Phantom Thief, Death Confirmed (Tentative)
It was a magic circle that looked like a clock’s face made up of a number of finely detailed gears. And yet, it was only about the size of a fingernail.
“Is this one of the castle’s magic circles? Or, maybe it’s the work of that Phantom Thief.”
“Let me see……..as I thought. I have no idea how other countries’ castles work.”
The fact it was hidden underneath a vase as if to hide it from view made it seem suspicious, especially since they found it in the middle of Crowley’s rampage, but they couldn’t carelessly mess with it.
Should they move on without paying it any mind……with that question on her mind, Tio gently tugged on Sophie’s sleeve before pointing towards her own eyes.
“Sophie, we could use the power of our eyes.”
“Ah, you’re right!”
“? What are the two of you talking about?”
“Well, just watch.”
The blue and red eyes of the twins began to shine. They activated the extraordinary ability they had available to them when they stand together and looked forward towards the innumerable divergent futures stretched before them.
Sophie’s vision laid out how each of the possible futures develop where this magic circle is broken. In most, the destruction of the magic circle causes a detestable yet reliable trap that temporarily cuts off the consciousness of everyone in the castle, freezing them as if time had come to a stop.
Subsequent events vary here and there, but in the end, each of them end with Sophie, Tio, and Hilda being kidnapped.
“Hilda is the one who got the notice, so why are we being kidnapped too!?”
“Hey!? You two have been running your mouths off on your own and leaving me alone! …….i-it’s not like I’m lonely.”
“Sorry. Um, well…….”
Hilda looked like she was about to cry since she felt like she was being left behind, so Tio explained to her about their special power and how they were using it to find out what they could about the magic circle.
“We don’t know what the magic circle itself is used for, but we can at least assume it has something to do with the Phantom Thief. However if we break the spell, it looks like something worse is going to happen. To make it easy to understand, all three of us will be kidnapped.”
“I-I see……then it really would be best for us to leave it alone and go find somewhere to hide.”
“No. It might work.”
Most of the futures laid out before them have the magic circles work as intended. However, there is one buried within the multitudes that have the magic circle misfire.
Tio’s ability allows her to pick through the different futures Sophie lays out and select the one most convenient for them. No matter how slim the possibility for success is, the future she decides upon is the one that is sure to pass.
“Here I go. Mm”
Tio pulled out the knife she took for self defense and shaved off a portion of the magic circle. The light coming off the wood table faded, but while it didn’t seem like they had sprung any traps, the maids down the hall were still acting like nothing was happening.
“Hmm……..was it not enough to change things?”
Tio looked even farther into the future, searching for the one that held the most convenient ending for them. And among those many futures, she found one where Crowley is expunged from the castle after a dozen more magic circles are destroyed.
“…….there are more magic circles throughout the castle. If we wreck them all, the soldiers will snap to their senses and drive out the pervert.”
“A-Are you sure!?”
“Great, then let’s change our strategy and destroy those magic circles!”
“Woooooah!” The little girls triumphantly raised their fists, shouting out their battle cry as they began exploring the castle. This is what was going on as the battle between Crowley and Kyle’s party began.
Back to the present. Crowley was completely surrounded by soldiers whose manipulated perceptions had been restored to normal.
“Don’t let him escape!! Allowing such a cretin to engage in such disgraceful behavior is an insult to the name of the kingdom knights!! Restrain him now!!”
Arms made from stone and rock, blistering heat rays, raging blizzards, roaring lightning, and a rainfall of arrows bore down on Crowley all at once. He could no longer afford to use his strongest magic against the rookie adventurers. With the number and strength behind the attacks coming the Phantom Thief’s way, he would surely meet his end if he didn’t use all his focus on dodging and running away.
(…..how could my misrecognition have been entirely removed all at once!? Did somebody get to my magic circles…….no, my trap would’ve surely gone off if they had!)
Crowley’s victory would have been assured if even one of his magic circles had been tampered with. But it never happened. His largest oversight in preparing for this attack was not understanding the true power behind Sophie and Tio’s eyes.
He was so focused on countermeasures against Shirley and Canary that he completely underestimated Kyle’s party and the girls themselves. He never bothered doing any proper research because he assumed he could overcome any further issues with his own strength.
He had no other choice than to run away…….but just as he came to his decision, Crowley caught sight of Sophie, Tio, and Hilda peeking out from one of the castle windows at him together with a maid.
