The white arrow I fired made contact with Liz’s chest and exploded.
“Aah!” Liz wailed, taking a direct hit.
Moments later, the Darkness which had been chaining her down flew off her body and faded away like mist.
The strength draining from her body, Liz collapsed onto the floor.
“Liz!” Laura rushed over to Liz.
I was a little worried for Laura, but I guess she’d be fine; Liz should be back to normal by now.
Firvus approached me. “A version of Magic Arrow that purifies Darkness… You’ve already gotten to that level?”
“Yes. I practiced it at Lake Bjarnu.”
“That’s pretty incredible… But why the hell did you shoot me out of the blue like that?”
“I wanted to see whether it would have any effect on the human body, so I tested it on you before shooting Liz.”
“NONONONO, HOLD UP! IF IT DID HAVE AN EFFECT, I’D BE SIX FEET UNDER RIGHT NOW!”
“…I believe you’re an instructor that really puts their students first, Mr. Firvus. You’re willing to put your life on the line for your students—am I wrong?”
“Because of that passion you have for instructing, you readily agreed to cooperate with me. ‘Hit me with whatever you’ve got! I’ll allow it!’ is what you said—am I wrong?”
“N-No…” Firvus’ eyes darted around the place. “W-Well, I mean, you guys are my precious students, yeah? This ain’t nothing special for me, nothing special at all! Haha…hahahaha!” said Firvus, his voice sounding somewhat dry.
I’m awestruck… What a profound feeling.
He doesn’t bat an eye at risking his life for the sake of his students; rather, he steels himself to it in a heartbeat—and with pride to boot. Not anyone could do the same.
My inner opinion of Firvus went up yet another notch.
If anything ever happens again, I’ll turn to Firvus for help.
“Albert! Mr. Firvus! Liz regained consciousness!”
“H-Huh…? What was I…?” Liz said, opening her eyes absentmindedly. “…That’s right…. I-I… was taken over by the power of Darkness—!” She looked at Laura, realization dawning on her face. “I-I’m so sorry, Laura! I-I did s-s-something horrible…!”
“It’s alright. You weren’t in your right mind. I’m just glad you’re unharmed,” replied Laura with a gentle expression. “Are you ready now…? Can you talk more about it?”
“…Thank you, Laura…” Liz nodded in response, her face solemn. “Yesterday night, as well as a few minutes ago—I was being controlled by the Dark Contract…”
“The Dark Contract?”
“Yeah. I was still aware of my surroundings, but it felt like everything was in a daze, and my body wouldn’t listen to me…” Liz said, turning up the sleeve of her uniform. Her white upper-arm laid bare. “I think it was blown away by the spell from earlier, but the contract sigil used to be right here.”
Matching up with what Liz said, there wasn’t any trace of that sigil on her arm.
“Agreeing to that contract… was a mistake…” Liz said, biting her upper lip.
Her expression reflected the genuine regret she was feeling.
“Why did you sign that… contract thing?”
“…Because… I had bad grades…” muttered Liz in an embarrassed tone. “I strained every nerve to get enrolled, but I wasn’t remotely up to scratch for what came after… I didn’t think I had it in me to get the emblem required for advancing to my second year. But everyone back at the village had their hopes pinned on me. Then—”
“You resorted to the contract?”
“…Yeah. Apparently, it has the effect of increasing my mana. I somehow managed to scrape by and pass the exam.” She let out a gloomy sigh. “But that wasn’t the right thing to do. I never thought I’d be at the mercy of their orders. That’s also why I approached you—”
“I was ordered to get closer to you… Sorry…”
“To me? Why?”
“…They seemed to be interested… in the Witch’s blood…” Liz said with trepidation. “I’m sorry… I got you mixed up in this mess for such a stupid reason…”
For a moment, Laura looked sad—
But that was all.
She went back to her usual cheerful expression and said, “It’s okay! Regardless of everything, I’m still glad that I got to talk with you! After all, that’s why we managed to save you in the first place!”
“…Laura… thank you…” Liz said, squeezing out the words. “The same thing happened to me yesterday night. I headed towards that classroom because the Dark Contract was controlling me. I noticed you at the time, but I couldn’t do anything about it. My body moved against my will.”
“By classroom, you mean the one you collapsed in?”
“Yeah. I think they put this device used for some crime onto my person back in that classroom,” Liz said, looking at her left hand.
There was a ring on her index finger.
Liz took it off like she was touching something filthy. “I couldn’t take this ring off of my own volition until now.”
“Apparently, it’s a magic item meant to locate a treasured item. It’s the one that they were looking for and tried stealing from the academy.”
“…The Seal of Darkness,” muttered Firvus. Then, he made eye contact with Liz and asked, “Liz. I get you were being controlled. The thing is—who exactly presented you with the Dark Contract?”
Liz paused for a moment, then declared, “It was Sarles.”
Sarles—Blain’s friend and one of only three people who had an Iron Emblem in our grade.
That same prize pupil…
Just then, something suddenly dawned on me.
—At around 1:10 today… can you accompany me for something?
Blain said something along the lines of that.
—There’s something about what happened last night that’s been on my mind. Albert, it’d be reassuring if you could do me the favor of coming with me.
He also said that.
In the end, he said the following:
—That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but… I’ve already agreed upon a time, so…
Meaning, he arranged to meet with someone about what happened last night.
If Sarles is the one pulling the strings, then there’s a solid chance that his friend, Blain, would catch on.
If Blain is meeting with Sarles, that means…?
“He’s in danger…!”
I said that out of nowhere, so everyone looked at me.
“What’s wrong, Albert?” Laura asked.
“There’s a chance that Blain is meeting up with Sarles right now,” I replied. The atmosphere froze over in an instant after I spoke. “A little while ago, Blain said he was going to meet with someone regarding what happened yesterday night, and he asked me to come with him. I had already arranged to meet with Laura, so I declined. The place is—” I stopped talking midway after remembering where it was and spontaneously broke into a sprint.
The school building was shaped like the letter L, so I thought I might be able to see the classroom Blain was talking about from the rooftop.
I stood right against the railing and overlooked the school building. “!?”
I saw the classroom Blain told me about, which was on the highest floor.
Their bodies peeking out of a broken window, two male students wrestled against each other. It was rather far away, so I couldn’t get a clear look at their faces, but one of them had blue hair, and the other had dark brown hair—it had to be Blain and Sarles.
“What’s the deal, Albert?! Why’d you suddenly run off like that!?” Firvus exclaimed, catching up to me along with Laura and Liz.
I pointed at the school building and answered, “Blain and Sarles are brawling it out.”
“Wha?! For real?!” Firvus’ face froze from shock after getting a look for himself.
“Let’s go and help him!” Laura said.
I shook my head in response. “There’s something I need to do before that.”
“What is it?”
“I’m going to shoot Sarles from here.”
“Huh!? But it’s way too far away from here to there—”
“Did you forget, Laura?”
“The firing range of my Magic Arrow—” I paused briefly and continued, “is 13 kilometers.”
I extended my right arm and took aim. I can’t hit Blain… and I can’t kill Sarles, either. I need to lower my arrow’s power…
After carefully calibrating everything, I gave mouth to the words that acted as the trigger.
My white arrow glided through the air like a streak of light—
and blew the brown-haired student to the back of the classroom.
Today’s chap. Gonna be out for a little today, so might not able to post another today. If not, I’ll just post tomorrow anyway. Lmk if you guys have any novel suggestions, I’m thinking of picking up another series and doing another vote. Thanks for reading.
EDIT: Forgot to mention, I changed “Contract of Darkness” to “Dark Contract” cuz it sounded cooler.