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Olbart: [I’ve taken the liberty of makin’ tea for myself, does anyone else want some?]
The moment he heard the shrill old voice, the blood flow in Subaru’s body began flowing backwards.
His skin covered in goosebumps started aching, the air he had taken in froze over within his lungs. As if a heavy, sharp object had been buried deep in his chest, Subaru’s soul was urged to awaken.
――Return by Death had activated, and he had been thrust into this most terrible of situations.
A moment later, before Subaru could react in any way, Taritta took aim with her bow.
The target was, of course, the uninvited visitor who had suddenly appeared in the room―― Olbart Dunkelkenn. One of the Nine Divine Generals, and the old man who had murdered Subaru and the others just ten seconds ago.
Even without knowing the circumstances, the unmannered way in which he broke the ice would make one wary.
Nevertheless, in the same room, Olbart, while having an arrow pointed at him from ultra-point-blank range, as if to ridicule the caution displayed by Subaru and the rest, shrugged his shoulders and,
Olbart: [Whoa, whoa, don’t do it, don’t do it. I don’t like havin’ pointy things aimed at me. Ya know, ol’ people go ta the bathroom more often than not, and ya wanna scare them into pissin’ their pants? I’m shakin’ in my boots here, yeah?]
Taritta: [You’re kidding me…! Who are you…]
Abel: [――Olbart Dunkelkenn.]
Taritta’s face flushed with anger as Olbart ignored her piercing hostility. But it was the man with the oni mask, Abel, who drew the attention to him as if to interrupt her, calling out the old man’s name.
Unphased by his appearance, Olbart’s gaze turned to the man concealing his face, the one who had spoken his name.
And so it began, a gut-wrenching battle that left him with an awfully thirsty impression――,
While keeping the conversation between Olbart and Abel on the perimeter of his consciousness, Subaru matched the unchanging scenes of this world to that of his own memories. Just before, the events of around merely ten minutes prior. ――In those was where he must search for a breakthrough in fate.
???: [Can you do it?]
While in those thoughts wishful of a breakthrough, a cold voice wedged itself in, catching him off-guard. Born of impatience and frustration, it was none other than the feeble voice of Natsuki Subaru himself.
Subaru: [Can you do it? He wiped out all your friends just a moment ago, ending in that mess.]
The more he tried to remember what had just happened, the more the voice whispered to Subaru devoid of mercy.
Subaru’s failure, his blunder, his irreparable mistake.
This second chance granted by Return by Death was not to make up for his mistakes.
The mistakes he had performed were irreversible. The only thing granted to Subaru was atonement which he could not really atone for. Because that was the sole product of the Authority in Natsuki Subaru’s possession――,
Olbart: [Oh! What’s up with’cha all of a sudden?]
Medium: [Whoa! What, what, what?]
Louis: [Uu!? Aa, uu!]
He slapped his cheeks as hard as he could with both hands, trying to shake off the snide remarks that had been whispered in his ear.
A dry sound echoed through the room. Olbart, Medium and Louis screamed at Subaru’s sudden action.
Although they had not raised their voices, Al and Taritta were just as surprised.
Of course they would be. It was unfortunate, but it just was necessary.
Once Subaru opened his closed eyelids, his vision, which had seemed wobbly and unsteady, became clearer. Within his field of view, in the midst of the people who had been surprised by Subaru’s strange behavior, a single gaze was trained on him in silence.
Only the oni mask-wearing Abel was as unfazed and composed as he had been at the time of Olbart’s first appearance. ――What lay within his heart, was wholly unknown.
Subaru: [Sorry for surprising you… I had to motivate myself.]
Olbart: [A lil’ kid with red cheeks and a big smile on his face, how nice… Hmm? Aren’t’cha that one? Aren’t’cha perhaps the girl in red from yesterday? Ya startled me.]
Detecting the eccentric-behaving Subaru’s real identity, Olbart raised his thick eyebrows in interest.
Just like in the previous loop, Olbart had again now made the connection between Subaru and Natsumi for the first time. Going along this line, having confirmed that Olbart was the mastermind behind the “infantilization”, it was possible to bring about negotiations.
