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After parting ways with the shady Ubilk, they’d stopped at a couple of small alleyways.
Surveying his surroundings by looking around, Subaru would make sure that no one was around. While he was naturally also carefully checking that that Ubilk wasn’t inadvertently following them,
Subaru: [――The answer’s within me.]
Louis tilted her head as Subaru reflected on what Ubilk had told them.
With Ubilk having told them that he was working as an “counselor”, a job he didn’t understand the details of, Subaru’s impression of him as a conman didn’t go away at all, but he felt like his remark was rather on point.
Subaru really didn’t know whether Ubilk could see what he himself wanted or not, but――,
Subaru: […”An abyss with a great view”, I think I’ve figured it out.]
Ubilk’s words, that the answer was within Subaru, had given him a hint.
They did not mean that the missing Olbart was secretly hiding inside Subaru’s body. It was a metaphor, and Olbart’s hint was also a riddle.
The answer to the riddle “behind the eyelids” was the room they’d started in.
So, naturally, the “abyss with a great view” was a riddle as well, and the answer must be in there somewhere.
And the answer Ubilk had given, that it was within Subaru――,
Subaru: [My train of thought was that it’s a place I’ve been, but it’s not.]
Subaru: [There aren’t many places in this city that I’ve been to. If you leave the inn out, there’s only Yorna’s castle. But it doesn’t feel like an abyss. It’s not that at all.]
Subaru: [Something like an abyss, what’s that supposed to mean?]
Olbart had given them the hint of “abyss with a great view”, but the expressions “a great view” and “abyss” were pretty much opposites to begin with.
A great view meant that there’d be a good vantage point. An abyss was a deep hole. Something like a hole with a view just didn’t add up.
So one of them was a lie. And since there was no possible lie in it having a good view, the only lie that could’ve possibly been told was about the abyss.
Subaru: [Things that are like an abyss, but aren’t an abyss…]
There was no such place in Chaosflame to which Subaru had been.
He was sure that the same went for Abel and the others who had not left the inn. ――Subaru was unsure of just how much Olbart knew about the Demon City, to begin with.
But he did not believe that Olbart had been able to go around much either. Because his duty was to accompany the false Emperor―― Vincent, and to protect him.
So, as it was a city he didn’t know much about, it was a place that definitely was not convoluted.
“An abyss with a great view”, as it’d been called, was not a place that existed only in Chaosflame.
Subaru: [――Louis, we’re going to higher ground.]
Louis was surprised at Subaru, who spoke so after shutting his eyes.
He did not think that what he’d meant had been understood. But as long as he could confirm that Louis, holding his hand, would follow him quietly, he wouldn’t ask for anything more.
There wasn’t much time left. Although he was worried that it might be wrong, there was no choice but to give it a try.
Olbart’s hiding place was “an abyss with a great view”, and the closest place to it――,
Subaru: [――We need to get to the closest place to the sky.]
Ubilk’s “counselling”, given in a one-sided conversation, had led Subaru to his answer.
“An abyss with a great view” was, put in another way, “a hole with a great view”.
An abyss was not just a hole, it was a deep hole into which one could fall forever and ever. To speak of it further, it was a hole so deep that there seemed to be no limit to its depth.
And, as Ubilk had stated, Subaru had experienced it before.
And that’d happened not too long ago, in real-time.
Subaru: [On that street, when that boy threw me.]
When Subaru had run out, completely out of his mind, a sheepboy had grabbed his arm. Having been hurled away while being apologized to, Subaru’d had a thought over and over again as he rose high towards the sky, spinning around in circles.
――That he was “falling” towards the blue sky.
Of course, taking into account what had happened, that was incorrect.
From the perspective of those around him, the real Subaru had simply been thrown high into the sky. But the person in question, Subaru, who had not known at the time which way was up and which way was down, had thought so.
He had thought he was falling towards the blue sky.
Falling into an endless, blue, bottomless “hole”.
Subaru: [That’s what the hole with a great view is… So it’s the place closest to the sky in this city.]
Subaru believed that was the place Olbart had been referring to as “an abyss with a great view”.
