ACADEMY’S UNDERCOVER PROFESSOR
[Translator – Alice]
[Proofreader – ilafy]
Chapter 125 - Stählern Kapelle (2)
Hans drifted in an endlessly expanding abyss.
It felt like his body was numb and he was floating through the sky.
‘Where am I?’
How long had it been since he was in that space?
As he opened his eyes, Hans realized that he wasn’t in darkness.
Instead, he was covered in the fur of beasts.
The thing surrounding him wasn't darkness but beast fur.
He was surprised and about to scream, but his voice didn’t come out.
At that moment, scarlet eyes floated up amidst the fur.
Three pairs of very huge eyes were looking down at Hans.
The beasts roared and rushed at Hans.
Aaaargh! Hans swung his arms and legs like crazy in order to live.
At that moment, his palm became cold, and he felt a weird sensation.
Hans grasped it strongly as if he was clutching at a straw.
At the same time, Hans woke up from his dream along with the feeling that his body was strongly being pulled.
“You woke up?”
“L-Ludger?” Hans asked back in a foolish tone while staring at Ludger. who was looking down at him.
Ludger was sitting on the chair beside the bed while crossing one of his legs.
“Wh-what on earth happened? And where is this?”
“This is our secret hideout. I carried you after you fainted. Anything feel weird? Do you feel any pain or anything?”
“No, there’s nothing…”
“Then that’s a relief.”
“Rather than that, I didn’t die, huh?”
Hans recalled what he had seen before he’d fainted.
He’d unluckily met black wizards, and his body had been eaten away by their curse.
Thus, just before he died, he’d stabbed his body with the beast’s fang that Ludger had given him.
What he remembered afterward were just bits and pieces of memories that could hardly even be called scraps.
“Did I lose my rationality and become a monster?”
“But I’m still alive…”
“It’s a relief. So, Hans, return it to me now.”
“Pardon? What are you asking for?”
“The thing I asked you to give me.”
Hans belatedly realized what Ludger was talking about.
The Relic fragment. He’d wanted to give it directly to Ludger.
‘It was stolen by a black wizard.’
When he’d last seen it, a black wizard had been holding it in his hands.
Hans couldn’t remember what had happened to it after that because his memory was spotty.
‘I… I’m doomed.’
In the worst case, the fragment might be buried under Kunst auction house’s debris.
As he thought that, cold sweat flowed down his back.
“Well, Ludger. S-so… please don’t be surprised and listen to my words.”
“Cut the chatter and open your right hand.”
Hans belatedly realized that he was gripping something in his right hand.
—It was the cool feeling that he’d felt in his dream.
When he opened his palm, the Relic fragment he had been so worried about was there.
“Oh? Wh-why is this here…?”
“You’ve been holding it since you fainted.”
“Yes. When you fainted, and even when we moved you here. You’ve been holding it like you thought it couldn’t be let go of, so just let it go.”
Hans looked down at his own right hand without a word.
Suddenly, he burst out laughing.
He hadn’t lost it.
When he’d transformed into a monster, his remaining handful of rationality had protected the item.
Hans felt angry somehow, as it really seemed that it wasn’t a big deal.
“...Take this. It’s a relief that it wasn’t lost or anything.”
“You worked hard, Hans.”
“Never mind. It’s something I had to do anyway.”
As Hans was laughing, he gave the Relic fragment to Ludger.
After he received it, Ludger touched the Relic fragment with his fingertips before getting up from his seat.
“If you’ve regained your consciousness, get up. I have a lot to say to everyone, including you.”
“Is it something like how we’re going to proceed from here?”
“That’s obvious, but that isn’t the most important thing to talk about.”
Hans wanted to ask what that meant, but Ludger left the room first, so he could only hurriedly get up and chase his back.
After he went down, he saw that everyone else was already in the meeting room.
They slightly widened their eyes when they saw Hans had woken up in a fine condition.
Hans smiled awkwardly, as he felt burdened by their gazes.
“Now then, where should we start from?”
Ludger ignored everyones reactions while opening his mouth.
