Arc 7, Chapter 22 – “The Bloodless Siege Plan”

 

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――Let us rewind the clock, to before the danseuse’s whirling dance at Guaral City Hall.

???: [――A bloodless siege, you say?]

Having entered the meeting place, in front of all those gathered there, Natsuki Subaru had made a powerful declaration.

The concealing oni mask forcibly ripped away, Abel looked up toward Subaru and, in a chilling voice, repeated the “pipe dream” that had vibrated his eardrums.

He sneered―― No, there was no sense of mockery in it. It contained pure doubt, a kind of breath that conveyed that the person before him did not understand what they were proposing.

The intention was understood.

Subaru: [You may have devised a plan to get through with minimal sacrifices, but you wouldn’t think of a plan with zero sacrifices in the first place.]

Abel: [Naturally. Whether you accept it or not, what we are engaging in now is war. Come what may, casualties cannot be avoided. All that can be done, is planning to avoid the waste of human resources.]

Subaru: [Well, I don’t like your way of thinking about human resources to begin with.]

Looking down on Abel sitting cross-legged right in front of him, Subaru clicked his tongue.

The term “human resources”, was the combination of two words, “humans” and “resources”, one that Subaru thought should not be combined into such an abhorrent term whatsoever. 

That way of looking at “humans” by keeping them at a distance, was one step detached from viewing people as only numbers.

Or perhaps that was the sense of balance a ruler like Abel had to have but――,

Subaru: [Well, I don’t accept it. Flop-san’s the same, right?] 

Abel: [――. And in place of that, you interject with this bloodless siege? That is a remarkably grand declaration. Coming from you, who was so haggard until just a moment ago.]

Subaru: [I won’t argue that I’ve been a worn-out, pitiful, disgraceful sight. To begin with, ever since I got blasted away to this country, I’ve been through a series of non-stop disasters.]

In response to Abel’s point, Subaru derided himself, then stared at his own palm.

His unduly clean right hand, that arm which had been replaced by a new one, could also be called part of those “non-stop disasters”. Albeit tough, the replacement of his right hand had been one of his few pieces of luck, had it not?

The replacement of his hand, and that Rem had awakened. That, and encountering the siblings Flop and Medium, could be considered good fortune without exaggeration.

Outside of that anyway, fortune and disaster were two sides of the same coin.

So was Abel before him, so were the People of Shudraq, and so were the Imperial Soldiers including Todd――,

Subaru: [This series of hardships has been soul-draining. But.]

Abel: [――――]

Subaru: [――The more friction, the more fire ignites.]

Staring hard at his clenched fist, Subaru announced that clearly.

Right then, Rem, who had been lagging behind Subaru, arrived at the entrance to the meeting place. Using her cane, she came in alongside Utakata and Louis.

She had likely come to see with her very own eyes.

Since it had been her selfish plea that had ignited Natsuki Subaru’s soul.

Subaru: [A strategy to enter the city, after asking Flop-san for a secret byway… Are you planning a surprise attack? There’s no way that’ll work.]

Abel: [Oh, why is that? It is a fortified city, protected by a bulwark. Do you possess some other method to pass through?]

Subaru: [If there’s a wall, anyone’d think to look for a way to bypass it. That is, though the byway itself may be cleverly concealed…]

If there were a secret byway for going in and out of the Fortress City, naturally, it could be assumed that it was for allowing those of uncertain backgrounds and goods of dubious origin to get through.

Of course, it would probably be concealed so as not to be discovered by guards. But even that would only get past ordinary levels of vigilance.

Beyond that, it did not seem possible to evade the net of wartime vigilance especially.

And above all――,

Subaru: [That bastard who chased us down in the city isn’t the type to overlook something like that.]

He was quick-witted, cunning, and made decisions without hesitation.

Seeing that Todd knew of their survival, any sort of byway would be the most guarded “opening”. The enemy would not be so kind to leave it as it was.

Blocking it would be obvious, and there was also the fear that any left unblocked could have been converted into “traps”. 

Subaru: [That’s why a surprise attack would be absurd. It’s likely the opponent waiting over there will smash your head in with an axe the moment you slip out from a byway.]

