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Gustav: [――Wait for a moment, Schwartz. Now, let me look over this until I get to a good place to leave off.]
Having said this, Gustav did not even take a fleeting glance towards Subaru, whom he had summoned to the room. His gaze remained cast towards the desk, upon the letter in his hands.
Led by the guard, Subaru had been brought to the highest stratum of Ginunhive. Behind a door that looked luxurious, Subaru was greeted by a simple, plain room.
Contained inside the spacious room was nothing except a desk to be used for work, a bookshelf to be used for work, and a toolbox to be used for work. Since the room was too spacious for someone to know what to do with it, it was possible that there had been more things filling it originally.
The room to be used by the Governor, which had been stripped of everything unnecessary for his work, had a very tidy look to it; displaying Gustav’s no-playing-around nature pretty well, it was conversely reassuring.
Subaru: [You tell me to wait until you find a good place to stop, but there aren’t any chairs.]
Subaru was at a loss when Gustav had ordered him to wait in the room.
But having been told to wait, he had no other options. With nothing to do for the moment, Subaru looked around the room until his eyes encountered a person who gave off a feeling of being out-of-place.
Subaru had found them, or rather, found them casually waving towards himself, the other person a sodden look on his face.
???: [Heyhey, Basu, you sure worked hard. You have some business with Gustav-san?]
Subaru suppressed a sigh and walked up to the fake Cecilus, the one who’d spoken to him in such an easygoing tone.
Wondering what he could say, the relationship between Subaru and the fake Cecilus had become a bit more complicated again. To an extent, Subaru’s participation in Sparka had been the result of the fake Cecilus’s incitement.
Although Subaru did think he would have joined the Sparka even if there had been no dispute――,
Subaru: [Ceci, I still really wanted to get back at you, there’s no doubt in that.]
Cecilus: [My! Getting back at me sure’s quite the ambitious goal. Is that why you joined Sparka? If so, then sorry.]
Subaru: [You’re sorry?]
Cecilus: [No, you see, I didn’t go to see the Sparka that was going on earlier.]
Subaru’s jaw dropped due to the fake Cecilus’s answer, the latter sticking out his tongue in a quite indifferent manner. However, a surge of anger for screaming “You bastard” arose immediately.
Subaru himself had become quite determined to prove him wrong, and Subaru himself had also rushed in for the sake of having Cecilus take back what he had said, by having him see it with his own eyes.
Subaru: [Y-you, YOU BASTARD…!]
Cecilus: [Nownownownow, don’t be angry! Okayokay, I do understand your feelings of wanting to be angry, but it happens to be the case that I have my reasons too!]
Subaru: [Then how about you let me hear them! They better be good, or else…]
Cecilus: [I mean, I knew the outcome even without seeing it, y’know? Basu would’ve finished it quickly with a perfect showdown. Then there’d be no reason for me to go, since my life wasn’t on the line after all.]
Since he displayed no reaction to any amount of hounding, Subaru backed away from the fake Cecilus and his unchanging mannerisms.
Being honest with himself, Subaru was aware that for everything he had done, it was only natural for Hiain to call him a creepy little brat――,
Subaru: [For someone on the outside, it’d be pretty fitting to also call Ceci a creepy little brat…]
Cecilus: [It may be that the people who achieve supremacy’ll always be incomprehensible to others, y’know. In this case, both Basu and I fall into that category.]
Subaru: [Well, you really seem to think highly of me.]
Cecilus: [Yes, by now I’m pretty much convinced. So rest assured, and continue to pull off unconventional, off-the-mark, daring and misguided acts!]
Subaru: [I don’t want to be off-the-mark or misguided though!]
Subaru’s lips twisted in protest at the fake Cecilus, who was half-mindedly spouting a bunch of words along that sort. Then, at the tail end of their back-and-forth, there was the heavy sound of a slam on the desk.
Upon looking, the one to have made that noise had been Gustav, having finished reading the letter.
Gustav rested his chin on two of his crossed arms, placing the remaining two arms atop the desk. Subaru was impressed that with four arms, he could do nifty things like these.
