【Episode 2 Part A: Real and Fake, Part 7】
Completing our scouting mission, we have retreated back to Shiinamachi-senpai’s room. As soon as we went through the door, the air became hot once again. Apparently senpai’s room and the book preparation room still remain in the summer zone while the rest of the school has been completely engulfed by that blizzard. Oh and by the way, even in winter we don’t have that much snow in this town, so if it snows that much in here it is surely going to cause a huge uproar, especially if this abnormal weather will cause a massive power outage throughout the entire area. As long as there’s electricity then people will be able to get by, but if you take that away from them…
Well, at least we don’t have to worry about getting frostbitten for now.
「You were right! The whole campus is literally blanketed with snow!」
Fujisato shouted as she looked out the window. Also, my fear about the power outage has come true, as all the lights outside went out one after another, making it impossible to see very far ahead and leaving the freshly fallen snow as the only (albeit poor) source of light against the darkness of the night. We know that the clock tower and the campus grounds are covered with snow, but since smartphones were out of signals range and there was no computer in senpai’s room whatsoever, so it looks like if we want to check the internet to see if this phenomenon has spread to the city then we’ll have to make the trip to Shiki’s room at the back of the IT clubroom.
I want to believe that this blizzard is restricted only to the school grounds, but my gut feeling was telling me that I’ll be in for a rude awakening once we do get to confirm it.
「Just how powerful you’d have to be to create something of such a scale?」
「You’d have to either be a powerful Lord specializing in Territory Creation or a Gift user skilled in complex, multi-layered techniques and detailed formula making. In the past Lords and Knights with such abilities were simply called 「Masters」 or 「Experts」, but nowadays they refer to themselves as 「Gurus」.」
「Then could it be that the 「Legendary Knight」 is also one of those 「Gurus」?」
「That is a possibility, yes. If he’s considered to be the most powerful of all the Knights who ever existed then naturally he must have accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience through countless battles during the course of his life. If he really is a 「Guru」 then we are in even bigger trouble than we thought. With a power like that, he might be able to wipe us out without having to dirty his hands himself.」
So it’s that bad, huh? I mean sure, we don’t if the culprit this time is really him, but let’s face it, what other options do we have left at this point? The worst part about our current situation is that we have no way of confirming whether our suspicions are true or not. However, taking both Yorugao’s phone call and Fujisato’s warning, I think there can be no mistaking it. It’s him after all.
「Uhm… maybe we should assess our situation once again?」
Senpai seemed to be worried.
「Understood. First of all, someone has used a special technique that enclosed the entirety of the school grounds in some kind of barrier that turned the whole area into winter wonderland (not the good kind though).」
「Then what about the inside of the clock tower, Shiki?」
「On it. While it’s true that outside of the tower is below zero, the temperature inside stayed just as it should be during the summer season… so we can hypothesize that whatever that mysterious technique is, it is weather than the Kaguya’s barrier and that’s why the tower remained unaffected, contrary to the world outside.」
「But it created an ideal situation to keep us trapped in here, right?」
Our enemy saw that he won’t be able to break through senpai’s barrier, so instead he chose to affect everything that was around it.
「Not to mention that whoever the assailant is, he apparently decide to throw caution to the wind because such a flashy move is bound to attract suspicion from the outside.」
Kuhoh sighed and shrugged her shoulders, visibly agitated.
「Only if the technique used to make the barrier is not masking everything that’s happening inside. I’m more interested in why would he decide to attack us in such a way?」
As I was talking with Kuhoh, Fujisato approached us.
「Yeah, I was wondering about that too. If the enemy is indeed the 「Legendary Knight」 and his target is Shiinamachi-senpai, then why did he created a situation in which he can’t harm her. Because let’s face it, in this 「Thou shalt not leave here!」 situation, the only way something can happen to her is when she dies out of starvation and I doubt he will want to wait that long.」
「So? Why are you suggesting, Fujisato?」
「What I’m suggesting is that he might already be among us, impersonating someone. If you think about it that way, his actions make sense. He’s not going to wait for his prey if he’s already near her and he cut out its means of escape. And we all know that he can to that no problem.」
Given our information, what she said was certainly convincing. First he prepared the barrier while we were away from the clock tower on our date, then he waited for us to come back and then finally, he impersonated one of us to strike confusion and doubt into our hearts. That could be why he appeared before Fujisato and showed her what kind of abilities he possesses.
He truly is a terrifying opponent. But if he really did something as cunning as that… then what happened with the person who he is impersonating right now? Or maybe he has yet to make his move and we are all still safe? Maybe he’s hiding somewhere in here and waits for the best moment to…
I looked over everyone’s faces and felt a chill running down my spine. Because only now have I realized that if he’s able to perfectly imitate a person’s appearance and their voice, then he’s also able to copy their thought patterns, mannerisms, feelings, everything.
「In other words… we are already locked in here… with him. With this 「Legendary Knight」.」
Aika said what everyone else was thinking out loud, causing our faces to become stern with tension.
Since it has come to that then we should ask Fujisato and Kuhoh about those abilities of his. They’ve fought against him once, so maybe they’ve also thought about some ways of countering his Gifts.
「If… when he turns into someone else, is there some way to tell the original and an impostor apart? Anything at all that might help us determine if he has already turned into one of us? Or perhaps something to especially look out for?」
「Hmm, let me think. Probably… the most troublesome thing about his transformation ability is the possibility that the person himself has no way of noticing it until after the transformation?」
「The person themselves? What do you mean, Kuhoh?」
「One of that 「Legendary Knight’s」 abilities is 「altering people’s perception」, but what does that really mean, exactly? It means that he’s able to control the consciousness of his victims. So… so what if what he really does is inserting himself into people’s consciousness and then using some kind of hypnotic suggestion on them/himself, making them/himself believe that 「he is who they are」
That way he’d be able to infiltrate pretty much everywhere without the risk of having to do it himself and the person he’s controlling of being suspected. And maybe the hypnosis itself has a time limit on it so that he wouldn’t have to activate and deactivate it himself? Think about it: one second he’s acting just like the person he’s possessing only to swiftly transition back to being himself without no one ever noticing that something was wrong in the first place…」
「…So that he won’t be suspected until the moment he regains his own consciousness!」
Ever since the party started I haven’t felt like anything was out of the ordinary. Everyone behaved the same way they usually did and the conversations they were having with one another felt genuine. But if Kuhoh’s hypothesis was true and the 「Legendary Knight」 had no way to remember who he was for the duration of his hypnosis, then pulling something like that off was definitely possible. If this was a mystery novel that would have served as a great narrative trick, creating a situation where you’d have to doubt not only your friends, but also yourself as well.
This heavy feeling in my chest… so that’s how it feels to be going against someone who has obtained the status of a 「Legend」.