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This an edited Machine Translation, which has been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality. This is expected to have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read this chapter you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality. A proper, higher-quality translation for this chapter is in the works by our team, so if you would prefer to wait for it, then feel free to check back at a later date, keeping an eye out on our social media for updates.
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At first, when Old Man Null heard Subaru’s request, his mouth, with several missing teeth, distorted in a grandiose manner.
From what he’d heard, Old Man Null was a healer on the Island―― in name only, as he had never done anything like treating others, hence he was acting as an imitation doctor.
Old Man Null had been at the Island before Gustav had taken over as Island Chief and Governor. In a period during which the Island had been much harsher and deadly, he had happened to obtain the role of a healer.
It had all started when he did nothing more but to apply a dirty cloth on an open wound of a gladiator who had lost their arm.
With that as the genesis of him treating people, the number of times he was being called upon increased, and before long, he was excused from having to stand in the gladiatorial arena as a gladiator, being ordered to work as a healer in the healing room.
From there-on out, he spent a long time as a healer, and befitting his position, came across plenty of bloody scenes.
Thanks to that, he became able to at least do stuff like stitching up wounds or mixing simple drugs. With the belief he would live peacefully as a healer until he died, he gave a smile with his yellow teeth.
Subaru also felt guilty for having caused Old Man Null’s face to have distorted in such a grandiose manner.
However, if Subaru were to try and actualize the things that he wished to do upon the Island, the things that he had to do, then no matter what, that was an indispensable thing.
That was why Subaru had made a request to Old Man Null, who was doing a praiseworthy job of saving people.
Subaru: [――Can you prepare a poison that can instantly kill a person, just by biting or licking it?]
He felt terrible for Old Man Null.
But, this was necessary. It would be a bigger problem for Subaru to pass out in the middle of a fight or survive some half-assed way―― there had to be a way for him to start over.
And, once he obtained the means to do so, Subaru would be absolutely perfect.
Subaru: [Well, it’d help if my legs were a little longer.]
Such complaints were the opinion of those who came across a situation in battle where a single big step was not enough.
Of course, that one step was forcefully solved by rushing two steps ahead, even faster, to the next opportunity. By repeating trial and error to find the best action, he could grasp the desired future.
That was why――,
Gustav: [――That is enough! You have done well to survive Sparka! By my jurisdiction as the official, I accept you all as members of the Gladiator Island!]
The resounding declaration conveyed in a baritone, commended the end of a fierce battle waged in the gladiatorial arena.
In the middle of the gladiatorial arena was the corpse of a Gladiator Beast, lying on its back with two swords, one large and one small, pierced into its body. Its two wings and long tail had been severed, leaving it in a pitiful state.
But, the way it had utilized its wings to move and its attacks used its sharp tail had truly, truly been troublesome.
Since conquering those two problems had been absolutely necessary to damage its body, he just wished to put it out there that they had not hurt it needlessly.
Subaru: [Gustav-san, seriously?]
Breathing heavily, his shoulders heaving, Subaru looked up at Gustav standing at the seats positioned closest to the arena.
The Governor of the Island, with his four burly arms crossed, had overseen the Sparka’s conclusion. He seemed like an obstinate, inflexible man, but Subaru had not expected even his declaration of its terminus to be the same word-for-word.
It was hard to imagine that he had coincidentally used the same words for both this battle and for Subaru’s group’s, which made it seem that Gustav’s declaration was probably the same every time.
???: [We, did it… We did it, we did it! We survived! We survived!!]
???: [We’re alive…! Ah, uwaaaaaah!]
???: [Iiiiiiiii, heeeee…]
???: […I can’t believe it. I thought it was the end of the world…]
???: [Maybe we died and went to Od Lagna…?]
Around the corpse of the Gladiator Beast were five people, each one with their own way of being stunned and rejoicing at their victory.
They were Orson, Hitz, Nadrey, Quonson, and Codley. All of them lizardmen, but no two were of the same ethnicity, and the formula for victory had been understanding everyone’s unique characteristics and how they worked together.
As had been the case with Weitz et al, victory would not have been achievable were any of them not present. ――Of course, it would have been impossible without Subaru.
Subaru: [But, they won…!]
With a snap, Subaru pointed his finger towards Gustav at the seats closest to the arena.
Gustav’s stern face remained unchanging even with Subaru’s provocative attitude, only reacting by squinting his eyes.