Subaru: [I wonder, if you were to put all four hands together, would it be too big to put your chin on?]
Cecilus: [Well, that’s a good question. Gustav-san’s got an adequately large face, so it may surprisingly be that stacking four hands on top of each other’d make it the perfect size. Could you put them on top of each other for a minute?]
Gustav: [Do you two lack the consideration to be quiet? Common sense would dictate that if you are waiting for someone to read a letter, silence would be valued.]
Subaru & Cecilus: [But you didn’t say anything…]
Their quibbled had been a childish one devoid of logic, yet regardless, Subaru’s and the fake Cecilus’s excuses overlapped.
Because of that, Subaru’s feelings towards Gustav had become those of guilt. Sharing the same view as the fake Cecilus meant that Subaru had behaved in an absurd fashion.
Subaru: [Gustav-san, I’m sorry. I’m at fault here…]
Cecilus: [Aren’t those thoughts of yours sorta just thoughts of seeking acceptance? Be that as it may, since you’ve admitted your fault, I’m going to blame everything here on Basu.]
Gustav: [Schwartz is, in my appraisal as the official, more humble for having uttered an apology. In addition, I, in my capacity, do not recall granting Segmunt permission to enter this room.]
Subaru: [Oh, is that so? Well then, why are you here, Ceci?]
Cecilus: [Naturally, that’s because my plans are to be where I want to be, when I want to be there. No one on this island can put shackles on my freedom, so I think that’s a reasonable way to go about it.]
Nonchalantly, the fake Cecilus uttered about how he conformed to nobody. Subaru looked to Gustav with trepidation, but the Chief of the Island was still conflicted, his eyes closed and his brow furrowed.
It seemed that the fake Cecilus’s remarks were no lie, but of course, Gustav was not willing to overlook the situation, is how his position seemed to be.
Subaru: [No one can stop Ceci, huh?]
Cecilus: [Yes, that’s right. It’s so-called special treatment towards one, namely, towards the leading actor of this world.]
Subaru: [I don’t really get what that means, but…]
Although expressed in a peculiar way, it was not hard to understand what the false Cecilus had been trying to say.
Only, were the fake Cecilus to not be mistaken in his statements, another major inconsistency would arise. Such a contradiction was something that Subaru could not ignore.
Subaru: [Umm, so, Gustav-san, I was told you wanted to see me, but… is it okay if Ceci stays here and listens to us?]
Gustav: [――. Segmunt.]
Cecilus: [Please don’t bother. Nobody’d be able to drive me out. Don’t worry, if what you talk about’s related to me, it’ll reach my ears, and if it’s not about me, I’ll forget about it quickly. My ability to forget’s amazing. It’s even possible that I’m forgetting a lot of important things at this very moment.]
Subaru: [That’s not amazing at all…]
Both Subaru and Gustav had given up because of the fake Cecilus’s insolence, the latter puffing his chest out.
Finally, without the room’s occupants changing, Subaru headed towards Gustav, just in front of him. The fake Cecilus watched on with his hands folded behind his head and his back against the wall.
It was an inspection by a terribly strange “actor”.
Subaru: [Forget about Ceci in the back, you called me――]
Gustav: [Of course, it is a warning of punishment for your case of misconduct.]
Subaru: […Aren’t you being roundabout on that?]
A low voice interrupted his statement, and Subaru frowned as he muttered.
As per the rules of the Gladiator Island, after the warning came the punishment, and supposedly, after that, lay a death at the hands of the curse rule. Regardless of the final conclusion, for a warning to come after the punishment was the incorrect order of things.
As Subaru pointed this out, Gustav’s expression did not even twitch.
Gustav: [Schwartz, you made a statement before me, the official, that threatened to disturb the order of the Gladiator Island. You ignored the warning, and consequently reached the stage to be administered punishment. Are you not aware of this?]
Subaru: […Yeah, I am.]
Gustav: [Then, you must vow to never speak of it again before me, as the official. ――Never speak that you are planning to escape this island, or that you possess any other plan to oppose the will of His Excellency the Emperor.]
