I had someone request I pick this up last winter when I finished Slow Prison Life, but for a couple reasons I hesitated and put kept a mental note of it instead. Now here we are, and I’m still a bit anxious about it if I’m being honest, but after a year and a half with nobody else picking it up, I figure we can push past those worries and deliver to the people what they want. The majority of series I’ve picked up are ones that other groups dropped, but all of those were dropped pretty early during translations. To the point where some of them I simply retranslated those first couple chapters to ground me. So it feels a bit weird starting 86 chapters in, but life’s a journey.
A Crisis for the Doting Parent
Returning to the present, the eve of the Summer Solstice Festival.
A high-pitched metallic ting echoed across the royal castle’s courtyard.
Sophie flinched as the ceremonial sword unsheathed in an instant came hurdling down towards her face. Using that gap crafted from fear, Shirley moved to strike the back of her daughter’s head, but a small shield in the little girl’s left hand managed to block the attack.
“So it really was like that……you’re fast, but not to the point where I can’t follow you with my eyes like Shirley.”
The person in the shape of Shirley frowned at the voice and actions of the person in the shape of Sophie.
It wasn’t a voice suitable for a girl her age……it sounded more like the voice of a boy in his mid-teens who had just reached adulthood.
“Something to remember……..the first thing Shirley would do is worry about her daughter being out alone in the middle of the night…….Phantom Thief Crowley!”
There was a small shimmer like the haze of a hot day as something suddenly materialized in the girl’s hand…….no, the mace hidden with concealment magic appeared, swinging sideways as her arms grew long.
In the same way, another shimmer gave way revealing a man wearing a monocle. Crowley, having disguised himself as Shirley in the same way as Kyle had masqueraded as Sophie, jumped back to gain some distance and avoid the mace swinging his way only to then have a bolt from a crossbow fly towards his head.
“Oops! See here!”
The bolt flew true, accurately soaring through the air to land its mark with no hope of avoidance……however, that didn’t work against Crowley either. He bent his upper body in mid-air, watching as the bolt moved directly in front of his eyes with a look of pure admiration.
“He dodged it!”
“Leave it to me!”
A bulge rose up from the ground immediately afterwards, forming a pair of large jaws that aimed to chomp down on Crowley as he floated back to his feet. In response, Crowley simply held out both his arms, stopping the closing jaws with his bear hands.
It was an act of superhuman strength that didn’t match his slender appearance. A countermeasure against a spell that could move rock with the force of ten charging bulls that was unthinkable for a newbie adventurer like Kyle even with his ability to use magic. But looked at it another way, it was the type of countermeasure one wouldn’t normally use unless they had no choice.
Rays of light shot from both Crowley’s hands, crushing the rocks and unveiling Leia and Cudd’s hiding spots in the shrubs and shadows.
It was truly an unexpected act from the phantom thief…….but even though he was smiling like he had plenty of leeway, there was a powerful uncertainty floating in his eyes.
“To be outwitted by those I thought of as insignificant chicks…….when did you realize I was not the Demonic White Sword?”
“……three days ago, when you repelled Shirley and the Guildmaster.”
“I regularly relay information between us through our communication magic.”
“What!? A boy like you is capable of using communication magic!?”
Communication magic sounds simple enough, but it’s actually an exceedingly difficult magic to perform. Conveying information to someone else without appealing to their eyes and ears requires a complete understanding of an extremely precise technique that incorporates scientific thought. Which is why this highly convenient spell isn’t widely known even among those who specialize in magic.
And when considered that such a magic is specialized for covert exchanges of information and the user must be able to utilize this technique without any other experts noticing its activation, the level of difficulty in its use only rises further. Thus Crowley’s reaction is not unreasonable considering the one using this kind of magic is a fledgling adventurer.
“I see…..then for the past three days you’ve treated me normally despite knowing I was an impostor? ……which means you three have come to understand that as well yes? The true nature of my special ability.”
“……the ability to manipulate the other party’s recognition. That’s your special ability, you pervert.”
Any information collected by the five senses is controlled by the brain. But what if it cannot correctly process all the information that it’s been given? ……With their brain being directly fed the false information, for the person in question, it would seem like the absolute truth.
Crowley’s ability to kidnap these girls without anyone ever noticing him…..it all derives from his ability to manipulate the information people’s brains receive from their five senses.
With such an ability, even if the entrance of the castle were outfitted with a security magic tool, all he need do is manipulate the recognition of the castle guards monitoring the magic tool. So even if an alarm goes off, the guards will never hear it. Even if he were to enter a packed party venue where the target is at center stage, he needs only to manipulate the partygoers’ sight, and he will be able to walk in and kidnap the girl right in front of them.
And thus the final result, where a little girl has been kidnapped in a crime that should have been impossible to commit. A special ability perfect for someone with the title of Phantom Thief.
“…….you understand that much, yet I see no sign of any other soldiers heading this way. My Wonderland is an extraordinary magic that allows me to alter the perception of all living things within a certain range at my convenience. It would seem that it is still working just fine on everyone else in the castle, yet it isn’t working on any of you. I suppose then that the moment you received this information on my ability, you applied your own magic directly to your brains?”
Unique magic. The one of a kind magic belonging to semi-immortals that combines the individual invoker’s magic with their own inherent magic-like abilities.
If Crowley’s words were to be taken at face value, then he is using magic on a massive scale, altering the perceptions of every person in the castle in what is essentially his special ability spread out over a large area.
