Ellen didn’t know much about magic other than what could be considered basic common sense.
However, she seemed certain that the human-controlling worm was a product of magic.
If they were ordinary creatures, people infested with them wouldn’t be able to enter Temple.
‘Magic was’ the keyword.
So Ellen went to look for Harriet.
It was the weekend.
Harriet was devoted to her research in the new club called the Magic Research Society, so Ellen went to their club mansion.
Harriet was astonished when Ellen arrived, but she still followed her outside.
“What’s the matter?”
Harriet was surprised that Ellen had gone to that place she had no reason to visit, but she was even more curious about what she wanted.
“Are there insects that can make humans their hosts and control them?”
“Yeah, there might be bugs like that.”
“…What kinds are there?”
Harriet shook her head.
“Why are you so curious about that?”
Ellen thought about telling Harriet everything.
It would be stupid not to get help from a magic major student.
However, she couldn’t tell her anything.
If she were to tell her the truth, it would boil down to her doing something dangerous instead of Reinhardt.
Harriet would definitely try to stop her.
Even if she were to convince her, it would be the same. She couldn’t take Harriet to do such dangerous things. She could risk her own life, but she couldn’t risk the lives of her friends.
“I can’t tell you the exact reason. I’m sorry, but it’s important.”
Rather than telling lame lies, Ellen preferred speaking straightforwardly like that.
“Could you please look into this for me?”
Harriet silently looked at Ellen.
An important matter…
Harriet could guess that it had to do with Reinhardt. If it didn’t have anything to do with him, why else would Ellen wear such an expression?
I don’t know what happened to Reinhardt, but he doesn’t look that good lately. Could it be because of that?
Harriet felt like Ellen had defeated her yet again.
“Okay, I’ll look into it.”
Even still, Harriet agreed to help.
Ellen didn’t enter the Magic Research Society’s mansion.
She told her that it would be fine to enter, but Ellen said she would wait outside.
Harriet didn’t know much about parasites that could control people and the magic associated with them.
She had a fair bit of knowledge about magic, but she knew next to nothing about that subject.
If it was a parasite that could manipulate and even kill people, it would belong to the field of black magic, and a respectable wizard wouldn’t care for such subjects.
Of course, that didn’t mean that Anna de Gerna, a black magic major, wasn’t a respectable wizard.
The most important thing was how the magic was used.
Pain-type curses that caused excruciating pain were strictly prohibited, but a fireball being thrown in the middle of a crowded square was worse by far.
Harriet had no clue about that supposed black magic, so she entered the club mansion and sought Anna.
Harriet was still a little uncomfortable around her.
It wasn’t because of her somewhat gloomy appearance and tone.
Rather, every time she looked at Reinhardt, she seemed to get kind of…
Her gaze seemed to contain something sticky.
She didn’t know why, but Anna was strange to her.
It made her think that Anna was slightly dangerous.
It wasn’t because she was majoring in black magic—it was that she simply seemed like a dangerous person. Reinhardt also felt it when he noticed Anna continuously looking at him and felt burdened.
So Harriet felt a bit reluctant to go to Anna.
Still, she went to find her because it was Ellen’s request.
Anna hadn’t been instructed by Reinhardt to do anything.
Instead, she usually helped her classmate, Christina, with her research or studied from Louis Ankton how to manage her magical power better and optimize her activation.
“Bugs that can control people?”
“Yes. Are there such things? It might be Parasite-type magic.”
Anna tilted her head as if she was troubled, and her eyes somewhat glazed over and darted around.
First to the left, then to the right, then to the left again…
After doing that for a while, Anna opened her strangely red lips that greatly contrasted her pale face.
“It might be the case for most black magic, but… Parasite-type magic was originally considered a taboo curse.”
“You mean it isn’t anymore?”
“Only for specific purposes.”
“Parasite-type magic is… A type of magic that causes diseases or infections through parasite infestations.”
“Ah… Yes. I know that.”
Anna pointed towards Harriet
…Her chest, to be precise.
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“What, Erm… What are…?”
What? Why is she doing that?
Is she comparing our sizes?
Even though Harriet, unprompted, suddenly started misunderstanding her actions, Anna only said what she had to say.
“That means that such parasites that could spread infectious diseases could be used to eliminate such diseases… For example, if you have a parasite in your body and you take in those other parasites… You’ll excrete them in the form of feces…”
That was what she meant?
Harriet still felt that her expression seemed somewhat burdensome.
“Can’t you control people with them as well?”
“I don’t know… There are so many different types of magic, after all… But I’m not sure… Even among mind-type spells, Mind Control is a high-ranking one… If that type of magic can be expressed through bugs…”
“…Yes, it doesn’t seem to make much sense.”
Mind-type spells in and of themselves were difficult to perform. However, from simple spells that showed hallucinations to Mind Control, the difficulty sharply increased.
A high-ranking spell comparable to Mind Control, which was said to be the highest-ranking spell of the mind-type spells, was Mass Teleport for space-type spells and Fire Storm for destruction-type spells.