“First of all, you have worked hard, everyone. Unintended incidents happened consecutively, but the plan ended successfully because all of you did well.”
“Whoaa! We are now rich!”
Sheridan raised her two hands while shouting a happy scream.
As she stole a glance toward Sheridan, Belaruna also raised her hands awkwardly and shouted, “Yay~” in a powerless tone.
“But it’s too early to be happy because these stolen goods can’t be traded for money right away. It’s going to consume a lot of time for the stolen valuables to be disposed of without any trouble.”
However, to point out the fortunate part in it, it was that the Kunst, which would have otherwise been chasing them, had experienced so much trouble that they didn’t have to worry about getting caught.
“But there’s another topic that’s really important.”
At that remark, everyone showed an expression which seemed to say that what was supposed to come had finally come.
“Everyone must have felt something as you collaborated. At the same time, you must have realized what kind of abilities the talented people who are to be your colleagues in the future have.”
Just as Ludger said, the executives of U.N. Owen, who hadn’t been able to get to know each other really well beforehand, had certainly carved each others’ abilities into their minds through the plan.
It was Alex who opened his mouth first.
“Well, to be honest, I was surprised. A person transformed into a huge beast, I’ve never seen something like that before.”
“Now that you say it, you too.”
After he listened silently, Pantos talked while looking at Alex..
“You are well-practiced in a very special technique. Were you a Knight?”
“I was never a Knight, I was just an ordinary aspiring Knight.”
“It was obviously not the level of an ordinary aspiring Knight.”
Alex had fought equally with the Nightcrawler Knight Order.
He said himself that he was an aspiring Knight, but if looking purely at his skill, he was a strong person who came close to a top-level Knight.
He was an incredulously talented person considering his young age. The fact that a person with such a skill had hidden his identity and become a swindler must’ve been because he had a reason he couldn’t talk about.
As the atmosphere slowly flowed in a bad way toward him, Alex changed the topic right away.
“Rather than that, Leader. What the hell was that lady?”
It was an obvious change of topic, but everyone perked their ears at the question.
Something they were extremely curious about was the blue-haired wizard lady.
—A wizard who controlled water.
Even Alex, who didn’t have a profound knowledge about magic, was certain that she wasn’t an ordinary person.
“I’m curious as well.”
Pantos, who usually talked less, was unusually curious about her.
Since Pantos was someone who only showed his interest in strong people, Casey Selmore was also included within that category.
Even if they pretended not to, the other people were similarly interested in her.
That was how everyone was keenly interested in the relationship between Casey Selmore and Ludger.
When the gazes naturally gathered toward him, Ludger shook his head.
“She was just an enemy I encountered in the past.”
“When I think about her reaction, it seems like you met her when you were active as James Moriarty. Am I right?”
The incident in the Kingdom of Delica strongly remained in his memory among Ludger’s past years.
Because there was nothing more to hide anyway, Ludger opened his mouth.
“Her name is Casey Selmore. As all of you already know, of the Selmore family.”
“Selmore? Wait. If it’s the Selmore family that I know, I can only recall the famous great magic family. Am I right?”
“Because there’s only one Selmore family, you’re right.”
As he had considerable knowledge about those things, Hans knew very well the weight of that name.
“The Selmore family has been famous as the family that produced great wizards since a long time ago. Moreover, they recently produced two wizards who gained the color title.”
Also, one of the wizards who possessed the color title was Casey Selmore, who had business with Ludger.
She was a wizard and a detective.
She was a genius who’d achieved a legacy as a detective.
“I met Casey Selmore in the Kingdom of Delica first.”
“Did you meet her by accident?”
“No. She came to find me instead.”
It seemed like it still caused a headache if he thought of that time, Ludger’s slightly frowned.
* * *
Translator - Alice
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
“I was on a trip to the Kingdom of Delica back then.”
How come she started with a traveling story when she was asked to explain the details about how she’d met Betty?
Elendil couldn’t hide her curiosity.
“Indeed, hmm. How should I say it? I had a purpose.”
