The Fortress City Claysoa.
That was the name of a city that had fallen during the past hero war.
It was where the hero Ryuuga met Sage Teria, and it was the capital of a small country that longer exists.
To this day, it is unknown what exactly caused the city to burn to a crisp over the course of a night.
There were rumors that either the Mazoku did it, or that the city had touched upon the God of Fire Agnam’s rage, or even that magic being developed in secret had gone out of control.
But according to what was written in Sage Teria’s Diary that Kain had read, the truth was something entirely different.
「…A trap was laid by a Mazoku known as the Staff Demon. It was a trap that both those familiar with magic and those who weren’t were susceptible to. And the magic hidden within it released upon breaking it…」
That’s why the Fortress City Claysoa fell.
It was unwritten who exactly triggered the trap, but it would be safe to assume that they perished upon the midst of the destruction.
「So we just have to leave this be?」
「…I don’t know. It didn’t mention anything else.」
Kain spoke while shaking his head.
As they talked about what to do about it, the light coming from the magical circle grew stronger and stronger… and then suddenly stopped.
「W-What’s going on?」
Kain, Eltrinde, and the rest began looking around the area and realized that a few individuals had shown up at the entrance.
They were a Black Knight, a Red Knight, and a purple-haired young girl pointing her hand at the floor.
The Imperial Guards were able to tell that the girl somehow did something about the magic, and raised voices of cheer.
The purple-haired stood up as the cheers went out and flipped her hair.
「…I don’t know what you all were freaking out over, but it looks like it’s taken care of now, yes?」
Kain’s muttering voice was drowned out by Eltrinde’s.
「Ys, did you do this?!」
「Yes, that’s right. It was quite the dangerous magical circle, but was there a problem with me stopping it?」
「No, you’ve done well!」
Eltrinde rushed to Ykslaas to embrace her, but Ykslaas pushed her aside with surprise.
「Geez, you’re making too big of a deal out of it. It really wasn’t anything.」
「What are you saying?! We were at our wit’s end trying to figure out what to do with it!」
Ykslaas responded with a dumbfounded face.
「You just had to overwrite the magic circle, that’s all. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.」
「Huh? B-But, wouldn’t damaging the magical circle cause it to activate?」
Hearing Eltrinde’s confused voice, Ykslaas finally understood and nodded.
「…Ohh, that’s what you mean. Destroying it physically would definitely do that, but a magical circle without its caster is no different from just a collection of natural magical energy. All you have to do is just pour a little energy in and overwrite it. But you still have to be careful about it.」
「…Is that right?」
「Yes. By the way, the light and sounds coming from it were just a bluff. They were probably just there to hamper your rational thinking. Have you ever heard a magical circle make such obnoxious noises before in the first place?」
After thinking about it for a bit, Eltrinde muttered 「No, not really…」
Eltrinde wasn’t particularly familiar with magic, but she definitely had never seen a magical circle make such a grandiose display of itself.
「Making it appear as if a time limit is put in place is a classic technique when setting up traps. It robs people of their calmness and decision-making skills, and limits the logical actions one would take… Well, I think if the caster worked a bit harder on it, one heck of a fire pillar would’ve come out of it. I don’t know exactly what was going on here, but it definitely was pretty dangerous.」
As Ykslaas shrugged her shoulders, the Black Knight and Red Knight behind her stood still without saying a word while Shironos put the helmet he picked up back on his head.
Ykslaas spoke of it as if it was nothing, but overwriting a magical circle was not that simple of a feat. One would need to be extremely proficient with magic, and one small mistake would have caused a second Claysol to happen. The success only was possible because Ykslaas was the one handling it.
But Vermudol was the only one in the room who had enough knowledge to truly understand that.
In either case, the momentary danger had now passed, and sighs of relief filled the room.
Amidst all of that, Kain stepped forward to Ys.
「…I had guessed about so when I saw Shironos, but it looks like you really are still alive.」
Ys had a suspicious face for a moment when Kain spoke to her, but it soon turned into the usual smile.
「Oh, it’s been a while, Kain. Is it just me or is something different about you now?」
「How should I say this… well, nevermind. So, how’s the situation going?」
The moment after Ykslaas said that…
A single Imperial Guard came rolling down from the stairs.
「T-This is bad! Captain has… Lady Narika has…!」
Pushing aside the panicked, almost shivering in fear, Imperial Guard aside, Eltrinde and the Black Knight rushed up the stairs.
The stairs led to a pair of opened doors. And there it was…
The corpse of the captain of the Imperial Guards was on the floor.
He was stabbed by something sharp. His sword was still on his hip, meaning that he was killed before he even had the time to draw it.
「He was stabbed by something from behind… No, this might even be the work of an Alva’s claw…」
Vermudol muttered while looking at the captain’s body.
Eltrinde responded to those words.
「In that case, Narika was kidnapped by an Alva?」
「…I can’t say for sure.」
After looking around the room, Eltrinde turned her head down in frustration.
「And here I thought I’d finally be able to convince her now that Mazenda’s dead…」
「Did she die?」
「Yeah, she called herself the Staff Demon, but… her head was cut off and her body was split into two. Even a Mazoku should die from something like that, right?」
Certainly, even a Mazoku would perish if such lengths were taken.
However, Vermudol had another thought in mind.
Raktar had said that the Sword Demon had revived the next day even after being split into two.
In that case, the Staff Demon might still be…
「The average Mazoku would die from that, yes. But the Staff Demon may very well be still alive.」
「…Impossible. There’s just no way that could… No, but, in that case, could that have something to do with why Narika isn’t here?」
「I don’t know. However… the powerful energy from that magical circle might have been a decoy to prevent us from sensing the magical energy at work elsewhere that could have taken away Narika.」
Of course, it could be that if they fell for the trap, then everything would have been taken care of for the enemy.
However, their opponent had thought ahead just in case that wouldn’t have worked.
Then what would their next plan of action be?
What would Mazenda be able to do by manipulating the leader Narika?
Stopping his thoughts for now, Vermudol let out a deep sigh.
「…In any case, we have reclaimed Elheim Castle.」
「But this hasn’t solved anything.」
Hearing Vermudol’s agreement, Eltrinde bit her lips.
The head of the castle, Narika, had disappeared, and the root behind all of this, Mazenda, was no longer here.
Even if they said that the civil war was now over with this, who would be able to accept it?
Hearing multiple footsteps coming up from the stairs from behind her, Eltrinde wallowed in gloom.