Flop: [W-w-why are you looking at my face as you say that, Mister! What a scary thought!]

He had intended to make the danger known to everyone, but his eyes subconsciously fixed on Flop’s face.

Subaru remembered how many times right in front of him the assassin’s dagger―― No, the assassin’s axe, had felled the man before him. Subaru did not want to witness that again; even if it killed him, he could not let that happen again.

Abel: […Were it to simply be a surprise attack, I am of the same opinion regarding the enemy being wary.]

Subaru: [What?]

At his unexpected assent, Subaru stared in wide-eyed wonder. The reason being that the one endorsing Subaru’s opinion was none other than Abel himself.

Abel raised an eyebrow at Subaru’s astonishment and continued,

Abel: [What? Is my affirmation unexpected?]

Subaru: [That’s right… Despite you acting as if you’re right about everything in this world, you do things like readily admit your own mistakes…]

Abel: [Nonsense, when did I admit to having been mistaken? I merely endorsed the idea that a strategy of using a byway to commence a surprise attack would not be successful.]

Subaru: [――? Then, how were you planning to use the byway?]

Abel’s denial had a different feeling than that of a sore loser who had had his thoughts correctly guessed.

As Subaru grilled him for the basis, Abel shut one of his eyes,

Abel: [There is no reason humans must be the ones going in and out. If it is only to paralyze the functioning of the soldiers confined in the city, merely smuggling something in would be sufficient.]

Subaru: [Something…]

Abel: [――Poison.]

Subaru: [They’re even less likely to overlook that!]

Abel’s dispassionate delivery all the more gave a sense of his unwavering resolve to get things done, and Subaru instinctively and loudly criticized his plan.

The use of poison or the like would be inexcusable. ――In truth, since Subaru had experienced the power of poison employed by the People of Shudraq, he vehemently opposed its use.

That hellish suffering, it was more wretched than dying in battle.

Subaru: [Anyway, weren’t we talking about trying to minimize suffering, or at least reduce harm to persuade Flop-san? How does a plan that uses poison…]

Abel: [What are you speaking of? A surprise tactic using a secret byway also has the possibility of our own troops being sacrificed in the event of an attack. With poison, that possibility is eliminated.]

Subaru: [――――]

Abel: [Reducing the losses of the forces on hand. That is what it means to minimize damage.]

Abel spoke definitively, and in front of him Subaru held his breath.

Again, Subaru recognized anew, between his own position and Abel’s, the grand scale of difference between a ruler’s and others’ fields of view. The gap was beyond Subaru’s comprehension.

In short, Abel did not take damage to the residents of Guaral into account. ――No, even if he did not bring harm to the residents, he thought nothing whatsoever of harm to the Imperial Soldiers.

That much had been clear ever since the Imperial Soldiers’ encampment that he himself had aimed for had been burnt to the ground. 

Subaru: [Still, my thinking was naive. You…]

Abel: [That is correct, your thinking is naive. Consequently, you have no place here…]

As they confronted each other, sparks flew between Subaru and Abel’s glares.

Just as their views clashed with one another, and the discussion began to break down――,

Flop: [――Now now now, wait a minute, you two! There’s no need to glare at each other and argue like this!]

Flop stepped between the two of them and created some distance.

A sodden smile appeared on his face as he looked back and forth between the glaring faces of Subaru and Abel; “Let’s calm down and discuss this!”, he said as he clapped his hands in front of his chest.

Flop: [To be frank, my discussion with Mr. Chief was getting nowhere! And then, Mister triumphantly returned. I definitely want to hear about this “bloodless siege” Mister’s talking about! If it’s real, it’d be like a dream come true!]

Subaru: [Flop-san…]

In response to the grinning Flop’s expectation, Subaru quelled his prior anger. Somehow or another, taken aback by Flop’s behavior, Abel seemed to do the same.

Abel let out a “Hmph” with a small snort,

Abel: [――. Very well, we shall hear him out. Should your idea manage to successfully fool this merchant, as long as you get the whereabouts of the secret byway, that will be that.]

