Chapter 26. Faustian Impulse
The sky began to turn orange in color, and a rooster began to cry somewhere far away. It was already five. I lay down in the haystack as I carefully thought about why I couldn’t collect mana. A living human was composed of something known as the soul. This soul was something that stayed within the blood of human beings, and was separated from it later on upon death.
If I were to explain it it modern terms by breaking down the word “soul” into “psyche” and “spirit”... The psyche would be the LAN cable that connected one to the world. On the other hand, the spirit would be a notebook composed of mainly three things.
Those three things would be the animus, akasha, and the ether. The animus would be the CPU and the OS. The akasha would be the database, with the ether acting as the power generator, or the battery.
My problem lay in the fact that the generator aspect of the ether was broken.
‘But since the battery aspect of the ether is perfectly fine, couldn’t I use magic through the help of potions?’
This was what I had thought in the past, but it turned out to be a misunderstanding on my part. Magic was essentially a technique that made use of mana’s ability to efficiently transform into any kind of energy. If it wasn’t possible for me to refine the resource known as mana, it was a given that I wouldn’t be able to use magic. Just like how a fueled car with a broken engine couldn’t move.
In the end, the only choice was to fix that broken part or…
The saint appeared with a grin on her face. I suppose with that health regen of hers, an hour’s worth of sleep was enough to get her fully energized.
“We’re going to go set up the barrier now. You coming?”
“I have to, don’t I? My head would explode otherwise.”
“Correct! Follow us carefully.”
She seemed happy. Did she come to a firm conclusion last night? Bits of hay fell off my back as I stood up.
“Already setting up the barrier at the other side.”
“My, isn’t he a busy man?”
The saint began to inspect my clothing once I got out of the stable.
“Man~ This is why you’re never popular with the ladies!”
The saint took out a lint roller out of her wallet. It was something that came with the clothes that I had ordered last time.
“I look fine.”
The saint stuck the lint roller onto my back. Every time the roller moved across it, bits of hay were taken off. I twitched a few times in the process, which earned me a slap on the back.
Shf, shf, shaa.
Next came my chest.
We were so close together that we could feel our breaths on each other. The smell of magnolia mixed with the smell of my dead body. After removing the hay from my body, the saint ended everything with a slap on the butt.
“...Why the slap?”
“You seem dissatisfied. Why don’t you try slapping me as revenge, then? I’ll call the cops on you.”
I put on my helmet and my cloak. I felt that I’d need some sort of protection for myself.
We were on the hill above the village. I had thought that the barrier would be something quite fancy, but it turned out to be quite simple. She was just putting down a rubber rope right around the entire town.
“This is… simpler than what I expected.”
The saint asked me a question from the back.
“What did you expect then?”
“Well, I expected you to chant a magic spell that would encase the town in a magic light or something.”
“Just like how colored smoke rises from behind main characters in TV shows?”
“Not that dramatic.”
“Movies and animations probably make it look that fancy because they need to show it to an audience. I could make it look that fancy as well if I wanted...”
That was probably it.
“And this line?”
“It’s a simple hose~ If I put water in it later and circulate mana inside it, I can use it like a wire.”
I think I get it. This must be another use of the conductivity of mana. In the end, a barrier was a type of magic that set certain rules within a certain area. Of course, this area needed to have mana flowing in it, which resulted in the saint using a hose.
“Why don’t you try drawing a line instead?”
“Too unstable for a barrier of this size. If someone touches it, everything just disappears. Kids have a particular liking to touch stuff like this.”
Sounds like she had prior experience.
I asked her another question as I carried the rubber hose container with me.
“Can’t the same thing be accomplished with the hose though? What if someone cuts it?”
“I can substitute with my magic. Did you forget? I use light and water magic.”
“Once it’s set up properly, I can keep the water flowing even if the hose were to disappear.”
Plus, the area was being protected by soldiers at the moment, meaning that something like that was quite unlikely. The saint chanted her spell as she moved behind me.
“The rushing torrents of the castle of water, the lord of the deep watching over the eternal water. Morto Hai requests to you that you bring life to the water here.”
