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Al: [――Oi, wait? Is anyone listening? I’m in serious trouble here!]
The tension in the air was shaken by a foolish voice, but that did not relieve the situation of its tension.
If anything, the pressure between Abel and Priscilla kept escalating, and even Subaru, standing on the fringes, was unable to make a move.
If he made the wrong move, he would risk the wrath of Priscilla, the one in charge of the now half-destroyed hall.
Out of fear, he was hesitant to point out that Al was on the verge of falling to his death. The only way to break this situation was for Abel or Priscilla to speak――
???: [――Don’t move.]
However, neither of them were the one to change the predicament.
The unexpected voice came from the staircase that connected the hall to the lower floor. He glanced over to see a new figure looking at Priscilla, an arrow notched in their bow, aimed straight at her.
It was Taritta, whose strong eyes were filled with intense hostility.
Under Abel and Mizelda’s direction, she had left the City Hall before Arakiya’s assault, but had now returned.
Naturally, seeing the upper floors of the City Hall in pieces, Taritta would have inferred that there had been an enemy attack. The problem was that she had no idea what that specifically entailed.
With the heavy atmosphere, and Priscilla looking down at Subaru and Abel, there was no doubt in her mind that Priscilla was the source of all this destruction that had rained down upon the City Hall.
Taritta: [Move, and I’ll shoot you in the head.]
Priscilla: [Oh, my head? It is already bad enough that you could not even get to your ally in time.]
Taritta’s cheeks tightened at the unnecessary provocation, and Priscilla turned to her with composure.
With an overwhelmingly dignified attitude, Priscilla dismissed the threat of being shot. In fact, Priscilla made a point of walking straight up to Taritta.
???: [That is enough.]
However, Abel halted Priscilla from taking any further steps.
Quietly, Priscilla’s crimson gaze turned to Abel again. Abel, down on one knee, met her gaze firmly.
Abel: [Taritta can be more resourceful than you think. Do not take her lightly.]
Priscilla: [If you say so, but do you think I shall turn a blind eye to her disrespect?]
Abel: [I am sure you cannot. But Priscilla… how many times have you pulled out the Yang Sword?]
Setting aside the unexpected evaluation of Taritta, Abel’s question struck Priscilla.
Subaru, however, could not understand the question’s intent. She was holding the Yang Sword―― a treasured sword of dazzling crimson, that held an indisputable amount of power.
But now that she had defeated Arakiya, she had it sheathed, with the sky as its scabbard. Certainly, she would once again pull it out if required――,
Abel: [Taritta, put the arrow down. She is not your enemy.]
Without waiting for Priscilla’s response, Abel continued to tell Taritta to drop her weapon. However, she was not convinced.
With the arrow still drawn, Taritta persisted, prefacing with “And yet… Hk”.
Taritta: [That woman is clearly dangerous.]
Abel: [I am aware of that which you are saying. But she is not the one you ought to be paying attention to, currently.]
Abel’s gaze shifted to the side as he conveyed that to Taritta, who had yet to lower her guard.
That gesture guided her gaze, and, while keeping Priscilla in sight on the corner of her vision, she turned her attention in that direction, and gasped.
As her eyes were ushered, Taritta saw Mizelda undergoing treatment from Rem.
With half of her body having been scorched by flames, and her abdomen pierced by a branch, Mizelda was gravely injured. Although Rem was doing her best to treat her, the pain was unbearable.
Rem: [Taritta-san, please call out to her. Call out…!]
Taritta: [Sister, Sister… Hk!!]
Instantly, the atmosphere from before fizzled out and Taritta rushed over to Mizelda. She grabbed her sister’s hand and began to call out “Sister” over and over again, just as Rem had requested.
So once again, there was nothing that could keep Priscilla in check.
The standoff between Abel and Priscilla resumed. ――Or so it seemed.
Priscilla: [――Foolish commoner. Pull him up, you. He shall spoil the fun with all his noise.]
And with that, Priscilla pointed her chin towards the broken balcony.