Flop: [Huh!? Mister!? Don’t tell me you…]

Subaru: [Nonono! We weren’t planning this! Just because it doesn’t seem like your own idea’s going to work, doesn’t mean you get to try to force me to be part of it, asshole!]

His remark needlessly invited Flop’s distrust, yet, moreover Abel showed no shame. He held on to his composed arrogance. “You hardly need that oni mask…”, Subaru spat at him.

???: [So…]

Like that, a faint voice slid into the gap created in the conversation.

Standing stock-still at the entrance of the meeting place, eyes fixed on Subaru’s back, came Rem’s voice.

Not fooled by the atmosphere of the place, Rem continued to stare only at Subaru.

Rem: [So, what would you do? Could you find some other way that isn’t a fleeting dream or a blood-soaked reality?]

Subaru: […Every bit of the way you say things makes my heart sing.]

Rem: [――――]

Rem stared with her lips pursed, and Subaru responded with a bitter smile, and strengthened his resolve once more.

Then, he surveyed the faces in the meeting place once more. Abel and Flop, along with the Shudraqians starting with Mizelda, and as he became the focus of everyone’s gaze,

Subaru: [My plan’s got no need for either byways or bloodshed. But, it does require Flop-san’s assistance.]

Flop: [Even though it doesn’t need a byway, it requires my help…? But Mister, surely you know I’m just a helpless peddler with a bit of a mouth, don’t you?]

Subaru: [Yeah, of course. But Flop-san isn’t just a merchant, there’s a blessing you were born with. ――A nice face.]

Flop: [――Huh? My face?]

Wide-eyed, Flop put both his hands to his face.

Similarly, everyone in the meeting area tilted their heads as if to say “His face?”.

Mizelda: [I see, that’s true.]

Taritta: [――! Sister, did you realize something?]

Mizelda: [No, I just approve of what Subaru said about him having a nice face.]

Taritta: [Sister…]

Mizelda nodded and crossed her arms, while Taritta sullenly hung her head.

But, since more or less no one had caught on to Subaru’s intentions, an air of doubt was spreading among them. Same went for Flop and Abel, even.

However, Mizelda’s stubborn interest in the appearance of others was not off-base. It was precisely her weakness and sense for beauty that had given Subaru a great hint regarding this situation.

Because Mizelda putting too much stock in good looks had been that which had inspired this Bloodless Siege Plan.

Subaru: [Evidence’s better than debate. ――Flop-san, we can’t tell until we try it, so follow me.]

Flop: [Follow you? That’s not a problem, but what in the world…]

To the still dubious Flop, Subaru pushily told him “Don’t worry about it”.

And then, his gaze turned to face Mizelda,

Subaru: [You dye your hair and draw designs on your body, so you use cosmetics right? Could you try lending me those items for a bit?]

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Everyone: [――――]

Having returned to the meeting place after a while, everyone was lost for words upon witnessing the “results”.

However, Subaru knew that it was not speechlessness born from negative sentiments such as being perplexed or fed up, but rather genuine awe and astonishment, perhaps even some moving emotion.

He could say with confidence that it was well within expectations for his handiwork to have that much of an impact.

Subaru: [Turns out, if given diamonds in the rough to work with, even I could deliver some decent results.]

Everyone: [――――]

Rubbing his nose, Subaru who had declared so was met with the same unresponsive crowd as before. While the silence continued without anyone returning from their state of stupefaction, an uneasy “M-mister” was voiced.

That came from the only person who, other than Subaru, was immune to the shock induced on those present.

Flop: [Something feels off, I haven’t seen the end-product yet, but how did it turn out? The sensation isn’t very pleasant…]

Subaru: [Oh come on, there’s no need to worry Flop-sa… Nah, don’t you worry about it, Flora.]

Flop: [Flora!?]

Eyes widened in surprise was Flop――nay, Flora. Yet even when his expression was washed over with surprise, it was adorable nevertheless, thought Subaru nodding with confidence whilst caressing his face.

Then once again, Subaru grabbed Flora’s slender shoulders, and turned him to face forward.

Veiled behind the silky curtain of long, golden hair, were eyes that were more accentuated than usual from having had eyeshadow applied to them. The eyelashes had been adjusted in a way that showed off their length, and a hint of red adorned the cheeks to create a striking contrast with his naturally fair skin. Lastly, the lips were colored red and he had been changed into clothes that completed the look.

