The Playboy’s Hellish Dance
He has to be lying.
Tamiwa… There’s no reason a cleaner from that sect would reveal himself like that, what’s more, his conversation with Mills wouldn’t make sense.
There’s no doubt this guy’s actually an assassin from the Church of Monte. Billie Jean must be a fake name as well.
He must be under instructions from one of the higher-ups in the Monte faith to let all the blame fall on the Tamiwa sect. Since he’s faking his identity, Billie Jean must be able to act however he wants.
Then, Mills (who I guess wasn’t that important to the church) was killed to keep her mouth shut?
Billie Jean said he’d torture me. Like Mills, he must be after information about the Demon King.
Fine, then. If that’s how it’s gonna be,
“――This guy’s a real enemy. He’s strong, so get ready.”
“I got it, nya!”
Both of them called back straight away.
“This time, I’ll fight up front. You two, support me.”
I walked past Tina’s shield to confront the masked man calling himself Jean. With my left hand, I raised my hat and shook it as a greeting.
“You seem to know me already, but I’ll still take the trouble of introducing myself. I’m the former jester, Dylan Albertini. But now, I’ve changed my job to a priest… Therefore.”
I showed him the longsword in my right hand. Starting from the tip, I slid the entire blade into my hat until it could no longer be seen. When I pulled out my right hand, it gripped nothing. Of course, it was a magic trick.
The masked man’s eyes narrowed as thin as a thread. It almost seemed like he laughed.
“Billie Jean. I know what you want me to tell you. About the Demon King, right? I just told Mills a little while ago, but is there any reason to tell you again, since you’re from the same faith?”
“Didn’t you hear me? I’m a Tamiwan.”
“Oops, my bad. Well, either way, it’s all the same. I don’t want to be tortured. If I tell you everything here, can we just go our separate ways?”
“Sorry, but that’s not happening. I’m here to see your magic tricks, after all.”
“I don’t do magic tricks. Just regular magic. No magical tools, no sleight of hand.”
“You can still use the skills from your original job, right? All your little adventurer gimmicks…”
――This guy, is he…?
I put my hat back on and asked him.
“Just for future reference, what might your job be?”
Even if he’s wearing a mask, it’s like I could see his malicious grin clearly as he laughed at me.
――Here he comes!
As soon as Jean took his first step, I was already motioning with my right hand.
Jean didn’t approach straight from the front, dashing to the left and the right as he got closer and closer. Too fast. My eyes couldn’t keep up and it was like there were three people in front of me. 一Jean’s right hand moved. A throwing knife flew out.
I blocked it with the palm of my right hand. The knife impaled it, but I grimaced through the pain.
――As I expected.
Then, spinning around with the momentum of the blow, my right hand flew off my wrist towards him…
This time it was Jean who was astonished. My rocket punch (I didn’t name it, so please don’t get mad at me. Apparently it takes its name from fireworks) was dodged by him, but he didn’t understand its real intention.
My right hand exploded in spectacular fashion.
Of course, it’s a magic trick. When I was returning the sword to my hat earlier, I was replacing my right hand with this.
The explosion knocks Jean off balance a little in the middle of his dash. Just a little. The magic tricks of the jester sure are flashy, but they lack power. But, that opening is just enough.
A click of the fingers from my right hand echoed through the clearing and I pulled Night Watch out of thin air. Then, as I pointed the tip of the longsword at Jean,
A hail of cards fell from on high.
They covered Jean completely. The longsword I’m holding is a fake. As I was hiding behind Tina’s shield, I had thrown a single card into the air. And that one card I had swapped with ‘a bag full of playing cards’ from my storage. Although it was a pretty technical trick, it paid off.
After Jean lost all his visibility because of the thick rain of cards, Tina charged into him.
When I said I was going to ‘fight up front’ before, I was actually giving the other two signals. So, I lied. Sorry about that.
Tina the tank rushed into the swirl of cards using her shield to cover herself. Her opponent might be over level 50 so any damage she might take could be serious. But right now, Tina is experienced enough that if there’s an attack that could pierce through her shield, she’ll be able to avoid it.
That’s why Nyannyan plunged in right behind Tina’s shield at the same time. There’s no way the enemy can see her and by the time he does notice, it’ll be too late. I’m supporting them from the rear as well.
Even if he somehow managed to avoid both Tina and Nyannyan’s attacks, I’ll finish him off when he’s out of position.
The battle was won as soon as it was three on one.
――Or, that’s how it should have been.
Those thin eyes laughed. Jean made a strange sign with his hands in front of his chest.