However, they would be committing the same mistake, then. ――Olbart was a dangerous man.
At the very least, Abel’s circumstances could not be relayed as to get Olbart on their side.
As soon as he found out that Abel was the real Emperor, that Abel was Vincent Vollachia, he would disclose his own long-held ambitions and make an attempt on his life. ――He was a potential enemy already.
Al: […That’s my bro. Even the shinobi head honcho didn’t know who you were.]
Olbart: [Oh, how impressive, how impressive! I wish the people in my village could learn from that transformation. How ‘bout bein’ a lecturer? You’d be welcome.]
Olbart: [Guess it’s impossible ta talk peacefully. Seems I’ve put’cha on yer guard a tad too much and made a tad too grand an entrance. I messed up, I messed up.]
Olbart stuck out his tongue and admitted he had made a mistake.
However, the situation in which this would warm up or soften the atmosphere had long passed. Subaru had not the slightest intention of relaxing his vigilance toward the old man.
――Prior to his assault, Olbart had stated that human faces said a lot.
Probably, the combination of his good-natured attitude and casual behavior, as well as the surprise produced by his silent intrusion into the unprotected room, were all techniques to elicit the other party’s true reaction.
If the shinobi of this world and Subaru’s perception of “ninjas” were of the same nature, then the entirety of Olbart’s conduct should consist of traps, poison and all kinds of ninjutsu.
He would spare no effort to achieve his goal.
Olbart: [Ya best not take me lightly ‘cause I’m an ol’ man with a short life ahead of me and all that, tho’. Gonna have ta get a lil’ rough, takin’ into account how much time I got left in me.]
Taritta: [Rough… Are you going to fight us in this situation?]
Olbart: [Kakakakka! Well, it’s true I might get a lil’ jumpy with a bow pointed at me, don’t’cha think? But fightin’ isn’t the only method for me ta get my way, is it?]
Medium: [Weeell~, what do you mean? What are you trying to say, Gramps?]
Taritta and Medium cast a question towards the sincerely-muttering Olbart, who shrunk his small body even further. The old man’s cheeks twisted into a smile at the pair’s questions, their height difference had been flipped around.
Then, with his hand, he pointed at Medium and then at Al, the two trying to block his exit route,
Olbart: [It’s hard ta do this and that havin’ been shrunken, isn’t it? I did that. It’s a kind of shinobi technique. Strange and interestin’, right?]
Al: [Old man…!]
Olbart: [Don’t be angry, one-armed young’un. In fact, ya can thank me. I’d be miffed if I killed ya by accident before I could’ve asked ya any, so I just shrunk ya.]
With Al closing in on him for an answer, Olbart spoke and stopped his advance.
Upon understanding that the words spoken to him were indeed true, Al’s breath caught, and he fell silent.
Indeed, this statement of Olbart’s was both true and factual.
Had he so desired, he could have killed Subaru’s group during the battle of the previous day, at the Crimson Lapis Castle. He could have pierced their hearts with a simple thrust of his hand, instead of this infantilization technique.
The fact that Subaru and the others were still alive, even after becoming small, came down to nothing more than the whim of the old man.
So Subaru thought, but――,
Olbart: [Well, even if I’d tried ta kill ya for real, you’d’ve blocked all my attempts at doin’ it, so I just did it outta desperation, ya know? Right, young’un?]
Al: […I wonder what you’re talking about.]
Olbart: [Kakakakka! Ya won’t tell me ‘bout yer trick? I can’t really blame ya. If I could tho’, I’d ask ya how ta do it in detail and leave it in my book of secrets.]
Al: [It doesn’t matter how many times you say it. ――I wonder what you’re talking about.]
His face covered by a piece of cloth, Al answered in a muffled voice.
That response should not match his expectations, yet Olbart nodded with a “Is that so, is that so”, seemingly enjoying Al’s reaction.
On the other hand, Subaru had no idea what could be the meaning of the current exchange between the two.
