In the end, speaking the truth after everything was over had become his usual habit. The unknown of what was to come versus the unknown of what had already ended. As for deciding which unknown was more interesting, that required no thought at all.
The usual Lab Chief's room. Sitting on a chair, he was childishly shaking the back of the chair, looking up at the ceiling while he muttered:
"Sigh~ I really wanted that spear... However, nothing can be done by this point. I ought to think about what to do for the next step."
"My question: inquiry about the unknown of what is the spear in the end."
Un Izoey tried asking straight to the point.
He waved his hand while answering in a lively tone of voice at the same time:
"It's something that can slightly improve the standing of our Lab Chief's Nation. Since we're called the Lab Chief's Nation, I was thinking to myself, we really ought to have a certain something of that sort~"
"...Something of that sort?"
He shook the chair again with a squeak.
Then straightening his back, with a faint smile, he looked down towards her and said:
And right now, that spear—
Had returned to the hands of its original owner.
"Come. Well then, the deal is now done!"
After receiving the rapier from Sleif's hand—«Karma Speed»—Ontenzaki Satsuko answered with all smiles while cradling it in her bosom like a treasure.
Meanwhile, Sleif was staring intently at the spear that Satsuko had handed over to her, confirming again whether it was the real thing. Before relinquishing «Karma Speed», she had also checked it many times already.
What a careful person~ Satsuko smiled wryly while cocking her little head. It was the authentic article. The first to descend to the rocky area, she had found the spear and hidden the real thing inside Fourteen's body before anyone could say anything.
The entire string of actions was as fast as lightning.
This had been Satsuko's target all along—probably starting from the time when they were holding sparring matches at Nirushaaki's place. The foremost principle guiding her actions currently.
Because she believed that this would help in "finding a weapon suitable for herself."
Fourteen was an irreplaceable partner, but because she was a cursed house, it was impossible for her to be wielded to attempt different ways of fighting. Since they had to become strong together, she must also attain an existence worthy of standing as equals. For this, she needed a weapon meeting minimum standards.
Unfortunately, the spear itself could not be used as a weapon. Prepared for probable rejection, Satsuko offered a deal to Sleif who was looking for the spear but unbelievably, she agreed. Satsuko felt truly fortunate.
Because from the first moment she laid her eyes on it, Satsuko was already deeply enamored with this «Karma Speed».
Because she believed that this tool was perfectly suited to her excessively weak and powerless self.
Satsuko laughed "ehehe" again.
"Thank you~ Although someone like Satsuko has no right to ask, is this really okay?"
"Because this spear is the one thing I absolutely cannot let go. No matter what price I must pay, I cannot lose it. Because this is something I borrowed from my lord."
Sleif murmured quietly then instantly turned around.
"However, make no mistake, there is still no change at all between my stance and the stance of you two, ugly enough to induce vomiting. Cursed house... One day, I shall surely destroy you too."
"I won't be taken out so easily. When the time comes, you should prepare yourself to be taken out first, fellow member of our kind."
Fourteen finished quietly. Sleif answered while continuing to walk without stopping:
"Impossible. I will only shatter when all contemptible Wathes have disappeared from this world—That is my wish as the most ancient knight."
Just as she was about to disappear from view...
While the figure of her back gave off an aura akin to a martyr's, she finally said:
"Hence, when that moment arrives, I shall gladly destroy myself."
"In other words, through a ritual for delineating an area, that spear will produce a 'territory' governed by a specific rule. Indeed, strictly speaking, it's not a weapon but a flagpole for putting up a flag and marking a domain. A blade is attached only for the purpose of piercing the ground's foundation and interlopers."
"Originating from the time of the Crusades, the spear apparently came to be cursed due to many things that happened during the founding of Crusader states. Due to a spear's structure, it accumulates power through harming local inhabitants, spilling blood over the land. Yes, as a result, that spear was likely used to massacre indigenous populations in the past. Then the domain is gradually delineated according to the locations where blood was spilt."
He grew increasingly excited while he explained. In order to avoid getting left behind, Un Izoey sped up her thoughts and said at the same time:
"Meaning that... The domain will circle around the place marked red with blood?"