So the idea was to aim for the highest place, but――,
Louis: [Aa, uh!]
Whether she was aware of how Subaru felt or not, Louis, with a broad smile, pointed to a specific place.
As Louis cheerfully waved their joined hands and pointed into the distance with her free hand, Subaru covered his face with his own.
Not because Louis was fooling around, unable to follow what he’d said.
As a matter of fact, this time around was the only one in which Louis had understood Subaru’s idea. She was pointing to the building that was nearest to the sky in the city of Chaosflame.
However, that same building was the cause of Subaru’s concern.
Subaru: [So you’re thinking the same thing, too…]
As Louis pulled on his hand with vigor, Subaru looked up towards the building she was pointing to―― the Crimson Lapis Castle.
It was the castle of Yorna Mishigure and the tallest building in the Demon City. And, for the still-shrunken Subaru, it was also a place from which he’d certainly be dismissed at the gate.
In the first place, the purpose of playing hide-and-seek with Olbart had been to answer Yorna’s request to wait for her at the Castle. ――The order for that had been reversed.
Subaru: [But if we keep the badness of Olbart’s character in mind, then there’s a good chance that is a stunt he’d pull.]
Olbart also knew why Subaru and the others wished to go back to how they were before.
Having to go to the Crimson Lapis Castle at least once so that he could return to his original state, was the kind of trick Olbart, known as the “Vicious Old Man”, would likely use.
The problem was――,
Subaru: [How do we get into the Castle…?]
He could no longer call himself Natsumi Schwartz with his “infantilized” and shrunken appearance. If this option existed in the first place, he would have rather put off the game of hide-and-seek with Olbart.
He couldn’t tell Yorna about the situation he was in. Especially because Tanza, Yorna’s attendant, was seemingly in cahoots with Olbart.
In that case, it appeared that it would be quite dangerous to approach the Castle.
Subaru: [Yeah, I know… if Tanza’s hiding the fact that she’s cooperating with Olbart-san from Yorna-san, then she’s definitely acting of her own volition.]
It seemed to Subaru that there were relatively few of Tanza’s fellow horned demi-humans around the Crimson Lapis Castle.
If there had been a fuss in the Castle’s vicinity, Yorna would find out what was going on, no matter what. That wouldn’t be something to Tanza’s liking either.
Perhaps it would be better to snitch on Tanza for her mischievousness.
Subaru: [Waitwait, that’s too hasty. There’s always the chance that Yorna-san’ll take Tanza’s side. Or rather, it’s much more likely that she will.]
In a situation with two children, one of them beloved, the other one unknown, which one would be believed was a no-brainer.
No matter how he looked at it, the plan of telling Yorna what Tanza was up to, was one that should rather not be acted on.
But Subaru had a hunch that his feeling of the amount of enemies near the Crimson Lapis Castle being small was correct.
Subaru: [Best option’s to sneak into the Castle after all… Now we just have to pray that Olbart-san’s hiding there at the top. Louis, you got a sec?]
Subaru: [That, warp of yours… it allowed me to fly with you, right?]
Staring into Louis’s blue eyes, Subaru posed that question.
The first time Louis had gone on a rampage in the street, she’d used a Blink to get out from under the collapsed tent, then teleported to another location as Subaru covered her.
At that moment, he’d felt something like the contents of his stomach being churned around, which was not something he wanted to experience again and again, but needless to say, it was very convenient.
There seemed to be a limit to how far they could fly, though.
Subaru: [With that power, we can get inside the Castle. Can you use it properly?]
Subaru: [You sure? If it’s just “probably”, we’ll have problems. If you don’t know how to use it properly, you and I both will be in danger. So.]
Louis puffed out her cheeks in frustration as Subaru continued to push her. As she did, she tightened her grip on Subaru’s hand, using more force,
Poof, in the blink of an eye, the scenery around them changed.
Because he had been focusing on Louis in front of him, Louis’s appearance did not change. However, the scenery around her quickly changed from a dimly-lit alley to a brightly-lit street, to a room in a building somewhere, then to the roof of a building, and so on.