She had ordered Subaru to rescue Al, who was doing his best to hold on for dear life. Subaru gasped as she gave the order without a care in the world.
Of course, he could not say anything except yes to her request, unless he wanted to take the risk of ruining Priscilla’s mood. Above all――,
Priscilla: [I shall see to that man myself. What, I am not going to let him die. Do not fret too much.]
Pointing to Abel, Priscilla’s mention of Subaru’s concerns also gave some encouragement.
It was not because he had enough of a trusting relationship with Priscilla to believe her outright on that statement, but because he knew that she would not back down from what she had declared.
Abel: [Staring at each other is not going to get us anywhere. For the time being, you should do what she says.]
Subaru: […Alright. I’m not your subordinate, though.]
Abel added that as Subaru pondered over Priscilla’s words.
He did not like the fact that he was being directed by Abel to do something. Leaving that thought for another time, Subaru immediately went to rescue Al, who was stuck hanging off a light fixture at the edge of the building.
His mind was a jumble of different factors as he did so: the safety of Mizelda and the People of Shudraq, the future of Guaral, and the relationship between Abel and Priscilla.
Subaru clenched his teeth and put those thoughts aside for the moment, concentrating on what was in front of him.
Just as Rem was desperately trying to save the life in front of her, Subaru too, was trying to get as close as possible to the Bloodless Siege that he had envisioned.
Al, who had been bathing in the exterior light of the City Hall, was much harder to rescue than expected.
To begin with, Al only had one arm, the other having been lost in his time in this other world. As his lone arm was currently occupied, busy hanging by a thread, his options were limited.
Al: [So this is what it means to have a hand full… No, it’s more like I’m busy as hell at this point. Which one do you think it is, bro?]
Subaru: [Shut up! If you want to be saved, don’t demotivate me!]
Replying to the out-of-place tease, Subaru ripped the curtain Abel had been hanging from before, made a loop at the end, and guided it towards Al.
The loop was then threaded around Al’s torso to secure him in place, and he was ready to be pulled up. Then he tugged at the curtain to pull the dangling and swaying middle-aged man out from his predicament,
Al: […And up, up I go. Whew, barely escaped death there. You saved me.]
There had been a few close calls, but Subaru finally succeeded in pulling Al back up.
After crawling the rest of the way up with Subaru’s help, Al patted his chest and sat on the floor of the wrecked hall. Looking over at him, Subaru wiped the sweat from his forehead, having completed his task.
He then turned to the person who had helped him rescue Al―― Medium.
Subaru: [Thanks, Medium-san, that would’ve been pretty tough on my own.]
Medium: [It’s ok, it’s ok! Also, I’m sorry for collapsing at such a critical moment earlier!]
Laughing cheerfully despite her battered appearance, Medium apologized for what happened in the prior battle.
She apologized for not being able to help during the fight with Arakiya, but her apology was far from necessary. In the first place, both Medium and Flop were not in a position in which they needed to be involved in this battle.
Medium: [Both big bro and I haven’t been diligent enough! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!]
Subaru: [No, it’s not your fault, Medium-san! You couldn’t move because you were protecting Flop, Utakata and… Louis.]
Stumbling over his words somewhat, Subaru praised Medium’s achievement.
At the time the tornado that was Arakiya had blown through the hall, Medium had protected Flop, who had been right beside her, as well as Utakata and Louis, who she had been carrying on both shoulders.
As a result, she hit her head and was too stunned to move. But thanks to her efforts, the three of them were safe, and Medium was spared from further damage.
Medium: [Hmm, it makes me happy that you say so, Natsumi-chan. But it’s no good. I’m big bro’s bodyguard, so I gotta do my job properly!]
Medium: [Next time! Next time, I won’t be so pathetic! Look forward to seeing that from me and big bro tomorrow, Natsumi-chan!]
Subaru: [――. Yes. It’s reassuring to hear you say that. But I don’t think the two of you should…]
Subaru tried to continue, saying that they were not required to go along with him.