"Indeed. Just like how I circled the map on the Draconians' ship."
Then this time, the area covered almost the entire town. What was going to happen next after that?
Un Izoey frowned and recalled what Pakuaki had said at the start.
"You said governed by a specific rule, what does that mean?"
"The rule they have decided to enact this time—Yes, it must be ordinary and unremarkable for them, identical to the rule they've enacted to this date. In other words, all that has changed this time is merely the location."
Pakuaki finally pulled his body forward away from the back of the chair, resting one elbow on the table instead. Then instead of looking at Un Izoey, he faced the door of the Lab Chief's room and said:
"That spear—Its official name is «Dieu le veut», the Nation Founding Flag Spear of the Crusaders. Apart from the one Sleif brought here, multiple spears currently exist in the world. The rest were all used for territorial marking somewhere else in the past."
The instant Pakuaki said that, a massive crash was heard from behind Un Izoey.
She looked back.
Carrying tea into the room, Amanda had a face full of shock, dropping the tray from her hands. Her eyes wide, her entire body trembling, she was in panic with total loss of composure.
Instead of reprimanding Amanda for her clumsiness, Pakuaki grinned and continued:
"Speaking of which, you know as well, right? Oh dear~ I was originally thinking if we could manage to steal one, but unfortunately, the plan failed."
"Th-That thing is in this country...? I-In other words!"
Hearing Amanda asking in a hoarse voice, Pakuaki nodded.
"Indeed. In other words, even at the cost of shrinking the territory they have maintained to this date, they intend to establish a new territory here. Just as I mentioned earlier, when the time comes, they will probably be enacting the same rule as in the their original territory."
"And that rule is?"
Un Izoey glanced at Amanda then asked Pakuaki. Amanda probably knew as well, but right now, she looked like she was in no state to answer. Because she simply kept trembling.
"Very simple. The knights belong to the same organization, carrying the same will, possessing the same thoughts, working towards the same goal. The rule is something akin to turning the territory into 'a place existing for their sake.' On the subject of territory, I think this is a very correct definition."
"My question: inquiring specifically the unknown of what kind of situation will result."
Pakuaki nodded as though going "good question" then held up his fingers one after another.
"The effects brought by that rule can mainly be divided into two types, although these are my deductions based on the effects in the territory where the rule has already been enacted. One of the effects is a holy war effect on a defined group of people. The territory will become a space existing for the purpose of their victory, where they can draw out their full power. Even someone like you, the level of fighting spirit generated will be different depending on whether you're guarding your tribe's sacred grounds or having a battle in a public washroom in front of the train station, right? Something along those lines. Within their domain, their power—stamina, physical strength, muscle strength, energy, endurance, concentration, vitality, mental strength, recovery, attention, instinct, unity—anyway, all of these powers will be augmented. So, for what purpose are they establishing their territory in this town? Very simple, because by doing so, it makes destruction easier—namely, the destruction of Wathes. Whether Fear-in-Cube, Muramasa or other cursed existences."
Un Izoey gasped. The second finger went up without stopping. She could not stop it either.
"The second type of effect is that the rule will also produce changes in the land itself. The territory is the land they desire, a land existing simply for their sake. Conversely, it is land that could not possibly bring benefits to those in opposition to them. The concept of 'place existing for their sake' will overwrite that land's original meaning with absolute priority. Hence, suppose somewhere within the territory, there was a purifying location existing for the purpose of lifting curses, then its effects will probably be lost completely. In other words—"
Pakuaki brought his hands together and interlocked his fingers on the desk with contentment, resting his chin on them. His usual pose.
Surfacing on his face was his usual smile, simply filled with amused interest.
"The Yachi house won't be a place for lifting curses anymore, losing its meaning of existence entirely."
She did not speak. She could not possibly speak.
She widened her eyes.
She simply stared at the evil grin made by the devil of the known and the unknown.
