Chapter 215. Aquarius (13)

When I started heading directly to the capital, the mana of the pursuers converging on my location began to change directions as well. This instant adjustment meant that the pursuers also had considerable mana detecting ability. This was only natural since the mana signified that the great elder of the Butterfly Tribe, Arpen, was part of the pursuit. 

However, their reaction speed while following me seemed strangely quick. Was it just my imagination? No, at times like this, it was better to be suspicious. I wanted to get to the capital without using magic if possible, but I couldn’t help it.

"Devils in the shadows, may they wear the reflection in the mirror and appear. Doppelganger." 

A clone made of magic appeared right next to me, sharing my appearance. It was highly similar to the clone magic that I used during the "normal conversation between family members" with my aunt.

"I always think this, but it's not a good look.”

"I always think this, but it's not a good look.”

The clone and I said the same thing in the same tone. Even if it was a clone that I made, I wasn't too happy to know that there was someone exactly like me moving about.

Every time I used this magic, it felt strange and eerie, as if I were entering a mirror maze and seeing a dozen different versions of myself. If the minor version of this magic was like looking at myself in the mirror, then the doppelganger felt like it was really me. Still, it had to be high enough level magic to deceive my pursuer's senses.

The doppelganger was not only life-like, it also had the same mana and presence as me. Of course, it wasn’t up to 100 percent of my power, only about 80 percent. Even so, it could copy most of my magic, so it should be able to beat an average level madosa easily.

"You go north and create as much of a disturbance as you can."

"Ehew, that's annoying. All right." The doppelganger sighed, changed directions, and began to fly away, annoyed.

I felt an odd sense of displeasure at the doppelganger's behavior, but oh well. In the first place, the doppelganger was not just a creature but a high-performance artificial intelligence (AI) that copied me. In fact, doppelganger was one of the black magic written in the summons for the Demon King, which was used as firewood for sweet potatoes in my father's study.

Since I didn’t have black mana, I roughly recreated it using alchemy and ancient magic, but the results were much better than expected. It didn't disappear until the mana supplied to it was used up and remained faithful to my orders. Sometimes, I felt so uneasy about its behavior identical to mine that it gave me goosebumps.

Soon after the doppelganger and I split, the pursuers who were following me divided in half. "As I thought, their reaction is half a beat faster than I expected. Do they happen to have old Weger-nim?"

If Elder Weger truly hid his mana and presence, it would be natural for him not to be caught by my senses. However, seeing my eldest brother downing bottles at the banquet hall, I thought that Elder Weger, Hestia noona’s escort, would not leave her side.

Was it perhaps an order from my third sister? It wouldn’t be strange for my third sister to issue such an order. My thoughts became complicated for a moment. It was dangerous to deal with Elder Weger in a busy city like the capital.

"Huh!" At that time, the mana I believed to be the great elder accelerated at a crazy speed and began to approach me.

How did he know I was the real one? No, that wasn’t important. I need to get away quickly. I tried to accelerate more, but it was too hard to shake him off because I was already exhausted. He’s going to catch up!

"Stop!" I heard a familiar voice from behind.

"Who would stop when told to stop!"

At my cry, the great elder poured mana into his magic wand. "Maiden of Ice!"

Ice awls came from all directions and kept me in check. Tch, the capital was just around the corner. I made a thick barrier and went straight ahead, crashing into the ice spikes.

"Huh, have you ever seen such a madman?" The great elder chased me with admiration. I used magic by forcing the already overworked mana circuit.

"Minefield!" I continued to plant transparent mines as I moved forward.

After detecting the transparent mines, the great elder slowed down and sprayed mana bullets everywhere, exploding all the mines I had laid down.

Kwaaaaaang-!

I accelerated further using the wind from the minefield that exploded behind me.

"Hey! Let's just talk for a second!" I could vaguely hear the great elder’s voice through the sound of the explosion, but I ignored it and moved forward.

Then, as if he did not want to lose, the great elder sped up and followed me closely. "Hey, white mask! I said, let’s just talk for a second!"

For wanting to just talk, aren’t you emitting mana too full of killing intent?

"Hey! I said stop!” When I showed no signs of stopping, the great elder became enraged, and the bluish mana that he imbued with an attribute rotated like a whirlwind around the magic wand.

"The ice wolf carrying the north wind! The march of the legion defending the queen! This is the land of ice! Appear, ice castle!"

A mana pattern that I thought I’d seen before swept around the area and quickly began to form ice castles around me. Then, in the blink of an eye, I was inside the huge ice castle built by the great elder. I was forced to break sharply and landed in a huge space inside the ice castle.

"Ahahahaha! Isn't it great? It's magic made by my granddaughter!" The great elder’s bragging made me remember where I had seen this magic.

This ice castle was a minor copy of the domain proclamation magic that Yuria attempted at the magic school entrance exam. Indeed, the scale was enormous when a great madosa made up for the deficient parts of it. At a glance, it was an ice castle that was almost the size of the imperial palace.