As if to prove that she had proper control over it.
Subaru: [I-I get it! I get it, enough! That’s enough!]
Subaru: [I lose! I give up, I lose!]
Louis let the air out of her puffy cheeks and relaxed them like she’d won. Kneeling beside her, having gone through that horrifying experience, Subaru felt a chill run down his spine.
While holding hands with Subaru, Louis had performed at least five short-distance warps in a flash. Each time, the scenery around them changed. What a ridiculous experience.
It was entirely akin to a nightmare.
Subaru: [But, this will do… Uh.]
As he tried to clench his fists, a surge of gastric juices immediately burned his throat. While still kneeling on the spot, Subaru spewed the contents of his stomach onto the ground in a grand display.
The short-distance warp and the feeling of having his internal organs being churned about were inseparable.
Subaru: [T-that’s convenient. With this… Ouehk.]
Still fighting the acidic urge rising inside him, Subaru glared at the Crimson Lapis Castle.
Next to him, Louis, wrinkling her nose, withdrew her hand for the first time, and waited for Subaru to finish vomiting from a distance.
――Pointing in the direction they should fly to, he squeezed Louis’s hand.
That was the signal that Subaru had taught Louis, to sneak into the Crimson Lapis Castle.
It was like training a puppy to do tricks, but in reality, it was not that simple.
He wasn’t going to treat Louis like a dog, or a puppy, which would’ve been much cuter. At least he wouldn’t have to be scared of who she might jump on and hurt badly at any moment.
It was necessary to be very careful when dealing with her.
Calling out quietly and pulling on her arm, he made Louis stop in place.
Subaru put his finger to his mouth, giving her an instruction with “Shhhh”. Louis did the same, putting her finger to her mouth and mimicked an “Uu”, then shut her mouth.
After checking the scene, Subaru kept Louis behind him and gently peeked around the corner at the end of the passage. ――About ten meters away, there was a strong-looking gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper, sitting dignified in front of the gate with his arms crossed, was a demi-human lizardman, his face resembling that of a lizard. His whole body was covered with blue scales, making him look very tough and cool.
He didn’t seem to be taking his job as a gatekeeper very seriously, because Subaru could see from a distance that he was opening his mouth wide, letting out a yawn. But it seemed unlikely that they could avoid him and make it through the gate.
He called Louis’s name to draw her attention to himself. Then, in front of her, Subaru pointed his finger at the wall for her to see―― the stone wall that surrounded the Crimson Lapis Castle.
And with that, he squeezed Louis’s hand tightly.
Subaru & Louis: [――――]
The next moment, Subaru and Louis’s bodies had leaped over the wall of the Castle, and entered the grounds of the Castle.
It was an infiltration that skipped the process of arguing with the gatekeepers and of breaking through them by force―― He felt sorry for the guards, since even his childlike mind conscience was aware of it being cheating.
No amount of tight security or vigilance would help in the face of Louis’s teleport.
Maybe surveillance cameras could thwart their attempts, but no such thing existed in this other world. In a world where security had to rely on manpower, this instant warp was a complete cheat.
Subaru: [We can’t afford to be seen, we’ve got to be very careful…]
He could make excuses for anything provided it was outside the Castle or outside its grounds, but if they were found after entering the castle grounds, he wouldn’t be able to come up with something.
Louis’ short-range warp was also limited to two uses in a row. If used three times or more, it would definitely make the user feel sick to the point of throwing up, or worse, passing out.
What if someone found them, and Subaru passed out while escaping?
Subaru: [No one’d be able to stop this kid.]
Louis tilted her head innocently and looked at Subaru as it appeared that she didn’t understand his concerns.
He would not let her kill anyone else, any more. ――That had been Subaru’s vow, after taking Louis and running away.
The shrunken, young Natsuki Subaru could not come to a proper decision about Louis. So at least, he wanted to come to the best conclusion that his current self could.
That was the only way to keep Louis from taking someone’s life.
Subaru: […We can’t just grab onto the outer wall and then jump while taking breaks, can we?]
