Chapter 29 – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic
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20, October, Year 2021

19:00, No Good Apartment

 

Being a VTuber doesn’t suck!

Well, at least not that much.

While my viewers’ number still hovers around one and two digits, it is still very impressive. After all, how many channels that doesn’t even have a single viewer?

To have a two-digits viewer… is like an achievement of life in itself. Not only that, I even make some money… a solid amount of money at that!

With this, I should be able to tell my family what I was doing the entire time, right?

Right?

Wrong!!

Just think of it...

“Oh, hey mom. Recently, I have just started streaming as a character on the internet with the appearance of an old man. Not only it is very fun as I get to play with many children having weird fantasies. This girl even gives me this MUCH money.”

Wow.

Wow… NOT!

As if I could tell her that!

Sigh…

It looks like I have to do something. I have to change my stream to become something more reputable than before.

That doesn’t sound too hard… right?

With that thought in mind, I start today’s stream.

It is just a simple chatting stream. Everything is going as always, and all the viewers are the regulars.

Come at me, then.

The next question… I will treat the next question as normal question no matter what!

“The next question shall be the last. Ask whatever on your mind.”

Ding!

The notification comes in the instant I finish my word. It looks like the questioner is waiting for this exact moment.

Excellent. You will be my target tonight then.

Come. Do your worst.

[Greetings, great sage Khun.

The fall has already begun in full swing. At my school, the weather starts to become somewhat cold recently. Is it the same at your place, sage?

Today, I would like to ask you for another question.

Because of the incident about Elnora before, we have collected some more weird rumors in school. And we found some unsettling stories floating around in my school.

One of them especially catches our attention, sage. Its name is the never-ending corridor.

The story goes on like this…

At night, some people reported becoming lost in the school’s corridor that they are familiar with. They said that no matter how much they walk, they never reach their destination. Not only that, some even sense something from an empty classroom, sage.

Something was smiling at them from the darkness.

Isn’t this somewhat interesting, sage? Is this the work of illusion magic? Or perhaps... is it the work of demons again? Wilson has already tried looking into it, but he found nothing. Do you have any way to proceed with the investigation, sage?

Thank you for your kind work as always, great sage.

LittleSnow]

It is you again!?

It looks like this mortal enemy of me really wants to beat me down, huh?

And aren’t your question different compared to before, LittleSnow? Are you trying to move into a new genre now, LittleSnow? Are we no longer in the fantasy genre? Well, I guess this is technically a fantasy… but…

No… I will change my fate today. I will not let you sway me around anymore. But what should I answer in this situation?

Is "it is just some stupid legend in your school" acceptable?

Probably not.

I have to think of something more believable.

Not only that, it has to be very scientific if possible. That way, she will not be able to run away from harsh reality anymore. After all, who wouldn’t believe in science. We live in a scientific era, after all.

...

This is hard, isn't it?

“How about you tell me more about that first, child?”

For now, let’s just stall for more time, I guess…

 

 


15, Month Fall-Amberine, Year Elizabeth 402

23:30, Elizabeth Magic Academy

 

It was a serene night.

The sky was clear, and the moon was in full circle. Moonlight reflected on the white floor of the corridor, creating a dreamy scenery.

So beautiful. Tilea Sasha thought that while walking back to her room.

Today, she was running significantly behind her usual schedule as she got lost reading a book in the library. Normally, she should have arrived in her room, rolling around on her comfortable bed already.

But, this is really cold, isn’t it? Tilea thought while her body shivered.

As the fall was already in full motion—and it was already late at night—the air was somewhat icy. It was still not at the level of “uncomfortably freezing” yet, but—for the girl at Tilea’s age—it was cold enough. And unlucky for her, Tilea actually lost her coat earlier today. So, she was left with just a scarf and a thin white school uniform to protect against the cold.

