According to Feigreid, that room was known as “The Dawn of a New Era in Baskelgarde’s Techno Weapon Development”.
The first weapon to clearly draw a line between ordinary “weapons” that existed before Techno Weapons and the “Techno Weapons” themselves was stored in a long and narrow room that didn’t have any windows.
There was a lot of text written in a language that Yasuo couldn’t read, and there was what looked like a portrait of a person hung up on the far side of the room.
The room had a great many displays of rusted and twisted items that must have been parts of Techno Weapons, but “that” particular exhibit had a presence that immediately caught the attention of Yasuo and the others as soon as they entered the room.
Shouko must have felt the same way.
Castor and Pollux, the standard-issue Techno Weapons of Resteria that Diana used.
Sinistra, the Techno Weapon developed by Khalija as a Meister, and Marfik.
Capella, the standard-issue Techno Weapon of the Gaz Commonwealth that Feigreid used.
The exhibit before them clearly had a different design philosophy from all the other Techno Weapons they had seen so far, causing Shouko to cower instinctively and hold her wrist.
“This… No way, this is Orion? It’s like… a little different from what I imagined.”
Shouko drew back a little after saying that with a stiff expression.
The exhibit consisted of a set of five metal rings of different sizes.
They were a belt, ankle rings, and bracelets.
If it was just that, then the set certainly resembled the shape of the flames produced by Shouko’s Shii.
However, there was one thing about them that was clearly strange.
The five rings had thick, spike-like protrusions on the inner sides that were sharpened to a fine point, and each of the spikes was thoroughly rusted to the point where it took on a dark hue.
Moreover, they were designed in such a way that the spikes would definitely pierce the flesh of the wearer if they were worn around the limbs and waist.
“This feels really creepy.”
Shouko started to rub her wrists with a stiff expression on her face.
Feigreid started to explain while making sure to not take his eyes off Shouko.
“Destroyer of Armies, Orion. The oldest Techno Weapon. At the time, there were no mechanisms to transmit magic from the wielder to the Techno Weapon through skin contact as we have now.”
Yasuo, who had held a Techno Weapon before, felt thankful for the progress of technology and shuddered slightly at the thought of having to equip something like this on his own body.
“So they stabbed things like this into their bodies!? I-In five places, no less! Besides, how did they take a bath and stuff with these things stuck in their bodies?”
“I guess they never took them off?”
Feigreid answered casually, causing Yasuo to unconsciously grit his teeth.
“This is what I think it is, right? The reason why the spikes are black and rusted is because…”
“It’s probably blood. No matter how you think about it.”
“You didn’t have to say it aloud.”
Yasuo, who had been looking closely at Orion while furrowing his eyebrows sighed wearily after hearing Shouko’s straightforward response.
“I mean, there’s no point trying to cover it up, right? Considering the Shii inside me, we need to get a clear grasp of every single detail about this original piece that is in front of us.”
“……Shouko, you don’t need to strain yourself so much, okay?”
If anything, it looked like Diana was more worried about Shouko’s sensitivity.
“I’m fine. We can’t see this anywhere else, right? Then we need to get a good look at it while we’re here.”
However, it looked like Shouko was the most pragmatic among them. Even though she drew back in the beginning, she now approached the five rings and was looking at them closely.
The five rings behind the sturdy glass case must have had a bright sheen at one point, but now they had a dull golden color.
The surface of the rings had a large number of densely-arranged patterns carved into them.
“Do these patterns have some sort of magical significance?”
“Probably. I had a look inside Diana’s Castor back when Khalija-san was repairing it, and circuits inside looked similar to this.”
“But Diana-san’s and Feig-san’s Techno Weapons don’t have such a nasty design, do they? Feig-san, were there a lot of people who used this?”
“It’s the oldest Techno Weapon that was fit for practical use, after all. Among all the designs back then, I assume it was the most prolific. Still, the use of Techno Weapons was not so widespread back then, so I think it would be incomparable to the number of Techno Weapons that are in use now.”
Feigreid said that while crossing his arms and Diana nodded in agreement.
“The military job called ‘Magitech Knight’ was created quite a long time after Orion started to be used, after all. The knights who initially used Orion were not yet Magitech Knights, but they were without a doubt elite soldiers recruited from all over Baskelgarde.”