His aim was the “abyss with a great view”; even if that was the top of the Castle, reaching it by solely relying on Louis’s warp and climbing up from outside could prove to be difficult.
They would probably slip and fall down at some point, and no matter how stealthy and secluded they were, if they were climbing the castle walls, someone would notice them.
Not to mention that this was Yorna Mishigure’s castle.
Subaru: [It’d be the absolute worst if Yorna-san found us.]
On their way here, they’d been in many fights against the pursuers who’d taken in a part of Yorna’s power via the Soul Marriage Technique.
Even though Louis was a powerful fighter, yet unskilled, they would be no match for Yorna, a member of the Nine Divine Generals.
What would happen to Louis if they were to fight?
If they were forced to fight Yorna, Subaru and the others would not be able to accomplish what they had come to the city for in the first place. It would be a huge blunder. He wouldn’t even be able to face Rem.
Subaru: [There’s no other option but to zip through the Castle while being careful.]
Based on the experience of entering the Castle once the previous day, there were very few people on patrol inside.
Even when there were visitors, they’d been left alone in the waiting room. When no one was around, the security would probably be even more full of holes. The yawn of the gatekeeper was proof of this.
Although Subaru wondered if he could be so careless in the castle of the city’s ruler.
Subaru: [――It’s no use complaining about it, is it? We’re already in here, after all.]
Subaru: [Yeah, let’s go… Let’s pray no one’s on the other side of the wall.]
Since they were castle walls after all, there was no way he’d be able to hear what was on the other side, even if he put an ear to the wall. So it was completely up to luck whether or not people would spot them when passing through the castle walls for the first time.
In his experience thus far, Subaru could not say that he was lucky.
Subaru: […I don’t see anyone.]
They had not incurred the misfortune of being found all of a sudden in an almost deserted castle.
Looking to the left and then to the right, Subaru shielded Louis behind his back and peeked into a corridor of the Crimson Lapis Castle, which Louis and Subaru had safely slipped into with her short-range warp. He had not paid it any mind the previous day, but when walking on the wooden floor, he had to be very careful of the sound of his footsteps.
Also, if they were to encounter someone in the hallway, there was hardly any place to hide on either side.
If the need arose, they would have to warp into a different room without hesitation.
Subaru: [As long as we don’t use it too many times in a row, we should be fine, I think.]
He himself was unaware of what backlash Louis would bear, but if Subaru were to do one teleport at a time, with some space in between, he could probably tolerate it without throwing up.
In some cases, they should consider using the teleport, not just left and right, but upwards as well. ――No, perhaps they should rather actively try to go upwards.
Subaru: [Would that result in less time wandering around here, as opposed to looking carefully for stairs? But if we go up too leisurely, we might be found by someone.]
Of course, if Yorna lived in the Crimson Lapis Castle, she would always be present. And since she presided as the Lord of the Castle, the room in which she resided would be at the top.
Going to the top of the Castle meant getting closer to Yorna.
Subaru didn’t really get it, but there were people in the world experts in sensing the presence of others.
Even with Louis’s teleport, no matter how much he tried to suppress his breathing and footsteps, there were still some things he could not eliminate. How much of a disadvantage it was going to be, would be the coming challenge.
Subaru: [Anyway, we’re going to be as careful as we can. If we’re found――]
???: [――If you’re found, then what?]
That very moment, Subaru’s shoulders hitched in fright due to the bone-chilling voice coming from behind him.
The shock was also felt by the one holding his hand, Louis, her eyes widening in surprise. Subaru and Louis turned around with a snap.
And there, was――,
???: [It’s so cute to see children holding hands with each other. I can’t help but feel like my cheeks will form a smile against my will.]
The one person they should not have run into, the beautiful Yorna Mishigure, was standing there.
No one was supposed to be there.
Up until a moment ago, there had been no one in the hallway aside from Subaru and Louis.
Yorna had appeared out of nowhere, even though she had not been there until just a bit ago.
This woman was the sort of being that held the kind of power that ridiculed the caution and care of ordinary people like Subaru, kicking all sorts of thorough preparations to the curb.