Shirley had already established a countermeasure against this. A simple spell applied to the brain would prevent it from being manipulated by outside magic power. However, the one sticking point was that Crowley had already cast his unique magic before the other soldiers could be alerted.
Immediately after Kyle and the others received word from Shirley, they took the appropriate countermeasures, but Wonderland was activated soon after. As such, no matter who Kyle tried to warn, everyone in the castle interpreted his words as something different.
Of course they still more or less tried alerting others to the smoke, but the end result can be assumed from how Kyle and the others are the only ones here.
“So then? Are you all perhaps considering fighting me on your own? You two boys and a girl who haven’t been alive for twenty years yet against me, someone who has made every country his enemy and lived for the past three hundred?”
“……..! …….you’re bluffing.”
The weight of three hundred years. The mere thought of it had almost crushed them, but Kyle and his colleagues calmed their minds and repositioned their weapons.
“We’re just a group of rookie adventurers…….but we can still tell when our opponent is almost out of mana. Even if the Black Saintly Spear is somehow able to keep Shirley preoccupied, you sealed away the Guildmaster and have been forced to keep up a large-scale spell for days now. Consider the energy you need to store away to accomplish the kidnapping itself, and I have to wonder if you have enough left in you to properly fight us. We’ve been watching you and confirming as much these past three days. The fact that you didn’t take the time or effort to see through our simple illusion before proves as much!”
If that first exchange was proof of anything, it’s that a Crowley in his prime could completely and one-sidedly mess around with these three young adventurers. And yet, the fact that this legendary monster bothered to physically engage them at all meant something. In other words, it was all circumstantial evidence on whether or not Crowley had enough magic power left to deal with Kyle, Leia, and Cudd.
“With all that being the case, it’s a mystery on why you insisted on keeping to your notice and waiting until the eve of the Summer Solstice Festival, but……with as weakened as you are right now, we can give you a proper fight. ……..and besides”
Noticing the three adventurers turning their gazes upwards, Crowley turned his own attention towards the night sky and activated the versatile release magic Dispel. The light twisted as his spell took root, revealing a red and blue bird hiding high above. An enormous amount of magical energy had already accumulated in the sacred birds’ beaks, and as they opened their mouths wide, two bright pillars of light shot down towards the Phantom Thief.
The night three days before the Summer Solstice Festival. After a full day had almost passed in the battle between the Demonic White Sword and the Black Saintly Spear, their attacks had gradually sharpened as the range between them shortened while the flurry of blows became more dense, forming a hellish zone that obliterated anything that traveled inside.
Having already thrown away his shield, Marion unleashed as many as fourteen thrusts while standing amongst a cloud of incessant metallic pings and violently scattering sparks.
Two shots each for the head, throat, chest, stomach, heart, lungs, and limbs……all unleashed at once instead of as subsequent thrusts with an unthinkable divine technique with a lance that aimed at killing his opponent while simultaneously seeking to scrape away her mobility.
They were met with a defense that could be described as a divine technique in its own right. Having successfully repelled the lance’s fourteen simultaneous strikes with her two blades, Shirley thrust forward with Igarima towards Marion’s throat while pulling back on Shul Shagana, the tip of its blade aimed directly at his back after it transformed into a whip sword.
A pincer attack performed by a single person. Marion could try dodging to the side, but in that case, Igarima’s blade would divert in the same direction and cut him down in an instant.
“Then how about this!”
So Marion flew upwards instead. He buried the tip of his black lance into the ground, extending the length of the shaft to its utmost limits up towards they sky while carrying the black knight’s body with it.
He utilized his weapons ability to change its shape to escape out of danger without breaking his stance. But even before it had finished, Shirley was already making her next move.
Shirley ran up the black lance jutting from out of the ground with her blue and red swords at her left and right. The blades came together like a pair of scissors, scraping against each other in a double drawing technique slash. Both blades were encompassed in a flash of light, and when their edges came together, that light shot forward.
Secret sword art Severance Cross. A technique based on the principle of a pair of scissors that fuses two sword flashes into one as well as being one of Shirley’s attacks with the highest level of cutting power. Capable of splitting a large cloud in two from a distance and leaving a single scratch on the moon’s surface.
“……a blow with all my strength to end this…….”
“Fwahahahaha! Not yet! I’ll have you entertain me for a while longer sword demon!”
The most fearsome thing about Marion is his ability to instantly derive the optimal solution as well as his skill to act those solutions out.
In spite of having no footholds to kick off of, he changed the end of his black lance to a thorn-like shape. Then riding it like a meandering feeler, Marion managed to move himself out of range of the slash.
Then in the next moment, his lance morphed into a partisan, and in the small gap left after Shirley’s attack, he unleashed a countless number of thrusts downwards.
Shirley instantly intercepted them all. But as she readied her blades in anticipation for her next chance to strike, a numbing pain shot through one of her arms.
The result was a pause too short to be called an opening. However, that slight pause during their exchange of blows was more than enough for Marion.
“What’s wrong sword demon!? Have you already reached the limits of your physical strength!? Even though my arm is only finally getting warmed up!?”
A furious, wall-like thrust tore past Shirley’s clothes and sent pieces of fiber flying to the side. Although she had managed to reduce the strike to just a graze without losing any significant physical strength or mana, Shirley instantly knew the crisis she was facing, and it caused a cold sweat to bead atop her forehead.
(………..this is bad. It’s been a whole day since I’ve been able to refill my daughter energy, and I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms………!)
A situation where a single mistake means death. Even in a life and death struggle such as this, that brutally honest doting parent spirit was ingrained into her bones.