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C346 - Record (4)
"Isn't it the Solderet device? What on earth does that mean?"
It was a question Jin had never considered. If it's not from Solderet, who could have used Shadow Energy to create the recording device?
"That's exactly what I said. This recording device is entirely made of Shadow Energy, but it's not something created by Solderet. There's an indescribably malevolent force inside the device. It nearly contaminated my mind."
Valeria took a deep breath.
What surprised her was that for a moment, as she stared at the pearl, the "Shadow Malevolent Energy" inside the apparatus seemed to be pointing toward her.
"You were nearly contaminated in your mind?"
Jin felt uneasy about Valeria's response.
The Valeria he knew was not one to simply dismiss such situations as mere "mistakes" and move on easily.
'Darn it, I never thought checking this recording device would harm my master.'
And to make matters worse, it's not even the Solderet device.
Amidst the confusion, Valeria's eyes turned cold like ice.
"Jin Runcandel, in these circ.u.mstances, it's natural for me to doubt you."
In his past life, she wouldn't have had to doubt Jin. But in her current life, Jin and Valeria were not yet as closely connected.
"It almost seemed like it was trying to attack you using the Pearl."
"Like you, a Runcandel, trying to capture me, that only increases suspicions."
Defending his innocence wasn't going to help clear Valeria's misunderstanding.
'If I lose my master's trust now, we might not see each other again for several years. Or maybe she'll cut all contact with me until she's captured by Runcandel or Zipple.'
Valeria was someone who could very well do that.
'But maybe because my master is still young, she still has some confidence in me, or maybe the situation is just helping me. Or she doesn't doubt me for sure.'
It would probably be the third possibility.
Valeria still has the Shadow Energy Pearl Jin entrusted her with at the beginning, and she probably thought Jin wouldn't know its hiding place.
"Well, that might be true. I understand. If I say I wasn't involved here, it will only increase distrust between us."
"You know it well."
"Of course, claiming the attack you received was a mental contamination is rather abstract damage. Besides, one of my recording devices is in your possession, and you are someone I need. But there's still a possibility that it attacked you. Right? Furthermore, if it's mental contamination, it could be the ancient dark magic that has now disappeared."
As Jin spoke, Valeria shrugged.
"Well, you can think that way. I understand. But that doesn't mean I'll overlook the fact that it might not be you."
"If there's something you want to confirm, go ahead and do it. If possible, I'll cooperate."
"You don't need to cooperate, so don't worry. I'll check it myself. Let's go somewhere else for now."
"A while ago, you said this place can only be seen from the kitchen and refused to move. If you need a secluded place, how about going to Sir Kas.h.i.+mir's mansion?"
"Follow me. Confirmation won't take long."
Valeria got up from her seat.
As Jin stood up to follow her, she stopped as if she had forgotten something and picked up something from the dining table. They were two pieces of special cookies made by Latrie.
She carefully wrapped the cookies and put them in the pocket of her robe.
Jin couldn't help but suppress a smile at that.
'Does my young master have a cute side, or are Latrie's cookies like drugs? It's the first time I've seen my master care about food when it's not a fleeing situation.'
Jin followed Valeria to Latrie's snack shop.
It seemed like she had already been here several times as she knew the streets well.
They walked for a while, took a carriage halfway, and walked again until they reached a cliff at the edge of the island.
Below, there was a makes.h.i.+ft small boat that Valeria had arrived in.
"...So you didn't officially enter the Free City but infiltrated it?"
"Given the circ.u.mstances."
"Anyway, why is this city called the Free City? It's a cozy place unless you're a serious criminal. Hardly anyone here can recognize you apart from my colleagues and me," Jin said in frustration.
Even in the "Free City," his young master had to hide and sneak around. It was a lamentable life.
"I know that too. But I feel more comfortable this way. Let's get on the boat."
Valeria jumped from the cliff.
Although it was a height that could lead to death if landed poorly, Jin had seen her do it several times in her past life, so it wasn't that surprising.
Just before landing, she used her mana to create a gust of wind to cus.h.i.+on the impact and landed softly on the boat. Jin followed her off the cliff and onto the small makes.h.i.+ft boat, which was quite narrow with the two of them aboard. They were practically shoulder to shoulder.