With his dainty physique, only the slightest bit of effort was required to disguise him as a “her”.

Which meant――,

Subaru: [――This is the key to a bloodless siege, the best strategy I can devise!]

Throwing his fist up in the air, Subaru debuted Flop-Flora to everybody in the meeting place.

Despite the limited time given, Subaru had been capable of bringing the most out of a gem from its unpolished state, something he took pride in. Surprise should be reserved for now however, for this was only a work born from inadequate preparation, the least adorable version of what Flora could be.

Having gathered all the necessary tools, as long as the person in question kept in mind the appropriate mannerism they should uphold, it would not simply add to their charms, but increase it exponentially.

Subaru: [Beauty can be made.]

Rem: [Are you fooling around here?]

Subaru: [Eh!?]

A cold piercing voice jabbed at Subaru, who had presented a feat without rival.

Taking a peek, the owner of that voice was none other than Rem with a frigid gaze. Those eyes that had regarded Subaru with expectation just before were nowhere to be found, and were instead replaced by those that Rem had since she first woke up. 

Having swallowed his breath due to the harsh gaze, Subaru said “Hold on!” with an outstretched hand.

Subaru: [I-I’m not fooling around! I’m really not fooling around here whatsoever, so don’t look at me like that!]

Rem: [You aren’t fooling around? Stop with the absurdity. I was a fool… to even have tried putting the slightest amount of faith in you.]

Subaru: [You’re jumping to conclusions! This is somewhat late but you really are just like Ram in that sense!]

Rem: [Hah?]

Despite it being something that the current Rem did not recall, Ram too was quick to jump to conclusions. 

Though his heart was warmed by the thought that they were, after all,  sisters, his number one priority right now was regaining the lost trust from Rem.

In actuality, Subaru was not messing around. He was taking everything head-on with all seriousness, and giving it considerable thought.

The purpose of going through all that trouble to turn Flop into a woman named Flora was――,

Abel: [――The target’s Zikr Osman, huh.]

Said the first person to arrive at the answer, Abel, who had his chin resting on his hand.

Unlike the rest who had been unable to conceal their surprises at the transformation from Flop to Flora, Abel was able to suppress it and stayed silent, presumably to probe for Subaru’s true intent.

And thus, he had been able to see through what Subaru was getting at completely.

――The target would be Zikr Osman.

General Second-Class of the Empire, and commander of the Imperial Soldiers stationed in the Fortress City of Guaral. A capable man who preferred solid and safe war tactics, and on top of that――,

Subaru: [I heard he’s called the Womanizer. Sounded like it was well-known among the Imperial Soldiers.]

Abel: [The fact he is renowned for being one, and that he received a nickname because of it, is common knowledge.]

Rem: [Womanizer… doesn’t give off a very likable impression to me.]

Having heard the conversation between Subaru and Abel, Rem made a grimacing face.

Subaru could not help but agree with Rem’s impression of him. Upon hearing that a military officer was a womanizer, one would probably imagine a filthy pervert with a vulgar personality. However, that’ was an opening they could use to their advantage.

Subaru: [At the Imperial Soldiers’ encampment, there was even talk of doing things like presenting a captured woman to General Zikr. Basically, as long as a woman’s harmless there’s a good chance she can get near him.]

It was something he would rather not recall, but at the encampment, Jamal had directly told Subaru that he would do something such as offering Rem to Zikr.

Rem was a beautiful girl, so it could be said that Zikr’s sense of beauty was a normal one.

Subaru: [That being the case, with the power of Flora, it should be doable.]

Flop: [M-Mister? You’ve been calling me Flora with intense anticipation for a while now, but what do I look like right now? I don’t know what’s going on and I’m scared!]

Subaru: [Don’t worry, Flora. I won’t make you do this alone, of course. I’m going to fight the same way too.]

Mizelda: [No matter how you look at it, that’s absurd, Subaru!]