However, the slurring of his words was easily drowned out by how bright as the sun she was when she exclaimed “Ah!”, rounding her eyes in amazement.
Medium: [I’ll go over there and help big bro! It’ll be hard for big bro, with how fragile he is, to carry the injured!]
Subaru: [Yeah, right…]
Medium: [Okay, Natsumi-chan, I’ll see you later! I’m glad that the masked person didn’t fall!]
With a big wave of her hand, Medium ran off restlessly.
She began to help Flop, among others, with the injured, and to carry and treat the injured People of Shudraq and Imperial Soldiers alike.
The O’Connell siblings did not even receive a word of appreciation, and Subaru felt more and more indebted to them.
He wondered if one day he would be able to repay the favor he had been given.
Al: [That was a big, cute young girl. As expected of bro, you’re living it up across the border, ain’t you?]
Subaru: [I shudder because I don’t have any idea what do you mean with “living it up”, though I agree, Medium-san’s a big, cute person. More importantly….]
Al: [Hmm? What’s up, bro?]
Subaru glared at Al, who casually cracked his neck and returned the glance with his usual lighthearted demeanor. Subaru then suppressed his anger towards Priscilla, forcing it back down like a rising hunger.
It was only natural. Subaru’s suspicions and questions had been on the back burner for a while now.
Al: [Don’t look so angry. You’re ruining your makeup and wig.]
Subaru: [I’m sorry, but my makeup and wig have already been trashed due to a last minute firestorm. Don’t get it wrong, the real Natsumi Schwartz’s much prettier.]
Al: [Natsumi Schwartz, was it?]
When Al heard Subaru’s horrible fake name, he cleared his throat with a rumble and gave a laugh pregnant of meaning.
With Subaru skeptical of his attitude, he shook his head,
Al: [No, no. I’m just impressed with your pseudonym. I didn’t know you had crossdressing as a hobby, bro.]
Subaru: [Don’t be silly, I’ll fill you in on the correct information about Natsumi next time. But more importantly, answer me. ――Why are you and Priscilla here?]
Subaru: [It was a big help to us, but there’s something I really don’t understand. It’s not just the reason as to why you’re in Guaral. It’s about why you’re in the Empire at all.]
In response to Subaru’s serious question, Al closed his mouth softly and fell silent.
It was an inexplicable intervention, no matter how much he thought about it.
It just did not make sense for Priscilla and Al both to be in the Empire with complete impunity. Of course, from their point of view, the same could be said for Subaru, and others too――,
Subaru: [Let’s put that aside for now. The sooner I learn, the better, though.]
Al: [That’s a novel idea, but that’s not what you really wanna hear, bro.]
Al: [It doesn’t matter why me and the Princess are in the Empire. Bro, what you really wanna know, is the way back… from this scary and dangerous country, to the home you know. Ain’t that right?]
Subaru fell silent this time. The question the other party posed had hit a sore spot.
The way to return from the Empire to the Kingdom; that was the information Subaru was seeking the most right now―― Towards that, Subaru possessed zero words of denial.
He had his doubts. There were other questions, as well as a nagging sense that he was being treated unreasonably. But wasn’t it more important to solve the largest problem right now――,
Subaru: [Then you have the answer to that question…? A way to get back to the Kingdom of Lugunica, and cross the border of the Empire…?]
Al: [Nah, I’m sorry. I dunno. I was just trying to get your hopes up.]
Al: [Wait, wait, don’t be mad! To be precise, I’m talking about how difficult it is to get out of the Empire right now. It’s hard enough to get in, let alone trying to escape.]
Subaru was frustrated by the way his emotions were being played with in the palm of Al’s hand.
As usual, Al refused to show his true feelings. ――Did Subaru also look like that, from other people’s perspectives? If that’s the case, then it would be something for Subaru to reflect on.
In any case――,
Subaru: [You can get in, but you can’t get out… And the reason for that is…]
Al: [Oh, come on, I don’t gotta tell you that. It means that there are people who don’t want a situation where a certain someone could easily leave the country.]