"Even the upper cliff was quite secluded. Did we really have to get to such a tight s.p.a.ce? How did you navigate a boat like this to get here?"
"It's better to be as secure as possible."
With a smooth motion, Valeria moved her wooden staff (which had also been dyed with the black dye of the Peng Clan). It was as if she was steering the boat.
Suddenly, the seawater near the boat stirred and froze, forming a semispherical ice barrier that completely enclosed the boat. The ice was so thick that sunlight couldn't penetrate it.
Tang! Valeria's touch made a blue magical light bloom like a lantern.
Regardless of the situation, the scene of the boat wrapped in ice and the two of them inside looked like a meticulously painted picture.
"Jin Runcandel, I'm now going to read your records."
Naturally, Jin had antic.i.p.ated that Valeria would do this. However, he didn't show it on the surface.
"You're going to read my records. It sounds quite dangerous. Can you explain it?"
"Perhaps it's easier to understand if I say I'm going to examine your memories. Strictly speaking, it's slightly different but similar."
"So, what you mean is you're going to read my memories to confirm whether I intended to harm you. Is that correct?"
"Alright. But there are two conditions."
"First, I don't know to what extent you can read memories, but I hope you'll respect my privacy."
"Believe it or not, directly reading someone's records is a rather challenging task. It's different from reading the records left by a person's traces or objects. It's also challenging to find irrelevant memories."
Jin was aware of this. Not even his twenty-five-year-old teacher could read all of Jin's records.
"Second, if it's proven that I had no ill intentions toward you, then from now on, cooperate more with me. To be honest, if you're willing to go this far, I think creating some trust won't be a problem."
Surprisingly, Valeria simply nodded.
"Agreed. Then, extend your hand."
Jin complied with Valeria's request.
Then, she closed her eyes and placed her hand, wrapped in the characteristic blue mana of the disk magic, on top of Jin's.
At that moment, Valeria was completely defenseless.
'This is the most vulnerable moment for my master.'
By unleas.h.i.+ng the record magic to the maximum, Valeria couldn't do anything else.
'Maybe she's showing this vulnerability so easily because she thinks I don't know it. Or perhaps she trusted me from the beginning.'
Slowly, Jin's records as a human began to seep into Valeria's mind.
Jin watched closely, waiting for the magic to finish.
'Young Jin Runcandel? From what time is this record? Focus, I only need to look at events from the past few days.'
Directly peering into someone's records wasn't something that could be easily controlled. It was inevitable to see some records that didn't need confirmation.
'This is strange, isn't it? Wait a minute... feeling embarra.s.sed at one year old?'
It was a rather odd scene.
Was it possible for someone to feel such emotions at the age of one? No one would feel embarra.s.sed when having their diapers changed, whoever it was.
'Maybe it's a bit exaggerated to consider him an extraordinary person from birth. Let's keep watching. But who is this woman? Leuth Damiro Yul...?'
It was a vivid memory. Valeria found herself strangely drawn to Leuth's unusual red hair, the same color as her own.
'Forgotten Fairy Race?'
Her magic was reaching its limit. Valeria began to breathe heavily, and Jin looked at her with anxious eyes.
It seemed there was no need to confirm anything further. So, as Valeria tried to stop the record magic, she suddenly encountered a type of record she had never seen before, something entirely unknown.
Unlike the other ordinary records she had just examined, this one conveyed an indescribably strange sensation.
A sharp headache struck her as if blades had pierced her mind.
At the same time, an unbearable curiosity and the idea that perhaps she wouldn't have another chance to confirm that record about Jin crossed her mind.
"Aria Owlheart, are you okay?"
Blood was dripping from Valeria's mouth and nose.
She was never one to succ.u.mb to mana backlash, but examining records was always a taxing task. Especially if it continued when halted at a moment like this, it could be dangerous even for Valeria.
'Just a little more, just a bit...!'
Now, blood was flowing from her eyes and ears too. If this continued, she might soon fall into the final stage of backlash.
Valeria stumbled forward, coughing up blood.
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