Subaru soothed the bewildered Flora, and Mizelda stood up at his remark. Her eyes were overcast with a strong, hard expression, and she gripped her hands on Subaru’s shoulders, shaking her head.  

Then, she lowered her tone of voice as if imparting a truth that was difficult to convey,

Mizelda: [Your eyes have a charm to them as well. But as for what you were born with…]

Subaru: [Hey hey, come on now,  Mizelda-san. Didn’t you hear what I said?]

Mizelda: [What was that?]

Subaru: [――Beauty can be made.]

Subaru affirmed reassuringly, placing his hand atop the one Mizelda had placed on his shoulder.

Hearing this, Mizelda opened her eyes wide and gasped. Then, directing her gaze at Flora, she squinted as if the makeup on that face were something radiant.

Mizelda: [You’ve got me beat… Let’s see it, your potential.]

Subaru: [Yeah, just watch.] 

Kuna: [What are you talking about, I don’t geeet it.]

Mizelda entrusted the matter to Subaru, and he accepted. Kuna watched the exchange between the pair with exasperation, but had no comment to give.

Anyway, the problem now was――,

Abel: [As for utilizing Zikr Osman’s preferences, what is your intention? Even he, is still a wolf. Merely dangling a pretty thing in front of him, he is not a dog who shall bite at such bait.]

Subaru: [Well, dangling something purposelessly is hardly worth discussing. So, we need to devise a way to get him to bite. For instance, enticing him to a party.]

Abel: [A banquet? Alas, it shan’t be easy to draw him in. Naturally, there is no reason for him to emerge from inside the walls until reinforcements from the Imperial Capital are present. He shall not be tempted by a suspicious invitation.] 

Subaru: [Sure. I’m still narrowing down the choices, but…]

Rem: [W-wait, please!]

Like that, while Subaru and Abel were in the midst of arguing back and forth, Rem raised her voice.

She looked back and forth between the two, a surprised expression affixed to her face,

Rem: [Are you being serious? I can’t believe you’re going through with this, centered on pranking Flop-san.]

Flop: [Wha, they’re pranking me? Seriously, what do I look like right now? The Missus says I look like I’ve been pranked… Niece-y, what’s going on?]

Louis: [Auu? Uu! Uu!]

Beside the tense Rem, Flora, who had not yet been able to see his reflection even once, sought solace in Louis. But having never met Flora before, Louis panicked and hid behind Rem.

In other words, in Louis’s view, it appeared as if Flora and Flop were different people.

Abel: [Setting aside whether that girl’s reaction is appropriate as a litmus test, I do not consider this a prank. At last, you have proposed an idea meriting discussion.]

Subaru: [Then you also recognize it. The beauty of Flora.]

Abel: [――. I recognized that your idea was one I had not thought of. Do not get it twisted now.]

Subaru’s lips curled in an expression of dissatisfaction with Abel’s obstinate reply.

However, Abel paid him no mind, and for a short period held his hand to his mouth in careful deliberation. Then, he shot a jagged look in Subaru’s direction,

Abel: [Natsuki Subaru, I have one question… Your cosmetics, can only the merchant make use of it?]

The question came.

Subaru: [――――]

For a moment, Abel’s inquiry left him dumbfounded.

But Subaru turned over the intent of the question in his mind, and shook his head.

Subaru: [I already told you. I said I’m in the same boat as you if we go through with this operation!] 

Abel: [Nonsense. Who would place their trust in you? Take a look at yourself in the mirror and only then speak.]

Subaru: [Watch your mouth!]

Brow furrowed, Abel spat out his contempt from the depths of his heart. Ignoring Subaru’s hurt from this comment, he pressed his hand to his chest,

Abel: [To handle this alone is beyond the capabilities of a mere merchant. ――Thus, I shall follow suit.]

Mizelda: [A-Abel too!?]

Hearing that brazen self-recommendation, the air of the meeting place around Mizelda began to buzz. 

Of course, Subaru had also been surprised by Abel’s proposal. Truly, he had never dreamed he would suggest that on his own. 

Subaru: […Honestly, I thought the main issue was going to be how to talk you into it.]

Abel: [In ordinary times, it would be a fool’s errand, something not even worth considering. But as it stands, we possess few cards to play, and our potential plans are also limited. If it is indeed effective, it is a necessary situation we must stoop to.]

