family itself, and if it became known that the seal that had been used since time immemorial was possibly a fake, then this wouldn’t end simply as just a stain on the family’s honour.

If this became known elsewhere, if they really pushed and desired so, all the contracts that used the seal up till now could be rendered null and void.

Because of this, the family’s children who knew the truth unofficially searched the land to look for the seal. My choice was to infiltrate as a member of the evil organisation Howling, which had the most possibility of having it.

There was opposition from the family saying that it was too dangerous, but if I’d stayed as I was, I would not have been strange for me to be married off to some high-ranking family’s son or worse, sent off to some old high-ranking noble’s bedchambers. To raise my status within the family I chose to stake my life.

Through my family’s information network, I was sold off to a slave merchant that had frequent dealings with Howling, safely infiltrated the organisation, and there were little problems in primary training.

On the contrary, due to my basic training till then, I was able to achieve the high rank of No. 17.

But.

‘I should have just married some high-ranking family’s son…’

As I stared at the silver rain in front of me I cursed my past self that had rebelled against my lot.

Just what was that?

Let alone the Nermia Family, the strongest magician family in the Empire, no, all the Wizards’ Towers in the continent, the worst magic that everyone with even a fleeting interest in magic desperately researched, the extreme altitude bombardment magic!

What was more, the umbrella that was tossed to us, the more I looked at it the more I was certain that it was authentic imperial craftsmanship that the family had been researching.

It increased the efficiency at which one could cast barriers, added physical defence to said barrier, and also the ability to reduce the speed of an object so that it could be stopped by the barrier, a specialised defence staff developed specifically to counter the high-altitude bombardment.

But just because it existed, it didn’t mean that a bunch of kids who had only learned the absolute basics of magic that the Nermia family taught their children at the age of four, could use it properly at all.

Thankfully at least it seemed like the instructor had no real intention to kill us, because compared to what we were taught at home, this bombardment was nothing short of sloppy.

The most likely solution to this problem was for half of us to use our mana casting the barrier spell, and the other half attacking the projectiles slowed by the barrier.

Just when I was thinking to myself of how to approach this plan to the others.

‘What’s going on?’

One person steps forward into the barrage.

No matter how sloppy the spellcasting was, it could and would still kill you in a single hit.

Whether to make us despair or to make us cooperate, what was certain was that we most certainly weren’t meant to walk straight in like that.

‘What?’

But there was nothing stopping her light footsteps as she breezily walked out of the bombardment.

It wasn’t that the mages in the sky were deliberately avoiding her.

The single weakness of this spell was that it was impossible to focus on a specific target.

It was a simple spell that simply fired an object from the sky to fall to the ground at insanely fast speeds.

If someone could control that fire then it would be more realistic to call them a dragon than a human.

But was she dodging them on sight? That makes even less sense.

No, every now and then she dodges by spinning and turning as if she was dancing, but other than that she was moving in a straight line. Her line of sight was facing only forwards, never to the sky.

This was the realm of foresight. If she was a step late at any moment she would be swept away by the barrage.

But she didn’t. The projectiles missed her by the absolute skin of her teeth, but none of them could so much as leave a scratch on the small girl.

We could only stare blankly. As we stared, at some point, we noticed the girl’s figure was standing outside the range of fire.

‘Is that possible?’

It‘s possible. I saw it with my own eyes. That was an undeniable truth.

‘Can I do it?’

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Impossible. It wasn’t that my own physical capabilities were bad, but that was long beyond the realm of simple physical ability.

I was not an idiot pinning her hopes on some futile possibility.

“What was that?”

“Could you just pass right through it?”

I can hear the voices of my peers around me.

To be honest, even I wondered for a second there whether the bombardment was just illusion magic.

I even wondered whether it was illusion magic that incited fear in us as well.

But the conclusion was [this was not an illusion.]

It was then.

“Do you have a death wish?!”

When everyone was stunned, someone ran forward.

Familiar blond hair. No. 1, who had overwhelmingly claimed the number 1 spot during primary training time and time again.

But even if he was, mimicking those movement was nothing short of…

“It’s possible?”

It wasn’t the same. If the former had the light steps of a girl out on a walk, the latter was like a lion charging to his objective.

But the results were the same.

In the face of the overwhelming charge, it came close several times but the bombardment couldn’t touch him.

And the current reality was that seeing No. 1 and No. 1000 who had reached the other side, people could hear their comrades’ voices.

One might be a miracle, but since two had made it across, it seemed like they were thinking they could make it as well.

Ahh, goddammit!

I worked so hard on my team composition and plan! Leaving No. 1000 aside, I had No. 1 as a key role in my plans, but now I have to leave them both out.

And even the idiots who were slowly moving to try it themselves!

Although I wanted to let them just give death a shot, pointless loss of war potential was a loss to me as well.

So let’s teach them something.

“You insane imbeciles. Look closely.”

Making everyone else pay attention to me with a more-than-slightly annoyed voice, I lifted a relatively heavy rock with magic.

Its size was slightly less than twice that of my head.

“This is your skulls.”

It was a bit heavy, but I put some force into it and threw it to where the bombardment was still falling.

Thankfully, it flew far enough to reach its destination.

Thump!

A soft but weighty sound.

Bang!

As I pointed to what remained of its fragments after it was hit by the bombardment, I said.

“Now, anyone with a skull thicker than that rock. Get out there and take a shot.”

Having come to terms with reality, the kids closed their mouths. It’s better than them being noisy.

“Now unless you’re some sort of rock head master than can pour magic power into your head, listen up.”

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After everyone’s attention turned to me, I lifted the staff in my hands.

“The idiots who don’t want to go back to primary training needs to put up their umbrellas, and avoid the rain, no?”

Now then. Although not quite like those two idiots, but let’s put my life on the line.

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