All three of them were breathtakingly beautiful little girls. After putting in so much effort to get this far, walking away without anything to show for it was too much for him to bear.
(Blessed fortune, I still have enough magic power to use teleportation twice.)
The first teleportation would take him right near the girls, and his second would take himself and the three girls far away from here. Driven by his lust, Crowley licked his lips and used his first teleportation to close the distance between himself and the girls while simultaneously dodging all the attacks coming his way.
The soldiers would be unable to fire off a second attack with the demon princess in the way, and they would have no choice but to back off. Crowley chuckled to himself while getting ready to activate his second teleportation――――
a move that was already foreseen by Sophie’s future vision. The twins timed their summoning with the first teleportation, bringing their sacred birds to their side. The birds’ feathers radiated magic power, and with a simple raise of their wings, they unleashed two beams of incandescent light that tore through Crowley’s body.
“Phantom Thief Crowley, you’re finished!!”
The last vestiges of his magic power went to repairing his body……..and with Crowley beaten and broken, the final blow came from Kyle who propelled his body forward with wind magic once again and crashed through the window into the castle corridor.
“In…….In a place like thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis!?”
Gathering all the magic power he had left into his fist, Kyle strengthened his body to the absolute limit as he rocketed towards the Phantom Thief. In that extreme situation where nothing else could be heard, Kyle dug his right fist into Crowley’s face, shattering the thief’s monocle and blowing him outside of the castle.
“He fell outside the castle wall!?”
“Find and arrest him!! Make him wish he was never born!!”
“Is crowley over there!?”
“No, I didn’t see him! Where did that bastard go!?”
The city, quiet from the preparations for the following day’s Summer Solstice Festival, grew tumultuous as a large group of soldiers rushed through. Meanwhile, a small shadow breathed a sigh of relief from its hiding place behind a small garbage pail.
“Haa…….haa……tch. To come so far only to fail in the end, I really have no luck.”
The shadow waited for the seething soldiers’ angry howls and footsteps to fade away before continuing down the complicated labyrinth of back alleys to escape from those soldiers.
The identity of that shadow too small to be mistaken for even a human child is none other than the former familiar of the Golden Witch. The being whose infamy as the Phantom Thief Crowley spread across the world.
With his mana reserves completely empty, he had to escape in this unsightly form. Like this, the soldiers who only know the Phantom Thief as a gentlemanly character would never realize that he was actually Crowley.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Lady luck wasn’t with me this time, so I’ll back down for now. But next time, Princess Hilda, Little Sophie, and Little Tio will be all mine! From then on, I’ll be able to enjoy a lap pillow from those soft thighs, go ‘ahhn’ as they feed me my food, and have them wash my body every day in the bath……..heheh, heheheheheheheheh!”
Despite the flame of revenge burning in his heart, Crowley’s nose flared as indecent thoughts filled his mind. Soon a nosebleed began dripping down, giving him an extremely sloppy expression.
“And that doesn’t mean I’m walking away from this with nothing. Just the thought that I managed to outsmart Big Sis Canary clears up just a bit of my resentment. Now then, let’s head home and have some little girls heal my injured body and soul~. In any case, neither Big Sis nor the Demonic White Sword will be able to enter the capital for another three or four days.”
Aside from the spatial phase barrier blanketing the city, Canary was sealed away in another dimension, seeing a happy little dream she would never want to part from. And Shirley was fighting Marion. With the only two people he had to be wary of indisposed, nobody would be able to stop him from slipping away…….convinced of that fact, he skipped through the shadows with a slightly lighter gait. But there was one thing he forgot……….that kind of line always sets up a flag.
“What an intriguing soliloquy. I look forward to you guiding me to where you have taken these other girls.”
Someone had come from behind without Crowley noticing. Hurriedly looking back, he found a demonic mother goddess with a blue and red sword in each hand and long white hair flowing in the breeze. Her expression: full of murder.
Crowley immediately tried fleeing in the opposite direction. However a whirlpool of golden magical power quickly formed and blocked his way. And from this whirlpool stepped the one person in the world he didn’t want to meet most.
“How deeply I’ve wanted to see you again my dear familiar♡ Jeez, just where have you been all this time? I’ve been so worried about you☆”
Despite the jovial and warm tone to her voice, the witch’s eyes weren’t laughing at all.