"What are you going to do by targeting Ecross?!"
Camilla shouted at the unbelievable words Ken had just uttered.
"You already understand, don't you? What I did before wasn't enough to get rid of Nozomu. If a.s.saulting the residents of this city isn't enough, then we have to go after something irreplaceable to this city."
"Is that why you have to go after the children!?"
Causing a ruckus in the city was not enough to achieve his goal, so he set his aims on something more important. This in itself was natural.
However, if he aimed for important people, then he should have targeted the VIP residing in the north section.
"Security in the north section is tighter than in the other sections. Even with your help, it might be difficult for us to do it alone. There's a lot of uncertainty."
There were many VIPs from various countries staying in the administrative district of the northern section. Ken thought that there may be tighter security measures in place that he wasn't aware of, and that some of them may be more skilled than him.
"But in Ecross there are only children. They're weak, but they're talented and they have potential. Do you think Jihad-sensei would forgive someone who hurt them?"
However, most of the people enrolled in Ecross were young children. They may have talent, but none of them have the strength to protect themselves.
If word got out that he had harmed such a fragile being, Nozomu's reputation, which had recently begun to recover, would surely fall to the ground. He would be captured by the military police, labeled as a criminal, and sent to a coal mine or a prison camp somewhere. At the very least, it would be impossible for him to stay in this school.
Ken's face distorted in amus.e.m.e.nt as he dreamed of such a scene.
While gritting her teeth, Camilla shuddered at Ken's murky delusions.
However, Camilla didn't think that attacking Ecross would be as easy as Ken made it out to be.
Jihad and the others involved in the school knew all too well that the children at Ecross were talented but not yet hatched.
The dormitory where they live is located near the school, and there is a teacher who is always there to take care of their daily necessities and mental health.
That was why she couldn't believe that things would go as easily as Ken said.
"Recently, I saw some Ecross students going out late at night around the library. I think it was around here..."
Ken began scurrying around in Nozomu form.
"Camilla, wait from a distance. If you make a scene, people will gather. Of course, the military police will also come. Well, I can definitely get through most of it, but I'll have to recreate Nozomu's movements as I run, so you'll have to cover me if necessary."
"Hey, Ken! Wait!"
Camilla raised her voice to stop him. However, Ken didn't seem to hear her and continued on his way.
Camilla, who felt an inexplicable fear as Ken disappeared into the darkness of the night, hurriedly took out the magic stone from her pocket.
"Kuh~! Jihad-sensei, can you hear me!? Jihad-sensei!"
If this continues, innocent children will be involved.
She raised my voice to convey Ken's aim, but the magic stone in the palm of her hand only emitted a faint red light, and there was no response from Jihad.
"Why won't anyone answer me?"
Camilla spoke pleadingly.
If no one could stop Ken now, he will... The worst-case scenario flashed through Camilla's mind.
In the midst of a sea of blood, where innocent children fell and the smell of iron filled the air, Ken, disguised as Nozomu, smiled in amus.e.m.e.nt.
Considering the abnormalities she had seen in Ken, Camilla didn't think the outcome would be too far-fetched from what she imagined.
"Could it be that it's broken ...? Please, whoever you are, answer me! Ken is targeting the Ecross children in the library!"
Camilla, who had been desperately shouting at the magic stone, suddenly remembered Jihad's words and began to look for the tracker that was supposed to be around.
However, there was no way she could easily find someone who was so skilled that she couldn't even sense their presence. Driven by such impatience, Camilla raised her voice loudly.
"Hey, you're there, right?! Hurry up and tell Jihad-sensei about this!"
Even if she couldn't see them, the trackers were probably nearby. Thinking this, she raised her voice, but the surroundings were silent, and she couldn't even hear a cat meowing.
Her frustration was quickly aggravated by the fact that there was no reply at all.
The next thing she knew, Camilla had thrown away the magic stone and was running after Ken.
She had no time to spare. She rushed towards the library, her feet moved by impatience, her lungs working so hard that they were almost worn out.
Eventually, the library building comes into view in the distance. A structure made of red clay bricks, much larger than the surrounding houses.
In front of it, there are three figures. A male student wearing the uniform of Solminati Academy and two girls in the uniform of Ecross.
Camilla could only see the back of the male student, but there was no way she could mistake his appearance. The back belonged to Ken, who had just been transformed into Nozomu.
