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11: SEAL

The Evil God Statue carried a pile of the large golden coins tightly with her left arm against her, and continued to walk towards the magical circle of sealing, all the while picking up more of the large golden coins.

The five of us were waiting at separate positions in order to surround the Evil God Statue as soon as it entered the magical circle.

I myself was in the Anryl Armour Mark II, further off in the direction that the Evil God Statue was headed. I lowered my head as I hid in the shadows of a house on the right side.

…Five coins left.

Just on the other side of the magic circle, I could see that Tena was riding the Anryl Armour Mark I and waiting just like me. As I was not looking at her in the flesh, I could not make out her facial expressions, but I am sure she was holding her breath with nervousness.

…Four coins left.

From the left side of where I was looking, Leonora held her holy sword while she stayed hidden. Now that I think of it, there was an irony that Leonora, who was the Demon Lord’s daughter and future Demon Lord, was using such a holy weapon that was originally supposed to be used against Demon Lords.

…Three coins left.

Far to the left, Pope was standing with the holy lance in hand. Wait, why is she standing so confidently!? You have to hide.

I hurriedly gave the signal to hide with my hands, and she reluctantly did so.

…Two coins left.

To my right, past the direction that the Evil God Statue was headed, was Orlaine, who had perhaps the most important task for this operation. She carried her holy bow with her as she hid under cover.

She was the only one within our group who could use light magic, and it was also she who had been given seal magic from Sofia. So of course, she would be responsible for operating the sealing magic.

…One coin left.

The Evil God Statue had now collected all of the extra large golden coins that had been set around the outer rim of the magical circle, and now she began to climb back to the pedestal she had been standing on. The last remaining coin was of course, in the center of the magical circle.

I was worried that she would recognize it as a trap as soon as she saw the magical circle, but perhaps because her vision was blurred by the gold coins, or she plainly did not under understand what it was, the Evil God Statue did not show any signs of being cautious. She continued on to the last large golden coin.

As soon as the Evil God Statue picked up the last golden coin, we would be able to surround her, Orlaine would activate the sealing magic and this whole thing would be settled. However, the timing was very important for this.

If we jump out too early, the Evil God Statue would notice the change before she reached the center of the magical circle, and there was a risk that she would run away. But if our timing was too slow, there was a risk that she would step out of the magic circle before the sealing magic could activate.

It was decided that I would be responsible for determining this incredibly important timing. I raised the right arm of the Anryl Armour and waited for that moment.

The Evil God Statue was walking towards the center of the magical circle… Still too early.

It was almost in the center… Just a little more.

Just as she began to reach out her hand to pick up the last large golden coin… Now!

As I swung the right hand of the Anryl Armour downwards, Orlaine, Leonora, and Pope all jumped out of their hiding places. They all stood at their designated positions around the magical circle and raised their holy weapons high above their heads.

At the same time, I and Tena also ran as close as we could towards the magical circle, we stood ready in order to deal with whatever action the Evil God Statue decided to take.

“……….?”

It was as if the Evil God Statue who had been distracted by the golden coins, finally realized that something was amiss as we reached the spot. There was an expression of confusion as she looked around at us as we surrounded her. However, it seemed that she had not yet realized it was a trap, she made no indications that she was attempting to leave the spot.

Which was just perfect for us.

I pointed the face of the Anryl Armour that I was controlling towards Orlaine, she nodded and stood ready.

“Here I go!”

Orlaine began to chant, the magical circle that had been drawn on the pedestal began to emit a bright light, a semi-transparent wall of light then appeared as if tracing the lines of the magical circle.

Only the Evil God Statue was within that wall of light. Orlaine, Leonora, and Pope stood just outside of the circle, the Anryl Armours that I and Tena were controlling were outside of the wall.

“……..!?”

The Evil God Statue had still not comprehended what was happening. I could not read her expression as she was a statue, but I could still sense a feeling of surprise in her.