Without saying a word, Gustav turned his back and walked away from the seats, returning to the Island.
Cleaning up the corpse and dealing with the surviving gladiators was left to the guards, his subordinates.
As Subaru watched Gustav walk away, someone running toward him called out his name. It was Hiain, having jumped down from the stands and made a run for Subaru.
He seemed to have the scales of his entire body standing on end, and grabbing Subaru’s shoulder with his large, webbed fingers, he voiced,
Hiain: [What the hell were ya thinkin’!? No, how did’cha end up back in a Sparka in the first place…]
Subaru: [Punishment, yeah? Punishment.]
Hiain: [It was… punishment?]
Subaru: [Yeah. The other gladiators told me that if you disobey Gustav-san or the guards… the administration of the Island, you’ll be warned at first, and punished thereafter. Malicious offenders are subject to the curse.]
After speaking to several gladiators, he had made sure by corroborating it.
Everyone seemed to know Gustav’s desire to not waste gladiators and have their numbers reduced as much as possible, and there was a common understanding of the rules laid out.
Punishment―― in other words, forced participation in a Sparka performed by an unrelated Unit.
Subaru: [Sparka is a rite of passage for people who are going to become new gladiators, and those who have already become gladiators don’t participate. They have their own Units, so there’s no reason for them to do it.]
In addition, the Unit assembled for Sparka would be determined at random, composed of a selection of people who entered Gladiator Island at the time of the Sparka. In other words, choosing people one was compatible with, choosing people one liked, were both impossible.
Being paired with people whose capabilities, strong suits, or even identity were unknown, and being forced to work with them to defeat the Gladiator Beast in order to complete it, was quite the daunting task.
A dangerous deathmatch in which participation held no merit, but where the possibility of death was all too great.
It was unanimous among the gladiators’ statements, Sparka had been their toughest deathmatch on the Gladiator Island.
Subaru: [Well, now it seems that because of Ceci, there’s the perception that the deathmatches done with him are the worst.]
Hiain: [――. I get why ya joined that Sparka. But…]
Hiain: [In the first place! Why did’cha have to be punished? Y’know, it’s strange that ya could join the Sparka immediately after all that talk up there! It’s like…]
There, Hiain took a pause in his angered speech, letting his gaze wander.
Subaru shrugged his little shoulders at Hiain’s hesitance to speak the words remaining from that sentence. He sort of understood what Hiain wanted to say.
Subaru: [It’s like I was trying to help Orson and the others?]
Subaru: [You’re not wrong. If I weren’t present, all of them would’ve been killed.]
In fact, even with Subaru, the situation of the battle was terrible.
Because to be as one with them, who were no better suited for fighting than Hiain, he had to start by becoming their ally, considering they were united as fellow lizardmen.
It was rather helpful, though, recalling seeing Chaosflame.
Subaru: [From what I got, you were all trying to get to Chaosflame?]
Subaru: [You should really talk about that kind of stuff. After all, you guys got to see each other again.]
As he said this, Subaru put his hand atop Hiain’s hand on his shoulder.
Hiain stared into Subaru’s black eyes with his slit-pupiled eyes wide open. Staring back at him, Subaru cocked his chin towards the five lizardmen.
The five, who had been basking in the joy of their survival, gradually regained composure enough to look around them; then one of them, Codley, noticed Hiain’s presence.
Codley: [Hiain! It’s Hiain! He’s alive… He’s alive!]
Codley’s voice rang out with a jovial look on his face, and then the other four looked at Hiain. They all expressed their delight at Hiain’s presence, reacting positively to him.
Witnessing Hiain’s face contort seeing his fellow lizardmen’s reactions, Subaru spoke,
Subaru: [This is the chance I risked my life for. Savor it, bro.]
Slapping his hunched back, Subaru sent Hiain off in the direction of his comrades.
Hiain hesitated a few times, but then moved forward with faltering steps, and――,
With that said, Hiain walked up to the five lizardmen awaiting him.
Orson and the others held no animosity or malice toward Hiain, because Subaru already knew why the five had been captured and brought to the Gladiator Island.
There would be no reason for them to be at odds with each other, provided they were able to talk it over proper.
As he watched Hiain’s reunion with his friends, he was startled by a voice from behind.
Having hopped into the air, so surprised that he broke out into a coughing fit, Subaru,
Subaru: [T-that was close… I almost died…! Don’t scare me like that!]
???: [That is what I ought to say! Why are you doing that so suddenly… Do you want to die!?]
