*Kotsun, kotsun* Their footsteps resounded in the underground.
It was a damp, and musty place. The Illumination Magic that was turned on despite that was proof that there was someone frequently using this place.
While walking through the passage, Ykslaas chuckled.
「Look, there it is. There really is a door.」
Olred hastened his pace, and when he arrived in front of the stone door, he threw it open in one go.
Seeing the spectacle that was beyond the door that opened making a *gogon* sound, Olred reflexively groaned with an 「Ugh」.
「Wh, what the hell is this……」
「Ara, in a certain way, it’s within expectations yet unexpected.」
What was there was a room with a rich smell of――「death」.
Looking around at the numerous tools that had plenty of experience of use, Olred opened his mouth while being confused.
「……All of them have the smell of blood. What’s going on?」
Seeing the handcuffs and shackles that were attached to the walls, even Olred was able to understand that this place was a place meant to capture people in.
However, he didn’t understand any more than that. Utensils of various shapes and sizes, and things that looked like tools that carpenters and craftsmen would use were lying about. It looked like a workshop that was abandoned, but the smell of blood was proof that that was clearly not the case.
Ykslaas gazed at the utensils, and expressed a dark smile.
「You see, these are……torture tools.」
「That’s right. They’re utensils that mankind developed, and are meant to give pain to the ones they’re being used on. They’re inventions meant to break wills, and shave away one’s dignity to the utmost limits.」
Hearing that, Olred looked at the tools and found them unpleasant.
「Do they use them on Goblins and Beastia?」
「Ahaha, of course not. It’s obvious that they would use them on fellow members of mankind」
「The thing called torture is a technique that mankind refined in order to get necessary information out from their enemies. That’s why the things here could also be called a history of mankind’s diligent study. They are things that were researched and created in order to torment members of mankind with great efficiency.」
Looking like he was unable to understand, Olred once again looked around at the torture tools.
「……I just don’t get it. So in other words, you’re saying that they created tools in order to inflict pain on fellow members of mankind?」
「That’s right. Look, can you tell what this helmet over here is?」
The helmet that Ykslaas pointed to had a jagged horizontal line run across it, and it had something that looked like a rusted belt attached to it.
「What the heck is that. What a weird helmet.」
「The thing about this, it seems that it opens front and back from the middle, you know?」
「Haa? Then there’s no meaning to the helmet.」
Maybe because she was satisfied with Olred’s response, Ykslaas lightly kicked that helmet away.
「That’s right. After all, this is a torture tool meant to be used on Beastmen. As for it’s name, if I remember correctly……Oh, that’s right, I think it was the Humanizing Helmet?」
「……Oi, could it be.」
「The one who invented it was a Human noble from the past who was famous for being extremely into antiforeignism. It was said that he would make the captured Beastmen wear this helmet, tighten it little by little, and found the sight of the Beastmen in pained appearances to be the best kind of pleasure.」
Accurately imagining that way of using it, Olred approached the helmet, and crushed it under his foot with all of his strength.
「How nauseating. Moreover, it’s already finished being used.」
「That’s right. Well, considering this town’s origin……I suppose you could say that it’s only natural this kind of room would be here?」
Kashnart was a town meant to 「amuse the royalty that couldn’t become king」. Among them, there was probably some who immersed themselves in insane preferences. This room, it was the remains of that dark history.
「……Wait a second. There’s someone that often uses this hidden room, right?」
「Yes. I think that’s probably the case, you know?」
When Ykslaas answered, the stone floor underneath Olred’s foot made a cracking sound.
「What is it, Olred.」
「Is mankind, really this rotten?」
「It’s not good to judge the whole based only on a part. That’s just as foolish as looking at the Goblins of this continent and judging that all Goblins are evil, you know? That would be no different from the composition of the Hero war of the past.」
Hearing those words, Olred came to a realization, and regained his composure.
「The problem, is what’s going on here, currently……see. If they are performing torture, then it’s fine if we just give them an appropriate punishment. If not, then……」
When Ykslaas had spoken that far, a footstep that went *katsun……* resounded.
The two of them turned their gazes to the direction those footsteps could be heard from――in the direction of where Ykslaas’s group was walking in from earlier.
Going *katsun, katsun*, the footsteps that didn’t even show signs of trying to hide their intrusion gradually became louder, and before long, Chester’s figured appeared.
