“A magic stone-eating mother-con Dark Knight, that’s Ain for you nya! ”
It was a sudden comment, and Ain was frustrated he couldn’t say anything to his defense, so he remained quiet about that.
“Where did that come from so suddenly, Katima-san?”
The place was Katima’s laboratory. In there, the two of them were busy doing their usual research.
The main attraction for today was the mysterious magic stone Ain had purchased for 300,000G.
“When I heard about a magic stone that curses people, I nyaoticed you two might be like birds of a feather, both quite unique(weird) nya.”
“Are you trying to pick a fight?”
Katima had been reading books about what kind of material this magic stone was likely to be when Ain hadn’t been around, and although she searched among many old tomes, she hadn’t found anything about such magic stone.
This caused her some stress.
“If I think about it, you don’t have any friends your age, nya. You’re just a magic stone-eating mother-con Dark Knight weirdo……Ouch, nya! It hurts, nyaaaaaaa!! ”
Not enduring it anymore, Ain pulled Katima’s ears from side to side.
He didn’t feel he was doing something bad since he was just teaching some manners to a ‘daneko’.
“I have one, so it’s okay. I’m not a loner.”
“Who, nya? You’re just bluffing, nya.”
“……I have one friend, she’s called Krone, so it’s okay.”
“And where is she, nya?”
“She’s on a ship to Ishtalika, she’ll arrive soon.”
“Ahh, the guests from Heim, nya. Then, right now you’re a loner……I told you that hurts, nya! NYAAAAAAA! ”
Apparently, Katima didn’t learn her lesson, however, Ain somewhat enjoyed this sort of exchange.
Because, at the end of the day, this made for a good time for Ain, who had no friends. Whether or not this was her intention was another matter.
“We should get started. Stop being silly.”
“Ugh……Ugh, that hurt, nya……”
“In the end, you still don’t know what kind of magic stone that is, right?”
“There’s one thing I’ve learned, nya.”
“Eh? You never told me anything.”
Showing a self-satisfied grin, she told him there was one thing she found out.
“At the very least, this magic stone is the same age as the Dullahan’s, or maybe even older, nya.”
“Then, if you search for information on that age-”
“That’s not all, nya. It’s from a monster as strong as the Dullahan, nya. There’s no information on this kind of magic stone, nya. To begin with, even the magic stone of the Demon King in the audience room isn’t understood in detail, nya. Huh? If I know how strong it was then I guess I know two things, nya.”
They didn’t expect it to be a product of the distant past. And hearing it was about the same strength as the Dullahan, Ain felt a bit excited by the undocumented magic stone. But in the end, he couldn’t help but worry about the curse.
“So, what is the curse in the magic stone?”
“……Better yet, why don’t you try to absorb it, nya? ”
Katima’s proposal was, in fact, something that Ain had already considered.
He thought that poison would work after all. But how about the curse?
The curse at least didn’t seem to be poisonous. As a result, he was hesitant, thinking something might happen to his body.
“I guess the curse is the problem. I’m not afraid if it’s just the poison.”
“Nya. That the curse will kill you the moment you absorb it?”
“I don’t think it would come to that.”
No matter how powerful Toxin DecompositionEX was, Ain wasn’t resistant to things other than poisons and didn’t have any other sort of cheat.
Therefore, it would seem a curse would easily get him since he had no resistance to it.
“Ain. The previous owners of this magic stone kept it unsealed, right, nya? ”
“That’s what Majorca-san said.”
“Fumu. Then, shall we take it out of the box, nya?”
Katima’s plan was to take it out and place it nearby.
After all, those who have been cursed up until now were only shown strange dreams but they never died, so it wasn’t strong.
“Here? At your lab? ”
“I don’t want to be left out of such a fun thing, nya.”
Ain drew a little closer to Katima to pull her ears, but that was it……He then made up his mind.
And so, he reached for the sealing case.
“No, wait a minute. It would be dangerous if the curse affects the people in the castle, are you sure it’s a good idea to open it?”
“Nothing can get out of this lab, nya. This lab was specially made, at the very least is more tightly sealed than that sealing case, so it’s okay nya.”
It seemed his was a needless concern, so he reached out for the case again.