“……So even if the people who fought while wearing this weren’t spread out all over the world and numbered in the tens of thousands like you have now, there were still at least five hundred or a thousand of them?”
“I wonder if Khalija-san would know more about the history surrounding the design of such a Techno Weapon.”
Khalija Welleger, who was currently protecting the Kenzaki and Tatewaki families back in Japan was a Magitech Knight of Resteria, but she had said that she was born in the Grand Duchy of Torjesso.
Compared to ordinary craftsmen, she probably had more knowledge regarding the history of Techno Weapons from different countries.
“……Anyways. How is it? You know…”
Yasuo fearfully questioned Shouko.
At that moment, he didn’t know why he felt the “fear” in his heart and his question trailed off towards the end.
Diana and Feigreid also looked like they had been caught up in Yasuo’s fear and made a low noise in their throats while looking nervous.
However Shouko replied in an ordinary tone as though she wasn’t worried about Yasuo’s behaviour.
“Hmm… Nothing in particular. Actually, I’ve been trying a bunch of things since earlier like looking at it only though my left eye where fire is coming out from, but there doesn’t seem to be anything different.”
They had theorized that the Shii inside Shouko had once been a Magitech Knight who used the Destroyer of Armies, Orion, but even with the original Orion in front of them there was no reaction of any kind.
“If there were hundreds of people who used it, then the chances that the Orion in front of us is the same one that my Shii used are very low, and even if it was the same one, that still doesn’t mean that something would happen for sure. I suppose we’ll just have to set aside the problem of my Shii for now.”
“T-That’s right. I have no idea what to do next.”
Despite saying that, it’s not like Yasuo was really looking forward to some sort of development.
He realized that he had come this far without really understanding what might happen, assuming something did in fact happen.
The Shii wouldn’t just float out of Shouko’s body like a ghostly apparition just because it was shown something that it had a connection to. That would have been far too convenient and so the thought hadn’t even occurred to him.
Even so, the Shii might have gone on a rampage, Shouko could have gotten hurt, or something else might have happened that Yasuo couldn’t even imagine.
“……What the hell, I have no idea what this means… Wait.”
He had thought that something would happen.
The other world called Ante Lande, and the magic and sorcery used by Diana and Khalija.
Just by coming to this new world, a place that people who lived ordinary lives in Japan would never encounter, he had expected that some sort of incredible supernatural phenomenon would occur to resolve Shouko’s affliction in some dramatic way. It was that sort of despicable thought.
Shouko’s affliction was already a sort of supernatural phenomenon.
So, he had one-sidedly assumed that the resolution of said affliction should also be a supernatural phenomenon.
He had assumed that the Shii inside Shouko would automatically show some kind of reaction after coming close to the Orion that it had a connection to.
“I guess I had the wrong expectation from the start.”
There was a bit of relief in his voice.
They should be happy that there were no further abnormalities occurring inside Shouko’s body.
They had originally planned to get Shouko examined in Resteria by Diana’s mother, and if that had happened they would have detected the connection with Orion at some point anyway.
However, even though they came in contact like this, there was no particular reaction from either the Shii or Orion.
Having eliminated this small possibility in advance should already be considered a significant outcome.
“What should we do next? Seeing as Orion went against our expectations, should we make plans to move to Oodem?”
“……You’re right. Now that we know that there’s nothing to be gained from Orion, I think it would be better to go over there.”
There was a faint sense of relief in Diana’s voice. Also, she intentionally emphasised the part where there was no reaction between Orion and the Shii, that probably wasn’t just Yasuo’s imagination.
As expected, even she had only realized now that Orion and Shouko’s Shii might have caused some sort of dangerous reaction.
“Man, this sucks~ I thought some sort of shadow would fly out of my body the instant I saw Orion, and the battle would start instantly.”
Shouko didn’t seem to be particularly serious, but since she basically had a prudent personality, there might be something that only she could feel.
A relieved mood settled over the party and Shouko took her eyes off Orion.
Now that he was freed from his tension, Yasuo was finally able to pay attention to the other exhibits and properly became aware of the portrait on the far side of the room.
It was a portrait of a man who looked a bit young to have his likeness preserved as an oil painting and displayed in a museum.
“That’s Elliot Higgins.”
Diana said that after noticing what Yasuo and Shouko were looking at.
“I heard about him from Colonel Khalija in the past. He is the designer of the Orion that we were just discussing.”
“Oh? I see, so he was the one.”
