The group mission ended a day earlier than scheduled. Of course, they had also expected that kind of situation, but neither Mr. Mustang nor Mr. Epinhauser looked very happy
It might’ve been because the mission’s progression was very sloppy.
Ellen had given up voluntarily.
Harriet, who was actually smart, was executed after spouting gibberish, and just when one thought the other students were properly trying to deal with the assassins’ tricks, Charlotte had suddenly committed suicide, abandoning the mission, and in the end, Bertus, who was a step short of losing his mind, was a little bit too overburdened and was executed as a consequence of Ludwig’s senseless reasoning at the meeting.
They looked as if they didn’t really want to evaluate this mission at all.
But in the end, they had to.
They had to decide which of us was disappointing and who was a bit less disappointing.
“This group mission is Class B’s victory.”
The Class A guys were relatively more disappointing, and well, even though Class B’s Ludwig just said stuff like, “You’re talking a lot, so you must be the culprit!” he still ended up catching the assassin.
As a result, Class B won.
The group mission would be officially over once we returned to Temple on Sunday after resting Friday and Saturday in that mansion.
We could also return to Temple in advance, but I decided to stay there because Ellen asked me to.
-Wow, what’s with that snowman?
-Why is it so big?
-There’s something like a statue next to it.
Those that had just gotten there were all amazed by the snowmen that Ellen, Harriet and I made—one for its sophistication, and the other for its size.
All of them seemed to wonder who’d made them and were surprised to find out that we had made them.
Even though they were like that, they couldn’t imagine me rolling snowballs like a child, so they started laughing.
“…What’s with these bastards?”
No, why can’t I make a snowman?!
I got pissed off for no reason.
The mansion was quite spacious, and each of the 22 students had a private room.
Anyway, although the results of the group mission were kind of disappointing, the evaluation had ended. It was Class B’s victory. Of course, Bertus and Charlotte, who were nominated as assassins, also received individual scores.
Unsurprisingly, the only ones who performed well in the face of those pathetic results was the assassin team.
They’d played the most important role during the meetings in placing suspicion from themselves onto others.
So, in the end, Bertus and Charlotte scored pretty well.
Of course, I failed without being able to do anything, but I didn’t really care all that much about it.
There were some among the students who wanted to enter the mansion quickly because they heard that it had a hot spring, and some just wanted to play around, making snowmen for example, perhaps because we had made some.
What was that sudden rise in the popularity of making snowmen?
“The mission was over before we could even do anything”
Everyone nodded at Liana’s words. The mission, which was filled with tension originally, ended in a completely anticlimactic manner.
After having some breakfast, I, as well as the four class girls, sat together and drank some tea.
“By the way, why does it snow so much even though it’s not winter yet?”
Liana trembled. Perhaps she hated the cold.
“Perhaps because this place is in the far north.”
Harriet explained that it would be winter almost year-round in that place because it was located at the northern-most edge of the continent.
“But the hot spring was nice. My body got all warmed up.”
It seemed like Liana had thoroughly enjoyed the hot spring.
“I usually only visit tropical resorts in the winter, but bathing in these kinds of hot springs in this cold place isn’t too bad either.”
It seemed like Liana’s vacationing style would change slightly after we returned from that mission
Come to think of it… it was purely Liana’s suggestion to visit the Edina Islands during our summer vacation.
Would she rent out a hot spring resort and invite us to go play there during our winter vacation?
Of course, I couldn’t be sure about that yet.
“Now that I talked about it, I just have to take another bath there.”
Liana wanted to go into the hot spring once more just as she was thinking about it.
She seemed to have really liked it.
Unlike Liana, the others didn’t seem to have the same thoughts. It looked like they’d woken up early that morning and had already used it.
“Should we take a walk?”
As if she suddenly remembered something, Ellen suggested such.
Well, there was nothing else we could do.
It was only Harriet, Ellen, and I who decided to take a walk. Adelia was hesitant about accepting the invitation and eventually decided to not go.
-H-hey! Throw gently!
-Just dodge better, Delphine!
The Class B guys were throwing snowballs at each other, suddenly having decided to have a snowball fight while making a snowman.
Making snowmen and having snowball fights… They played around like little kids.
—But so did I.
Near the mansion was a forest. White steam was rising from the open-air bath.
We walked through said forest. It was slightly hard to see because of the falling snow, but in the distance, we could faintly see the silhouette of the ancient castle Epiax between the trees.
“Doesn’t it actually seem kind of creepy?”
Looking at the castle, Harriet slightly trembled, perhaps due to the cold or because it creeped her out that much. It certainly had a spooky atmosphere about it.
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I’d set it up as an eerie place, but because it had become reality, the atmosphere surrounding it made people feel uncomfortable just by looking at that gloomy and creepy old castle.
There seemed to be icicles hanging from every wall, there were copious amounts of snow on the roof, and its overall color was a blackish gray.
It felt even more intimidating because it wasn’t just some old castle but a well-built one.
However, Ellen just tilted her head as if she had different thoughts.
“That castle… What’s it for?”
Ellen seemed curious about that part.
Being creepy aside, it had to have a use.
“It doesn’t look like anyone is actually living there.”
“…Come to think of it, you’re right.”