His expression remained unchanging and unmoving. The look in his eyes and the tonality of his pupils also did not change. His tone of voice had a quietness akin to a giant boulder, yet it produced an overwhelming air of intimidation.
If he were a bit more emotional, such as being angry or annoyed, then it would be easier for Subaru to understand. However, neither anger nor annoyance resided within Gustav.
Subaru: [An absurdly strong sense of duty.]
Subaru: [Gustav-san, do you owe His Excellency the Emperor a debt of gratitude?]
Gustav: [Are you attemptingWell to sidestep the question?]
Subaru: [Nothing of the sort.]
He did not intend to sidestep it, nor was he in a position to.
Gustav did not seem like he was willing to let Subaru leave without getting a firm pledge from him. Therefore, Subaru’s question came from suspicion and interest towards the genuine Gustav.
Since, he roughly understood the position of the person Gustav called His Excellency the Emperor.
Gustav: [I have no personal connection with His Excellency the Emperor. As Governor, I have been entrusted with the management of this island. To endeavor, in my capacity, in the professional duties of my position, that is only natural, is it not?]
Subaru: [You’re saying that being overly serious is just your personality?]
Gustav: [It is somewhat dishonest to describe the performance of one’s natural duties as being serious, though, is it not?]
Subaru ducked his head, not having intended to make fun of him, but it had been taken as a slanderous remark.
Nevertheless, Gustav’s answer was not what Subaru desired. Whether this was Gustav’s true intention, or a front to hide it, he did not know.
It was something that was impossible to know about Gustav without learning more about him.
Subaru: [In Gustav-san’s case, I don’t think I’d be able to gain his trust even if I tried five or ten times…]
Subaru’s successes to date had been due to what he believed to be a kind of “suspension bridge effect”, created by the extreme conditions in which he had been placed.
In the midst of Sparka, where lives were on the line, Subaru’s words, spoken with an air of knowledge, seemed to pull everyone’s attention away from their own situation.
Getting to know them was the biggest reason why Natsuki Subaru had been able to surmount the Sparka.
However, this method was quite difficult to pull off outside of Sparka.
Gustav: [――Schwartz, what is with that face?]
Subaru: [No, I was wondering how I should melt Gustav-san’s frozen heart.]
Gustav: [There is no such correlation between heart and ice. I ask you to refrain from speaking in the same manner as Segmunt. For the sake of not increasing the seeds of headache burdening me, in my capacity.]
Subaru’s frivolous comments were answered seriously, and there was a hint of a laugh from the fake Cecilus in the back.
Subaru and Gustav exchanged glances as they cooperated to ignore it. Then, they returned to the question that had not been answered once more.
Gustav: [You must once again pledge, Schwartz. That above your activities as a gladiator of this Island, you shall obey me in my capacity as the Governor. ――You shall refrain from doing anything that goes against the will of His Excellency the Emperor.]
Closing his eyes, Subaru repeated Gustav’s statement in his head.
Upon making a proud declaration that he would leave the Island, Subaru had been given a warning by Gustav, and when he still did not correct it, Gustav had sent him to Sparka with the goal of punishing him.
If what the gladiators had stated was correct, the warning would be followed by a punishment, and if that had no effect, then the penalty of the curse rule would ensue.
Then, there was something Subaru had to make sure of no matter what. It was the confirmation that was absolutely necessary for Subaru and the others to get off the Gladiator Island――.
Gustav: [Schwartz, your answer――]
Subaru: [――Definitely, NO!]
In response to the low, insistent question, Subaru proudly raised his voice, his chest puffed out.
Gustav’s brow furrowed at the answer as he went silent. After seeing this quietude, Subaru immediately understood that the true meaning of his words had not been conveyed in the way he had just said them, and so rephrasing them was necessary.
Subaru: [No means I refuse. I’m sorry, but I can’t accept what you say, Gustav-san. I’ve already decided that I’m going to get out of here, no matter how stupid it may be.]
Breaking down the words that may not have been conveyed, Subaru so declared once more.