Clap clap clap"It is impressive. You have a talented granddaughter."

"Uahahaha, right?! My granddaughter is the best, isn't she? Uahahaha!"

Looking at the great elder openly boasting about his granddaughter, I wondered whether to take off my mask or not. I thought if I took off my mask and explained the situation, he might just let me go to the capital. Yet, if my identity was revealed, even if not now, I could be bothered by a barrage of questions later. Let's just drag on a little bit.

"But how did you know I was the real one? It wouldn't have been possible to tell the difference between me and the dummy at such a distance.”

The great elder snorted at my question. "How am I supposed to know? I just need to get to both places quickly."

I thought he might have had his own method of sensing or something as a great madosa, but it was more of an ignorant tactic than I’d believed. However, considering the great elder’s flight speed, this plan was probably possible, which was even scarier.

"Don't look at me like that. Usually, ignorant methods are the most efficient ones." 

"Well, I agree with that." Sometimes ignorant methods were the most efficient.

The great elder shouted, full of killing intent with his magic wand pointed at me. "Now! Let's slowly have a conversation!"

The ice castle responded to the great elder’s cry, and mana came from every direction and surrounded me. My magic wasn't exactly disturbed, but I felt like the ice castle was ready to attack at any time in line with the will of the great elder.

I had no choice but to raise both of my hands. Unless I were in top condition, it would be too much to face a great madosa head-on.

"Oho, are you willing to have a conversation now?”

No matter how I thought about it, the mana that the great elder was emitting did not indicate that he wanted to simply talk.

"No. Emergency escape!" I teleported out of the ice castle.

"You dare!" As I began to disappear, the great elder tried to disrupt my teleportation with mana, but I hacked into the ice castle and made it attack him.

"What!"

I waved at the flustered great elder. "An incomplete magic like that-"

The view completely changed, and there was a huge ice castle in the distance. "-shouldn’t be used recklessly."

If he had been a real domain proclamation, I would not have dared to attempt teleportation. Furthermore, Yuria’s ice castle was far from complete. Perhaps the great elder was deliberately not completing the ice castle, but to arrogantly use it in a real battle was how he got the tables turned on him.

Of course, it was only possible to hack into it thanks to the fact that I had seen Yuria’s ice castle before and knew of its vulnerabilities. However, it would have been extremely perplexing for the great elder.

"Now, shall I start going back to the capital again?”

It would take the great elder some time to deal with the hacked ice castle, so I had to get to the capital quickly. Fortunately, the capital was truly just around the corner now, as I could see the outer walls of the capital. In order to sneak into the capital, I crossed its walls by suppressing my presence as much as possible and interfering with the imperial military’s mana detection.

"Ehew, now I can take a breather." A sword aura suddenly flew at me as I breathed a sigh of relief and sneaked across the walls.

Kwang!

I quickly cast a barrier and blocked the sword aura. Then, I looked for the person who shot the sword aura at me.

"It has been a long time, Youngest Master-nim." On the city wall, Elder Weger looked at me with a gentle smile and an aura blade surrounding his sword.

It's ruined.

* * *

Hestia hummed as she left the banquet hall. The foreign minister said he would be her escort, but Hestia refused, saying that a person with political insight should remain at the banquet hall. Instead, she grabbed Gallahad's ear. He had been downing his fifth bottle of vodka when she took him as an escort.

"Oww, Hestia. That hurts."

Gallahad asked to be released with a drunken, red face, and Hestia sighed. "Who told you to drink like that? Jeez, I don't know if you realize you're here as a village envoy."

As Hestia shook her head, Gallahad bluntly pouted and grumbled. "Tch, it’s just five bottles of vodka. I’m fine. Maybe if I had ten more bottles, I wouldn’t."

Hestia pulled Gallahad’s ear again as he licked his lips, thinking of the vodka he had left at the banquet. "That's why I dragged you out at the fifth bottle. If you get any drunker, my plans will go awry."

"Plan?" Gallahad looked at Hestia with an oblivious look, but Hestia just smiled and headed to the stable where the Red Dragon Knights had left their dragons.

"Blackie!" Arriving at the stable, Hestia called Cerberus that she had brought.

Cerberus, previously sleeping in the stable, ran to Hestia, smashing the stable apart.

"Sit." At Hestia's command, Cerberus sat down right away, huffing and puffing.

"Good job." Hestia threw a piece of jerky made from an ogre.

"Oppa, please bring me the saddle."

Gallahad nodded at Hestia's request. "Okay, but what about the three people who followed us clumsily?”

Hestia smiled as she looked at the white and gold hair that could be seen in between the buildings. "You don't have to worry about it. You used to play the game of tailing each other a lot when you were young too."

"Hmm, well, that's true." Gallahad agreed and headed to the rubble of the stable, smashed by Cerberus, to pick up the saddle.

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