Of course, since they were fundamentally different types, it didn’t mean that a wizard who could use Mind Control could use Mass Teleport and Fire Storm.
Some worm replacing that type of high-ranking spell that could only be used by archmages?
That didn’t make any sense.
Why was Ellen asking such a question with such urgency?
“What are you talking about?”
As Harriet and Anna were talking, Christina, who was working on various things in her lab, approached them with her goggles on.
Her head was about to explode from clamoring for this and that reagent and material for Moonshine.
She left the laboratory to relax a bit.
“Harriet asked… if there’s black magic that could control people using bugs…”
“Bugs that can control people?”
Christina was a curious and outgoing sort.
It seemed like something that caught her interest came up, so her eyes were shining brightly.
“Why are you asking about that?”
“Well, I heard that there were things like that. I just wondered what kind of magic was behind those things, so I thought it might be black magic, but now I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
“Uuurg… Bugs that can control people? How terrible.”
Christina shuddered, but then she lowered her head for a moment and took her goggles off before raising her head again as if she had remembered something.
“Did you remember something?”
“Do they look like hairworms?”
“Hairworms…? What are those?”
It was the first time Harriet had ever heard that word. There was no reason for a young lady, preciously raised by her family, to encounter something like hairworms, and there were no such insects in Temple, so there was no way for Harriet, who was already frightened by grasshoppers, to know about those monstrosities.
“What… are those things?”
Even Anna of the Gerna family, a family famous for producing excellent wizards in every generation, though not as many as Harriet’s family, didn’t know about those worms.
“Well, they are parasitic worms that live in the guts of other insects. They enter the organism in an egg state, grow inside of it, and when they mature, they control the insect to approach water, make them drown themselves, and finally crawl out of their stomachs. They look like threads and are very long.”
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Both Harriet and Anna were surprised by that blunt explanation, shocked by Christina, who maintained a bright smile as she explained, and freaked out that such a vicious being existed in the world.
“If you don’t know what they are, do you want me to draw a picture for you?”
“N-no! That’s fine!”
“I feel like vomiting…”
Apart from feeling disgusted, they seemed extremely shocked at such a nefarious being’s existence.
“So isn’t that bug like a hairworm that controls people?”
“are there parasites like that?!”
“Where do you find them…?”
Harriet was extremely shocked, but Anna, who just said that she would puke, glanced at Christina as if her interest had been piqued.
If such bugs existed, it was clear what they would be used for.
Harriet’s worry for Reinhardt spiked.
She didn’t know what was going on, but she was certain that something would happen sooner or later!
“There aren’t… As far as I know, at least.”
“Phew. That’s a relief.”
“…What a shame.”
Harriet tried to ignore the muted voice coming from next to her, pretending that she didn’t hear anything. Christina looked at Harriet.
“But I don’t know everything. There might be a bug like that, and we simply don’t know about its existence.”
“Do you really think that there is a possibility of them existing?”
“If there aren’t any, we can make some.”
A thought flashed through Harriet’s mind at Christina’s dangerous words.
‘If it doesn’t exist, just make it.’ Harriet specialized in magic, but Christina was an Alchemy major.
Alchemy students thought in terms of alchemy.
‘If it doesn’t exist, just make it.’
That concept was clearly prevalent in the field of alchemy.
“Are you talking about Chimeras or Homunculi?”
“It’s a forbidden practice, and you’d be sentenced to death immediately if anyone knew you were practicing such a thing, but you know?”
Christina smiled brightly.
“The ratio of crazy wizards is a lot higher among alchemists than black wizards.”
Black wizards were rather antisocial, but that was just from an outsider’s view.
There were many alchemists hunted down or purged for doing some really crazy things in the wizard’s society.
In fact, there were no externally-known black wizards who were also alchemists.
Those who majored in both likely died from their own crazy experiments.
“It could be a chimera with the improved capabilities of a hairworm that makes it able to control humans or a homunculus created for that purpose.”
Chimeras were made by using existing creatures as a base.
Homunculi were living beings made from inanimate objects, not biological matter.
They were different from golems.
Just as mana trains weren’t alive, golems were just a sort of machine.
Homunculi were alive.
That worm that was able to control humans could be the result of either of those practices.
“Is it possible to create something like that?”
“I don’t really know if it’s possible or not, but don’t you think it might be?”
Alchemists were those who explored different possibilities; they were slightly different from most wizards.
“In alchemy, we have things like recipes, so one can make such things just by following a recipe, right? As long as there are no parts that require magical power, even ordinary people could make them.”
“That’s right… It can’t be…!”
Harriet listened to Christina’s words, widening her eyes as she thought of the possibilities.
“Even if one isn’t on the level of an archmage, one could make as many copies of them as one wanted if one had the recipe of the homunculus or chimera made by an archmage. Of course, assuming that it’s detailed enough.”