That he would escape from Gladiator Island Ginunhive, spoken to none other than the Island’s Governor himself, Gustav Morello, with complete confidence.
Subaru’s answer was not what Gustav had sought, of course. He let the astounding sternness of his face simmer, without changing his expression or the intensity of his eyes.
Simmering, like magma waiting to erupt――,
A moment later, a high-pitched laugh coercively disturbed the magma about to erupt.
The one laughing hysterically was the fake Cecilus, at the back of the room, nonchalantly eavesdropping on their conversation.
The fake Cecilus, as he laughed hysterically, wiped away tears from his eyes with his fingers.
Cecilus: [Definitely no! Definitely no, he says. I don’t know what “no” means, but I personally really like it because it gives me a strong sense of rebellion! Wooow, Basu, you just don’t know fear, do you? Well I don’t dislike that, in fact, I like it.]
Subaru: [I see. Well, I think of Ceci as a creepy little brat.]
The fake Cecilus never stopped laughing, as he slapped and stomped his feet on the spot.
Despite the fake Cecilus’s uproarious laughter pouring cold water on them, Subaru’s words of rejection to Gustav had not wore away.
Gustav: [Schwartz, as the official, I have warned you and punished you for not recanting your comments. Furthermore, I have given you another chance to rectify your attitude, yet you still possess no intention of doing so?]
Subaru: […Yeah, I don’t hate you or anything, Gustav-san. It’s the Empire I hate.]
Gustav: [In my capacity, I do not possess the right to twist your subjective opinion about liking or disliking individuals.]
Implication was, Gustav had stated he did not care if he was disliked, but it was true that Subaru did not dislike Gustav. Subaru did not know him well enough to decide whether he liked or disliked him.
To make a decision about someone based on first impressions would be such a ridiculous decision.
Subaru: [That is, unless they kiss the hand of a girl I like of course.]
Subaru: [I was talking to myself, about someone completely unrelated to this.]
Subaru glanced at Gustav, regretting the words that came out of his mouth so suddenly.
From Gustav’s point of view, Subaru must have been the most troublesome child to deal with. Even though he had sent Subaru to Sparka under the guise of punishment, Subaru had not shown any repentance.
Gustav had certainly realized that Subaru had not taken it as punishment.
And if that were to happen――,
Subaru: [Will you actually reprimand me, aside from warning and punishing me? Gustav-san.]
Gustav: [――. If you do not recant your opinion, at worst, I, in my capacity, am compelled to do so in accordance with the power vested in me, as the official.]
Subaru: [I, see… Then, why don’t you do it?]
Tilting his head, Subaru replied to Gustav as if it were nothing.
Hearing Subaru’s words, Gustav’s expression shifted slightly. It was not the action of wrinkling his brow, no of rubbing it, but rather, his cheeks stiffened.
It was not that he was pondering it over, but it was rather the reaction who had been hit in a sore spot.
Subaru: [You can use it to punish me, the curse rule that’s been put on all of the gladiators on the Island. I’m a cheeky brat who doesn’t do as he is told at all, and Gustav-san’s the Governor here, so making an example out of me should be perfectly acceptable. You can do it. But…]
Subaru: [Gustav-san, you won’t do it. ――No, I don’t think you can do it.]
There was no rebuttal from Gustav, who was thrust into silence.
Subaru probed for what the silence meant, as he continued with his thoughts.
The curse rule was the main reason why the gladiators of the Island were afraid and restricted in their actions.
The gladiators, having been inscribed with the curse mark, could be deprived of their life, at the will of the Governor, Gustav. Subaru suspected that Gustav was unable to utilize that deterrent.
Subaru: [I asked Old Man Null, the geezer gladiator who’s been living here for a long time. He said that, before Gustav-san’s arrival, the Gladiator Island was a lawless place, and more people died from injuries or illnesses. But things have changed a lot since Gustav-san arrived. Fewer people die.]
Gustav: [It is the natural duty of the Chief. To begin with, a gladiator should use their life for the Island’s shows, and they should avoid losing their lives due to other factors as much as possible. Other than shows, the same is true for daily death matches. Opportunities are provided to maintain tension and competence, but it is equally important to avoid dying in situations other than the real thing.]