The pool of water connected with the hose disappeared. Nothing much seemed to happen on the outside, but after closer inspection, the droplets of water seemed to have come together into a ring-like shape. The circle won’t break now, even if the hose got cut.
“Want to rest here, Mr. Murderer?”
The saint sat down on a stone near the riverbank as she said this. It was late noon already. The cold river water flowed downstream, carrying the red foliage with it. I quietly watched the saint that was almost buried within this autumn weather, then opened my mouth.
“Aren’t you cold?”
The saint widened her eyes.
“Are you worried?”
“No, just wondering why you weren’t using fire magic.”
The saint began to throw little pebbles at me. I dodged them easily, and continued talking.
“I thought you could use magic as long as you contracted a god?”
“...You really need to control your faustian impulses, Mr. Murderer. We should be talking about how beautiful the weather is, and here you are, talking about magic. I’m disappointed!”
“Really? Is that how normal people behave?”
The saint clapped off the dust on her hands and spoke.
“From the way I look at it, Mr. Murderer, your personality is flawed. You seem to be a narcissistic sociopath. The biggest evidence for this is the fact that you have not formally bowed to my beauty in awe yet. Such actions are actually set as laws in my nation.”
The German law?
I saw the saint, who was calling herself a beauty, as a narcissistic psychopath.
“Don’t say it twice!”
The saint blushed.
“In any case! You were in the wrong here, so apologize immediately by kneeling and barking. Go!”
“Damn it, I told you that I’d be your slave if I failed the mission.”
“Can we just get started on that a little early?”
“That wasn’t specified in the contract.”
We moved away from the hills into a plain.
“So, can I hear the answer to the question from before?”
“...How persistent. Well, you weren’t wrong about your speculation, Mr. Murderer.”
The saint stomped forward.
“If you want to use fire magic, you’d have to form a contract with the god of fire. But it is extremely hard for a priest of water to become a priest of fire.”
Ah… I suppose all wizards might as well be called that, since they form a contract with god.
“Would the god reject your contract?”
“Correct. The god of fire hates the god of water. If you have already formed a contract with the lord of the deep, the lord of the crimson spear will reject your request to form a contract.”
The gods also seemed to have certain “liking” towards certain people. Just like CEOs of big companies. They would only form contracts those they liked, and destroyed contracts occasionally as well. It was a convenient system, but also an unstable one.
“If you want to use powerful magic, you’ll have to contract a powerful god. And even if you formed a contract with that god, if you want to use an especially powerful magic, you’d have to form additional contracts. The better the contract, the bigger the price for it. For example, the god of fire requests ten thousand barrels of oil, along with a burn on your body.”
One hundred thousand dollars. The fact that you needed to suffer from the burn made it all the less worth it.
“What about black magic?”
Did she not hear?
“What about black…?”
“Don’t even think about it.”
The response was sharper than I thought. The reason for this is probably…
“Because it needs human sacrifice?”
The saint stopped right in her tracks. The usage of black magic would probably require a large amount of sacrifice. Sometimes, I assume it would require the user to kill a friend or even a family member as sacrifice.
“Never. Ever. Try to learn about it. It’s dangerous.”
“Necro uses it though. That means...”
The saint abruptly turned my way and shouted in anger.
“We’re finished talking about this! Mr. Murderer needs to think about communication more!”
...Just what went wrong here?
“I thought we were communicating just now.”
“Inquisition is not communication!”
“Something like the other party’s interests…! Some…! I can’t explain it, but…!”
Her voice got louder.
“What happened recently. What you like. There’s a lot to talk about, you know?”
Useless. I was planning on leaving right after finishing this mission. There shouldn’t be any other encounters with the saint once I’m done with this. The only reason why I was so kind to her even now was because I needed to use her.
“If you want to talk about the interests we might have in common...”
Magic. Wars. Powers. Personalities.
Other than that…
“There’s nothing to talk about?”
The saint smiled brightly and walked towards me. Scary… That smile of hers indicated that she was incredibly angry. The saint motioned me to bend over, so I did so almost subconsciously.
The saint grabbed onto the two sides of my face, and headbutt it.
My sight turned bright white for a second and a heavy bang resounded through the autumn forest.