Subaru: [――. Does that mean you know Abel’s true identity too?]
In response to Al’s comment, Subaru naturally arrived at that conclusion.
He’d heard before that the Vollachian Empire had strict border control, but if the emigration ban was being strengthened under the conditions that Al mentioned, then the reason for that was none other than the existence of Abel―― no, the existence of the Emperor of Vollachia, Vincent Vollachia.
In order to prevent Abel, who had been ousted from the Emperor’s seat and was now on the run, from escaping to another country, border security was being tightened.
All that meant was that in order for Subaru and the others to return to the Kingdom of Lugunica, they would need to overcome some major obstacles.
Subaru: [Al, if you have more information than we do…]
Al: [Oops, I’ll have to keep my mouth shut about this. I don’t want the Princess to get mad at me for blabbering about unnecessary things. If there’s something you wanna talk about, talk to the Princess. However…]
He put his right hand on the metal clasp of his helmet, and a moment later, it made a gentle click.
He then continued,
Al: [I can’t guarantee that the Princess’ll be honest about it, though, can I?]
Al: [Princess, I’m back. How’s the discussion going over there?]
Priscilla: [How is it going, you ask? We are not getting anywhere. I have been listening to everyone that has woken up, one-by-one.]
Al, who waved his hand in an easy-going manner, had only been asking about the progress. Meanwhile, Priscilla replied back to him by resting her chin in her hands.
The upper part of the building had been destroyed during Arakiya’s attack, but the foundation remained strong, and fortunately, the contents of the City Hall were still intact.
Thanks to this, they were able to use the conference hall for important discussions with no relocation necessary.
Abel and Pricilla sat on opposite sides of a large roundtable. In addition, Zikr and his Imperial Soldiers, as well as Kuna and the People of Shudraq, were present.
All of them possessed relatively mild injuries, and if Priscilla’s words were true, they had probably already been questioned.
Kuna: [Yo, you okay, Natsumi?]
Subaru: [Kuna, I’m glad you’re awake. Are you hurt?]
Kuna: [Holly’s big frame came in handy. To be honest, I don’t feel comfortable in this place, so I want to get the hell out…]
Subaru noticed Kuna’s pained face as he joined them at the roundtable.
Directing his eyes towards the rest of the Shudraq, Subaru could guess the reason for Kuna’s bitter face. In a nutshell, she was the one representing all Shudraqians in the current moment.
Kuna: [Taritta can’t leave the Chieftain’s side and there’s no point in letting Holly do the talking. But why put me in this role…]
Subaru: [No, you’re attentive and keep a level head, so I think you’re the right person for this job. So, how are the discussions going?]
Kuna: [Well, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going on. I believe we’re about to start the so-called discussion.]
Kuna answered while shrugging her shoulders, and Subaru nodded saying “I see”.
Soon after, he was at a loss as to where he should be in the room. In the first place, Subaru’s position in this group wasn’t very clear.
Although he had been the one to plan the operation for the fall of Guaral, because of Arakiya and Priscilla’s intrusion it would be difficult for him to say he had been successful.
???: [Miss Natsumi, if you are in trouble, how about you sit next to me?]
And so, Zikr stood quickly and pulled a chair out in front of Subaru, who had been lost in thought.
Small and stocky, Zikr looked at Subaru and smiled like a gentleman. At his grin, Subaru pointed to himself,
Subaru: [Um, I’m sure you’ve noticed this already, but you know I’m just crossdressing, right?]
Zikr: [If you are posing as a woman, then I am also posing as a man. My idea of a man is to behave like a gentleman with a woman, regardless of who is posing as what.]
Subaru: [So this is the Womanizer…!]
Instead of using “womanizer” as a derogatory term, “womanizer” was used as a term of respect that had a different idea behind it.
Subaru was embarrassed to be dressed in women’s clothing, but he took Zikr’s advice and proceeded to sit down in the chair that had been pulled out for him.