During that fierce battle in the castle tower of Crimson Lapis Castle, Al had done the work of several people to save the lives of Subaru and Medium. Or perhaps the one who had squared off against Al there, Olbart, had noticed something shimmering in his fighting style.
However, even if Olbart’s words were true, Al’s technique, influenced by the “infantilization”, would not work on the shinobi.
Subaru had already been witness to the results of that, with his very eyes.
And derived from that, came about an absolute truth.
――That would be: under no circumstances whatsoever should they ever wage battle against Olbart. It was that simple.
Olbart was lazily playing with his teacup using both hands. Taritta trained her bow and arrow on him, and Al and Medium likewise were ready for battle―― but they would be killed helplessly.
There was a tremendous gap in strength between Subaru’s group and Olbart.
If they fought Olbart, they would be annihilated. ――No, even if they attempted to escape, one or two people may be able to escape, but the chances of that were incredibly small.
They needed to get Olbart to leave peacefully, at all costs. However, there was no time to have a discussion regarding that.
He could not help but lament that he had been forcefully returned to this moment.
He was aware of it being a thought terribly filled with pride and selfishness, as he had been granted a second opportunity by Return by Death. Had he at least returned before Olbart’s appearance, he would have been able to consult with his companions at least.
Most recently, he had Returned by Death repeatedly when facing Todd in the Fortress City of Guaral with little time to deal with him; remembering this brought Subaru much suffering.
At that time, he’d had to restart while already being in the sight of the threat.
Currently, while the circumstances were different, the conditions were similar. In other words, the restart point had placed him in the same cage as the bloodthirsty beast.
Originally, the time traveled by Return by Death had not been consistent, but this was quite serious.
Or, perhaps, the Authority that had been bestowed upon Subaru had been compromised in some manner――,
Subaru: [――Let’s put that aside for now.]
He should not curse the lack of time, and commit the folly of wasting what little time he had.
Subaru would not be the only one to pay for his own stupidity.
Subaru: [Olbart-san. You’re…]
Abel: [――. You claimed your technique shrunk these people.]
Subaru forced himself to change his mind and attempted to call out to Olbart.
In order to get out of this situation, he had to be careful about every word he said, every action he performed. He wanted time to discern the best choice of words or to put it another way, so he had spoken with the intent of buying time.
However, Abel interrupted him, covering Subaru’s voice with his own.
His words discouraged Subaru at the outset. Now in an embarrassed state, Subaru looked at the man donning the oni mask, and then came to realize his aim. Abel did not even glance back; his real intention was to substitute for Subaru’s role. ――That would be, to give Subaru the time required, and draw Olbart’s attention.
Olbart: [Oh, that’s right, that’s right. I forgot we gotta talk ‘bout that too. Ol’ people always go off on tangents. It puts a strain on my flesh and bones.]
Abel: [You? Cease with the droll humor. If you claim your old age is weakening you, you should relinquish the rank of General First-Class as soon as possible. If you do not, you have already made up your mind.]
Olbart: [Well, ya got a point. The mask makes it hard for ya ta see my body, but ya can peer into my thoughts just fine.]
Abel: [Of course.]
Devoid of hesitation, Abel nodded, and Olbart’s eyes took on a curious look.
There was no longer any doubt that Abel’s true intention was not to expose Olbart’s true nature, but to buy time, considering his posture of dragging the conversation.
Subaru did not know how Abel had realized that he needed time, but――,
Subaru: [This isn’t the time to be distracted.]
Putting aside his displeasure at having been seen through, Subaru thought about what to do.
If Olbart came to know of Abel’s true identity, he would fulfill his ambition to murder the Emperor. Therefore, he could not disclose his hand to Olbart.
However, there was no way he would leave without seeing what they had to offer.
Abel: [You are a General First-Class, your rank presently that of Third, so it may be said that you rest at the top of the Empire. However, your nature is a greedy one. Even that position is far from satisfactory.]
Olbart: [Well, bein’ treated as a witherin’ ol’ man isn’t quite that bad, but I get the feelin’ bein’ called a greedy ol’ man isn’t all that nice. Kakakakka!]