Christina was laughing, but the content of her words was incredibly creepy.
“I don’t know if something like that really exists, of course. But… that’s different from saying it definitely doesn’t exist! I wonder if there’s actually anything in the world that could be described with the word “absolute”.”
Harriet was convinced by her words.
There was already a creature in nature that could control other insects that wasn’t even of magical nature. That would mean that it wasn’t impossible.
Magic could make the impossible possible.
So making something that was already proven to be possible more potent was a rather easy feat for magic.
“Hmm? Come to think of it. What if a recipe already existed? Could I make something like that as well?”
Harriet was certain of it…
Anna was clearly problematic. Although she didn’t appear like that at first, she was a serious nutcase.
“Do you… want to make… something like that?”
Harriet was genuinely worried about the Class B students.
‘Reinhardt… Be careful…’
She didn’t know what happened, but Harriet once more vowed to protect Reinhardt from the nutcases of the Magic Research Society.
* * *
Harriet left the mansion and approached Ellen, who had been waiting for a long time, leaning against a tree in the garden.
“We don’t know if it actually exists, but we think it’s more likely that something like that could be made using alchemy rather than black magic.”
Ellen nodded silently after hearing the details.
“Won’t you tell me… what’s going on?”
Ellen lowered her gaze at Harriet’s words.
“Does it have something to do with Reinhardt…?”
Ellen didn’t answer.
However, that was answer enough.
“Y-you know… sometimes… you’re really, really… yes.”
Harriet struggled to speak as she looked at Ellen, who couldn’t even meet her eyes.
“I think you’re really, really unfair…”
Harriet couldn’t see what expression Ellen, who had lowered her head, was wearing.
However, she could guess what her face looked like without seeing it.
She probably wore a pathetic expression.
Was she really saying those things to a friend?
“No, I’m sorry. I was talking nonsense.”
Harriet stole a glance from the corner of her eyes. While she didn’t cry, she felt like she did that for no reason.
“Well, tell me something else then.”
Ellen looked up at her remark.
Harriet asked, her eyes bloodshot, about something she had been curious about for a long time but hadn’t asked Ellen out of consideration.
“Who are you?”
Ellen could tell from her expression just how long Harriet had been wondering about that.
Ellen wasn’t an ordinary person.
Harriet knew that she couldn’t be anyone normal. She just didn’t ask up to that point because she thought Ellen wouldn’t give her an answer.
Harriet’s expression hardened at her words.
Ellen didn’t explain anything further.
That last name was explanation enough.
It wasn’t like she just happened to have the same last name as the hero.
Harriet felt a lot of her doubts getting resolved all at once.
Why was she so strong? Why was she carrying a soul-bound sword? Why did she always seem so determined?
Why didn’t she hesitate at all when throwing herself in danger?
Harriet had finally found the answer to her questions.
“Does… Reinhardt know?”
The secret she had just told her, a secret no one else in Temple knew…
Those two had been sharing it for a very long time already.
“…I thought I had at least one thing over you.”
Harriet laughed softly with a sense of despondency and self-deprecation.
She had no intention of just clinging to that one pitiful thing.
However, even in that regard, she had been pushed back.
So Harriet couldn’t help but laugh.
She didn’t hate Ellen—she absolutely dismissed herself.
“Don’t say you’re sorry.”
Harriet looked at Ellen, who had lowered her head again, and twisted the corners of her mouth.
She wanted to cry, but her tears just wouldn’t come out.
She couldn’t even cry in that situation.
“You have no idea… just how… miserable that makes me.”
If someone who always walks a few steps ahead of you just turns around and says sorry… do you know just how painful that is for the other person to hear?
Ellen finally realized how Harriet felt upon hearing her apology.
Ellen forcibly swallowed down the words that were about to come out.
The words “I’m sorry”
In the end, didn’t those words actually stem from her sense of superiority over Harriet?
Ellen could see the bad sides of herself in those words. She didn’t think so, but could she be sure that wasn’t the case even a little bit?
Did she really feel no superiority over Harriet de Saint-Owan?
Even then, she wanted to monopolize Reinhardt’s affairs while arguing that she didn’t want to put Harriet in danger, and it was hurting her.
Was it right for her to make that choice for Harriet?
She didn’t even try to talk to her.
But, from Harriet’s words, Ellen had no other choice but to tell her.
If her behavior stemmed from something as insignificant as a sense of superiority…
She had to throw it away.
“There’s someone who wants to kill Reinhardt.”
Seeing the dumbfounded Harriet, Ellen could calmly look at her and properly talk to her.
“I will kill that person.”
Ellen didn’t try to manage her expression because she chose not to hide anything.
“Do you want to help me?”
Harriet was stunned by Ellen’s sudden offer.
However, as straightforward as Ellen’s words were, they contained the truth.
The weight they carried was by no means light.
“Yes. I do.”
However, Harriet’s hesitation didn’t last long.
While she only thought about it for a short time, her decision wasn’t made lightly.
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