“Back when the remnants of Demon King Kaul’s army were being hunted down, he gathered the research that had been done so far on Orion and made it viable for practical use, thereby carving his name into the history of technological development in this world. I heard that he even had some slight interaction with my mother and Madoka.”
“Oh? I see. So this person was…. By the way, he looks pretty young in that portrait, does that mean he’s still alive?”
“Aah, I wonder… I only heard about him in passing, so I don’t know the details.”
Hearing that, Feigreid approached the portrait and looked closely at the exhibit label.
“……It appears that he has already passed away. Twenty-five years ago. So he was 38 years old at the time of death. He was quite young. I didn’t know about this either.”
Yasuo was obviously surprised.
“Did he fall ill, or get into an accident or something?”
The Techno Weapon craftsman, or rather, researcher, who had died young.
From that perspective alone, it must have been a great loss to the whole of Ante Lande where Techno Weapon development was concerned.
Yasuo muttered that under his breath as if he was some famous person from the history books.
“……He was killed.”
And so he had not expected to receive an answer, much less that the answer would come from Shouko’s mouth.
“……Huh? What is it?”
Yasuo unconsciously turned around to look at her, but Shouko blinked as though she was startled and questioned him in return.
“What was that now, all of a sudden?”
“What do you mean, all of a sudden? Yasu-kun, what’s wrong?”
“Shouko, you just said that Mr. Elliot was ‘killed’…”
Diana also looked perplexed after hearing what Shouko had spoken in a low voice.
“Diana-san, too? I didn’t say anything yet……”
Shouko herself rebutted that fact in earnest, but,
“Elliot was killed…. Eh?”
Shouko’s mouth betrayed her intent.
The abnormality occurred an instant later.
The flame in her left eye instantly grew to a massive size.
Shouko immediately groaned in pain and pressed her hand against her left eye. However, the flames grew to a size that couldn’t be suppressed by just her hand, grew high enough to lick the ceiling of the exhibit room, and even started to whirl around as though attempting to cover the whole of Shouko’s body.
Yasuo ran to Shouko’s side.
That was because the whirling flames looked a lot like the flames that heralded the appearance of a Shii.
And then, as if confirming that impression, Shouko’s body began to sink into those black flames!
“Tatewaki-san! Grab my hand!”
Yasuo grabbed Shouko’s hand and tried to pull her out of the flames, but her feet didn’t move an inch.
Not only that, she didn’t even look at Yasuo who was holding her hand.
“Y-Yasu-kun… N-No, I… can’t see anything… Where are you, Yasu-kun!!”
“I’m right here! Tatewaki-san, can you hear me!? I’m right next to you!!”
Yasuo put his arm around Shouko’s shoulder, but even that didn’t cause the flames to subside.
Until now, the flames had reduced in size to a mere flicker under her eyelid if he so much as held her hand, but no matter how strongly he hugged her now, they showed no signs of abating.
Not only that, the flames grew even larger and started to suck Yasuo in as well.
Diana and Feigreid tried to pull the two of them out of the flames, but they couldn’t move Shouko an inch even with the strength of two Magitech Knights. Not just that, the flames started to envelop all four of them.
“Ugh… So cold… What is this…!?”
A chill that gave off an offensive smell.
Yasuo shivered within the black flames that could only be described in that fashion.
“Ugh…!! Why can’t I… What the heck is this! T-Tatewaki-san!?”
Yasuo noticed something.
He could feel the sensation of gripping Shouko’s hand.
But Shouko’s face that he was hugging close to his body was slowly fading away and starting to become invisible.
“W-Where are they!? Major Krone! Where are Yasuo and Shouko!?”
Inside the whirling black flames, Diana and Feigreid started to slowly disappear from his sight.
“Yasu-kun! This is… not a reaction to Orion…! Ugh…Aaahh!!”
Even Shouko who was still in his embrace started to disappear, and despite that, she took her hand off her left eye and pointed directly ahead.
“It’s that painting……! The one of Elliot-san…!”
Wrapped inside the flames, Yasuo couldn’t even clearly see if the painting was still there.
Just as his vision was about to be completely trapped inside the black flames, Shouko whispered in a faint voice that was on the verge of disappearing.
The next instant, Shouko’s warmth vanished from within Yasuo’s arms. Yasuo’s consciousness was also swallowed up by the flames and he blacked out.