Abel spoke of Olbart’s character, as seen through his own eyes.
Olbart listened happily, wearing a broad smile, but the darkness hidden in the depths of the shinobi was something that Abel, of all people, had misjudged.
――No, it would be more appropriate to say that he had not obtained an accurate reading.
Olbart: [So? What does a disgruntled man like me want?]
Abel: [――The seat of First.]
Abel’s words were uttered in a quiet yet unwavering voice.
As soon as he heard this, the sound of Olbart’s breath disappeared, like dead leaves rubbing together. The old man’s eyes narrowed under his long, thick eyebrows, as he locked gazes with Abel.
Subaru did not know what was going through the shinobi’s mind, but he was sure what Abel had pointed out had made Olbart’s thoughts buzz.
Olbart: [One-armed young’un, don’t make any strange moves. Ya too, archer girl, you’re also makin’ it obvious ‘cause of yer breathin’.]
――Did not mean that Olbart’s attention had been diverted, or that any chance had been created.
With Olbart’s face still turned toward Abel as he spoke, Al and Taritta gulped.
They had been most likely searching for a faint opportunity the moment Olbart focused on Abel. But even that probing gesture did not go unnoticed by the seasoned observational prowess held by Olbart.
Al: [――Hk, you’ve got eyes in the back of your head?]
Olbart: [What I’m sayin’ isn’t that you’re not diligent enough. Difference’s in experience, experience. But from my point of view, most people are inexperienced. It’s an ol’ man’s theory that cannot be beaten.]
While displaying a toothy grin in response to Al’s groaning, Olbart’s gaze never left Abel’s.
He could deal with any of Al and Taritta’s tricks without even looking. ――Even if he did not say it in actual fact, from this transcendental being’s posture, it was clear that he was thinking it.
Moreover, they currently did not possess the ability nor the cards in their hands to overturn that.
Giving a shake of his head, Subaru advised Al to stay out of it.
Although Subaru did not have a complete grasp of Al’s abilities and skills, he was probably a skilled fighter who specialized in defense. As showcased by the battle with Arakiya, and the previous day at the castle tower, his ability to survive the enemy’s attacks despite being on the defensive was something that even Subaru had to admire.
And yet, in this state of having been “infantilized”, he would not be able to wield it to the fullest and would end up being killed.
Olbart: [Ya surprised me by tellin’ me I was aimin’ for First, tho’. Why are ya blurtin’ out somethin’ that crazy, masked young’un?]
Abel: [It is evident. Your ambition is not so shallow that it shall dry up just because of your old age. ――The shinobi push their bodies and minds to the extreme, and merely a scant few can reach such states. Goes without mention that you are their leader… And the hour upon which you are complete shall not come till the day you die.]
Crossing his arms, Olbart nodded briefly at Abel’s words.
It could be taken as missing the point, but the lack of response only made its credibility stronger.
In actual fact, Subaru knew that Abel’s point was incorrect.
Olbart’s true intentions, and the ultimate goal of the shinobi head honcho, was to “murder the Emperor”. Different from rising to the top of the Nine Divine Generals.
However, Olbart’s reaction was proof that Abel’s point was not far off the mark.
Ultimately, what Abel was pointing out, was the “thirst” within Olbart.
What Abel had speculated as a way to fulfill that craving was to take the title of First, the absolute most important rank in the Nine Divine Generals, of which Olbart was a part of as well. ――But it was not unreasonable.
He was a General First-Class, with plenty underlings as the shinobi head honcho, having lived a long, long life, now burdened with the typical fetters of old age―― How had he come to notice that desire, of having his name go down in history as the shinobi who had murdered his own liege the Emperor, even if it meant abandoning everything he had gained in life?
Abel was arrogant and self-centered and had zero consideration for others, nevertheless he was the Emperor of Vollachia―― as an existence upon the Imperial throne, the preservation of his own life held precedence.
He possessed the self-awareness to know that, with his loss, the Empire would become greatly unstable.