Subaru: [No, I don’t want to die!?]
Tanza scolded Subaru, who turned around with his hand over his mouth, chastising him harshly.
The little girl’s vehement protests had Subaru shaking his head helplessly. Tanza, however, looked not at all convinced by this excuse.
Tanza: [I was very surprised to see you join their Sparka out of the blue. And knowing it was the result of you defying Governor Gustav, I cannot help but think you were throwing away your life because you felt it unneeded.]
Subaru: [That would be a misunderstanding. I don’t think there’s many people who understand the value of life better than I do, you know? That’s why I saved Hiain’s friends, too.]
Tanza: [I am speaking about your own life… I am glad that you were able to save them because it turned out well in the end, but from my point of view, there were many times when you were in a dangerous spot. This is simply a miracle.]
Subaru: [A miracle, huh.]
Dropping the tone of her voice, Tanza chided Subaru’s recklessness from a pragmatic point of view.
Just as she had stated, and it was probably true that there had been a number of harrowing moments as she watched. Subaru could understand why Tanza wished to call it a miracle. ――But it had not been one.
Subaru: [Miracles come from God, but this one’s my doing.]
Ergo, it had been no miracle.
It was proof that Natsuki Subaru had kicked away such a shitty fate.
Tanza: […You acted so recklessly just to help Hiain-sama’s companions? Or, is this just retaliation for your tit-for-tat with Segmunt-sama?]
Subaru: [No, it’s true that I was angry at Ceci, but I’d have to be really crazy to risk my life for that… You know, I had a good reason for saving Hiain’s friends.]
Subaru: [Those eyes are awfully filled with suspicion!]
It was amazing how steep a drop there had been in the persuasiveness of Subaru’s explanation.
With his shoulders slumped under Tanza’s distrustful gaze, as if she were looking at a criminal caught red-handed, Subaru muttered weakly “It’s true…”.
Tanza let out a small exhale at Subaru’s pathetic state.
Tanza: [Then, what is your goal, Schwartz-sama?]
As Tanza changed her attitude and moved on from the topic, Subaru turned around once more to answer her question.
Hiain and his five companions were talking together. Subaru could hear a subtle rise in the pitch of Hiain’s voice as he spoke.
That was why――,
Subaru: [Maybe we should wait a little longer before we talk about it.]
Subaru: [Those eyes are awfully filled with suspicion!]
Exasperated by such a lack of trust in himself coming from her, Subaru surreptitiously stuck his finger in his mouth. Then, he double checked the position of the package hooked to a molar.
What laid there, was the last resort that Subaru had requested Old Man Null to concoct.
He had seized this loop by overcoming a desperate challenge, and he absolutely did not want to accidentally ruin it with an inadvertent mistake. He had to be very careful not to die from careless mistakes.
――Thinking this, Subaru stuffed the wrapped “drug” behind his molar.
???: [Accordin’ to what Orson’s group said, it seems Chaosflame’s been destroyed.]
At the bitter-faced Hiain’s report, Tanza lowered her round eyebrows, her eyes cast downwards.
Even thought she had imagined the worst situation possible, that did not ease the shock of being told that it had actually come to pass. Even if someone knew they would trip and fall, it would hurt all the same once they fell down.
After Sparka was over, Orson and the others, having survived without a hitch and been welcomed as gladiators, were then led by the guards to show them around the Island’s facilities and common rooms.
Although they were comrades, they and Hiain were from different Units, so they could not be together, so Hiain had sheeply made his entrance in Subaru and Tanza’s room, who were in the same Unit as him.
And that was how he had shared the stories Subaru had wanted to know.
Hiain: [Ya wanted these kinda stories from the outside, right? Ya can’t get any information from outside if ya stay on this Island after all.]
Subaru: [It’s half and half. No, let’s make it about seven to three. The side with the seven’s the one where Hiain’s and Orson’s group are.]
Hiain: [What’re ya sayin’, ya creepy kid!]
Hiain spoke as if he meant it but, with his arms crossed, he turned away.
Subaru was glad to see that Hiain had gotten his feelings in order and had thought on what Subaru’s purpose in joining that Sparka had been.
Hiain’s expression seemed to brighten up somewhat, surely because he had been able to hear the important topics from Orson and the rest.
Hiain: […Those idiots were caught tryin’ to get me back from the slave traders. There’s really no savin’ them.]