"Ah ... ta ... mu-san ......... ri ........."
One of the two girls, a girl with short black hair, was talking to Ken. There was still a distance between them, so Camilla could not hear what the girl was saying.
However, the next moment, Ken's atmosphere changed suddenly.
He dropped his shoulders and scratched his head, and a sticky, sludge-like vapor began to leak from Ken's body.
An alarm bell rang in Camilla's brain. That presence was what Ken had been directing at Nozomu behind the school building today. It was a matured hatred and murderous intent.
The sign of Ken's abnormality. Then, as if as a warning, a pillar of ice as big as an arm pierced the girls' feet.
The Ecross girls, who had been hit by Ken's murderous intent, lost their willpower as if frightened, huddled together, and backing away.
Ken stepped forward to chase after the retreating girls and reached for the hilt of the sword at his waist.
It would be too late if Camilla were to run as she was. Camilla, having made her decision, picked up the staff she carried on her back and chanted a spell. She quickly built a lump of earth in front of her and launched it at the back of the boy standing in front of her.
Groans echoed through the smoke and dust within the headquarters room. On closer look, several people could be seen lying on the floor.
"Is everyone alright !?"
"Y-yeah. I'm alright."
"O-ouch ouch ... What the h.e.l.l happened ..."
Jihad and Mauzu were the first to get up. They were strong and fully armored, so they were not affected much by the explosion.
Inda and Tom were the next ones to get up. Tima and Shīna groaned in pain but still managed to stand up on their own feet.
Jihad checked the condition of everyone, and although they all had some scratches, they didn't seem to have any serious injuries.
Jihad was relieved that everyone was safe, but he immediately glared at the center of the explosion with a stern expression in his eyes.
There were shattered Curbstone exposed its tragic appearance, and the floor was littered with scattering fragments.
"... Did we make a mistake in controlling the magic power?"
"No, it's true that the amount of magic that Tima-san was releasing was quite large. But the flow of magic power itself was only slightly blurred.
Besides, Tima's magic power was only used to gather the spirits, not to pour into the Curbstone itself. It's hard to imagine a magic explosion that shatters the curb would happen like this."
Tima's vast magic power was too much to pour into the newly created Curbstone. That was why they took the far-fetched measure of using Tima's magic power to attract spirits and reinforce the communication between the Curbstone and the magic stone under Shīna's control.
"And I think the scale of the explosion is too small. If the explosion was caused by Tima-san's magic, this room would definitely have been blown up."
Jihad gave a small nod as if he was convinced by Inda's explanation.
If the Curbstone itself wasn't infused with magic power, the only other reason he could think of was Shīna, who was in charge of controlling the spirits.
"Hmm, that's true. Shīna-kun. What about the spirits?"
"Until just before the explosion, the spirits listened to me obediently, but when the explosion was about to happen, they seemed to be in a panic. Perhaps they sensed this explosion in advance."
So the spirits and magic power were both properly controlled.
Then, the cause could be the Curbstone itself.
Of course, a certain amount of durability tests had been conducted, but it was still a newly created technology, and even though it was created by one of the top research inst.i.tutes on the continent, it could still have some problems.
"But even if we think about it now, I don't think we will be able to come up with an answer. The only way to find out the cause is to have Torgrain-dono investigate it in detail ..."
Nevertheless, Jihad switched his thoughts to the fact that there was nothing he could do about the Curbstone at the moment.
All sorts of speculations flashed through his mind, but he could still control his thoughts.
"... What about the communication network?"
"... Too bad. The communication network between the Curbstone and the magic stones has been completely cut off."
Inda held the shattered Curbstone and tried to check the communication network that had been built, but she couldn't hear any communication from the various teams.
There was no response to the magic power she had sent, and the Curbstone, the key to the communication network, was completely silent.
"Do you think we can repair it?"
"We might be able to, but with the Curbstone in this state ..."
Inda and Jihad looked down at the shattered Curbstones littering the floor. Even from an amateur's point of view, it was obvious that there was no way they could rebuild a communications network with shattered Curbstone.
"... It's inevitable. Since the communication network cannot be restored, we have no choice but to use messengers to command the teams."
At the headquarters, they had prepared soldiers to send out messages in case of an emergency.