Subaru: [Yeah, Gustav-san wants to prevent the unnecessary loss of gladiators as much as possible. I’ve felt that too, from the days I’ve spent here. Surprisingly, you’ve got good employee welfare.]
Cecilus: [“Emplowyi wellfaire”, more words I don’t know that get my heart racing!] 
The fake Cecilus got caught on something in Subaru’s questioning, but Subaru was not going to play dictionary.
Even for Subaru, this was a moment most important.
Subaru: [I think the reason deaths are allowed in Sparka is to maintain the quality of the gladiators, and maybe to keep the other gladiators on their toes.]
Subaru: [I said it earlier but, once you become a gladiator, the rules here are much more lenient. But, it’s not desirable for gladiators to learn to slack off in their lives here. Therefore, they have to participate in Sparka. That makes them more nervous, but also… reassured.]
Gustav: [Reassured, how?]
Subaru: [It’s relieving that we managed to become gladiators. That’s how we’re reassured.]
To Gustav’s question, Subaru answered while clearly looking him in the eye.
When Subaru had thought about the purpose behind Gustav’s actions, that was the feeling that seemed correct in more than one way. There was, of course, the possibility of having missed the point, but there was not much to lose by asking.
There would only be something to lose when being laughed at, or when being flatly denied.
But Gustav chose neither; he instead remained silent.
Subaru: […Gustav-san wants to prevent the gladiators’ deaths as much as possible… On the other hand, he doesn’t want gladiators to get carried away or become insubordinate. That’s why Sparkas are used. When I think about it that way, it just feels right.]
Gustav: [Sounds like a reasonable theory. But, it is not reasonable evidence as to why I, as the official, am not activating the curse rule. It is merely your wishful thinking.]
Subaru: [There’s one more basis for this… Someone who’s rebellious and gets carried away, Ceci.]
Cecilus: [Huh, what about me?]
Subaru stuck up a thumb and pointed towards his back, prompting the fake Cecilus to widen his eyes at Subaru. When Gustav’s eyes glanced in that direction, Subaru nodded broadly.
The fake Cecilus was a cut above the rest of the gladiators in his unruly behavior, including him having openly participated in the discussion between Subaru and Gustav.
Naturally, some sort of warning and punishment should have been given to the fake Cecilus, but that bore no effect on him at all, in a way different from Subaru. If that was the case, it would not be surprising if the fake Cecilus would be punished before Subaru.
Subaru: [And yet, Ceci’s safe. Although, it’s possible that Ceci’s Gustav-san’s personal favorite, but that doesn’t seem to be the case considering you, Gustav-san.]
Gustav: [Quite discerning. As the official, I do not hold any favor towards Segmunt. I am firm in not letting any likes or dislikes reflect in my duties.]
Cecilus: [Heyheyhey? Are you telling me that people don’t like me? Good grief, sorry for taking center stage everywhere I go.]
Subaru: [Your mental strength is too much…]
The fake Cecilus was quite unconcerned in spite of the rather direct accusation. It would be difficult to grow to have his kind of personality without having been that bold.
Regardless, the continued existence of the fake Cecilus was a fairly strong basis for Subaru’s theory.
In other words――,
Subaru: [Ceci isn’t being punished either. I’m as much or more of an eyesore to Gustav-san as Ceci is. On top of that, what do you make of my refusal to do what you just said?]
Subaru: [Do you intend to punish me with the curse rule…? Gustav-san, what will you do?]
Gustav’s eyes narrowed subtly in response to Subaru’s question.
Gustav, the man of the Multi-Arm Tribe, his four arms atop the desk, had his chin planted on two of them and the other two resting on the desk as if hugging it, while Subaru waited for his answer.
With those statements of his, Subaru’s intentions had certainly been conveyed to Gustav.
Telling him to do it, provoking him―― that was not what Subaru was doing. Rather, he was trying to confirm.
――That there was no such thing as a “curse rule” that held the gladiators’ lives in its hands.