「Oya oya……So you really did come here.」
「Ara, was this place your private room?」
「Does it look like it is?」
「Yes, it’s an interior design of bad taste that would match you well. As a test, shall we try tying you up to that water wheel that was set up even though there isn’t a river over there?」
Ykslaas and Chester expressed dark smiles at each other.
Without taking his gaze off of Ykslaas, Chester readied his metal staff.
「I will decline……This place is an execution site, you know.」
「No matter how much one shouts or struggles, they will never be heard outside……It was made to be like that. That is why……it’s a relief. Your screams, won’t be heard anywhere.」
In response to Chester who expressed a smile that looked as if his mouth was going to tear, Ykslaas answered with the highest scorn.
「Ara, is that so. Since no one is going to hear you anyway, are you really fine with that gibberish being your last will and testament?」
「Let’s test out……how long that confidence will last」
「Same to you. I will have you crying real soon, you know?」
After saying that, Chester took his metal staff, Ykslaas took her wand, and they pointed them at each other at the same time.
And then, both of their magic spells collided and burst in the underground space.
「Ha, haha! Darkness magic is it, how wonderful! Take this, Light Lance!」
「Magic Guard Light!」
After repelling the magic that Chester fired, Ykslaas readied her Black Rose sword and sprinted.
「Erect a wall here. Born in the span of a flicker, defend against calamity……Come forth, Hard Wall!」
Answering to Chester’s chant, an earth wall rose up from the ground as if to obstruct Ykslaas’s path.
However, Ykslaas didn’t avoid it, nor did she stop.
She placed a foot on the wall that was thrusting up to the ceiling with a tremendous speed, and once it reached an appropriate height, she jumped off of it.
Seeing Ykslaas swooping down, Chester raised a voice of astonishment.
It was a poor move where she would have just been crushed between the wall and the ceiling if she had mistaken the timing for even a second, and would have become full of openings even if she jumped down.
The normal coping method against this magic was to either 「break」 or 「avoid」 it, and naturally, research had been done on the next hand to play in cases where those were done.
It was for that reason that Ykslaas’s action had blanked out Chester’s thoughts for a moment.
It would be fine to just knock her down――The moment Chester realized that, Ykslaas had already approached until she was right in front of him.
「How do you do, oji-sama?」
With not even the chant of his defense magic making it in time, he promptly repelled Ykslaas’s Black Rose sword with his staff.
However, that didn’t end with it being repelled only once.
With elegance that looked like a dance, Ykslaas closed the distance and swung her Black Rose sword.
「Nu, ah, kuoh!?」
「Ara ara, what unsightly steps. Might you be poor at dancing?」
She wielded her sword and looked like she was literally dancing. While just barely warding off her attacks, Chester smiled.
「Unfortunatelyyy……I haven’t trained enough to dance with a young ojou-san, you see!」
「Ara, is that so. In that case, shall I teach you?」
Chester continued to avoid that ceaseless sword wielding with his staff.
It was an offense and defense where Ykslaas clearly had leeway.
「What a rude man……being like that, it can’t be helped even if you get purposely stepped on by a woman, you know?」
A dull sound was heard as Chester, who was kicked, was blown away.
Chester had is stace broken by power that he couldn’t believe came from Ykslaas’s small body and tumbled down……However, he immediately stood up.
「Ha, haha. This sure is harsh.」
「While I’m at it, I’ll teach you one more thing. If you don’t have any confidence in dancing……you can entertain them with talk, you know?」
Ykslaas thrust her Black Rose sword at him.
Some distance had opened up between her and Chester, but her gaze indicated that something like that could be filled in an instant.
「Hou, but I don’t have any confidence that I can talk about anything that would delight a woman though.」
「That isn’t true. There is something, isn’t there? Yes, for example……a talk about this room?」
Hearing Ykslaas’s words, Olred, who kept quiet and watched things unfold, made a faint reaction.
Turning his gaze to the surroundings, Chester brushed the dust off of his clothes.
「Even if you ask for a talk about the room. I believe it is just as you can see.」
「True, it’s a torture room just as I can see. But, you, you said that it was an execution site, didn’t you?」
「Yes, I did say that.」
When Chester said that, Ykslaas deepened her smile.