Since the communication network had been destroyed, they had no choice but to send messages to each of the four sections around the school, informing them of the collapse of the communication network, the current situation at headquarters, and future measures.
"What are we going to do?"
“If it is not possible to coordinate teams in every area, there is no choice but to thoroughly investigate each area. Perhaps Ken Notis is somewhere in the residential district. With that in mind, we'll have to notify the teams in administrative and commercial districts to be extra careful near the border of the residential district."
In front of the headquarters, the a.s.sembled messengers were waiting for Jihad's instructions.
Jihad stood in front of the a.s.sembled messengers and informed them of the current situation at headquarters and the instructions he would be giving to the teams in each area.
"You'll be running around the city as our messengers. I'm sorry to say that you'll have to clean up our mess..."
"You don't need to worry about that. That's what we're here for."
The messengers bowed to Jihad, quickly straightened their backs, and dispersed into the city.
After watching their backs, Jihad returned to the headquarters, where Inda, Tima, and the others were talking about something in front of the shattered Curbstone.
"But isn't that dangerous?...."
"Yes, it is. It's much more difficult to control and more dangerous. But if we limit the time, I think it's possible."
Jihad frowned his brow at the unusual atmosphere that filled the headquarters.
"What's going on?"
When Jihad's voice echoed throughout the room, Shīna and the others turned their eyes to look at the source of the voice.
Jihad looked into their hands and saw magic stones which he had kept on the desk as spares.
"We was wondering if it would be possible to rebuild our communication network, even temporarily..."
Jihad's eyes sharpened due to Inda's words.
"Inda-dono, please explain."
"These [Communication Magic Stone]s were originally made from the Curbstone. And all [Communication Magic Stone]s currently used in the operation were also made from these shattered Curbstones."
Inda picked up one of the magic stones on the desk with her right hand and held it up in front of her so that everyone could see it clearly.
She also picked up the pieces of Curbstones scattered on the floor with her left hand and laid them out so that everyone could compare them.
"Even though they have been modified a bit, they are still Curbstones. Originally, there was no way to communicate between these Curbstones, and the magical connection between them has become very weak during the processing process. However, the connection between them has not been completely severed, though faint. So I wondered if we could use this to our advantage. ......"
Originally, Curbstone was a general term for stones that had magical connections that formed a complex network of mutual magic power.
However, these connections were not strong enough to be of practical use to humans.
Therefore, by limiting the network, certain connections can be strengthened and finally used as magic tools, such as the [Twin Stone of Tragic Fate].
"So, you're saying that we can use the [Communication Magic Stone] made from a Curbstone, regain its function as a Curbstone, and use it as the main unit?"
Inda nodded her head in agreement with Jihad's confirmation.
If they could do that, they might be able to rebuild the communication network.
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***
But this mechanism that used Curbstone and the [Communication Magic Stone] was created by the Gloaurum Inst.i.tute, the continent's leading technological inst.i.tution. So it was impossible for ordinary people to make magic stones that could replace Curbstone so easily.
"...Looks like something happened, doesn't it?"
The voice coming from the magic stone was very small and almost inaudible, but Nozomu felt a sense of urgency in the voice.
He wasn't sure if it was the same for Barozza and Jibin, but they nodded slightly at Nozomu's words.
"I think so too. There seems to be a sense of panic in the voice... Jibin, try to put more magic power into the communication magic stone."
As Jibin poured more magic power into the communication stone, the red light intensified and the noise like a sandstorm became louder. This was evidence that the magic power he had poured into the stone had increased the sensitivity of the communication.
It became a problem that the noise was getting louder, but it couldn't be helped if they wanted to amplify it to the point where they could hear the voice.
Frowning at the noise that resounded in their ears, Nozomu and the others closed their eyes and listened closely, trying not to miss the faint voice that was lost in the sandstorm-like noise.
"...! Ken... Ecross ..."
The voice was lost in the noise to the point of being almost inaudible, but this time they could clearly grasp the words. However, Nozomu and the others were shocked by the words.
"O-oi, it said Ecross ..."
"A school affiliated with the Solminati Academy..."
The suspect's name and the word "Ecross" that they heard. The same speculation flashed through the minds of the three of them, and at the same time they broke out in sweats.
Ken's goal was... to undermine Nozomu.
The students who attend Ecross were like little treasures of the future with infinite potential.
