“Phew… Finally, it’s over…”
Forty minutes pass. With every last one of the balloons distributed, I let out a prolonged breath from inside the animal suit. It’s right about then that my work’s done, and the one man who I can only assume is a boss of some kind strides over to me, clearly in a good mood.
“Yuuto, right? I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you pitched in as quickly as you did! I’ll pay you an hour’s worth of wages later, so just go get changed and come by to pick up the money!”
Well, it looks like I’m actually getting paid. I guess it’s for the best, especially since I don’t think I can keep working myself for no pay in good memory.
“Your first mission and you pass with flying colors. Congratulations.”
“…It’s also good to see that you didn’t flop again, Khiel-san.”
I’ll freely admit that I’m feeling a little miffed when I speak. Why does he keep looking down on others when he messes up so much, I wonder?
Well, it doesn’t matter. I’ve kept Rina waiting for long enough; I should really get changed…
“Waaaaah! My balloooon!”
That’s when I notice the little girl sitting on the floor and crying her eyes out. I chance a quick look upwards and see a balloon floating up to the sky. Looks like she wasn’t careful enough and let go of her balloon.
I should really help her out. But how? If I use a spell, then my transformation’s going to get undone, and I’ll revert to my High King form. Can I pull it off if I’m wearing this animal suit, though? Probably not, if I take the High King’s frame into consideration. A suit this small is bound to just rip apart, and then I’ll be left standing there, my true identity revealed. What do I do…?
I spin my head around, just in time to see one bunny costume being ripped to shreds and bringing Khiel out for all to see.
“Incantation: Chrono Stratum!”
Khiel raises his voice until it’s a yell. When he does, the balloon stops all semblance of motion, but still stays afloat. No, it’s not just the balloon that’s stopped. From the birds in the sky to the people around me – everyone and everything’s completely stopped moving.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
I take off the panda costume and look around. What’s going on? There’s only one thing I’m certain of, and that’s that Khiel’s the one behind this spell.
“Khiel-san, what is this…?!”
“Chrono Stratum. It’s a spell that slows down the flow of time that carries all things, living and non-living, to its ten thousandth fraction. They become like the many strata that make up this earth and continue to form atop each other over long eons…”
Any talk of geological layers aside, being slowed down to a ten-thousandth might as well mean that you’ve been frozen. Also, there’s no reason for you to just tear your costume apart. Can’t you just use your spell after you take off your costume?
“However, the spell does not affect any creature that has a level above five hundred. Any object one of these creatures touches is also unaffected. I should have figured that it wouldn’t work on you, High King.”
What happens next leaves me even more baffled. White wings sprout from Khiel’s back as he flies, rising high and into the heavens. Those wings, don’t tell me…!
Khiel catches the balloon suspended mid-air before returning to the ground.
“…So, Khiel-san, you were an angel all along.”
“Yes. Which reminds me, I never did get the chance to tell you about myself, did I?”
Khiel makes sure to turn towards me before he speaks.
“My name is Khiel. I’m one of the Seven Angels of the Stars.”
You can’t really blame me if I’m a little shocked by this revelation. Are you seriously telling me that Khiel’s one of the Seven Angels, just like Uriel was…?!
“Well? Surprised, are we?”
“…I’d say so. I’ve known that you aren’t exactly normal ever since our work at the general store, but I never thought you could be one of the Seven Angels of the Stars. Why reveal yourself to me now, of all times?”
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“Because of that little girl? She’s in a pinch. I’m the star of hope, and I protect the dreams of all children. I can’t just stand by and watch.”
“…That’s very much like you, Khiel-san.”
Certainly didn’t stop him from showing his face while in character and shattering those children’s dreams, but I keep the thought to myself.
“If there’s one thing the Seven Angels of the Stars have wanted for a long time, it’s the eradication of the High King. I suppose that makes the two of us mortal enemies.”
“…What will you do, then? Will you do battle with me here and now?”
I unconsciously allow my transformation spell to become undone, and stand face to face against Khiel.
“You should have had countless opportunities to attack me without me being the wiser. Why didn’t you take the shot?”
“Pft, you don’t honestly expect me to believe that something as underhanded as a sneak attack would work on you, do you? It doesn’t matter if you look like a human; I can already tell that you’re hiding an absurd amount of power. Had I decided to take you on with the element of surprise, my efforts would have failed, surely.”
“…I see. Wise judgment on your part, I must say.”
With the weakening spell I put on myself, both my ATK and DEF are significantly lower than they should be. If he actually did try to catch me off guard, I shudder to think what might have happened to me.
“Be that as it may, it’s the Seven Angels of the Stars who wish to see the High King dead. Personally, I have no interest in his head. I can’t say I ever will, provided nothing gets in the way of my own, personal battles.”
“Even if I tell you that it was I who killed Uriel?”
Khiel’s shoulders twitch a little at what I have to say.
“…I see. So the stories were true; Uriel has indeed fallen, and the High King was his arbiter. His passing is a shame, I will admit, but I don’t believe in seeking vengeance for fallen allies. I have, after all, seen countless allies felled in battle.”
I think he might be talking about the people who quit their part-time jobs for good. Well, that’s a little odd.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“Besides, while we may indeed be mortal foes, we are also comrades in arms who saw the same battles and lived. Should I kill you, an ally, then my pride as a warrior will truly be wounded.”
I can’t help but smile. Calling me, the High King, his ally? He really is an interesting piece of work.
“What of you, High King? Now that you know I am one of the Seven Angels of the Stars, do you not wish to kill me? Just as you have killed Uriel?”
“…I will not spill blood without reason. Uriel committed the gravest of sins and laid his hands on my underlings, you see, so I took his life as penance. I see no reason to kill you.”
“Ohoh, I certainly didn’t expect you to be a well of moral standing. And here I thought that the High King was nothing more than a cruel man who slaughtered en masse. I suppose I ought to reconsider my views in the near future. I had heard that an entire army of men was destroyed by the High King, but I can easily believe that was little more than misinformation.”
I’m really, really sorry. That actually happened.
“Anyhow, the effects of my Chrono Stratum should soon disperse. Don’t you think it’s best to turn back into a human?”
Now a little panicked, I cast my transformation spell and transform back into a human. The power of the Chrono Stratum spell seems to snuff itself out soon after, and I can see both people and objects moving at their normal pace again.
Khiel walks closer to the where the crying girl sits, the balloon attached to his hand. She looks up at him in turn, and although she flinches a little at first seeing him, she’s all smiles when she sees the balloon.
“Oh! That’s my balloon!”
“That it is. Careful now, don’t let go of it again.”
Khiel crouches down, never moving from his spot, and hands the balloon over to the girl.
“Okay! Thanks, old mister!”
I can almost hear the shock seeping out of Khiel, like some kind of sound effect. I can’t say I know how old he is, mind you, but he’s definitely not at that age where being called old would be that much of a shock.