Complementing that, Subaru gave Zikr a “Pardon me,” as he took his seat.
Subaru: [Also, thank you for protecting me upstairs, I would’ve been in danger if Zikr-san hadn’t protected me.]
Zikr: [No, it was just a matter of my body moving in the spur of the moment. I do not know if I could repeat that feat next time. I am the Coward, after all.]
Upon hearing Subaru’s thank you, Zikr proudly referred to himself as the Coward.
This was because the Imperial General Second-Class, Zikr, had been remembered this way by the Emperor to whom he had sworn allegiance.
And Abel, the aforementioned Emperor who was held in such high esteem by the worthy Zikr――,
Abel: [――The Fortress City of Guaral has fallen, and the commander of the garrisoned troops, General Second-Class Zikr Osman, has shifted to our side, complementing the forces of the People of Shudraq of Buddheim Jungle.]
Priscilla: [That is surely not enough. While I have heard of the bravery of the People of Shudraq, we are still far too weak to take the Empire on.]
Abel: [No doubt. Priscilla, where are your men?]
Priscilla: [I do not have my private army in the Empire. Aside from that, the only people I could call my army include that clown in the iron helmet, a drunken swordsman, and a pipsqueak whose only qualification is his cute face.]
While Subaru was in the room talking with Kuna, Abel and Priscilla were having their own discussion.
The two of them looked at each other thoughtfully as they gauged the other’s strength and circumstances, but Subaru intervened with a “Wait a minute”.
He had been pushed around completely and wished to not be left behind again.
Priscilla: [What is the matter, foolish commoner? You are still present?]
Subaru: [I’m here, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s a hell of a thing that you can look at me without being impressed. The last time she saw me like this, Beako had nightmares for a good while.]
Priscilla: [I believe I had already given you a compliment concerning your attire. Surely you do not believe you shall receive a reward for pulling Al up with a dirty cloth?]
Subaru: [I’m not expecting anything! No, I kind of am. I’m hoping that you’ll at least listen to me a little bit.]
Priscilla’s eyes narrowed at Subaru, who was leaning forward with his hands on the roundtable.
She looked as if she was trying to judge him, but Subaru was not afraid. Unlike before, Kuna and Zikr were here as well. That said, though, he felt like he made for a pathetic bulwark.
Subaru: [Anyway, why’re you even here? I can’t get anywhere asking Al. Let’s hear it clearly from your mouth.]
Priscilla: [That is an annoying question. …I am here to speak with that guy, Vincent Abellux.]
Jutting her chin in his direction, Priscilla replied as if this were something obvious. In response, Abel, who sat comfortably with crossed arms, closed one of his sable eyes, while the other swirled with complicated emotions.
It was a bewildering look that could be of joy, anger, sorrow, pleasure, or something else, something inexplicable that unaffiliated to any of those feelings.
Subaru: [Talk to Abel…? But how did you know where Abel was?]
Priscilla: [The throne of the Emperor, in the Imperial Capital of Lupugana, has a device that allows them to teleport elsewhere. Should they sense any potential political change, they may escape to the east through it. ――To the tomb where Emperors have been buried for generations.]
Subaru: [The Emperors’ Graveyard?]
Priscilla: [That is where that mechanism would take him. I believe I am correct, Vincent… No, it is more convenient to call you Abel, presently.]
Priscilla’s eyes blazed red as she turned the conversation away from Subaru to Abel.
Exhaling under her burning gaze, Abel nodded,
Abel: [Yes, call me Abel, right now. At least, I am not qualified to call myself Emperor now that the throne has been taken from me.]
Priscilla: [Exceptional, law-abiding, and foolishly honest… In any case, you think too softly. It appears that during your time sitting on the Emperor’s throne, you have forgotten how to stand up.]
Abel: [Gaze upon me, and tell me I have forgotten how to stand up.]
Priscilla’s unrelenting taunting did not deter Abel’s swarthiness.