Subaru: [Tch, you have a freaking terrible way of putting it. This is why charismatic bastards are…]

Never mind that he had been chased off the throne, there was no wavering of the fact that he was the Emperor.

That was Abel’s creed, and a belief that he would not yield on. Having been shown a glimpse of it so blatantly, Subaru had no choice but to genuinely commend him.

Were he an example of an inept person with authority, he would make a blunder by being too preoccupied with his own safety.

However, ever since Abel had first encountered Subaru in the jungle, he had continued to win big gambles using himself as a chip, Lifeblood Ritual included.

This time would be no exception as well, and he probably had zero intention of backing down from it.

Abel: [An ingenious scheme is something that starts producing results only when performed from outside the enemy’s expectations. Taking advantage of the General’s biases, it conceals itself in their unavoidable negligence. There is value in discussing this plan.]

Subaru: [Yeah, it’s also written in a book called the “Kojiki”. It says that crossdressing’s the best option when aiming for the enemy General’s neck.] [1]

Rem: [You can’t seriously just accept the contents of such a suspicious book…]

It was a reference to an old book of ancient and honorable origin, but even if he were to explain the trustworthiness of the “Kojiki” to Rem now, he would not get a reply from the current her. As of now, he could not think of a way to quickly regain the trust Rem had in him.

He feared rejection without the chance to explain himself, so he was grateful yet surprised that Abel had accepted his proposal.

Subaru: [When you said poison, I really thought you were the type to execute anyone who opposed you, but…]

Abel: [If required, I am willing to do so. Nevertheless, emotions are far from being a necessity for future decisions. After all, what I must obtain is not limited to the city of Guaral.]

Subaru: [――――]

Abel: [If General Zikr Osman were to be secured, we can devise means to procure what I desire without bloodshed. If the concerns of an internal insurrection can be reduced, that would be celebratory.]

Subaru: […Right. There’s definitely value in the words from the guy who’s lost his place because of an internal insurrection.]

A restrained taunt he said in the spur of the moment, but Abel’s expression did not give the slightest twitch.

Was this level of sarcasm and disrespect not worth getting aggravated over? ――Or perhaps, like Abel himself had stated, he was not as pigheaded as to not recognise his own shortcomings.

In any case――,

Subaru: [If you’re cooperative then there’s nothing more that I could ask for. Your name… Abel, Vollachia… Is Bianca fine?]

Abel: [I am not particular about my fake name, call me as you prefer. More importantly, there is hardly enough manpower with just you, me and the merchant. Let me see…]

Crossing his arms, Abel surveyed the faces in the meeting area.

Then, closing one eye with a “Hm”,

Abel: [The ones we can use are Kuna and Taritta, that would be about it.]

Subaru: [Wha?]

Abel: [It is the preparation needed. Even if we successfully draw out Zikr Osman, the requisite manpower to suppress him is needed. Saying that, anyone who is instantly recognizable as one of the People of Shudraq should be avoided.]

Abel said while pointing with his chin. Hearing that, Subaru also understood Abel’s thinking.

Suddenly being put under the spotlight, Taritta and Kuna were perplexed. While they were members of the People of Shudraq, compared to the others, these two were the types that did not give off a wild atmosphere.

Mizelda, at first glance, looked like a fiery and aggressive fighter. Similarly, Holly on first look, gave a unique impression on people. They were not suited for this situation, which called for the concealment of their Shudraqian identities.

In the end, what was needed to not raise alarms in the enemy’s mind was a feminine charm――,

Subaru: [I think that’s the limit of what my dress-up and makeup can do. I can’t give them a womanly charm with these cosmetics after all.]

Rem: [――Me too.]

Subaru: [Rem?]

Then, the one who swiftly raised her hand there was Rem.

This was the Rem who did not hide her disbelief towards Subaru after the case with Flora. Yet, as if she’d had some reconsideration after seeing them continue a serious discussion of this plan, her expression was likewise weighty.

And, with resolve and determination shining in her light-blue eyes,

Rem: [Please, let me take part in this. I’ll definitely be of use.]