He knew Katima spent a lot of money on research, but he never expected she even built the lab with measures against curses.
“For the time being, open the case and let out the magic stone, nya. Just don’t touch it yet, nya.”
After being told so, he reached the case and opened it.
“I knew it. At some intervals, I can feel some sort of sign from the magic stone.”
“I don’t feel anything, nya. What kind of sign, nya? ”
“Like wanting you to notice it, that sort of sign. Even though it was sealed at Majorca-san’s shop, I also felt something. But I never felt that here in the lab.”
“I believe it’s because the curse countermeasures here are excellent, nya.”
It made sense. And, he was able to realize the strength of Katima’s curse countermeasures given to her lab.
“Wanting you to notice it, nyaー……I wonder if that’s why you became obsessed with it……?”
“I’d love if you stop saying something ominous like that.”
“Still, I can’t explain it, nya. Why now? Does it want to possess you, nya? Just what are you, nya?”
“I’m a normal boy.”
If you explained Ain like someone who could absorb a magic stone, who had Toxin DecompositionEX, who was half dryad. Furthermore, who was a reincarnated person. Thinking about it, you couldn’t call him a normal boy.
But Ain felt so familiar with this world that he sometimes forgot he had been reincarnated here.
“I’ll pull your ears again.”
“……Anyway. Tell me something Ain, can you ABSOLUTELY control your Absorb, nya? ”
“I think I can do it now. At least I’m sure I won’t be subconsciously absorbing the magic stone just by picking it up.”
“If you still couldn’t control it, Majorca’s shop would’ve been an all you can eat buffet, nya.”
Although those words sounded a tad bit dangerous, Ain had no problem with controlling his Absorb.
“I wouldn’t do that. But I might have done that if he was a person I hated.”
“What a terrible guy you are, nya.”
“Anyway, what was that about controlling absorb? ”
“……Can you try and grab it, nya? ”
“Grab it? do you mean-?”
Katima’s fingers pointed at the said magic stone.
She was expecting she might be able to find something by him grabbing it in his hands.
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous?”
“If you don’t absorb it, the link with the magic stone shouldn’t be created, nya. It might’ve been another story when you subconsciously absorbed them from a distance, nya. But I think it should be fine now, nya.”
Indeed, previously Ain would subconsciously absorb the nearby magic stones since he couldn’t control this power.
But Katima hypothesized that there would be no problem now that he could control it.
“What if something goes wrong? ”
“I will seal this whole room, nya. That’s the only way to limit the impact it would have on the outside, and from there we can think on a way to destroy the magic stone, nya.”
“……Will it really be alright? ”
There was a solution to it, and there appeared to be no special danger. So, in the end, Ain made up his mind and tried picking up the mysterious magic stone.
“It’ll be okay, nya. You can help some degree of danger when studying magic stones, nya.”
“Very well. Since I don’t know what will happen, stay alert.”
And so, he placed both his hands next to the magic stone.
“I’m ready, nya. Come one, do it, nya! ”
With her voice as the signal, Ain picked up said magic stone.
It happened a short while after thinking nothing happened.
This time, it was not a voice only heard by Ain, but a voice that echoed all over the room.
『I found you……I found you……I found you……I FOUND YOU! 』
“NYA!? What is that!? ”
A soundless voice that said it found something.
“Ain! Put it back, nya! Back in the box, nya!! ”
Deciding that keep going would be dangerous, Katima tells him to put the magic stone back in the sealing box.
At that point, something unexpected happened with Ain’s body.
“Ehh…… W-why? Why did the Phantom Hand-?”
From Ain’s back, one appeared, then 2, 3……rapidly increasing, the number reached four Phantom Hands.
Those arms were stretching towards the magic stone.
“What are you doing, nya!? Ain! ”
“It wasn’t me! They came out on their own……! What the heck is this!? ”
Ain was confused at the sudden and unexpected events. Even if he tried to put the magic stone back in the box, he wasn’t able to let go of it.
“Nya……Let go of it, nyaaaaaaa! ”
In such a strange situation, Katima made a move. Tackling Ain by the back, he pushed him and forced him to put the stone back in the box.
And then, with Ain barely able to pull his hands out of the box, she closed it.
Afterward, the many Phantom Hands that appeared slowly returned to Ain’s body.
