“Alright, time to get rid of the evidence.”
Lily, Iris and Serena were standing outside the cottage. They had left the man’s corpse inside, and the smell of blood and excrement was quickly filling up the area. Lily turned to Serena.
“Sure. How do you propose we do that?”
Serena levelled a half-lidded gaze at Lily.
“We burn it, of course. I have a couple barrels of oil prepared on the other side of the cottage. So we just drench it and burn it. Help me out, would you?”
She started walking towards the back of the house. Lily glanced at Iris, who blinked quizically in return. Here Lily was presented with a choice. They could either follow Serena’s suggestion and help her douse the cottage in oil, or she could take the opportunity to show the guildmaster that she was not easy prey. The second option was naturally far more appealing.
Therefore, she ran up to Serena and placed a metal hand on the woman’s shoulder, stopping her. Without turning, Serena tilted her head back and glared at Lily.
“Don’t bother. We have a faster way.”
The guildmaster turned to face Lily, dubious. She carefully scrutinised Lily’s face, trying to discern the girl’s intention, but Lily’s face remained stoic, betraying nothing. Serena blinked a few times, contemplating. Then she sighed and shook her head, waving at the two to carry on with whatever they intended. Beneath her veneer of resignation, however, ran an undercurrent of excitement. She was extremely interested in seeing the girls’ true capabilities. They had, after all, single-handedly eliminated a fortress filled with grown, armed men.
Lily turned to Iris and bent down to whisper in her ear.
“Hey, Iris. Can you do the giant flash of magic thing the Warden used back in that other world?”
“Uhhhhh… I haven’t tried, but…”
Lily heard faint whirring as Iris performed the calculations.
“…I should be able to output about 70% of that without trouble. Any more and I’ll need time to absorb MANA.”
Lily thought back to the sheer, intense heat of the blast that had seared off her arm and sweatdropped.
“…Yeah, 70% should be way more than enough. Can you jump to position yourself over the cottage?”
At this, Iris’ eyes lit up. She knew what Lily intended. She giggled as she replied.
“Uh, the numbers check out, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Alright! Let’s go with that.”
Lily stepped away from Iris, ending their conference. She strode over to Serena, who was watching the quiet exchange with an expression equal parts bemusement and impatience.
“Alright Miss Serena, now we need to get very far away.”
“Just follow me.”
Lily grabbed hold of Serena’s hand and walked deeper into the forest, dragging the guildmaster along, creating some good distance between herself and the cottage, but remaining within the field of Iris’ inhuman vision. Serena, who at this point had decided to just go with the flow, silently complied. Confirming they were a safe distance away, Lily gave a thumbs up to Iris, who nodded. Intrigued, Serena leaned against a tree trunk, watching Iris for anything special.
Then Iris bent low, and jumped straight up.
“Wha- Where- How?!?!”
The Iris who suddenly appeared high over the cottage caused Serena to become incoherent with doubt, as she struggled to comprehend and accept the impossible act that Iris had just committed in front of her. Her mouth opened and closed repeatedly. She blinked rapidly, rubbed her eyes and looked again, confirming that Iris was still suspended midair, reaching the peak of her jump. Then, just as she regained some of her composure and was about to question Lily about their identities…
The world flashed red.
A huge pillar of red light enveloped the cottage, searing it away. It’s origin: the airborne Iris’ right arm, which had transformed into a rotating metallic cylinder. Serena could only stare wordlessly as the light slowly faded away, revealing a huge crater in the ground, where the cottage had once stood. No trace remained of the building, or of the corpse which had been entombed within. Iris softly landed in the centre of this crater, arms reverted to normal, and ran over to Lily, looking up at her expectantly. Lily glanced at her, then her lips crinkled into a smile as she reached over and pat Iris on the head.
“Sometimes I think I spoil you too much.”
Lily laughed and walked over to the crater, picking up a large-sized rock from near a tree root and casually tossing it into the centre. Now they could pass off the thing as a meteor strike. Then she started casually strolling in the direction of the main road, leaving Iris and Serena to follow behind. Iris naturally tottered after Lily immediately, but Serena was frozen to the spot, mouth agape, eyes fixated on the crater in the ground. Closer scrutiny would reveal slight tremors running up her legs. If she weren’t leaning against a tree, she would have collapsed by now.
Finally, she recovered enough to close her mouth, push herself away from the tree and stand up, regarding Lily and Iris with a new kind of gaze. She staggered after them, following them to the main road. Unable to contain herself, she quietly muttered her thoughts.
“…You two are ridiculous. Who are you people.”
Iris, with enhanced hearing, and Lily, with her Probe, naturally both clearly heard this statement, which caused them to chuckle even as they walked. As they were about to reach the edge of the clearing, Lily turned back and regarded Serena. It took a large degree of self-control for the guildmaster to stop herself from flinching, and even then her blinking sped up rapidly.
“To answer your question, I’m Lily and she’s my sister Iris.”
Lily gave this infuriating answer, which caused Serena to glare at them despite herself. Laughing, Lily gave her a wink.
“Those are our names, but if you’d like, feel free to call us ‘monsters’.”
Lily glanced over at Iris and shared a smile, but it quickly turned into a frown as she regarded Iris’ bloodstained dress. She again spoke to Serena.
“By the way, do you have a change of clothes? As I thought, red’s really not her colour. Too jarring.”
While she had previously blinked furiously out of a desire to hide her fear, Serena now blinked in confusion as her mind desperately tried to keep up with the sudden change of topic. Numerous imaginary mental acrobatic acts later, she finally comprehended the content of Lily’s request, and she burst into laughter, genuine laughter, at Lily’s horrible timing.
As Serena doubled over from laughing too hard, wiping the tears from the corners of her eye, Lily simply continued waiting for her response, with the same calm expression. Next to her, Iris stood and watched Serena’s laughter, her head tilted quizically to the side. Then Lily started laughing, realising how strange her own request must have sounded. Iris knew not why the other two were laughing, but seeing Lily’s laughter, she too activated her humor function, joining in the laughter.
And like that, amidst the pitch darkness of the night, the three girls laughed in celebration of a successful job.