The day of the school trip. Starting today, the second year students would be leaving their parents for four whole days and traveling to a distant land.
The joyous cries of over a dozen children, most of them rambunctious and excited boys, competed with the loud flapping of wings of four large flying dragons as they slowly descended into the school’s sports ground with a set of air shuttles attached to their backs.
The air shuttles were modeled after large, luxury boats covered in splendiferous golden ornaments all along the sides. Most garish of all these ornaments was a solid gold figurehead of the Golden Witch attached to the bow of the ship that was practically screaming to be in the limelight.
“That’s the chairman’s ship I suppose……?”
“Mm. I can’t think of any other explanation. It looks terribly fancy.”
Each air shuttle looked like they would cost a fortune just to move. The tuition fee that parents need to pay for the school is pretty small which meant the vast majority of the money that goes into these things comes from Canary alone.
When it comes to children, that arrogant witch…….is surprisingly doting, especially when they’re her own descendants. …….Even if the person herself will never admit it. Sophie and Tio reaffirmed what they already knew about Canary while eyeing the girl from another class who they knew happened to be one of Canary’s descendants.
“Then we will board group by group, but first, a few precautions to go over――――”
The air shuttles have a magic tool that blocks any oncoming winds or air pressure, so there is basically no danger of anyone falling out. With that being said, any mischief or tomfoolery could result in something breaking, so kids are not allowed to touch any of the equipment unnecessarily.
After being warned by the teacher to not enter any of the shuttle’s restricted or employee-only areas, the students began uniformly boarding the air shuttles.
“Tio? Is there something wrong?”
“Mm…….it’s nothing. Must be my imagination.”
As she stepped off the air shuttle’s gangway, Tio felt a strange look focused on the back of her neck.
It was as if somebody were relentlessly surveilling the situation…….but it was just a passing feeling, and Tio immediately concluded that it was probably nothing.
“But, I was worried what my parents were going to say about me going abroad alone with everyone, so what did Shirley end up saying?”
“I guess, Mama was concerned about everything? She kept asking us if we knew what stops we would be making and what to do if we end up getting lost……but when we left home this morning, she just smiled and saw us off?”
“Really? That’s weird”
Tio and Sophie’s brains were running through the numbers, obviously bothered by the conundrum in front of them.
“She was also strangely busy, even though she didn’t have any work today.”
“…….She kept going in and out of the storage chest in our house. I’m not sure what she was doing.”
Every student eventually made their way across the gangway and boarded the air shuttle.
Among those students were a pair of twins with beautiful white hair. Coincidentally, there was another ten year old girl mixed in with the group whose similarly colored white hair was tied up and tucked underneath a snow hat and red and blue heterochromatic eyes were hidden behind a pair of stylish sunglasses. This young girl was holding a camera while happening to focus the camera’s lens on the twins.
“The first day of their field trip……boarding the air shuttle with their friends. I hope nothing happens and they can simply enjoy themselves.”
The girl released the shutter at a speed invisible to the naked eye and immediately changed out the roll of film. From under her breath, she muttered her thoughts aloud in a calm tone that did not match her appearance, and from underneath her sunglasses, her eyes shone with a strong motherly light.
“You’re the same as ever…….no, have you gotten even worse?”
A beautiful girl whose own age was up for debate stood behind the girl and watched her with obvious shock on her face. A magician with long, violet colored hair and a wide-brimmed triangular hat…….the S-rank adventurer, the Illusionary Butterfly Grania.
“I’ve heard cases of semi-immortals obsession over a specific object growing as time goes on, but this seems like something else…….Shirley”
“Leave it at that if you would”
The young girl……Shirley, turned around looking a little indignant.
Spells and magic tools……there were all kinds of methods being used by the S-rank adventurers to hide themselves on the air shuttle so that the children wouldn’t notice them.
Most of them were here for the easy pay despite their initial thoughts of, “The guildmaster is at it again?” And since Shirley and Grania were already acquainted with one another, they naturally began acting together――――
“I will not miss a single instant of my daughters’ growth……that is my duty as a mother.”
“I never knew it was a mother’s job to shadow their children and secretly take photos of them like a stalker?”
“That’s pretty rude, don’t you think?”