――One of this other world’s transcendent beings.
Yorna: [Either of your faces are unfamiliar to me.]
Yorna looked down at Subaru and Louis’s faces, and muttered so, the smoke rising from the kiseru in her hand.
She was dressed in the same glamorous kimono she’d worn at the top of the Castle the previous day. However, having only seen her sitting most of the time, he felt overwhelmed upon being faced with her standing in front of him.
Yorna was taller than him, partly because Subaru had been shrunk. Though she wasn’t quite as tall as Medium, thanks to her tall-soled footwear, her line of sight was probably above that of Abel’s
As he stared into her blue gaze at that height, his throat froze over.
Yorna: [There’s no need to be so frightened. What brings you two to my castle?]
The tone of her voice was soft and flat, and the one being asked cursed himself for his stupidity.
Even though Subaru believed he’d snuck in with plenty of caution, he hadn’t prepared a single excuse in case he was discovered. Short-sighted, that was exactly what he had been.
As expected, Subaru stammered, unable to say anything, and Yorna narrowed her almond-shaped eyes. He’d look suspicious if he went on without saying anything, his heart pumping so hard it was about to explode――,
Yorna: [Are you perhaps here for Tanza?]
Yorna: [The reason that brings you to the Castle.]
Subaru’s frozen throat made a cracking sound as she pointed that out.
It was completely unexpected that she’d be able to see through him to such a degree in the few seconds he had spent unable to say anything. At the same time, Subaru realized that his true identity had been discerned.
In only a single glance, the long journey to the Demon City and everything else had been for nothing. He thought he heard Abel’s voice coldly dismissing him as a “fool”, inside his head.
Subaru’s reckless endeavor ended here, with the illusion that his feet had lost their footing, and that he was plummeting headlong into the depths of regret――,
The feeling of his hand being squeezed tight stopped his consciousness from falling into complete darkness.
Without thinking, Subaru looked next to him and saw Louis standing beside him, looking at his face. Louis’s blue eyes, trembling slightly were conveying that they―― that Subaru’s instructions had been that she could fly at any time.
The intense look in Louis’s eyes was enough to restore Subaru’s unsteady spirit.
Once he looked up, he saw that Yorna was quietly waiting for an answer to her question, not even trying to rush Subaru. ――It might still be too early to give up.
Yorna had asked if Tanza was the reason for Subaru and Louis’s presence in the Castle.
That fit. But only half. To make up the other half, he would have to take a gamble.
Subaru: [Um, Yorna-san… Yorna-sama.]
Yorna: [What is it?]
Subaru: [Where’s Tanza-chan?]
Yorna narrowed her eyes at Subaru’s question, who had now found his resolve.
For a moment that lasted for less than a few seconds, Subaru experienced a state of mind like that of a rat caught by a fox. Most likely, the actual difference in power between him and his opponent was bigger than that of a rat and a fox.
Faced with such an opponent, the few seconds that went by seemed like an eternity. Before the silent Subaru and Louis, Yorna put her kiseru to her mouth and exhaled purple smoke from her lungs, then,
Yorna: [I’m sorry, but Tanza’s out on an errand. It should be time for her to return soon…]
With Yorna’s answer, Subaru squeezed Louis’s hand slightly tighter. This caused Louis to look at Subaru, her eyes wandering to see if he was pointing anywhere.
He felt sorry for Louis’s response, as that was not supposed to be her cue to fly. It was just that, the moment Subaru realized he’d won the gamble, he strengthened his grip.
He’d won the gamble, yes, he’d won.
Yorna’s previous question was a sign that she hadn’t seen through the true nature of Subaru and Louis’s goal. Naturally, their true identity had also not been exposed.
It was a much simpler, gentler question.
In fact, after that answer of hers to Subaru, Yorna closed one eye and said, “Really”,
Yorna: [I’m also worried about Tanza. Although devoting herself to me is fine, forgetting one’s promise to friends isn’t a good thing for a subordinate.]
Yorna: [She’s a loyal child, isn’t she? I’ve always told her that she can’t always focus on me.]