At that moment, their gazes clashed feverishly, and the air in the conference room even smelled of rising heat. As it was, it seemed inevitable that the discussion would break down and fire would rage――,
???: [Well, well, calm down, both of you. There’s nothing to be gained by getting into trouble, right?]
However, there was a man who had the audacity needed to poke at a powder keg on the verge of explosion while puffing on a cigarette.
It was Al who easily stepped into the uncomfortable atmosphere with what must have been a wry smile. Instead of sitting down, he remained standing, under the combined smoldering glares of both Abel and Priscilla.
Al: [Even though the Princess acts like this, she’s got her cute sides too. As soon as she found out that she had to rush extra-fast to Guaral, she spurred her flying dragon at full speed, almost enough to exhaust him. That’s how much she was looking forward to seeing you… Guah!?]
Priscilla: [Such foolishness.]
Al went behind Priscilla as he spoke and tried to defend her humanity, but his master did not take his thoughts to heart and slammed her fan into his stomach with fierce force.
Al yelped and fell to one knee on the spot, his body bent into a crooked shape.
Priscilla: [To presume to speak for what I feel is of hubris to the extreme. When did you become so full of yourself? Know your place, clown.]
Al: [The fact that you’re running out of patience’s proof enough… But you’re really here to help, ain’t you?]
Priscilla’s crimson eyes narrowed as she revealed her displeasure at Al’s words.
But the fact that she did not explicitly deny it in words, was a sign that Al’s words had been right on the mark.
Subaru: [Priscilla came to help Abel…?]
It seemed so unreal that Subaru was unable to shake the feeling of discomfort. Of course, looking at the results alone, there could not be any doubt that Priscilla had already helped Abel, Subaru and the others. However, her nature, as Subaru knew it, prevented him from being convinced.
Was fighting to protect someone, even if it had the benefit of defeating an enemy not of her liking, really logic that applied for the person known as Priscilla Barielle?
Priscilla: [You have a gleam in your eyes that suggests unpleasant thoughts. Do you wish them to be gouged, foolish commoner?]
Subaru: [Don’t look people in the eye and tell them something so scary. To be honest, I’m not sure how much I believe you…]
Priscilla: [――In any case, Abel, I understand that you reached the east using the mechanism on the throne. If that is the case, were you expecting me to join up with the People of Shudraq and come to the Fortress City?]
Subaru: [Expecting to be here…?]
While Priscilla was admittedly exceptionally perceptive, Subaru found it difficult to fathom the circumstances that Abel had so readily accepted.
Certainly, the given conditions seemed to satisfy the speculation though.
Al: [Don’t get it wrong, bro. The smart guys here are convinced. If we keep it together here, we can avoid trouble we don’t wanna deal with.]
Subaru: [And you’re okay with that…?]
Al: [Good or bad, we’ll just have to suck it up. Even if you try to fight, you’ll lose. ――Because me and the Princess are gonna win anyway.]
Al, still on his knees, slid up to Subaru and declared so with a whisper.
To be honest, it was surprising for Subaru to hear Al assure him that they would win. Originally, Al had a tendency to draw an arbitrary line in regards to what was around him, rather than being humble.
In fact, the other knights of Royal Candidates were all renowned and talented―― and neither Subaru nor Al were special enough to be overconfident among them.
This was why Subaru felt a certain amount of sympathy for Al.
That was why his assertion here was so surprising to Subaru.
Even though he seemed to be unchanging and unconcerned, change was coming. This was because of his master-servant relationship with Priscilla and the accompanying battle of the Royal Selection.
Al: [But I can only speak highly of those who have a chance of winning, even if it’s only by a hundred millionth of a percent. In that respect, this Arakiya girl was in a class of her own. I couldn’t see any way to win.]
Subaru: […I see, the Nine Divine Generals are the strongest members of the Empire. You could say they’re kinda like Reinhardt and Julius in the Kingdom of Lugunica.]
If one were to select the strongest members within the Kingdom of Lugunica, they would probably find that most of them would be knights. Reinhardt and Julius dispensed being mentioned, Marcos, the captain of the Royal Guard, and Roswaal, the Head Magician of the Court, could likewise be included.