「In other words, you have no interest in this room’s torture tools. That’s what it means, right?」
「……I don’t understand the meaning of what you are saying.」
「……Then, the new smell of blood that was made just recently, it wasn’t your doing.」
Chester accurately understood the meaning of that question, and nodded with an “ahh”.
「I see, so you had that sort of meaning. In that case, you should have just asked that from the beginning.」
Although Ykslaas felt something creepy about how Chester smiling so cheerfully, she maintained her smiling face.
「Yes, I don’t have the slightest bit of interest in torture.」
「I see, then……」
「However, if you were to ask who the user of the room is, then that would be me.」
Answering like that, Chester readied his staff once again.
「Therefore, I called it an execution site. The sinners that are brought here, they don’t live to go outside ever again. In that case, wouldn’t it be correct to call it an execution site?」
「……I see, you have quite the sadistic hobby, don’t you.」
「Hahaha, of course not. Even I feel as much guilt as anyone else. I understand very well that making people suffer isn’t a good thing.」
Ykslaas held down her urge of wanting to cut him up.
This type of man liked to talk about the things he was interested in. In that case, it was more profitable right now to let him talk and obtain some information from him. That is why she stopped Olred, who looked like he would jump at him at any moment now, with her gaze.
「Heeh, so you know that. Then, why?」
「It is for the sake of research. For even further progress and development……they were precious sacrifices for the sake of those.」
「Torture research……is that what you mean?」
In response to Ykslaas’s line that couldn’t hide her unpleasant feelings, Chester burst into a small laughter.
「Haha, something like that. Even if I don’t do it, it’s being done throughout the world.」
While keeping a smiling face, Chester hit Ykslaas’s chest armor with a *ton* with his staff.
Ykslaas’s chest armor, which was unexpectedly thrust, fell in pieces onto the floor.
Being blown away, Ykslaas, who crashed into a chair-type torture device that was left behind, made a small groan.
「To make a surprise attack……That isn’t, gentlemanly at all.」
「I am terribly sorry, the things known as researchers and gentlemen run counter to each other……oya?」
Seeing something that suddenly overruled his vision, Chester expressed a question mark.
「So it’s one of those “the gentleman time is over” things huh. Then die.」
*Gou* Making a thunderous sound that cut through even the wind, Olred swung his gigantic battleaxe down on Chester’s head.
That gigantic battleaxe should have unmistakably split Chester left and right right down the middle.
――However, speaking from the result, that didn’t happen.
「……You, that arm……」
Chester’s arm that was raised over his head――that scraggy arm that looked as if it were made from rock had caught the blow from Olred’s axe.
「Magician’s have a weakness in close combat……That, will become a story from the past.」
Chester’s other arm had also changed into a similar rock arm.
「Through the example known as me……see!」
The fist that was driven into him blew away Olred, and that destroyed the water wheel that was there.
While standing up from within the debris, Olred charged in once again.
Fire magical power engulfed Olred’s gigantic battleaxe.
No matter what that guy’s arm was made out of, it wouldn’t be a problem if he cut it with firepower that surpassed it.
That sort of thought, it crumbled away by the fact that Chester’s arm transformed into a blazing fire.
「……What, the hell!?」
「Hahaha, taaake this!」
Jumping to avoid the flames that were fired, Olred landed in a place where he could protect Ykslaas.
「Hey, what the hell is that. A new system of magic?」
「I don’t know. It’s probably the results of that research or whatever though.」
「……It’s a bit late to be asking this but. It’s fine, for me to kill him, right?」
Hearing Olred ask that, Ykslaas readied her wand while turning an exasperated-looking gaze towards him.
「Do as you like. It’s already a pain to leave him alive.」
Behind Olred who readied his gigantic battleaxe and started running, Ykslaas commenced her chant.
「……That lamentation, imprison it in this box. So that the resentment will not ride the winds and be transmitted.」
「A chant I have never heard……It’s Darkness Magic, isn’t it!? It seems that the knowledge you possess on it is considerably deep! Haha……how wonderful!」
Chester extended his arms that turned into water and tried to swallow up Ykslaas with them, but those arms were cut down by Olred’s axe that was clad in fire.
「Please don’t get in the way……I will take my time being your opponent afterwards after all!」
「Are you a dumbass!?」
When Olred’s axe made a side slash at Chester’s torso, his body was split into top and bottom together with a *shuah* sound……and then, it immediately returned to normal.