Remarking that, Yorna shrugged after giving a comment on Tanza’s attitude.
Due to Yorna’s words and gestures, Subaru raised his eyebrow in surprise.
The previous day, she was the malicious and unfathomable Empress of the Demon City that had shown herself atop the Castle.
That impression had done a 180, because Yorna’s current attitude felt like something completely different. That attitude was one that was more familiar and easier to understand, the feeling of an adult who cared for children.
As if to support this impression, Yorna let out a small exhale followed by a “Hmm”,
Yorna: [Tanza does have some carelessness, but I can’t wait for her to return. ――Let’s wait for Tanza’s return in my room.]
With that, Yorna turned her back to them, and walked away slowly.
Despite the thick soles of her shoes, her graceful walk remained silent on the wooden floor, making him not believe his eyes at how sophisticated she was down to her toes.
Then, with Subaru fascinated by the mere sight of her walking, Yorna suddenly came to a stop in front of him,
Yorna: [Come along now. I’ll show you the way.]
Subaru: [Ueh…!? Yorna-sama will!?]
Yorna’s unexpected kindness stunned Subaru. Louis tilted her head in surprise at Subaru’s surprise, and Yorna, watching the two of them, gently put her hand over her mouth and smiled.
Not a mean one however, just a gentle smile.
Yorna: [This is my castle. Of course, it’s my duty to entertain guests. And now that Tanza is out, there’s no one to keep the two of you company.]
Subaru: [Ah, umm…]
Yorna: [It’s also the first time a friend of that child has come here. Now, come along with me.]
Jerking her chin, Yorna commanded them to follow along. Following her gesture with his eyes, Subaru wondered for a second what he should do.
He suspected that this could be a trap, but quickly dropped the idea.
Because Yorna had no reason to lure Subaru and Louis into a trap. If she wanted to, she could subdue Subaru with a single finger and take out Louis with a couple.
In that case however, it meant that she really had volunteered to be their guide out of the goodness of her heart. That would be completely different from the impression Subaru had of the Yorna from yesterday, though――.
As Subaru let the contents of his head whirl around and around, Louis tugged on his hand. Apparently, Louis had no objection to following Yorna.
Louis’s reaction was the final push to get Subaru’s feet moving.
Louis’s ability to perceive danger was probably better than Subaru’s. If Louis wasn’t wary of Yorna, he didn’t have to worry about her doing something to him anytime soon.
In response to Yorna’s reiterated call to Subaru, he responded with a faltering voice and started walking. Yorna’s eyes narrowed as she resumed her steps, keeping up with Subaru’s short strides.
He wasn’t sure if he should take this as good luck or not, but it was much better than being interrogated by her.
Yorna: [You children aren’t from here, are you?]
Yorna: [Faces I haven’t seen. You haven’t received my “love letter”, either.]
Unfamiliar faces, faces she hadn’t seen before, were the words she spoke. The expression “love letter” that followed was something Subaru had no idea about, so he nodded his head with a “Y-yes”,
Subaru: [From out of town… with a scary grown-up, that is.]
Yorna: [Scary grown-up… That sounds like a lot of trouble. Why are you with Scary Grown-Up-san?]
Subaru: [I-it’s because…]
Subaru answered Yorna’s question carefully, but with a certain amount of truthfulness.
In reality, the fact that he was working with the scary grown-up―― with Abel, was very much a matter of chance. Perhaps it should be in the past tense, as in, “we had been working together”.
It was hard to imagine that Abel would readily forgive Subaru for running away with Louis.
To begin with――,
Subaru: [I don’t know if I should be forgiven…]
He didn’t believe it was fair to blame him for not being able to decide on how to handle Louis.
Sure, he was sorry that that he had hidden Louis’s true identity from them. But if this was the result of revealing the truth, then he’d been right to conceal it.
If there was anything to apologize for, it was that he’d been unable to hide it until the very end, and revealing it halfway through.
Yorna: [――. Looks like you’ve got some complex feelings about it.]