Tilea contemplated whether or not she should just run back but decides not to in the end. There was a rule against running in the building, after all. While there wasn’t any teacher in sight right now, Tilea still felt guilty if she had to break the rule for her own convenience. After all, the fact that she ended up like this was because of her own doing in the first place.

The girl continued walking, glancing out of the windows and the empty classrooms which were all new sights for her. This place was always full of noise in the day. So, the silence of the night created a whole new experience for her.

It was as if she stepped into a new place that she hadn’t been before her entire life. It felt faintly familiar, yet distant.

“But it sure is cold…” Tilea talked to herself while rubbing her hand together. It was so cold that she could see her own breath. She tried to tug more in her scarf to counteract the cold, but… It still wasn’t enough. The girl shivered slightly as the wind blew.

Wait… is it always this cold?

Tilea’s back felt cold. It was not the same cold of the weather, but something different. Something is wrong. Something is definitely wrong. An alarm rang in her head.

Tilea passed her own classroom and couldn’t help but wanted to take a look inside. But in the end, she shook her head. She decided not to. The weird atmosphere made her somewhat scared. The girl felt as if there would be something there that she shouldn’t see.

Tok… Tok…

The sounds of her footsteps were, oddly, the only sound in the corridor. Are nights at school always this quiet? Questions like this appeared in her mind, but there was no one to answer her.

Tok.. Tok.. Tok.. Tok..

Tilea felt like she wanted to turn back in time and bashed herself who got lost in some romance novel. Why don’t you just go back? You could just borrow it. She berated herself. But it was all too late now.

Then, the girl felt that something wasn’t right.

T… The footsteps are... faster…?

Tok.. Tok.. Tok.. Tok..

Tilea gulped.

Was it because Tilea wanted to hurry to her room that she subconsciously increased her pace? No. She was walking at the same speed as before.

Tilea paused. Her foot stopped. And the sound also stopped.

She slowly turned back, glancing behind with the corner of her eyes.

But there was nothing.

The corridor was quiet and desolate. There was nothing there. There was no one there. No… What am I thinking? Why did I think that there was someone there? Tilea shook her head.

She began walking again, this time slightly quicker than before.

Tok… Tok… Tok.. Tok.. Tok. Tok.

No! It wasn’t just my imagination. The footstep definitely increases No... There is another set mixed in.

The hair on the back of her stood on end. Tilea felt as if her body became frozen.

Someone, or something, was imitating her step…

At that moment, Tilea threw all the rules to the back of her mind. She started running to her room. It was so fast that she hadn’t run this fast in her life before. She just ran and ran. Not daring to even look back.

The sound of her running—the footsteps—echoed in the corridor.

And now she was sure.

There was really another set of a footstep other than her own.

Other than her—

 

There was someone else.

 

Who are you?

Why aren’t you saying anything?

What do you want?

Questions like that float in her mind, but Tilea didn’t actually want to know. She only knew one thing. She had to get out of here. Fast.

The girl continued to run.

She just ran. It felt like it was hours, but it was probably about ten minutes.

Tilea felt her breath was running out. Her lungs needed more air. She couldn’t continue anymore. She had to stop. Soon. Why is this hallway so long? Tilea thought to herself and—

—Something flashed in her mind.

Ten minutes… That was too long, wasn’t it?

How much could a human run for ten minutes? Was it really possible that this hallway was this long?

It was only then that the corner of her eyes caught a glimpse of something. To her right. There was something to her right.

“…!”

But… That isn’t possible!

To her right, it was her classroom.

Her own classroom. The room that she should have already passed.

She. Should. Have. Already. Passed. It.

And now, when she looked in her classroom direction, Something there had drawn her attention.

There was something in the room, like a shadow.

When it sensed the girl’s gaze, it turned its head toward her slowly.

But there was no face.

It had no eyes. It had no mouth. No nose. Nothing. There was nothing on its face. Just pale smooth skin.

There were no eyes, but it was staring at her.

There was no mouth, but it was smiling.

It was smiling at her.

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