That was the inevitable awareness that possessed by the Vollachian Emperor, by Abel. And on the other hand, that should be a sense of responsibility held by everyone, even if not as strong as his.
――This was, that which Olbart Dunkelkenn did not have.
He did not mind dying, if so fulfilled his ambition. Even if it meant bringing trouble upon the people around him as a result, that did not matter.
That extraordinary thought of destruction was Olbart’s darkness, and that which Abel had not been able to read.
Subaru: [――Olbart-san, you’re not after the seat of First, what you’re after is the Emperor, isn’t it?]
――Natsuki Subaru did know, the darkness of Olbart Dunkelkenn.
――A moment later, the color, smell, and feel of the air changed.
Olbart did not even turn his line of sight towards Al and Taritta, whose hostility was accompanied by their ability to get things done. Olbart’s gaze reacted to the infantilized Subaru’s words.
While holding a teacup in one hand and stroking his chin with the other hand, the old man turned to look at Subaru.
That was because he could not allow what Subaru had just said pass by.
Olbart: [Boy, you’ve come outta nowhere again, I’m surprised.]
Subaru: [Are you surprised because I spoke up suddenly? Or was it…?]
Olbart: [Are you askin’ me if I’m surprised ya guessed right? If that were true, I’d be a very dangerous guy, kakakakka!]
Opening his mouth wide, Olbart tried to laugh off Subaru’s words with gusto. However, Subaru was convinced that his inner thoughts were not as calm as they seemed.
Subaru had done nothing else but to recite to him his own long-held ambition.
In addition, this was a darkness that even Abel’s eyes had not been able to see through until the moment it was about to be acted upon.
Al: [Aiming for the Emperor and killing him? Bro, that’s a leap, even for you.]
Subaru: [It doesn’t make sense. Yeah, I know that. There’s no merit other than notoriety, isn’t that right?]
Olbart: [Well, can’t say I don’t understand the idea of bein’ infamous over not bein’ known. Like the one-armed young’un said, that idea’s a bit of a leap.]
Subaru: [But you’re not denying it outright, Olbart-san.]
Olbart agreed with Al’s doubting voice, but Subaru pressed Olbart on.
Honestly, he knew that he would be jumping into the danger zone, but even then he couldn’t not do so.
Abel had prolonged his conversation with Olbart, while Subaru had pondered it over.
As long as Olbart’s ambition was to murder his own liege, the Emperor, Abel’s true identity could not be disclosed, nor could he be told that the Emperor was Chisha, a fake. It was inevitable that this bargaining chip of theirs had disappeared.
Once this happened, in order to prevent Olbart’s hands from unmasking Abel, Subaru had come up with a method of warfare that diametrically opposed the original “negotiation”――,
――Namely, forgoing the disclosure of their own hand, but instead disclosing Olbart’s own.
Subaru: [Our objective is as I told you yesterday in the castle tower. We’re going to overthrow Emperor Vincent Vollachia, who currently sits on the throne of the Emperor. This should also align with your goal.]
Olbart: [Wait wait, don’t make me out ta be some kinda traitor! This is treadin’ on thin ice, boy, you’re makin’ me so scared that I’m ‘boutta piss myself.]
Subaru: [But you aren’t denying it nor stopping me from saying it for real. You’re one of the Emperor’s Generals of the First-Class.]
With that future possibility caught with just his fingertips, Subaru moved forward in an attempt to fully reach it.
Of course, that did not mean that the threat posed by Olbart had diminished, nor that the danger had lessened. He was fully aware that with one wrong move, this place would become a bloodbath.
But Subaru was convinced that this was the kind of talk that was possible as of now.
Only after Abel’s true identity had been revealed had Olbart decided to take action.
It was akin to some sort of suicide mission for Olbart, in which killing Abel would fulfill his life’s purpose.
Without that conviction, Olbart would not be quick-tempered during the negotiations.
Even if he was a beast of ambition, devoid of the slightest sense of responsibility or loyalty, he would play the role of a Divine General who faithfully obeyed the order of “no interference” given by the false Emperor.