Then, Yorna suddenly slowed down and glanced back at him, tapping her finger on her brow. There was nothing wrong with the skin which the white finger was touching. She indicated not her own, but Subaru’s brow.
There were probably wrinkles carved deeply into it, made by unanswerable thoughts.
Yorna: [A child shouldn’t make such a gloomy face. ――I’ll spank that scary grown-up for you.]
Subaru: [Spank… Huh, Yorna-sama will?]
Yorna: [Fufu, I’m quite powerful, despite my looks.]
Yorna raised her sleeves and made them flutter about gently; at her words, Subaru had a vision of Abel being spanked and immediately shook his head sideways. 
There was a gap in Subaru’s usual impression of Yorna, in that he felt that Yorna’s punishment wouldn’t be as cute as it sounded. Which came as a particularly big surprise.
Subaru: [I’m glad you’re worried about me, but I’m fine! I mean, he’s probably someone who’d see reason once you talked with him…]
Yorna: [Is that so? If he’s someone who’d see reason with just words, it’d be the best. But there are many people in this world who have trouble finding reason in talks, you know.]
Subaru: [――. Yorna-sama.]
He wondered on whether to say anything or not for a moment, cutting his words off. Because of this, Yorna stopped in her tracks.
A mixture of things went through his head. Feeling bad for stopping her so many times, worry that Yorna would get angry if he told her what he wanted to say, his own thoughtlessness for blurting out what he did even though he knew it was a mistake.
Because he was smaller now, he felt that his ability to think and judge things were really decreasing.
However, the biggest problem seemed to be this impatience or lack of restraint, both in bringing Louis along and in sneaking into the Crimson Lapis Castle unprepared.
Although he’d hesitated to say this in that impulsive moment――,
Subaru: [Well, Yorna-sama, you really are listening to what we say. It’s just that, I was sure that people of high status were scary…]
Realizing that he’d said something very rude, Subaru was unable to look Yorna in the eye while speaking. But upon hearing what Subaru’d said, Yorna giggled a teeny bit,
Yorna: [From the looks of it, you’re not demi-humans either.]
Subaru: [Ummm, yeah, that’s right.]
Yorna: [What does this city look like, from your point of view?]
Subaru: [This place…]
In response to that abrupt question, Subaru turned his gaze to a window in the corridor. The window high up on the wall was too tiny for Subaru to take a look outside through it, given his current height.
But he could tell there was a dim blue sky close-by.
Subaru: [It’s amazing, it’s such a busy city. There are so many sorts of people.]
Choosing his words carefully, Subaru expressed his impressions as honestly as possible.
The impression of a busy city had been there from the very beginning. The appearance of the city as a mishmash of things piled up, as well as the variety of people living in it, all gave this impression.
To his eyes and ears, it gave him a strong impression of a hectic city.
Yorna: [You’re a very honest child. It’s pleasant to hear you say that.]
Having heard Subaru’s thoughts, Yorna’s lips formed into a faint smile.
She then directed her gaze at the same window that Subaru was looking at―― likely gazing at the outside view in a different way.
Yorna: [This city’s full of people who have a hard time living in other places. Those that became insignificant outside the city, children with nowhere else to go… children that would go unnoticed, even if they raised their voices.]
Subaru: [Even, if they raised their voices…]
Yorna: [If we don’t lend an ear to the children who’ve reached the last place they can go to, then who will?]
As she spoke so with the kiseru in her mouth, an elegant glow flashed in Yorna’s eyes.
Experiencing a sensation akin to his heart being stabbed, Subaru felt terribly ashamed of himself. ――Now, after hearing Yorna’s words, he found that his impression of her had changed drastically.
Tanza: [She is a loving woman. Loves her allies and hates her enemies. ——Lover of all things that reside in the Demon City.]
That was what the little deergirl Tanza had said when he asked her about Yorna the previous day.
Subaru’d had no clue whatsoever as to what that meant at the time. Once Abel had told them about the Soul Marriage Technique, he’d wondered if the girl had meant its power.
But perhaps that wasn’t what Tanza had meant, it was truly as she had said.