“Haa……Haa……What the hell was that, nya?”
“Katima-san. My body feels super tired……”
“With all those Phantom Hands suddenly appearing, that’s only normal, nya. Seriously, what was that……Ehh, Ain!? ”
“What is it? Is there something else?”
“Your body! Look at you, nya! ”
Katima spoke to Ain in an urgent tone. Never having seen Katima in such a hurry, Ain quickly moved in front of a mirror. And as Ain moved there, Katima rushed to a bookshelf.
“What is, this……?”
Ain had entered the lab in his everyday clothes. And he should’ve been wearing that.
However, right now, he was clad in black armor. An armor that was of a size suitable for Ain’s body.
Furthermore, it leaked a black aura. And here and there, you could see it mixed with a red and a blue aura.
This was almost like, the Dullahan’s armor itself.
“Found it, nya! Ain, come see this, nya! ”
What Katima was holding was an old book. She opened in a part with a picture and some text, and in the picture, one could see the exact same armor as the one Ain was wearing right now. And the text described a certain monster.
The book she brought was a valuable compendium of old monsters, and the page she had it opened at was one regarding the Dullahan.
There was an illustration of the Phantom Hand by its side and in the center the Dullahan wearing a black armor. Everything about it was the same as the one Ain wore, like two peas in a pod.
“Ain. Be honest, nya. ……Did you absorb a little of it, nya? ”
“I didn’t! You think that’s why the Phantom Hands suddenly came out like that!? ”
Then, Katima immersed herself in her thoughts.
Inside her mind, various hypotheses and calculations ran wildly about what just happened.
“Well, for now just suck on this, nya. It’s a Healbird’s magic stone, nya. The Healbird’s is a special magic stone that is not toxic to humans, and it’s used in medical treatments, nya. It should have the same effect even if you absorb it.”
Katima then handed three Healbird magic stones to Ain.
Ain, being extraordinarily tired, quickly absorbed them all.
He didn’t take the time to taste them properly, but the mint-like scent filled Ain’s body.
It was a refreshing sensation that healed his tiredness, and by the time he finished absorbing them, Ain had calmed down a bit.
“Thank you, Katima-san. I feel a little calmer.”
“That’s good, nya. ……Also, it looks like the armor disappeared, nya.”
Apparently, at the same time he calmed down, the Dullahan’s armor disappeared.
“I’ll ask just to make sure, nya. Have you been practicing Dark Knight skills other than the Phantom Hand?”
“I haven’t. I mean, I didn’t even know what sort of skills I had.”
“To be honest, I don’t know how much that armor related to magic and how much of it related to the Dullahan itself, nya. That’s why I was scared of you practicing, Ain, nya.”
“So, that’s why you asked……”
The strength of the Dullahan was famous, but the details of the Dark Knight skill were still unknown.
In fact, the armor just now could even be called a historical discovery.
“There are a lot of things that I don’t know, nya.”
“But, about the voice that I heard, you heard it too, right Katima-san? ”
“Indeed, nya. That alone is a discovery, but……Hmm.”
“Why do you think the Dark Knight’s Phantom Hand sought that magic stone? ”
“I have a hypothesis, nya.”
The Phantom Hands activated on their own, and they reached for the magic stone. The magic stone was filled with the unknown; she didn’t know why the Dullahan’s armor appeared, nor the reason why it tried to reach for the magic stone.
“But it’s something that doesn’t feel realistic at all, nya. First is, that the Dark Knight sought this magic stone because it felt it had something to do with its growth. The second one……is even more unrealistic, nya. The Dark Knight, the Dullahan might have some sort of connection with this magic stone, nya.”
“You mean the Dullahan of the magic stone that I absorbed? Does it have something to do with the magic stone? Or is something related to the monster the magic stone belonged to? ”
“Something like that, nya. Considering that the magic stone was already cursed, it’s not surprising that something like this happened, nya.”
To be honest, there was a reason why Katima could only come up with an unrealistic hypothesis.
Even though she had lived her life researching, everything involving this magic stone was a complete mystery.
Despite them continuing their talks and sharing assumptions, they couldn’t come up with anything else.
So, after a while, they decided to end today’s session, and both Ain and Katima left the lab.