Olbart: [That’s, His Excellency’s ordered me ta stay out of it even tho’ you’ve declared war right ta his face. I’m not like Kafma, who gets mad all the time when it comes ta the Emperor. Not wise ta turn the foxgirl into an enemy, in this city.]
As expected, despite Olbart hearing Subaru’s appeal that could have just as well been derogatory, he nevertheless did not attempt to use force.
However, he did not take kindly to Subaru’s insistence, and his attitude naturally made Abel, Al and the others put into question whether the shinobi’s absurd ambitions were true, or not.
Abel: [――So would that be the ulterior motive dwelling within your heart that I was unable to conjecture?]
Olbart: [Good grief, these guys just don’t get it. At this rate, I’ll just have ta give up and acknowledge it’s no use talkin’ ta ‘em.]
Among those who were skeptical, Abel was the first to accept the unbelievable details.
Pierced by the glint in his eyes, Olbart blurted out some excuse as if he didn’t feel like it. There had been no reason for Olbart to open his heart to Subaru and the others in earnest at this juncture from the get-go.
Naturally, Al and the rest of the fighters were getting more tense due to Olbart’s attitude――,
Olbart: [Stop it, stop it, you’ll only end up losin’ if ya start a fight. I’m tellin’ ya, the reason I won’t use violent methods with’cha isn’t ‘cause I’m nice, it’s ‘cause I was told not to, aight? I’m prepared ta get even with’cha if ya folks make a move on me first.]
Taritta: [Guh… That may be true…]
They hadn’t fought yet, but they’d be back at square one if they tried to start something. Taritta’s cheeks tightened at Olbart’s warning, her narrowed eyes darting a glance at Subaru and Medium.
Seeing this, Olbart nodded his head as if to speak affirmatively,
Olbart: [Bring back the shrunken ones, ya say. That’s a tad greedy, don’t’cha think? I’m thinkin’ of leavin’ without doin’ anythin’, okay?]
Medium: [But Gramps, you made us small, didn’t you? Or is there anyone else besides Gramps who can bring us back to normal?]
Olbart: [I’ve never really thought ‘bout it… Girl, how old are ya, really?]
Medium: [Me? I’m what, twenty?]
Olbart: [Then maybe if ya wait ten years, you’ll go back ta normal? Dunno, tho’.]
Medium raised her hand and asked a question, her cheeks reddening at his blunt answer. Albeit it was just Olbart’s bewildering attitude, his answer was troubling for Subaru and the others.
But it was a fact that there was no way to get answers out of him by force, and no other method to undo what had been done.
Subaru: [You know you can’t just pack up and go home. Olbart-san, I’m going to have to ask you to stay with us a little longer…]
Olbart: [I don’t wanna, tho’. Since you’re treatin’ me like an ol’ man and all that. I’m an ol’ man with a short life ahead of me, and I got the right ta choose who I talk ta with the lil’ time I got.]
Abel: [――Then, I shall present you with the opportunity to kill the Emperor.]
Immediately after that, Subaru gasped at yet another change in atmosphere, and gazed the one who had spoken, Abel.
Abel had done nothing else than put his own life on the scales, that statement causing Olbart to scratch his head with an “Oioi”,
Olbart: [How many times do I gotta tell ya folks that yer premise’s wrong? Isn’t it pretty bad if ya can’t remember things better than me?]
Abel: [If your goal is the Emperor’s life, you have had many opportunities in the past. But you have not actualized it. ――Because the Flame of the Yang Sword protects the Emperor.]
Abel: [I can divulge how to overcome the Flame.]
Olbart’s expression underwent a shift, becoming distinctly different from the facade he had held up until that point.
The old man raised his eyebrows and stared at the oni mask-wearing Abel with clear surprise. Abel, on the other hand, had risen from his chair, standing there majestically.
Subaru: [The Flame, of the Yang Sword…]
What that meant, Subaru did not know for certain.
However, it was true that for Olbart, the shock was such that it made it possible to see through to the other side, breaking through the ostensible emotions that he had put up to this point.