Gustav was intimidating with his stern appearance and oppressive demeanor, but he believed him to be very careful in his management of the Island.
Whatever his intentions in following the instructions of the Emperor were, and despite his appearance, Gustav had managed to govern the gladiators of the Island not by violence, but with rules.
If one were to overcome Sparka and become a gladiator, because of their newfound situation, the gladiators would soften up and not become unruly. And if he were keep them on their toes by holding Sparkas regularly, making them think that participating in another Sparka was not within their wishes, then he would not have anyone wanting to fall prey to the curse rule that laid ahead of punishment.
With that two-sided safety net, the non-existent curse rule’s chain, so to speak, kept the gladiators’ feet tied to the ground.
This was Subaru’s understanding of the true form of the “curse rule” system that enveloped the Gladiator Island.
And whether this was correct or not, would be revealed by Gustav’s subsequent actions.
If he were provoked and the existence of the curse questioned, all the rules that Gustav had laid down would be circumvented.
To prevent this, Subaru would definitely have to be punished by the curse rule.
Subaru continued to stare at Gustav, attempting to discern the answer.
Faced with Subaru’s gaze, Gustav remained silent for a while, and then――.
Gustav: [――. I shall punish you. Schwartz, I shall send you to the next Sparka.]
――And so, as if giving in, Gustav did not dispossess Subaru of his life.
Cecilus: [That did give off the feeling of a complete victory fpr sire, but how are you feeling, Basu?]
As soon as they left Gustav’s office, the fake Cecilus, right next to him, inquired that of him.
Seeing that carefree attitude, Subaru let out a big sigh.
Subaru: [What are you saying? Are you my enemy, Ceci? Or my ally?]
Cecilus: [Gosh, that’s an odd question. I’m the one who went to the trouble of pulling you and the deergirl out of the lake, remember? Considering that you and your companion might’ve died had I not been there, doesn’t it make my position obvious?]
Subaru: [Yeah, sure. Well, are you my enemy? Or my ally?]
Cecilus: [Which of the two you think is more interesting?]
Subaru asked once more, paying no attention to his long, useless monologue, to which the fake Cecilus answered with a question.
It was a flippant question, making Subaru feel annoyed for a moment, but it possessed a wholly different tenor in comparison from his stare-down against Gustav.
The exchange with Gustav had been a critical turning point that could make a big difference going forward.
But, the question of the fake Cecilus was――,
Subaru: [It doesn’t matter which one I say, Ceci’ll decide according to his mood at the time.]
Cecilus: [Spot on. By the way, I’ll say I’m leaning toward your side at this point. For now, my intuition’s whispering to me that it’d be more interesting to watch Basu’s bizarre activities. However, even I can’t trust my mood, so do be plenty cautious.]
Subaru: [I’d like you to at least have a good grip on your own steering wheel…]
Rather than simply being a moody person, the fake Cecilus was a very dangerous moody person.
He thought it was amazing how the protagonists of various games and manga chose their party members so well, like they were accompanied by battle freaks and berserkers.
When he thought about it, he had always struggled to select party members ever since he had come to the Empire. Because of that, Subaru felt sorry for himself.
Subaru: [My Emiliase and Beatromin deficiency’s about to reach lethal levels.]
Cecilus: [Hoho, again with the unfamiliar words. Are these also local words from Basu’s hometown?]
Subaru: [More like terms I coined, the dream substances that make up half of my being.]
Like a medicine half made of kindness, to say that half of Subaru’s being was made of affection for his loved ones would be no exaggeration. It was an exaggeration, but he would stand by it.
That was why the dialogue with Gustav earlier had been so significant.
Subaru: [It’s annoying that Ceci was right, but it certainly got the desired response.]
Cecilus: [Joining in the next punishment? Or…]
Subaru: [Naturally, I’m talking about not being killed by the curse rule. As for Sparka… Well, yeah.]
Subaru, against the wishes of His Excellency the Emperor, had publicly declared his intention to escape the Island. Seeing that Gustav had not punished him with its utilization, the invocation of the curse rule was a virtual impossibility―― No, Gustav was unable to do such thing.