If at that moment, the Evil God Statue had quickly grasped the situation and gone toward Orlaine who was the key to the sealing magic, -or to be precise, the holy weapons that she wielded- she could have disposed of the weapon and might have been able to run away from here.

However, she could not react to it.

Afterall, even if my patterns of movement are influencing it, it had only just recently gained a will of its own, it still greatly lacked the ability to make decisions in unpredictable situations.

And that slowness to react would prove to be fatal.

The seal magic robbed the Evil God Statue of energy, making her movements sluggish.

Due to her slowness to react, the Evil God Statue now lost her ability to move and could no longer escape. It was as if some kind of pressure was being forced onto her, and I could see that she was desperately fighting it even as she nearly fell to the ground.

In a way, it was impressive that in spite of all that, she was still tightly holding onto the gathered golden coins without dropping any.

But there was still no room us to relax, as the ones using the sealing magic.

“Ah, it’s heavy.”

“This will take its toll.”

“Gg….uh….”

The power of the Evil God Statue was immense, an invisible tug of war was being waged between her and the sealing magic. The situation was so dangerous, that even a little slip could cause the spell to be broken.

The three of them were being affected by the Evil God Statues retaliations as they raised their holy weapons, but they desperately bore the pressure. Orlaine, as the caster had an especially heavy burden, greasy sweat dripped down as she growled and attempted to maintain the spell.

◆ ◆ ◆

The invisible battle continued for quite some time, but finally, the scales began to tip in our favor.

Perhaps it was because the Evil God Statue could bear it no more, but the large gold coins that she had so preciously clung onto until now began to slip and fall as she thrashed about as if in pain.

“We can do it, just a little bit more!”

“Yes, yes!”

Orlaine replied to Leonora’s encouragement as sweat dripped down her face.

“I’m so sorry, Anri…”

On the other hand, Pope was looking at the pained Evil God Statue and crying sorrowfully. It seemed like she alone wasn’t struggling as much.

Also, that thing is not me.

The Evil God Statue had had her movements slowed down greatly, but she had still been trying to escape from the magical circle. Now it seemed like she could no longer even stand, both of her knees dropped to the floor of the pedestal and she stopped moving.

If she did try to escape from the circle, it would have been in the direction that I was waiting, where I had set the Anryl Armour in order to intercept her, but it looks like I wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.

The now motionless Evil God Statue was sitting down right in front of me. Now and again she would move as if struggling, but those movements became smaller and smaller.

It was like seeing her in her death throes.

Before I knew it, I was completely absorbed by the sight of the Evil God Statue that I was viewing through the Anryl Armour I was controlling.

How she struggled to somehow remove herself from the sudden disaster that befell her, but not being able to and weakening. It would be a lie if I said that I felt nothing.

Should we really continue to have her sealed…

Thinking back, it was not as if the Evil God Statue had had any ill intentions.

She may have caused chaos to rain down on the surrounding countries, but that was the results, not her intentions. It was my mistake that granted her divine protection, implanted her with a will. She had just wandered around, not being able to understand her surroundings. Even the last time when we set the pitfall and attacked her, all she did was to sporadically fight back.

“…Ah.”

As if realizing that I was looking at her, the fallen Evil God Statue began to stare right back at me.

It was like she was asking me for help or maybe saying her farewells.

“……!”

There was something rising up within me that would not allow me to stay still any longer, and I got out of the Anryl Armour that I was in.

“Anri, what are you!?”

I understood it in my head.

The Evil God Statue had already brought chaos to the humans and mazoku, her existence and potential danger were already recognized far and wide.

Helping her now would only mean that I would be carrying an extra burden, if things went wrong I might even end up hurting the Thearchy. No, I would definitely be hurting it.

Sealing it away right now would be the smart decision. I know that very well.

Even so, I could no longer believe that sealing the Evil God Statue like this was the right decision.

I impulsively reached out my hand towards the wall of light between me and the Evil God Statue that was created by the sealing magic. Of course, as the magic was meant to seal away evil, this was an incredibly dangerous action. If I made a mistake, I could end up being sealed away myself.