It was like his true body suddenly sunk into the floor.
Tina’s great shield smashed into Jean. With an almighty crash, the enemy’s body splintered. But, it wasn’t a real body, it was just a wooden dummy wrapped in his clothes.
Somehow, Jean’s body was transformed into a log before her charge reached him.
――How did he do that so quickly!?
What’s worse, that log transformed into a net as it splintered, covering both Tina and Nyannyan who had charged in, bringing them to the ground. I looked for our enemy.
It was only through intuition that I managed to dodge the short sword thrust at my back.
With my life on the line, it was like the entire scene in front of my eyes slowed to a crawl.
My body’s posture turned to jelly as I leaned backwards, it was as if I was flowing water.
I saw that short sword pass a hair’s breadth over my nose.
As he flew over the top of me with the momentum of the thrust, Jean laughed. His thin eyes and mine caught each other.
Then, I saw the massive scroll held in his left hand.
Skills of subterfuge that even rivaled mine, a true jester’s.
There’s no doubt, this guy is…
It’s not an adventurer’s job. So that means, this guy really isn’t an adventurer…!
So this is why he seemed so strange earlier! An assassin who has gained super human abilities without the use of Babel’s goddess… That’s a ninja!
They don’t use any magic――
“Ninja Technique… Prison Gate Barrier…”
Jean unfurled the scrolled and made a sign with his hands.
I heard a sound from where Tina and Nyannyan had fallen behind me.
My body moved on instinct and threw my silk hat towards them, but they weren’t there anymore.
The next moment, all I could see was darkness.
◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆
When I came to, I realized I was kneeling on hard ground.
――I’m dead? No, I think I’m still alive?
My body responded to me and I could still breathe. I could still feel the skills of my job at my fingertips and magical power coursing through me.
But when I stood up and looked around, it was like an image of hell.
I was surrounded by hard and jagged rock. The sky is dark, the silence only broken by occasional roars of thunder. I couldn’t see the moon either.
There were several shelves stacked in front of me and on the top-most one was a severed head.
Human heads are lined on the shelves as if they were a decoration.
A macabre display.
The four people I saw first were familiar. They were the party we helped earlier.
I couldn’t see Nyannyan’s or Tina’s heads.
Using both a jester’s skills and the great sage’s ability to deeply understand magic, I tried to break the illusion, but I couldn’t do anything.
――Is it not an illusion?
I didn’t get the sense that teleporation crystals or magic had been used. And it wasn’t as if I recognized anything that placed me outside of Babel.
Then, this is some kind of ninja technique.
A strange world with gruesome decorations. Like heads on a spike hoisted up in front of a prison’s gate… I get it now.
I heard footsteps behind me.
Turning around, I saw a number of skeletons wielding large scythes. I can’t see any end to their numbers. And more keep clawing their way out of the ground.
I looked back at the exposed heads. It’s as if I’m going to become one of them. Didn’t he say something about torture before? Oh, maybe he wants to torture me after I’m just a head?
I don’t know how to escape. I don’t have any allies either. There’s an infinite number of enemies.
Honestly, what a mess.
I took out a new hat using a magic trick. I turned it skyward in my palm. And something flew straight into the air from the depths of the hat.
――So, I can still use some tricks?
After the firework had splashed colour across that grey scene, I donned my hat and pulled out Night Watch.
As three of the skeletons approached me with their eerie laughter, I cut one of them down.
Using the momentum of the swing, I spun four times on the spot. Four bands of light sprung up around me, through which I made contact with the spirit realm.
“Ho ho? You have invited me somewhere quite fascinating once again.”
“Oh my. What a stage you’ve set, jester.”
“Wind Spirit, match my movements.”
“I should be asking you to keep up with me, sparky?”
As Ifrit and Sylph manifested out of the air behind me and began bickering, I twirled night watch like a baton.
“Follow the conductor’s instruction, you two! ――One, two…!”
At my command, the two spirits unleashed a firestorm that engulfed that place.
However, those monsters that are turned to cinders are just replaced by new ones springing from the earth.
“You’ll be my dance partners until the ends of the earth, then!?”
In front of those decrepit skeletons, I struck a pose.
“Alrighty then, you walking dead! The legendary jester Dylan is gonna throw an outdoor performance for the ages, let’s make sure it’s one your eye sockets will never forget!”
I met the skeletons who rushed at me. As I spun with my blade, using the spirits to keep the majority of their number at bay, I tried to think of an escape method.
――Wait for me, Tina, Nyannyan!
In that hellscape, I danced on.