A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 242

 

A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special Novel


Chapter 242. A Subsurface War (19)



Zod’s voice emanated from Desir’s communication pad.




[-Right. To be more specific, mana stones were probably used like we have seen in the homunculus.]




Zod had been engrossed in studying the homunculus ever since he got his hands on one. It sounded like his research had finally born fruit.




[-After spending so long studying it, I’ve learned a little bit about how the homunculus manipulated causality. Desir, do you know about the theory of parallel universes?]




“No, I’ve never heard of such a theory.”




The theory of parallel universes was rather esoteric and not something Desir had gone out of his way to understand, especially in his pursuit of clearing the Shadow Labyrinth.




[-Ah, I guess that’s to be expected… ]





Zod muttered before continuing.




[-There are many hypotheses about parallel universes, but in short, it is the theory that several versions of our world exist at the same time.]




“… … ”




Zod explained once again with a sigh and a look of exasperation at Desir and his party members that did not understand.




[-We don’t know the principle behind the Shadow Worlds, but they do recreate important events of our past. But these are simply a reproduction of the past that has no effect on reality. But the homunculus uses a principle similar to reshape the past and create a new reality by making a different choice. This is the true identity of the homunculus’s power.]




Desir’s eyes glistened.


“No way, when Skull Mask said he would reform the past he meant… ”




[-He was not exaggerating. And I guess what’s happening is a step towards that goal.]




“If the homunculus power could be exercised through numerous towers spanning an entire country, it wouldn’t be impossible to influence the entire continent.”




The homunculus’s ability was limited in range. The amount of time that could be altered was narrow, and the scope of area affected was also small.




But if the structure was greatly expanded in the form of a giant tower and dozens of supporting smaller towers, and all operated at the same time using massive amounts of mana stones… It was clear that the capacity would expand beyond comparison to that of a mere homunculus.




Finally, Skull Mask’s goal and means of achieving it had been understood.


While the situation was anything but good, with a newfound sense of purpose and a way forward, Desir’s expression had softened and his eyes gleamed with determination.




“But if we just destroy the tower, we can get rid of them, even if we don’t clear the Shadow Worlds created by it.”




[-Not only that, but also the ultimate goal of Skull Mask would be thwarted. But it won’t be easy.]




Destroying the tower could solve everything, but the very act of destroying it would be a difficult proposition amidst the current mess.




[-The Western Kingdom Union has mobilized all of its forces to clear the Shadow Worlds. Far from attacking the Divide, if you’re attacked now, you won’t be able to defend yourselves. This is no exception for the Empire.]




Zod had a good grasp of the situation. Whether it was the Western Kingdom Union or the Hebrion Empire, the forces were not allowed to operate recklessly by the sudden outbreak of the Level One and Two Shadow Worlds.


Unless there was a guarantee that the tower could be destroyed swiftly, the Shadow Worlds could not be neglected. Weaponizing Artificial Shadow Worlds like this was simply too heinous.




‘Where the hell did he get his hands on such skills?’




Again and again, he could not help but be astonished at the transcendent skill Skull Mask had at his disposal. The technology Skull Mask seemed to throw around without regard surpassed that of Zod, the so-called greatest magical engineer of mankind.




Desir had long recognized the Outsiders, and more recently Skull Mask, as the largest obstacle interfering with the successful completion of the Shadow Labyrinth. However, it now occurred to him that Skull Mask might be as annoying as the Shadow Labyrinth itself.




A hypothesis then passed through Desir’s head.




‘No, wait a minute. Did he also create the Level One and Two Shadow Worlds that suddenly began to appear in my previous life? If so, is the Shadow Labyrinth… ’




His spine shuddered at the thought.




The Shadow Labyrinth was in a whole different league in comparison to Level One, let alone Level Two Shadow Worlds. They were not even comparable, like apples and oranges.




But even so, the possibility that had taken root in his mind could not be so easily shaken.




‘I’d better act with that in mind for now.’




Desir put his thoughts together in short order, before speaking Zod again.




“For now, I think it’s better to stop the Shadow Worlds from happening.”




[-I agree with you. We can’t just let this go. We must take out Divide.]


So the immediate goals of action had been sorted out, but the party members had terrible looks on their faces. Even with a potential solution laid out for them, there was no hint of relief to be found in the room.




“Will our village be alright?”




“The map shows a Shadow World in my hometown too.”




Desir looked at the party members. Everyone was looking at the map and expressing their concerns.




Romantica was also sighing at the red dots marked on Prillecha. The number present in the weakest member of the Western Kingdom Union was not small by any measure. It was hard to be confident that Prillecha would be able to clear them all with its current strength.




“Let’s wait and see how the Hebrion Academy will respond.”




It was on this tone that Desir concluded the meeting.


* * *




Bridgette returned several hours later.




She was exhausted. Dark circles highlighted her eyes.




“I have something to tell you all.”




The Royal family had called upon the faculty members of the Hebrion Academy and Bridgette had attended the meeting. She told them that the Shadow World that happened nearby was to be cleared with the highest priority, by order of the imperial family.