“At that time, I built a considerable amount of recognition and reputation as a detective, so I was very haughty.”
Casey was proud because she had been praised as a genius everywhere. She’d also enjoyed the reactions of people’s compliments and appraisal toward her.
At that time, she’d accidentally heard a rumor of a man when she visited the Kingdom of Delica.
“I heard that there was a professor with a very excellent and intelligent brain. He had established many mathematical formulas despite his young age, and he was especially well-versed in geometry.”
“Professor? No way, was he…?”
“Right. It was Professor James Moriarty.”
“What? But wasn’t that person a cruel criminal?”
“It was only known afterward, the first time he gained his reputation was because that man was an excellent mathematician. He didn’t gain the title professor in front of his name for no reason.”
Of course, after he’d gained the professor title, the meaning of the title became bad, as he encouraged crimes.
“I went to the Kingdom of Delica to meet that reputable person, and I met him in real life.”
As she recalled her first meeting back then, Casey showed an irritated expression.
And she didn’t have any intention to slander his achievement.
Because the mathematical formula that he’d created had been so amazing that it’d caused a huge turmoil in the mathematical world.
“What kind of person was he?”
“He had terrible tastes.”
As she didn’t know that such an evaluation would come out of Casey’s mouth, Elendil was greatly confused.
Weren’t people usually supposed to say something like “He was an extraordinary person from the first time I met him”, or “He was suspicious just by looking at him”?
“Anyway, he was a really annoying person. Should I say he’s someone who feeds off his own pride? I still wonder how someone’s tone of voice can be so annoying.”
“B-but how come you find out that such a person was a criminal?”
“It wasn’t long since I visited the Kingdom of Delica when a serial missing people case happened. Many people disappeared without a trace every day—especially children.”
“Missing people cases…”
“I wandered around to chase the trace, and I gained an important clue. There was an abandoned mine, and there were suspicious people in that place.”
Back then, Casey had witnessed a surprising thing as she’d headed deeper to the mine.
The place wasn’t a mere abandoned mine, but it was a laboratory where some kind of secret experiment was happening.
A space full of all kinds of machinery…
A space full of steel, pipes, and mechanical springs…
And what she had found there was…
“James Moriarty. That man.”
Not James Moriarty the famous mathematician.
She’d met James Moriarty, the criminal, for the first time.
As she recalled the scene of that day, Casey clenched her fist.
She wanted to think that she must have mistaken a person or there must be a misunderstanding, but the situation wasn’t like that.
Surrounding James Moriarty had been the corpses of the Kingdom of Delica’s police force.
And most of all, the missing children’s bodies had been piled in front of James Moriarty.
She recalled the way the childrens’ blood had stained his white gloves.
Casey had instinctively raised her wand and shot her magic toward him.
—And Professor Moriarty naturally blocked her magic.
It was the first collision of the genius detective with the world criminal that had been circulating among gossipers.
“And you already know the story after that. I couldn't win the fight that day and he ran away, then I kept chasing him to arrest him.”
As she’d chased James Moriarty’s trace, she’d encountered secret hidden cases in the Kingdom of Delica and solved them one by one.
The case of several missing people grew bigger into a huge plan that risked the continuity of a country.
The monopoly of the war industry… The development of new weapons… The plan to assassinate a key figure of another kingdom… The secret laboratory that used people as experimental rats…
Casey had dug it all up one by one and arrested everyone who was involved in it and exposed their plans.
The newspapers of the Kingdom of Delica were full of new cases every day.
And three days before the deciding match…
She’d encountered James Moriarty in a factory.
“It was a secret factory to produce automaton. How on earth he’d secretly set all of that up… he’s my enemy, but even I admire it.”
When Casey went to that place, Moriarty hadn’t even intended to hide his plan to her and instead had boasted about it.
He’d boasted about asking the key personnel of the country to rake up a great deal of wealth in order to wage war.
And just before the plan could be realized…
A huge explosion had happened, and the factory had been engulfed in flame in an instant.
“Explosion? No way, is it something you did?”