Subaru: [God and fate are both heartless. That’s why I helped them… Or should I say we?]
Hiain: [Heh, whaddya mean? In reality, ya’re the only one who participated in the Sparka.]
Subaru: [Hiain, you got down on your knees with snot running down your nose and requested earnestly, I beg of you to help me, please, Schwartz-sama…]
Hiain: [Don’t talk nonsense!]
A hand stretched out and grabbed his head and shook him about and about. Then, letting go of the now-dizzy Subaru, the sniffling Hiain noticed Tanza’s state.
Hiain called out to the girl with a “Pipsqueak” as she remained with her eyes cast down after hearing the story about Chaosflame.
Hiain: [Are you feeling down about Chaosflame? Why…]
Tanza: […Chaosflame is my hometown. When the city was near collapse, it…]
Hiain: [I-I see… That, that’s it, that’s it, huh.]
Hiain’s eyes swayed from side-to-side, puzzled by the unexpected reply. His character of being vulnerable to accidents had slipped out, but he immediately shouted, “But!”,
Hiain: [It certainly seems that the town was destroyed, but story is, the people who lived there didn’t get wiped out. Everyone from that town went to a different place… Uhm, it ain’t easy to explain, but…]
Tanza: [It is hard, to explain…?]
Hiain: [Nah, I just dunno how much of it I should believe.]
With that preamble, Hiain hesitated about what words to say next. But, the interests of Tanza and Subaru were directed towards the follow-up to his story.
Having sensed that, Hiain breathed a heavy sigh and then,
Hiain: [Apparently, there’s a big rebellion goin’ on outside. The lot from Chaosflame’re said to be joinin’ that rebellion. Well, story goes that the head of the Demon City raised rebellions every-so-often, and the city was also obliterated as a result of her foolishness… Eek.]
Tanza: [――Yorna-sama is not foolish.]
Hiain: [I-I’m sorry! I ain’t really gettin’ why, but I’m sorry!]
Hiain, apologizing quickly, squeaked out a frightened voice at Tanza’s sharp gaze.
Once again, Hiain was incurring the wrath of someone else with his unnecessary bravado, but behind him, Subaru found some points of relief in what he had just said.
Of course, that was assuming he believed everything in what Hiain had relayed from his conversation with Orson’s group.
Subaru: [Chaosflame may be done for, but Yorna-san and the townspeople are fine. If there’s talk of rebellion, it looks like Abel and the others are safe and sound.]
The battle to retake the Imperial Capital would not be able to proceed with Abel gone.
In other words, Abel was still alive. He hoped that Medium, Taritta, and even Al were also safe. ――Hopefully Louis was also safe by Yorna’s side.
Subaru: […As I thought, there’s no time to waste.]
Upon obtaining even a partial idea of the situation outside, Subaru’s desire to go outside grew stronger.
Naturally, he was worried about everybody in Chaosflame, but also the people in Guaral, whom Yorna and Abel’s group would try to converge with―― about Rem.
He had a feeling that, if she were to find out he’d been shrunken, assuredly, she would get angry with him again.
Subaru: [――. Even though I really wanted to show Rem my reliable aspects.]
Personally, he thought that he was now in better shape, his head clearer, but Subaru could not justify the fact that his outward appearance lacked persuasive power. The fact that Tanza was constantly shifting her eyes to him in suspicion, was probably not unrelated to his small body.
In any case――,
Subaru: [Mhm, I got it. Thanks, Hiain, you helped me out.]
Hiain: [The ones who got helped out were my… Well, whatever, as long as ya get it.]
Hiain gave Subaru an awkward reply, the latter having thanked him. Giving a small chuckle at the way he was answered, Subaru was thinking he should follow-up on Tanza’s side.
???: [――Schwartz, the Governor’s calling for you.]
Outside the common room, the voice of a guard of the Gladiator Island, clad in a black uniform, called out. Hearing that summon, Hiain’s expression stiffened, and Tanza’s eyes widened in surprise.
She looked at the guard,
Tanza: [Governor Gustav is calling for Schwartz-sama? Why…]
Guard: [I haven’t heard. There’s also no reason to converse. Obey, quietly. Or else…]
Subaru: [It’s alright! I’d go with you obediently even if you weren’t being so hostile… By the way, would you punish me in case I didn’t comply?]
Subaru: [Kidding, kidding.]
Faced with Subaru’s talkativeness, who had one eye closed, the guard, who was in the prime of his life, contorted his lips.