"Oh, this point is also related to the first effect. On this land, the Wathes using the Yachi house as their base of operations will panic to an unimaginable degree. With their powers bolstered by the holy war effect, those pledging allegiance to the domain will become even more capable of destroying Fear-in-Cube and the others with ease—Ultimately, the result is very simple. If one needed to explain this town's 'past' and 'future', a single sentence would suffice."
Then he said it—
Just as he claimed, it really was very simple—At the same time, it was an extremely depressing sentence.
"They are simply drawing out their true power at last, to seriously obliterate the so-called 'Yachi House.'"
The next day, Un Izoey went to school.
Naturally, it was for attending class.
It was also because she had nothing she needed to do apart from that.
"Good morning, Un-chan~!"
"Good morning, I greet with this kind of greeting."
"Ehhh, Fear-chan, Akki and the others haven't come to school. Did you know?"
"My statement: I state the truth that everything is unknown."
"I see... Hmm~ There's no point asking about Konoha-chan who comes and goes with them, but even Kirika-chan hasn't come to school too~ I don't know what happened. It's so mysterious!"
"M-M-M-M-Maybe there's a flu going around!? Hmm~ I'm so worried! Konoha-san!"
After leaving the noisy pair aside, Un Izoey discreetly swept her gaze across the classroom where a fair number of desks were empty. These few seats will remain empty today, she thought. Or perhaps, for quite a long while. Or perhaps—
She started class as usual. Although it was all basic knowledge, for someone like her who had lived in an undeveloped land until now, this was an important process in turning the unknown into the known. She must not take things lightly. However, she felt inexplicably unsettled today, lacking in concentration.
Change was happening while class was in progress.
Rumbling sounds were suddenly heard throughout the school yard. Literally, the sound descended from the sky.
It was not only sound. Powerful wind pressure was making the trees shake and the window glass vibrate nonstop.
Everyone looked at the window then stared in shock with mouth agape.
—A massive transport helicopter was preparing to land in this school yard.
Instantly, Un Izoey recalled what Pakuaki had said yesterday.
(No way... The Lab Chief was referring to this...!)
"However, the effect still cannot be activated just by delineating the land's boundary. The final step requires the owner himself to hold the spear and stab it into the ground in the central area of the domain. Not the subordinate who was borrowing the spear temporarily, only responsible for spreading the blood of local residents and drawing the boundary."
"Hence—Once preparations are complete, the other side ought to make an appearance. Appearing in the central area of this delineated domain—A place with exposed soil at the same time. It is the location I observed and a place that you guys are very familiar with. Or perhaps, he drew up his territory using that location as the center? This point is still unknown."
"To me, the Lab Chief's words are almost all unknown."
He shrugged while he spoke:
"Apart from that, the answer is obvious who is going to appear—the true owner of «Dieu le veut», the Nation Founding Flag Spear of the Crusaders. In other words, the owner of all the other spears stabbed into the original dominion out in the remote countryside of England. A being ruling over that dominion like a king... Indeed."
Listening to this point, Un Izoey finally understood.
There was only one answer. So clear that it could not be mistaken, the worst answer—
Un Izoey looked down at the scene below from the classroom window and groaned.
She muttered the same answer as Pakuaki at the time.
"The Frontline Gathering Knights Dominion's... Lord...!"
The giant helicopter landed inside the vast and open school yard.
The rotor stopped spinning and silence returned at long last.
Staring at the school yard, the students suddenly discovered a girl kneeling on the ground behind the landed helicopter. In addition to gestures, together with the fact that she was wearing a visor-like helmet and dressed in attire resembling light armor, many people would surely have gathered the correct impression of "really like a knight."
The helicopter's rear cabin door opened and a new figure emerged.
Calmly and confidently, he took a step. He stopped before reaching the ground.
Then looking at the girl kneeling on the ground with head bowed, awaiting orders, he said:
"A foolish question yet I must ask—Are preparations in place, Dainsleif?"
"Yes, my lord."
Taking the spear the maiden knight handed over reverently with both hands—
The elderly man declared solemnly, as majestic as an old king:
"—Well then, let the founding of the 'Second Knights Dominion' begin."
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