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Harriet also tilted her head when she realized that.
Of course, because it wasn’t a survival mission, they served us meals, but the ones who provided the food were staff members that were temporarily dispatched to that place because of the mission.
There was no Lord of Epiax or anyone who lived in the castle.
—It was only used for short periods of time as a mission area.
And I had no idea what else it was used for either.
I’d just thought that it would be nice to have the characters play mafia in an ancient castle. I didn’t really think about its history or why it was abandoned.
“Where is this place to begin with?”
Yet another question.
We had simply arrived there through a warp gate. We only vaguely knew where we were, but not specifically.
Harriet pondered over Ellen’s question with her brows furrowed.
“Seeing that it’s snowing so much at this time… I think we are at the extreme northern frontier of the Empire or something like that. Considering that there are hot springs in this place, that would mean a lot of geothermal heat… But I don’t exactly know where the hot spring actually formed…”
It wasn’t Harriet’s field of expertise, so it seemed like she couldn’t pinpoint our location either.
“Why are you thinking about this so hard? We can just ask the teachers.”
We didn’t actually have to find out the answer on our own—all we had to do was go and ask the teachers where we were and what the ancient castle Epiax was for.
Harriet pouted her lips as if she had gotten annoyed by my words.
“Tch, not a shred of romance in you.”
“I don’t know, you idiot!”
As if ready to leave, Harriet turned to the mansion, saying, “Let’s go ask the teachers.”
What the? She gets angry at the strangest times.
Mr. Epinhauser easily answered us.
“We are located in the northern polar zone. It doesn’t fall under any jurisdiction. Well, if one went a certain distance south from this place, one would find Glamos. It’s a small country located in the region.”
A small country named Glamos located in the northernmost part of the continent… We were even further north. Looking at the map Mr. Epinhauser spread out, we really were at the northernmost edge of the continent.
“If you go even further north from here… You will reach B-8’s place of origin. Of course, it isn’t that close to our current location.”
Dettomolian was part of a tribal society based in the northern snowfields of the continent. He was someone who’d grown up in a place that couldn’t even be called a country. It sure was amazing that he somehow heard about Temple while living in such a place.
In any case, that meant that most of the northernmost regions were no different from uninhabited land, and the same rang true for that place.
That was the answer to our first question.
“What about the castle?”
Harriet asked about the ancient castle Epiax, which she was obviously curious about. What about the castle? While it wasn’t enormously huge, it wasn’t small either.
So she seemed to think it had to have had some unusual use before.
“I don’t know.”
However, the answer we received from Mr. Epinhauser was enough to shock the three of us.
He didn’t know…
We could have never imagined that he would answer like that, so all three of us were really confused.
“No, then… did you just decide to hold a group mission in a place whose use is completely unknown?”
“We are sure that it isn’t a dangerous place. And this wasn’t my decision, it was Temple’s. I don’t have the authority to decide the location or content of the missions.”
That teacher openly told his students that he didn’t really have much to say about it.
He was so direct that we didn’t know what to say.
“It’s a strange place. The climate around these parts isn’t suitable for people to live in. However, someone built such a large castle in this environment, and there are no records whatsoever of who lived in it before. The castle’s name is also just the name of the person who discovered it, but no one actually knows its original name.”
The ancient castle Epiax…
It was a stranger place than I ‘dinitially thought.
It had been set as a mission area because of its spooky atmosphere, but it turned out that it actually was quite an eerie place.
It was clear that there were no safety problems, and I had set up the place to be spooky for the mission, but it was really unclear why or by whom that castle had been built.
Was that how it felt to have gone into a haunted house without even knowing?
I was getting goosebumps.
However, Harriet’s eyes were sparkling.
“Th-then can I go back there? It’s safe, after all.”
“Hmm, I don’t mind. Why?”
But I don’t want to go in there again!
Why was she doing that?
“Just because… I’m curious. Maybe we can find out what the castle is really for, right?”
“Hmmm… The we already investigated the castle, so you won’t be able to find out anything more. Fine, you still have plenty of free time, so you can spend it however you want.”
Mr. Epinhauser seemed to think that it was up to us how we wanted to spend our free time.
“However, even if there are no other dangers to be found in the castle, keep in mind that we are currently located in a northern region. While the cold won’t pose any danger to you, as you can use magic, you shouldn’t stay out too long.”
Harriet alternately looked at Ellen and me, her eyes twinkling.
Her expression showed that something like an adventurous spirit had awoken in her.
I quickly figured out why.
She hadn’t been able to go to the Darklands with us…
So she really wanted to do something like that with us.
I really didn’t want to go back to that eerie place, but I simply couldn’t make those words leave my mouth because I understood too well why she acted the way she did.
[Event Quest – The Ancient Castle Epiax]
[Description ： Reveal the secret of the ancient castle Epiax]
[Reward : 500 Achievement points]
And then, out of nowhere, I received even more motivation.
Were they telling me to do something else since I’d wonderfully failed the group mission?
There was nothing I could do about it.
“Hm, then again…”
However, Mr. Epinhauser seemed to have thought it over again. As expected, did he judge that what we were about to do was too dangerous?
“No, it’ll be fine. Let’s go.”
Why was he so anxious?!