Professor Samantha’s Appraisal (1)

“Magic… leaves a residue.”

Perhaps lacking oxygen, her breathing grew rough as Samantha moved her purple lips.

“As a matter of fact, in our world, that we call magic is still an elusive unknown territory… borrowing the words of the faithful, magic is a grace given to us by god, apparently.”

… Fuu, tires, she let out a painstaking grumble.

Even so, from her mindset as a pro researcher, she lifted her hair, and continued on with a sigh mingled in.

“All we can study is the principle and rules of magic. Even if we know how to use magic, we can’t answer what it is.”

“Meaning you don’t know anything?”

Giving up making my way through the messy lab, I leaned my back against a wall and asked.
“Isn’t it dangerous for such a thing to be used as a daily commodity?”

“If that’s how you want to put it, using electrical appliances is dangerous, and riding airplanes is dangerous as well.”

She answered my question without any stagnation. Perhaps she had been asked the same thing before.

“Even when humanity knows electricity flows from positive to negative, we can’t answer what it is and where it came from. Even if we know how to get an airplane in the air, when you really get down to it, we don’t know the specific reason that mass of iron flies.”

“Eh?”

Jessica’s face stiffened. Come to think of it, she had just ridden an airplane yesterday, that girl.

“The laws of physics are extremely simple and clear,” without showing any interest in Jessica’s surprise, Samantha continued on. “But why do those laws work? That reason is still a mystery. Call it science, but there are still plenty of fields left in the dark.”

“When we know the principle behind how a hard disk records information, why can a person’s cells store it as well? The mechanics of memory are rife with mystery. The darkness of the human body is a deep one. Magic is even darker, and more mysterious… magic is the occult, a hidden science.”

Samantha touched her mouth to the beaker. The black liquid flowed from her purple lips to the depths of her throat.

Once it was emptied again, she refilled it. When her face was deathly ill looking as it was, just how much did she like coffee?

“Magic parsing is currently the sole scientific means of cleaning up that occult realm. There are many things we can learn by it. In specific circumstance, through magic parsing… well, first off, we can tell if matters can be explained with modern science, or it was a phenomenon tied to magic.”

“That means…” means what? I didn’t really know what I was supposed to ask.

Narrowing her eyes with deep bags, Chief Researcher Samantha continued on. “Even if a magical phenomenon did occur, there’s no guarantee it was brought about by magic.”

She moved her eyes, and looked at Jessica as she spoke.

“For example, the sword that young lady over there has. From what I can see, it’s a flame sword flamberge, but…”

“Heh… oh me? Ehehehe, what could it be?”

Surprised at suddenly being nominated, Jessica’s half-asleep eyes snapped open as she straightener her spine.

“That’s a scam weapon that was popular around five years ago. That sword definitely can’t burn anything, so don’t rely on its power too much.”

“E-eh!? That’s got to be a lie, I mean, I mean I saw it! Mr. Legendary Magic Swordsman used this sword to burn through a whole tree!”

“That is a classic case of fraud.”

She sipped her coffee some more. Perhaps to cut this conversation part-way, and to give her body a bit of rest, it was a performance she was putting on.

“I’m only guessing here, but that burnt tree wasn’t something growing in the forest, but something that had been felled, right?”

“Well… yes.”

“Truth is, around five years ago, a certain scam became popular. It was called the, ‘yes it burns’ scam.”

I hadn’t any idea what to say. That name was likely tacked on by someone in the national police agency, but how should I put it, they were clearly expressing how stupid it was.

“The trick behind the ‘yes it burns’ scam is extremely simply. First you prepare a huge log stuffed with gunpowder. You place it somewhere with lots of people, and cut at it with a completely ordinary sword. The log bursts into flames, the gunpowder ignites and blazes grandly, leaving nothing but black cinder in the end. Surprising the audience, the swindler declares, ‘This mysterious flame sword flamberge, it’s on sale, but I’ll only give it to five special folks!’… he says.”

“… Eh? Why do you even know his lines?”

On Jessica’s voice of disarray, I turned my face to her. Making sure she couldn’t see, I laughed in concern.

“A magic weapon that can burn whatever it cuts. If it’s something so rare, I don’t mind paying a large sum for it. There were quite a few people who thought so. Just how many idi… victims did this ‘yes it burns’ scam claimed?”

In the middle of her explanation, she took a glance at Jessica, paused, and revised ‘idiot’ to ‘victim’. Of course, that was just adding feud to the fire.

“B-but…! When I tried cutting something, it definitely did get a little singed!”

“Was the sword’s seller nearby?”

“He was! Why do you know that!?”

… I pitied Jessica a bit. Please, just don’t say anymore. It’s painful to watch.

“The slightly-clever part of the, ‘yes it burns’ scam is that its swindler properly follow through for his idio… victims.”

Samantha said something that didn’t follow through for Jessica at all.

“The truth is, the swindler. He was a magician who could use ignition magic. He used magic when he lit the gunpowder. He would hide in the shadows, and secretly ignite whatever his customers tried to cut, leaving a burn mark.”

“Hmm, then the magic wasn’t in the sword, but the person using it.”

“Exactly. Around half a year ago, a victim made an appraisal request for magic parsing. When they submitted a sword just like the one in that young lady’s hands for analysis, there wasn’t the slightest particle of magic detected in it. But the cinders at the scene retained a trace of ignition magic being used.”

Shrugging her shoulders, Samantha noisily sipped her coffee. Was there some strange drug or something in that drink?

“The magic particles detected in the log matched the pattern of particles we found in the blood sample of the swindler we arrested. That became the deciding factor in court, and the swindler spends his life in prison.”

Hanging her head heartbroken, Jessica lightly mumbled, “My scholarship…”

Just what do you think a scholarship is supposed to be, I shouted in my heart as I looked at the researcher.

“I did the appraisal for it. Has that cleared your doubts away, Lawyer Lockhart?”

… Of course, I told her.

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