Subaru: [Rem… Sorry, but that’s not possible.]

Rem: [――Hk! Again, you’re unnecessarily trying to distance me from danger…]

Her resolution on the verge of being crushed, Rem’s eyes shot daggers at Subaru.

Without a doubt, Subaru held a sense of overprotectiveness that would most likely infuriate Rem. His sentiment to distance her from danger and let her peacefully spend her time inside a cradle was no lie.

However, that was not the sole reason for stopping her participation in this battle.

Subaru: [It’s true I’m worried for your safety. But, the reason I’m rejecting your involvement is simply because the plan’s success rate will decrease…. Rem, your face has already been seen by the Imperial Soldiers.]

Rem: [――Ah.]

Subaru: [There was that time you got caught at the camp, and also when we were running away from the city. We can’t use Medium’s help for the same reason. We made too much of a scene.]

After causing such a commotion, the guards at the security checkpoint would definitely not forget Rem and Medium’s faces. Louis too, for that matter.

The operation this time, was a battle on whether or not they could get the better of the enemy’s thinking and slip under their radar. Unless they wanted to endanger that core idea, there was no way they could bring Rem along.

Rem: [But… But, if the condition is whether our face has been seen or not, then it should be the same for you too!]

Subaru: [Yes, but no. Because, it won’t be me who’ll be passing through the main gate of Guaral. It’ll be Natsumi Schwartz.]

Rem: [Hah?]

As if she thought she was being deceived again, anger blazed in the determined Rem’s eyes. However, in regards to this case, nothing could be explained through words.

Just like how Flop had been transformed into Flora, Natsuki Subaru had to simply disguise himself into Natsumi Schwartz. ――He had to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Subaru: [Anyways, the reason I can’t bring you along’s just as I explained. But, Taritta and Kuna, you guys too, this’ll be a dangerous operation so I’ll have to convince you two first before…]

Mizelda: [Nah, this is interesting. I’ll allow it. Take them both.]

Just as Subaru was trying to confirm the thoughts and intentions of the two Shudraqians, Mizelda interrupted with those words.

Turning his head in surprise, Subaru saw the shining eyes of Mizelda focused back on him with blazing curiosity. She stared with the intensity of a hunter; it felt like she was peeling his skin off and trying to take a peek underneath.

For a brief moment, Subaru could even feel an intense fear sweep through him.

Subaru: [Mizelda, san?]

Mizelda: [Subaru, you and Abel have already proven your valor. Shudraq respects those blessed with valor. But, that doesn’t mean we cut and throw away ingenuity as an unblessed value. Might and wisdom, those excelling in both become supreme warriors… Go and prove yourselves.]

Her cheeks warmed in joy, as if the operation that targeted the enemy’s weakness was favorable for her as well.

Based on assumptions, Subaru had believed without question that Mizelda and the rest of the People of Shudraq would dislike this sort of scheme. That was why he planned on inquiring Taritta and Kuna whether they would like to participate in this operation or not.

However, after Mizelda gave her answer, Taritta and Kuna nodded along as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Kuna: [If the Chieftain says so, I have nothing else to reaaally say.]

Taritta: [I will follow Sister’s direction… I am also interested in this, make-up.]

Linking her hands behind her head, Kuna accepted with an attitude that said she did not care either way. Taritta held the same opinion but she would flick her gaze towards Flora on and off.

It seemed like she had gained an interest in Subaru’s make-up handiwork. He thought the scene was somewhat lacking in the tension expected from the preparation of a life or death operation, but――,

Abel: [If there are no objections, then let us swiftly prepare. We must settle this battle before the cowards in the Fortress City receive encouragement from the Imperial Capital.]

Subaru: [… Okay, got it. If everyone’s good with that too. Rem, is this alright with you?]

Rem: [――. You’re not going to listen no matter what I say, are you?]

Laden with embarrassment from what she had spoken before, Rem glared at Subaru intently. He was sorry about dismissing her resolve but, after considering her safety and the success of the operation, there was no path in which she could join them.

That was why Subaru cast his eyes downwards, and resigned himself to bear Rem’s fury.