This was a matter for course.




As long as the Hebrion Academy was within the scope of erosion, the facilities inside were under threat.




Therefore, it was not only impossible to use the numerous facilities of the Hebrion Academy, but also the systematic management of those who participated in the Shadow World


was not able to be carried out.




‘It’s not something at the level of difficulty a student would challenge in the first place.’




The difficulty of the Shadow World increased exponentially by level. Level Three Shadow Worlds were the peak difficulty the Hebrion Academy dealt in. But even those Shadow Worlds were handled with great care.




Desir raised his hand.




He opened his mouth when Professor Bridgette winked at him.




“Then what does Hebrion Academy plan to do?”




It was a question everyone wanted to hear.




“I knew you’d ask that question.”


Professor Bridget closed her eyes.




Everyone listened, and finally her mouth opened again.




“With the principal’s approval, the Hebrion Academy will be temporarily closed.”




“What?!”




A closed school.




The academy had not even closed during the war against the Outsiders. This was a move entirely unprecedented.




“The priority given to Hebrion Academy students in participating in the Shadow Worlds has expired as of now. The only parties allowed to continue operating are the: Blue Moon Party, Red Dragon Party, and Starling Party; each holding authority equivalent to an honorary knighthood.”




Taking a leave of absence allowed students to maintain their privileges as students of the Hebrion Academy. But the closure


was tantamount to forcing all of them to forfeit their Hebrion student privileges.




“When do you think the academy will open again?”




“I don’t know that. We don’t know when the Shadow Worlds will end, and we don’t know when it will suddenly happen again.”




Bridgette’s hopeless answer darkened the faces of the Starling Party members.




* * *




As Bridgette said, the next day at 10:00 am, the closure of the Hebrion Academy was announced.




The students saw it through their communication pads.




The responses to this announcement varied.


About a third of the students volunteered for the army.




Many regarded the situation as an opportunity to advance. Among the students who volunteered for the army, there was a mix of those from the Empire and foreigners. If they made a contribution, they could be certain that the Empire would reward them accordingly.




As tragic and frightening as this situation was, many students had joined the Hebrion Academy with the intention of being commissioned into the Imperial Army. For these people, this situation was actually a stroke of unprecedented luck.




The Empire welcomed their enlistment as volunteers, promising favorable treatment for students of the Hebrion Academy. The Empire’s military might was strong, but getting a boost in fighting power from accepting the applications of these talented youths was a welcomed outcome. The majority of Hebrion’s students were excellent, and joined having already obtained excellent experience in clearing Shadow Worlds.




About a third of the students went back to their hometowns. They dropped everything in favor of seeking comfort. But no one could blame them. They were ordinary students just hours before.




And the last third returned to their homelands to join the defensive efforts.




“Long time no see, Desir Arman.”




At around lunchtime, Radoria Doriche appeared at Bridgette’s mansion.




After making small talk with her, Desir discovered that Radoria was a noble of a small country. A country so small that it couldn’t even join the Western Kingdom Union.




“I’ve been looking all over for you to say goodbye.”




She dropped that bombshell nonchalantly. It made sense though. Desir had heard there was a Level Two Shadow World in her country.




“Are you going to join the army?”


Desir spoke in a relaxed manner, as if he were used to speaking with friends in wartime.




Radoria nodded.




“Yes.”




Radoria tilted her communication pad, showing a summons signed by the king of her country. The purpose of the summons was all too obvious, considering the current situation.




“I think it’s necessary for them. Having reached the Fourth-Circle, I will be an invaluable fighting power for them.”




It was a matter of course. There were no more than a thousand magicians that managed to reach the fourth circle or higher across the entire continent.




Desir, frankly speaking, was reluctant to let her go. The risk was simply too great and she had grown to become a person with strategic power now. Even if she was not powerful, he still hated the thought of potentially losing a friend.



“You shouldn’t think of going to war with the Outsiders. In our last battle with them, we had superior might and there were many people of similar or greater power around you to protect you. But this time, I don’t think… ”




“I know. But there’s no other option.”




She smiled gently.




“I don’t think I’m very patriotic. The country has not done anything for me. But I couldn’t turn my eyes away from my home country in a situation like this.”




Everyone has something they want to protect. Desir found himself unable to talk her out of it.




“It was the greatest happiness in my life that you came to be my mentor. If you don’t hear from me again, tell Kelt that I loved him.”




Leaving such melancholic words behind, she turned her back to Desir.




“… … I won’t tell him.”




“… ”




“Please come back and tell him by yourself.”




*Smile*




Radoria’s lips curled into a smile.




“So, that’s your answer.”




She was part of the third of the student body that left to protect their homeland. While perceptions of the students were skewed from being around so many people of such strength in the academy, by the standards of small countries, wizards and knights at the level of these students were invaluable national-level power.




As the hours dragged on, party members left one by one.




Desir didn’t attempt to prevent them leaving. Instead, he made each of them promise something to him.




“Be sure to come back.”




He made them promise such a reunion.




As Desir bade another party member farewell, Romantica strode up to Desir.






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