「Doing something so pointless!」
Knocking away the water bullets that were fired from Chester’s body that had turned into water with his gigantic battleaxe, Olred added another attack.
Immediately reattaching his head that had been lopped off from that attack, Chester revealed his transparent body.
「You……You’re not Human, are ya!?」
「No, I’m a Human, you know?」
「Like hell there’s a Human like that!」
Olred made a boisterous dance of attacks, however, he was repelled by a gust of wind.
Having his vision obstructed for a moment, what Olred saw next was Chester’s figure that had his body change from water into something that looked like a small scale tornado.
「I told you……that you’re in the way!」
The wind that was fired from his arm pushed Olred back several steps, and clumps of wind were thrown continuously at his body.
As Olred was at a loss on how to continue, he was called out to by Ykslaas from behind.
「Move out of the way, Olred!」
Immediately after Olred jumped to the side, Ykslaas fired her magic.
At the same time that her chant was completed, four balls of darkness appeared surrounding Chester.
They assailed Chester from four directions, and thoroughly wrapped his body up with darkness.
「O, ohh!? Th, this is……」
Before long, the darkness that completely enveloped Chester hardened into a shape that looked like a coffin, just as the magic’s name said.
Olred raised his voice going 「Hou」 and sounded impressed.
「I see. Like that, there’s no way to avoid it.」
He nodded, shouldered his gigantic battleaxe, and turned around……And it was there that Ykslaas’s grim expression entered Olred’s eyes.
Just as Ykslaas said, looking as if cracks were forming on the coffin of darkness, light was leaking out from inside of it.
And then, in the next instant, the coffin of darkness broke apart, and something shining came flying out.
「Magic Guard Light!」
Making a high-pitched *kiin* sound as it was reflected, it floated in midair together with a laughter.
「Fufu……Hahaha! How is it? Were you able to experience the wonderfulness of my research!?」
Looking up at Chester who possessed a body that was shining and was translucent, Ykslaas clicked her tongue.
「……I see, you……turned yourself into a body of magical power, didn’t you?」
「Correct……That being said, is it just as it looks? Yes, it’s exactly that. Well, I suppose it would be correct to say that I changed into it though.」
Chester’s current body had turned into a 「body of magical power」 just like the Elements――that is what Ykslaas had conjectured.
Even how Chester’s figure was able to make various changes, that was most likely working on the same theory behind how Magicians were able to change the magical power within themselves.
In other words, the current Chester could be described as a 「life-form that can change its own body into the attribute it desires」.
「That’s right, my current self is one that has surpassed Humans despite being a Human! The one who arrived closest to the abyss of magic more than anyone else! ……Let’s see, I am an existence that should be called a Perfecter!」
「Is that so. Well then, why is it that you, who have become that Perfecter or whatever, look like you have a strange obsession with me?」
Unlike Olred who had gotten into a battle ready position, Ykslaas looked at Chester with cold eyes.
「Ahh, that’s a simple story.」
Chester answered in a state that seemed like he was even in a good mood.
「Being a Perfecter which is a superior version of Human, naturally, I will require appropriate compatriots.」
「That being said, even if I try to bring those with no power up into Perfecters, I understand that they will become failures. You have been chosen, Ys-san.」
「Such a selfish……!」
Stopping the enraged Olred, Ykslaas smiled at Chester.
「I see. And then? What do you mean when you say that you understand that there would be failures?」
「I randomly chose some Beastmen. However, as expected, those sinners were unable to become Perfecters. Even with fellow Humans, it was impossible for those whose abilities to control magic were insufficient……Most likely, it is being excellent at handling magic and magical power. That is surely the condition to becoming a Perfecter.」
Ykslaas, who didn’t break her smiling face in contrast to the speechless Olred, asked even more questions.
「I see, and then? The people that couldn’t become Perfecters, what happened to them?」
「Of course, they died.」
「I would assume that they would. And then?」
「What do you mean……and then?」
In response to Chester who was displaying a curious-looking expression, Ykslaas asked.
「How did you use, the people after they were killed?」
「What, so it was about that.」
Chester laughed as if to say that he understood.
「Isn’t it obvious that I took them in? To take the responsibility to deal with the live that became sacrifices……isn’t that only natural?」