Casey gave Elendil a sidelong scowl.
“Hey, Your Highness, I’m a water controlling wizard. I can’t do explosion magic.”
Since she was still inexperienced back then, she hadn’t obtained the color title yet, and she didn’t know how to use magic apart from the element of water.
“...Of course, I did attempt to make the factory inoperational just in case, but not to the extent of causing an explosion.”
The reason why she refuted it was because she couldn’t be certain why the explosion had happened either.
She didn’t know if it had perhaps happened because she’d touched something wrong in the factory.
However, that wasn’t what was most important.
Because arresting the mastermind and the center of all the cases, James Moriarty, was her first and foremost task.
However, she couldn’t fight properly in a factory which was engulfed in flame, and James Moriarty had fled.
In the end, as she was in a hurry, Casey had combed through the burnt factory to search for evidence, and she’d discovered Betty there.
Betty had been stored as if she was asleep in a half-destroyed room.
Above the huge capsule where she’d been laying, there’d been a word, “Beta(β)”.
“Betty is a special automaton that was made there. Thus, Betty’s existence is proof of what happened.”
Casey had carried Betty away from the factory.
Right after she’d left the factory, it’d cumbled to ash and vanished.
“So something like that happened.”
After she heard Casey’s whole story, Elendil was overwhelmed with wonder, and it was the same for Enya.
It was already a famous story, but the feeling became quite different because they heard it directly from the person involved.
However, in fact, there was one story that Casey couldn’t tell Elendil and Enya.
‘What I saw back then was only a half-destroyed room and Betty.’
To be precise, a successful project with a code name, Beta.
Seeing that, there was a doubt she’d harbored in her mind.
The fact that there was code name Beta meant that there was something which was made first.
What was made before Beta would obviously be Alpha.
‘Then, where the hell is Alpha?’
* * *
Ludger’s story naturally ended with how he’d met Arpa.
“Everyone must have felt it, but Arpa here is not a human. He’s an automaton made of mechanical springs and steel.”
“Hoo, oh, my God.”
As he heard those words, Hans clicked his tongue in surprise.
“He’s a machine? Even though he looks exactly like a human?”
“It’s because Arpa is special.”
“No, he’s beyond special. How come there’s a machine that can imitate humans this much? I would have thought that he was just another kind of human if you didn’t tell me that.”
Every gaze in the room headed toward Hans.
Their gazes seemed to ask. “Is that something for you to say?”
However, since Arpa was an automaton, Hans could understand the unbelievable skills that he’d shown.
“Then, the girl who collided with Arpa?”
“She’s practically my younger sister.”
On that day, Arpa had realized it right away after he’d encountered Betty.
—The girl was just like him, she’d been made for the same goal as him.
“I was surprised. I never even in my wildest dreams expected to see another kid like me.”
“The same goes for me. I didn’t think there was still a functioning automaton in that factory back then."
He hadn’t expected that the assistant girl that Casey Selmore carried along was the automaton that he’d thought had completely vanished back then.
Arpa opened his mouth with a smile on his face.
“Still, I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one from that project who survived.”
After she had been listening to him silently, Violeta opened her mouth.
“Then, Arpa is one of the only two automatons that remained in the Kingdom of Delica.”
“What kind of goal did the Kingdom of Delica have to create such automatons?”
Arpa wasn’t an ordinary automaton at all.
Not only did he have a terrifying physique and power output, but he also had a feeling like he was a human being.
Ludger folded his arm while closing his eyes.
“There was only one reason for them to mass-produce soldiers that they could use whenever without needing Knights and wizards…”
The Kingdom of Delica, which was a powerful nation in the steel and munition business, had one goal.
They hadn’t wanted to create tanks nor anti-aircraft guns, but a self-thinking and autonomous soldier of steel that possessed the appearance of a human.
They’d wanted to use dolls made with steel that they could supply whenever to turn the tide of a war.
The project that they had started for such a purpose, Stählern Kapelle.
The first automaton and successful prototype created from the choir of steel…
It was an automaton with the code name Alpha, Arpa.
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