Based on the conversation, it was some sort of secret that protected the Emperor of Vollachia, and it was because of this that Olbart’s ambition had not come to fruition thus far.
A method to remove those fetters and overcome them, that was what Abel had claimed.
Olbart: [――. I thought all ya did was hide yer face and not care for the elderly, who the hell are ya? Ya shouldn’t joke ‘round ‘bout such things.]
Abel: [Is your belief really that someone who weaves sophistry and jokes in a place like this can raise a rebellion against this mighty Empire? If so, they would have to be either a madman bereft of sanity, or a great man with a lot of nerve.]
Olbart: [You’re neither of those things, are ya?]
Consisely, Abel responded to Olbart’s question.
Whether it was serious or just sophistry, Subaru could not decide. Or perhaps the man named Abel was the real deal, a madman, a great man, or all of those simultaneously.
In reaction to Abel’s reply, Olbart fell silent for a moment.
He raised his bushy eyebrows and brought his now utterly cold cup of tea to his lips. Then, once he gently placed the empty teacup on the desk beside him,
Olbart: [I believe you were talking about the bell of Fire Time.]
With that sudden question, Subaru let out a stupid-sounding voice.
However, the one to reply immediately with “That’s right~” and a nod was Medium. Her body now smaller, she pointed out the window, indicating the majesty of the Crimson Lapis Castle,
Medium: [Yorna-chan’s calling us, so we’ll be in trouble if we stay small.]
Olbart: [Yorna-chan! Kakakakka! You’ve got real balls, lass.]
He tilted his head, amazed by Medium’s boldness in addressing Yorna with “chan”.
At the same time, Olbart did the same, now calmed down, gazing towards the Crimson Lapis Castle, pointed to by Medium, as he muttered “Right”,
Olbart: [Putting aside the topic of whether I’m aimin’ for His Excellency’s life or not, I sure am curious ‘bout how ta get past the Yang Sword that protects the Emperor of Vollachia.]
Subaru: [――Hk! If that’s the case…]
Olbart: [Oh, com’on, it’s too early ta tell. I’m the one who got yer hopes up, but I got a lotta things on my mind. ――So, why don’t we play a game?]
Subaru: […A game?]
Olbart: [Yes, a game. Ya like that, don’t’cha? Boy.]
Thrusting his finger right in front of Subaru’s nose as the latter leaned forward, Olbart so declared.
As his eyes had been wholly unable to fellow that movement, Subaru went stiff, stuck in place.
Olbart presented some kind of condition, or a “game”, as he called it as a preface.
Subaru was not sure if this was the way he wanted to avoid complete annihilation and improve this stagnant situation, but――,
Subaru: [What if I said no?]
Olbart: [Then ya won’t be able to get anythin’ ya want.]
Olbart: [By the way, since ya folks got what’cha think I want, the shinobi’s techniques’ll be comin’ down on ya folks without relent.]
As if it were an obvious answer, Olbart made that ruthless announcement.
The old man was smiling; the sight of the dark emotions stirring in the depths of his pale, cloudy eyes brought chills.
He may be having a peaceful and harmonious conversation on the surface, but under it, he was concealing a shinobi style of mercilessly reaping others’ lives.
Abel: [What shall the game be?]
Avoiding a bout with Olbart had been made impossible once he presented his conditions. Abel had sensed the same thing, and made his question in Subaru’s stead, the latter unable to open his mouth.
Olbart nodded his head to that appeal, and said, “Right”,
Olbart: [We don’t have much time before the fox girl calls ya, and I’ve been told not ta mess with’cha folks, so I’m in a bit of a pickle… Oh, that one’s perfect.]
Subaru: [Perfect for who, Olbart-san? For us?]
Olbart: [For both of us, me and ya.]
With a toothy grin at Subaru’s drawn-out question, Olbart showed his hands.
Then turning to Subaru and the others bracing themselves, he spoke,
Olbart: [I’m used ta playin’ it with the young peeps from my village. Easy ta understand, isn’t it?]