Shirley’s young face distorted into a deep frown as she wholeheartedly defended her daughters’ growth records.
In anticipation of this day, she had installed a telephoto function on her cameras so she could capture clear pictures over long distances. With this, she can take shots of her daughters from far enough away that she could be certain they would not notice her. Shirley thought back to those long hours she toiled away in her Hero’s Toolbox.
“Anyways……aren’t you cold like that Grania? Y-You’re wearing such lewd clothing again…….”
It was a dress that emphasized the figure like the one she was wearing during the summer, exposing her back and shoulders while also doing little to cover her ample chest, long legs, and supple thighs. Because the seasons have changed and it is getting colder, she was wearing a fur coat over her shoulders, but because it was unbuttoned, it still greatly clashed with Shirley’s general sense of style.
“Are you sure it is okay to be wearing clothes like this while volunteering for the school?”
“What we really look like is being hidden through magic anyway, so it’s fine…….but do you really think it is that bold? I would describe my clothes as mature more than anything else.”
Shirley wasn’t so sure. If this was the kind of outfit that was considered ‘mature’, she shuddered to imagine what a dress that was considered bold and revealing would look like.
“Besides, it isn’t good to let yourself get cold. You should bundle up.”
“You sound like a grandma talking like that.”
In fact, Shirley obediently accepted being called Grania sullenly calling her a grandma with a nod…….even if she looked even younger now than she normally does.
“Speaking about you, what’s with that form? I don’t see you for a couple months and you’ve become so cute.”
Grania smiled down at Shirley and patted the head that now only came up to her chest. Not only had Shirley’s body shrunk significantly, but her facial features had also softened to those that would belong to a young child. The only things Shirley had in common with her usual appearance would be the color of her hair and eyes. That and the sharp look she always had in her gaze.
“This kind of magic…….the hat and glasses would have worked well enough as a disguise don’t you think? Going so far as to shrink you body is a bit overkill.”
“I thought so too…….”
Because of the entire purpose of the field trip, it is necessary to make sure that the children do not notice any of adventurers acting as their escorts. That is why in addition to her disguise, Shirley used illusion and cognitive obstruction magic to keep her presence hidden from Sophie and Tio.
“I have been spending a lot of time training those girls recently……and their powers have been getting stronger with each passing day.”
People who have special visual abilities like Sophie and Tio do are naturally resistant to magic that affects their vision as it is. It has been a short time since they awoke to their visual abilities, yet their eyesight has grown highly acute abnormally quickly. They are already quite talented at seeing through illusions and detecting hidden magic.
“So I decided I could not rely on magic alone. Putting the other adventurers aside, they should be especially talented at seeing through any of my deceptions.”
She’s their mother, someone they’ve known their entire lives. It would be hard to fool them with some amateur disguise, and if they ever were to notice that she had followed them on their school field trip, they would almost definitely be upset with her.
“So I completely changed my physical appearance with magic…..I assumed that if I changed my height, even if they notice me, I should be able to fool them somehow……if they ask, I will call myself a child who happens to be acquainted with you.”
“Grandma has the two of us pairing together, so it should work out…..although it’s certainly an interesting problem. Then if anyone asks, you’re the daughters of some acquaintances I have in the Holy City, and you are showing me around town since your parents are busy……that setting should work.”
There is still the matter of Shirley’s white hair and different colored eyes being some fairly defining traits, but her eyes were hidden behind the sunglasses and her hair is hidden underneath the hat.
With Shirley and Grania finishing up their plan of attack, there was a change in the children’s movements.
“Keep all hands inside the air shuttle, but otherwise you are free to move around as you wish. Lunch begins at noon, so gather in the cafeteria at that time.”
Once the gangway was pulled up, the scarlet dragon’s let out a roar and began flapping their wings. The air shuttle finally made its way off the ground and slowly rose into the air.
A group of children rushed to the side of the vehicle so they could see their village from a sky-high view. Shirley turned her camera towards these kids……or more specifically, to Tio and Sophie whose eyes were shining. She then rapidly began letting the shutter fly.
“Now, should we get to work? Our subjects are children whose behavior is difficult to predict……we must remain calm and handle what comes our way.”
Grania carefully watched Shirley, laughing over how she was able to say such a grown-up thing while her eyes were obviously focused on two students specifically.