Subaru would also like to add Wilhelm and Garfiel to the list, and have an all-star lineup to face the Nine Divine Generals.
Subaru: [No, that’s not important, no matter how many times you speak of the Nine Divine Generals, it’s hard to believe that someone would be able to match Reinhardt…]
Abel: [――I am afraid that is not so.]
When Subaru tried to gauge the strength of the Nine Divine Generals as the most important opponent to be wary of, Abel said something that made him doubt his ears.
What did he just say? ――That there’s a being that can rival Reinhardt?
Subaru: [Are you saying that there are other bug characters like Reinhardt?]
Zikr: [I’m not familiar with this vocabulary, but if you mean comparable, I will have to agree. The Nine Divine Generals have a First, above Arakiya.]
Subaru: [The First of the Nine Divine Generals is…?]
Zikr: [――Cecilus Segmunt.]
Next to Subaru, who opened his mouth with a gulp, Zikr quietly said those two words.
Subaru understood that it was a person’s name, and that it was the name of the First Rank in question. The person with that name was the strongest of the Empire, the pride of Vollachia, an overpowered character.
Abel: [The Blue Lightning of Vollachia, as he is called, is a swordsman of the highest class, ranked alongside the Sword Saint of Lugunica, the Admirer of Kararagi, and the Mad Prince of Gusteko.]
Subaru: [Umm… I remember hearing that nickname before… So you’re serious?]
Abel: [If you were to antagonize him, you would lose your head in the blink of an eye. That is the kind of man he is.]
Abel, who had his arms crossed, nodded in response to Subaru’s question, as his cheeks tightened.
In this situation, there was no reason for Abel or Zikr to tell a lie or a joke. In other words, what they had spoken must be the simple truth.
Cecilus Segmunt, the strongest man in the Empire, who was as skilled as Reinhardt.
Subaru felt a chill run down his spine as he wondered just how dangerous and fierce this superclass swordsman was.
It was a battle of vast differences in strength. Being both outnumbered and outclassed in quality, how could they possibly hope to win?
Al: […However, if you think about it that way, there’s still some hope. The fact that I could beat Lil’ Miss Arakiya, ranked Second, here, was a big win for us.]
Despite the heavy mood of Subaru and the others, Al said this with a cheerful voice.
It was a very optimistic opinion, however it was also a reality that the others could not get on board as easily. However, taking in Al’s spirit, Subaru exhaled, “That’s right”.
If they only considered the negative side of things, they would not be able to make any progress. In fact, Subaru and his team had been able to conquer the Fortress City with minimal damage. They had even managed to add Priscilla and Al as reinforcements, although it was hard to state whether they were friend or foe.
He was sure Rem would do her best to heal the injured Shudraqians, and Mizelda would return to the front lines. They could expect to see more of her relaxed, stoic demeanor, and all-around combat ability.
Subaru: [Al’s right… It’s great that we were able to defeat one of the Nine Divine Generals… and a pretty highly-ranked one at that. I’m sure she’s got some information, considering her position.]
Al: [Yeah, you could say that! That’s brilliant, bro. Information’s more valuable than gold during a war. Since she was left alive, let’s hear what she has to say.]
Subaru: [Right. She might have a lead…]
Subaru forced himself to get in the mood, and Al matched him. At that rate, the subject of the conversation changed toward the acquisition of information from Arakiya, who had been successfully captured alive.
???: [Wait, Subaru and Iron-Mask. I’m going to have to disagree with you on that.]
But then Kuna, who was participating as the representative of Shudraq, intervened.
As Subaru and Al turned around, Kuna stroked her own green-dyed hair, and said――,
Kuna: [That woman is dangerous. You never know what she’ll do if she sees an opening. It’s definitely better to kill her as soon as possible.]
Subaru: [I understand that, but that’s too short-sighted. Killing her is not…]
Kuna: [The Chieftain ended up badly hurt already. I don’t care what Subaru says, we and the others need to execute her.]