However――,

Rem: [But, the one who asked you to do something about this, the one who requested that, was me.]

Subaru: [Rem?]

Rem: [And for me to make a fuss about it, there’s no way I can do that… Please be successful.]

Her frustration had not vanished, and it was not as if she had forgiven Subaru as well. She would respect the decision made, was what was communicated to him through her averting gaze.

Just by that, the dark clouds within Subaru cleared up.

Subaru: [Only Rem can do this, but man is it calming… Wait, that’s not right is it?]

Just by showing her very slight approval, Subaru was giddy to the point that he felt like he could fly up high in the sky.

But also, when Emilia smiled, he felt like he could rise up to the heavens by that smile alone, and when Beatrice would explain something with her smug face, his chest would become super warm and comfy.

With a “Huh”, Subaru only now noticed that he was easier to deal with than he’d thought.

Abel: [What is the matter? Are you only now getting cold feet?]

Subaru: [Not now, that’s not quite right …. It’s just that, I’m getting pumped up.]

Abel: [Hoh? Show that with your utmost efforts, then.]

Receiving courage from Rem’s comment, Subaru answered while Abel flared his nose.

Needless to say, that was what he intended to do. ――Once this “bloodless siege” succeeded, the path to return to the Kingdom of Lugunica might open up.

Even if that were not the case, Subaru would not let any tragedy occur within his sight’s reach. He would not let it happen.

???: [――Heeey, big brooo! It’s not nice to Bote-chin if we don’t let her rest so I wanna put her somewhereee.]

Then, in the meeting area where zeal was rising, Medium peeked her face in without hesitation.

Even when compared to the muscular Shudraqians, Medium stood one head taller, and so was very noticeable with her height. The said-noticeable person then looked over the meeting area with her round eyes and,

Medium: [Eh, where’s big bro?]

Flop: [Ohhh, dear sister! To lose sight of your brother is quite cruel of you. I’m present, right here!]

Medium: [――?]

Towards the head-tilted Medium, Flora stood up and made her existence aware. And towards Flora’s words, Medium scrunched her eyebrows and fell into deep thought.

Staying silent for a while, she then yelled, as if she had come to a realization.

Medium: [Big bro, all this time you were actually my big sis!]

Flop: [Mister!? What’s going on here!? This is actually scary!]

If even the eyes of a blood-related sister could be deceived, this would certainly be a firm foothold for this operation.

Tappei’s Comment:

In regards to Subaru’s crossdressing addiction (this is a misleading description), they have happened before in LN Tappenshuu 3 and 6.

There wasn’t really a good timing to slot it in the Web Novel so they weren’t put in here but, as the author, it has always been part of the plan since the beginning. The introduction of this has taken 8 years since writing started. Hahaha, nice obsession.

Translator Notes:

[1] The Kojiki [古事記] (literally translated as Records of Ancient Matter) is one of the oldest surviving literary works about Japanese history and contains many myths, stories and semi-historical accounts (plus more) of Japan.
The crossdressing Subaru is referring to is most likely about the story about how Ousu-no-mikoto (afterwards known as Yamato Takeru-no-mikoto) crossdressed as a maid attendant to kill Kawakami Takeru, an enemy General and leader of the Kumaso.

Further Reading:

https://www.worldhistory.org/Kojiki/

https://medium.com/more-than-tokyo/cave-of-the-bear-people-kumaso-no-ana-dcc210fac1ab


From the next chapter onwards, only edited Machine Translations, which have been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality are available. This is expected to have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read on you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality. A proper, higher-quality translation for these chapters are in the works by our team, so if you would prefer to wait for them, then this is the last chapter available for now.

15 thoughts on “Arc 7, Chapter 22 – “The Bloodless Siege Plan””

  1. I feel kinda bad that even if Subaru did the impossible by devising a plan that not only nobody thought of (not even the genius strategist Vincent) but also one that will make them all win without spilling a single drop of blood, even so Rem don’t give him the credit for it, neither do most of the others, it is kinda sad

  2. This whole cross-dressing thing seems really forced and weird and out of place, but apparently its “been a thing since the beginning” just because the author said so. Hopefully this doesn’t last long.

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