――It was, the answer to what Yorna Mishigure cherished from her heart.
Subaru: [I’m so sorry, Yorna-san…]
As soon as Subaru thought of this, Subaru couldn’t hold back again and apologized.
Hearing Subaru suddenly apologize, Yorna smiled, exhaling purple smoke,
Yorna: [There’s nothing to be sorry for. The reason why people in high positions always look scary is that if they didn’t, they’d be scared too. There’s also the logic, that people of high status wish to be feared.]
Subaru: [People of high status, wish to be feared…]
What was that? He felt that he’d just been told something he would do well to remember.
And it seemed to be a way of thinking that maybe Yorna was no stranger to.
Yorna: [Don’t worry, I’m not one to do something as disgraceful as to get angry with a child over something like this. By a stroke of luck, I’m in a good mood.]
Yorna: [Yes, that’s right. ――There are signs that I might be about to get what I’ve wanted for a long time.]
Lowering the corners of her eyes, Yorna fluttered her sleeves around once more.
There was no trace of anger in her answer. As she had said herself, it was probably because she wasn’t the kind of person who dealt with children in a mature way, and more so because she was in a really good mood.
Perhaps the reason behind her good mood were the contents of the letter Abel had sent her――,
With that in mind, Subaru held back this time and thought carefully.
Yorna’s positive attitude toward the missive, and whether she kept her word or not, depended on whether Abel, Subaru, and the others could safely join her at the Crimson Lapis Castle.
But it was Tanza, Yorna’s attendant, who was interfering with Subaru and the others’ efforts.
From their earlier exchange, it was clear to him that Yorna really cared about Tanza.
If her own desires clashed with Tanza’s, which ones would Yorna choose? ――Yorna, who had in the past defied the Emperor for the sake of someone else.
Once Yorna found out the truth about the situation, what would she do?
Yorna: [――You’re wrinkling your brow again, aren’t you?]
With a tap, Yorna put her finger between her eyebrows and pointed out Subaru’s distress. Following Yorna’s gesture, Louis also tapped her forehead.
Looking at Yorna and Louis’s appearances, Subaru let out a small sigh.
Maybe this too was a hasty idea.
But since he did not have the brains to think properly about whether it was the right or wrong thing to do――,
Subaru: [Hey, Yorna-san, I need to ask something…]
――Over the roof tiles of the castle tower of the Crimson Lapis Castle, where red and blue brilliance mixed together, he laid his buttocks.
And so, while basking in the clear wind characteristic of this high altitude, he placed the gourd he kept in his breast pocket to his mouth. While quenching his thirst with alcohol, he rested his chin on his hand while the spectacle under his eyes unfolded.
???: [Kakakakka, what a superb view.]
Looking down at the unorganized streets of the city with various styles intermingling, an aged body’s throat rang.
His hoarse laugh was disturbed by the wind, disappearing into nothingness without reaching anyone. It was engulfed by the tumult of the Demon City, vanishing gradually every time the monstrous old man was amused.
He was fond of that which was chaotic.
The chaotic townscape, the melting pot of various races of demi-human, the motifs drifting to the left and right.
Even if something only meant that something else would fall into chaos, it would make him want to support it.
???: [It’s a bad habit of ol’ people ta scramble and eat whatever they can get their hands on. Anyhow――]
After taking a large gulp from his gourd, the old man wiped the alcohol spilling from the corner of his mouth with his sleeves and shrugged his shoulders. And so, still sitting cross-legged, he rotated his hips and turned around, raising an eyebrow.
It was a sight that would make an old man fond of chaos drool――,
???: [Even if they reached where I’m at, they’re a way too unpredictable bunch, truly.]
In front of the monstrous old man who thus spoke, three figures were stepping atop the tiles of the roof of the castle tower.
???: [Found yooou~, Olbart-san!]
The one who was pointing at Olbart, was a young boy holding the hand of a young girl with blonde hair.
And standing behind them like a guardian was the Empress, the ruler of the Demon City.
 The word used here, “仕置” is particularly used in the context of “punishing a child”. So we took some, ahem, liberties.