It was obvious that he was not very fond of Subaru. Of course he wasn’t. This guard happened to have been present when Subaru had been talking with Gustav before the Sparka.
This was because he was also someone who had seen the trigger for Subaru to participate in Sparka, or in other words, he had been present when Subaru had become subject to punishment. From his point of view, Subaru’s true nature would seem like a mystery.
Because he was ready to join a Sparka of his own volition, he was surely a kid who was out of his mind.
Subaru: [Well, I’m heading out for a bit. Tanza, please be a good girl and wait for me.]
Tanza: […Though it is you, Schwartz-sama, do take care to moderate your mischief.]
Subaru: [Yeaah, I can’t argue with that.]
At Tanza’s stifled tone of voice, Subaru’s wry smile grew deeper and deeper. With that, obeying the guard who silently urged him to hurry up, Subaru left the room.
Just then, Hiain called out towards Subaru’s back with a “Schwartz”.
Hiain: [Uhm, well…]
Subaru: [Hmm? What’s up?]
Hiain: [Ah, no… T-take care of yerself. It’ll be us who’ll be in trouble if the number of people in our Unit decreases, even if ya are how ya are, after all.]
Subaru’s face became puzzled at those disingenuous words of concern. Then he immediately spit out a “Pfft” and nodded back at Hiain.
Subaru: [Yep, I know. Well, see you later.]
With a wave of his hand, Subaru temporarily parted from Tanza and Hiain. Then, while following the back of the guard walking in front of him,
Subaru: [Was Gustav-san angry?]
Guard: […The Governor is not one to get emotional. Unlike me.]
Upon the implication that he should not provoke him with any unnecessary words, Subaru ducked his head in dejection.
――And thus, the two of them saw Subaru off as he was taken away by the guards.
Weitz: [Hey, what did that Schwartz kid do…]
Idra: [Just now, what the guards took him away for, was it for something other than the Sparka?]
With those words, Weitz and Idra showed up in the room where Tanza and Hiain had stayed behind. They, too, had watched Subaru’s Sparka from the spectators’ seats.
Naturally, there were many things they had wanted to ask Subaru, the perpetrator of such recklessness.
Although, while they had not been as cornered as Hiain had been, it was not like their tempers would have been as short as to make them jump down from the spectator seats, but――,
Weitz: [Tanza, are ya aware of what’s going on?]
Tanza: […I am both somewhat aware and unaware, it is complicated. It seems that Schwartz-sama is hiding things from me as well.]
Weitz: [He’s a suspicious guy… Tho’ he has some skills in his own way…]
After Tanza spoke, whose eyes were turned down, Weitz and Idra exchanged glances and heaved a sigh.
Listening to the conversation of those three, Hiain remained silently still. Although he was a lizardman, making it difficult to discern his expression, his eyes, swaying from side-to-side, made it obvious that he was worrying about something.
As a result, the three called out to him with “Hiain”, “Hiain” and “Hiain-sama” respectively, and,
Idra: [What’s with that face…]
Hiain: [No, ya guys… a-are also aware that, that Schwartz kid got mixed up in the Sparka on purpose… Right?]
Idra: [That’s… what it seems everybody thought, upon seeing that situation.]
Idra answered the faltering Hiain’s words, and Tanza and Weitz both nodded their heads in agreement.
This seemed to be the common understanding of all the gladiators who had witnessed the battle in the gladiatorial arena. Then, from anyone’s perspective, the Sparka held during the present day would not have been a success without Subaru’s active participation.
Weitz: [For me, I dunno what his intentions were in doin’ that, but…]
Hiain: [――. I ain’t got any idea either. But, but.]
Weitz: [――? But, what?]
Hiain: [I ain’t exactly sure why he did that, but why he was able to do that, y’know, maybe…]
Ya might get it, as he continued with that, the three aside from Hiain also seemed to understand.
The question was not why Subaru had joined the Sparka, but how Subaru had joined the Sparka and been able to survive. Tanza aside, that question was one not unrelated to Weitz and Idra.
Therefore, as he was met with a look of intense interest, Hiain gulped down his spit.
Hiain: [Somethin’ I heard, uhh, from those people who just came from outside… is that there seems to be a rumor goin’ ‘round that the illegitimate son of the Emperor’s out there somewhere. So, here’s the thing――]
Hiain: [――The rumor’s ’bout a brat, with black hair and black eyes.]