But, somehow my instincts were telling me that this seal magic was not that dangerous. Even being this close, I do not feel afraid. It may be stronger than the barrier that was cast around the church in Riemel, but it was still not something strong enough to seal me.

And as if to confirm this feeling, the surface of the wall of light that my fingers touched began to crack. While I felt power try to push me back in retaliation, it too, was not particularly strong.

I determined that the magic in front of me was not something that I needed to be cautious of, and I boldly swung my right hand in a cutting motion.

In an instant, cracks began to spread all over the wall of light, and after a short time lag, it burst like a balloon.

The scattered light fell down like sparks, dancing before they disappeared. Like countless fireflies flying, it was a fantastical sight to see.

At the same time that the wall of light went away, the glowing magical circle that had been on the pedestal also disappeared.

And then I directly faced the Evil God Statue that sat crumbled and frozen on the pedestal where the magic circle had been.

“Anri!?”

“Get away from there!”

“Hurry up and run!”

As the sealing magic was gone, there was nothing between me and the Evil God Statue. On top of that, since I was no longer inside of the Anryl Armour, I was completely exposed. If the Evil God Statue wanted to, she could easily crush me.

Perhaps they understood this too because Tena raised her voice like a scream, but I calmed her with a raise of my hand. This Evil God Statue in front of me would not harm me, I don’t know why, but I believed it.

I took one step forward and looked up at the Evil God Statue. Even though she was in a sitting position, her face still reached high above me.

As we stared at one another, I began to talk in order to persuade her.

“If you can understand what I am saying, raise your right hand.”

That had been a gamble. If the Evil God Statue did not understand me, then there would be nothing that I could do.

However, I had a certain conviction that I would be understood. As I and the statue faced each other like this, I was once again hit with the feeling that there was a special connection between us. This was likely related to the bloodkin symbol that was on the statue’s forehead.

Even if it could not understand the words themselves, as long as there was a connection through the bloodkin symbol on her forehead, then my will should reach her.

That is what I thought when I said the words, and the Evil God Statue now raised her right hand in reply.

“Wha!?”

“It, it understood!?”

Leonora and the others had expressions of shock.

In truth, none of our interactions up until this point had indicated that we would be able to have a mutual understanding, so their shock was to be expected. Even I wouldn’t have believed that it was possible if I didn’t know that my own patterns of movement were being reflected.

“If you will promise, upon hearing what I say, that you will not cause any inconveniences to the people around you, we will not hurt you any further. Raise your right hand if you understand.”

The Evil God Statue looked at me without moving for a short moment, eventually, it raised its right hand.

“…”

Leonora and the others had stopped talking, they held their breaths and watched as I negotiated with the Evil God Statue.

“You will not hurt anyone other than in self-defense.”

The Evil God Statue raised its hand without hesitation. It seemed that it was an easily accepted condition.

“You will stay in a designated area, you will not leave it without permission.”

This time it did not react quickly, but after a while, it slowly raised its hand. The reaction made it obvious that it had reluctantly accepted this condition; it may be necessary to follow up on this later.

“You will obey me when I give an order.”

The hand immediately went up. The third condition was accepted without issues.

“Lastly, you will be careful to not allow others to look under your skirt.”

The hand remained down. But it did not seem as if it was unacceptable, but that its meaning was unclear. Her head tilted to the side.

“Hide it.”

I said as I held down the skirt of my own dress. Finally, it understood my meaning and the right hand came up.

Thankfully, this could now wrap up in a peaceful manner.

I let out a sigh of relief as if being freed of a heavy burden.

And right then something started to poke my shoulder.

I turned around to see what it was.

And there behind me was…Leonora and Orlaine, standing with the biggest smiles on their faces. But what was scary was that their eyes were not smiling at all. And maybe it was just me, but it seemed like veins were popping out on their foreheads.

And then, still smiling, the two let out a single word.

“‘Seiza.’”