And considering what Ken had done so far, Ken would no longer question the means to achieve his goal.
At the same time, a worst-case scenario that sliced through the heart came to Nozomu's mind.
If Ken was targeting the students of Ecross, who would be the most appropriate target for him?
Without a moment's pause, a girl with her l.u.s.trous black hair trimmed beautifully and a big smile on her face like the sun shining in the sky came to Nozomu's mind.
The next moment, Nozomu stood up as if he had been hit by a bullet and rushed to the door of his room.
"Ken's target is probably Somia-chan! I'm heading to Ecross now! Jibin-san, please inform the messenger who will come here about what's going on!"
After getting to know Irisdina and the others, Somia also had many opportunities to go to school with them. No wonder Ken knew about Somia, the dark-haired princess's younger sister!
Perhaps couldn't afford to spare even a little time to turn the k.n.o.b, Nozomu broke through the door of his room without hesitation and ran out into the hallway.
Barozza was momentarily stunned by Nozomu's sudden action, but he quickly regained his composure.
Barozza grabbed his beloved sword, which he kept nearby, and followed Nozomu out of the room. Perhaps startled by the sound of Nozomu kicking down the door earlier, the students came out into the hallway to see what was going on.
Everyone opened their eyes wide when they saw a middle-aged man coming out of Nozomu's room.
"I'm chasing after that little boy! Jibin, pa.s.s the message to the messenger!"
Exposed to curiosity and strange gazes from the surroundings, Barozza rushed after Nozomu, entrusting the message to Jibin.
"I'm counting on you! Boy! Wait a minute!"
Barozza desperately moved his legs while chasing Nozomu's figure as it shrunk into the end of the hallway.
Nozomu leaned out of the stairs and continued to jump down to the floor below. When he reached the first floor, he ran as fast as he could again. He sprinted in a straight line through the hall.
The door to the main entrance made such a loud noise that it seemed to have broken, and Nozomu dashed out of the open door and into the darkness of the night.
Behind Nozomu, Barozza was still shouting, but Nozomu didn't seem to hear him at all.
While completely ignoring the voice calling for him to stop, Nozomu continued to run frantically, driven by impatience.
"Senpai! Nozomu-kun! Oh gosh!"
It was Jibin who was left alone in the dormitory room. While cursing at the two who ran off without a second thought, Jibin quickly packed his belongings and ran out of the dormitory.
He ran as fast as he could through the already dark streets, his destination was Solminati Academy, where the investigation headquarters was located.
"Haa, haa, haa! Guh~!"
Breathing hard, Jibin tried to hurry up and tell the others about the situation as soon as possible. The next moment, however, he suddenly felt an intense pain in his chest.
"What's the ... Guah!"
The pain was so great that Jibin couldn't help but stop in his tracks. At the same time, an unpleasant voice echoed in Jibin's head.
(I found it...)
Even though there was supposed to be no one around, Jibin could hear the voice clearly in his mind. And as the voice echoed in his head, the pain in his chest grew even worse.
(I found it, I found it... Someone suitable, qualified, and compatible...)
"F-found it? W-what the heck are you talking about... uaa. Gi~! Gaa~ !"
A nauseating sensation as if something was crawling around inside his body, and intense pain as if his internal organs were being churned. Jibin's face suddenly turned pale, and he began to sweat profusely.
He kneeled down on the ground and hugged himself, but the pain showed no sign of subsiding.
His vision blurred as the intense pain tore through his body, and his whole body continued to stiffen.
Eventually, the sound of something tearing echoed through the air. Then a heat like a burning iron pressed against his body.
When Jibin inadvertently looked at his own hand, which were tightening involuntarily, he saw that they were covered with a sticky red liquid.
Along with the reddish-black ma.s.s covered in blood, a snake-like creature was peeking out from his belly.
An eyeless snake covered in black scales. While Jibin was dumbfounded by the creature that came out of his body, the blind snake was looking up at the sky with its sickle-like head.
Eventually, the flesh of the head-like part of the snake tore apart and spread into four petals, and countless fangs sprouted from within. And as the scales on its entire body flipped around, countless red eyes peeked out with their cold gazes.
The eyes, as red as fresh blood, stared at Jibin. Unable to comprehend what he had just encountered, Jibin's consciousness plunged into total darkness.
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