Kuna mentioned Arakiya’s execution upfront, and glared at Subaru with stubborn insistence.
When she pointed out Mizelda’s condition, Subaru had no choice but to keep his mouth shut. Her safety had been left to Rem, but even if her wounds healed, the fact that she had been injured would not disappear.
If the Shudraqians found that unforgivable, then Arakiya would have to pay the price.
While searching for a response to Kuna, Subaru glanced at Priscilla.
He wanted to see what kind of reaction Priscilla would have to Kuna’s insistence on executing Arakiya, as she seemed to have an unusual relationship with her.
Priscilla: [I have already decided on my attitude towards Arakiya. First and foremost, it was me who slashed down the back of that thing. Are those black eyes on your face merely decoration?]
Priscilla: [I possess no intention to say anything for the sake of Arakiya. If her fate ends here, it will be part of Arakiya’s own path. ――Although it would be a shame.]
Subaru: […I don’t understand you at all.]
Subaru shook his head at Priscilla, who spoke simply as she weighed the value of Arakiya’s life.
At the end of the day, their relationship seemed to be sour, but judging by Arakiya’s attitude, it could have been intimate. Yet, Priscilla’s attitude was terribly disconnected.
As an outsider, Subaru had no idea what their relationship was like.
Subaru: [But if you die, it’s all over. Life doesn’t come back.]
Priscilla: [You dare to teach the value of life to me? Do you believe that I can misjudge the value of another’s life?]
Subaru: [――. You’re not omnipotent. Even you can make mistakes.]
Directly facing Priscilla, Subaru answered without a pause.
As soon as he said that, the air in the room became tense.
Kuna and Zikr gasped, while Al could be seen putting his hand on the forehead of helmet. Subaru, too, was aware that he had said something foolish in a spur-of-the-moment manner.
Only after speaking those words, did he realize that it was a pattern that would likely end up with him losing his life by incurring Priscilla’s displeasure with those words.
The next moment, he might be beheaded by that shining crimson sword.
But even so――,
Subaru: [I’m not wrong. Even you can be wrong.]
Again and again, Subaru repeated the statement that could cost him his life.
A moment later, in front of Subaru. Priscilla’s eyes narrowed with a cold glare. And then, the scorching “death” that would make Subaru pay for his indiscretion――,
Priscilla: [Even I can err, yes? It is a spiteful thing, really.]
Subaru’s eyes widened in surprise, and he exhaled his clenched lungs.
Taking one look at Subaru, Priscilla opened her fan noisily and directed her gaze past Subaru, its aim Kuna.
Priscilla: [Before we cut off that thing’s head, it would be best to find a use for it.]
Kuna: [――What, are you trying to tell us what to do? You’re an outsider.]
Priscilla: [If you wish to ignore my advice, do it.]
Withdrawing her opinion, Priscilla’s gaze stroked over Kuna’s slender body as if it were attempting to burn her.
Hugging herself involuntarily, Kuna ended up naturally demonstrating the pressure that could be felt from that gaze. Unfortunately, Priscilla and Kuna were at different levels.
Al: [Honestly, I was a bit anxious. But now we’re all on the same page!]
As if to break the tense atmosphere, Al struck the roundtable with his hand with force.
Having thus attracted everyone’s attention, he looked at Subaru through his steel helmet and,
Al: [It’s good news that you didn’t die, bro, but it’s also good news that the world didn’t lose that ero-kawaii girl. That said, when she wakes up, we’ll talk――]
???: [――Big problem~!]
Al was just about to summarize their opinions of what to do with Arakiya, when he heard the sound of hurried and panicked footsteps.
It was Holly, her large body twisting around the entrance of the room, as she burst inside the conference hall with a flurry of footsteps and a panicked voice.
Her body and breath bounced as she drew everyone’s attention, and there were words.
Holly: [A couple of Imperial Soldiers got in, and the Divine General we captured has escaped~!]