And because of that confirmation, he was given the punishment of participating in the next Sparka.
Cecilus: [In any case, it’s not a harsh blow for Basu, since he was planning to participate in Sparka anyways.]
Subaru: [I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that I was planning to do it anyway. I wouldn’t want to participate in a scary event like Sparka if I didn’t have to.]
Cecilus: [I see, I see, got it. It’s a stock phrase to liven things up, right?]
Subaru: [It’s not though!?]
Subaru brushed the back of his molar with his tongue as he replied to the fake Cecilus’s injust suspicion.
Should he attend another Sparka as he had this day, he would still have to rely on the “drug”. It was a depressing thought, but unavoidable.
In any case――,
Subaru: [Another plan in my mind’s moved forward. I don’t know how much longer my relationship with Ceci’ll last, but don’t be… No, don’t get in my way.]
Cecilus: [I’ll keep those words in mind as they were spoken after all kinds of struggles. Now, what in the world are you going to do, Basu…?]
During this talks of theirs, Subaru and the fake Cecilus were descending to the living quarters where gladiators were gathered. Subaru’s eyes widened at the sound of the fake Cecilus’s strange remark, and he turned his head to look in the direction he was looking――,
The one to call out to Subaru, while standing at the end of the group that occupied the table in the middle of the hall, was Tanza.
In the hall where Subaru and the fake Cecilus had arrived, in the area for meals, the largest number of gladiators he had ever seen was present. And in their center, were the members of Subaru’s Unit.
It seemed strange that the antisocial Weitz, the socially anxious Idra, and the reserved Tanza would be there. That Hiain, loud and full of false bravado as he was, was there was not so strange, though.
But what surprised Subaru more than the unexpectedness of such a line-up was the fact that――,
Subaru: [Uhh, what’s wrong with everyone? Everything got quiet all of a sudden.]
Scratching his cheek, Subaru so asked of the people in the hall, wearing a forced smile.
For some reason, as soon as Subaru and the fake Cecilus entered the room, everyone went quiet and stared intently as if they were scrutinizing them.
Keeping silent, they steadily observed Subaru and Cecilus―― No, they observed Subaru.
That was the first thing that made him uncomfortable. He could understand the reason for their reaction if they had seen the fake Cecilus and sank into silence.
Because the fake Cecilus was a creepy brat, feared and hated by the gladiators.
However, it was not the fake Cecilus they were looking at, but Subaru.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, we have been awaiting your return.]
Then, Tanza slowly approached Subaru, still puzzled over their reaction.
Her polite words made Subaru’s skin crawl, as he responded “Oh, yeah”. Even though Tanza’s polite way of speaking was normal for her, for some reason there was a pervading feeling of tension.
Or rather, it was not Subaru and Tanza who were brimming with tension, but the atmosphere of the entire hall. The room was ill at ease, and that sense unconsciously made him choke up.
Subaru: [You said you were waiting for me to come back… Oh, you were wondering why Gustav-san called me, right? Sorry to worry you. It went fine and…]
Tanza: [No, that is inconsequential.]
Tanza: [――More importantly…]
Subaru was surprised to be cut off so quickly, but was silenced by Tanza, who quickly approached him. He recoiled with an “Oof” at how forceful she had been, only to be caught from behind by the fake Cecilus.
Taking a look, Subaru saw that the fake Cecilus, who seemed as cheery as ever, had blocked his escape route, his face one that conveyed that his head was empty of thoughts. It pissed Subaru off.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, I have a question I would like to ask you. Would you please answer?]
Subaru: [O-ouh, um, yes, sure. If it’s something I can answer…]
Tanza: [――Schwartz-sama, about your father.]
Subaru: […About my dad?]
Tanza posed him a question with a meek look on her face, and Subaru frowned, not understanding what she meant.
Tanza had come to Subaru with such momentum, putting on such important airs, querying him about his father. What was more, it seemed that the question was not being raised by Tanza, and only Tanza.
The heat in the gazes of the gladiators staring at Subaru was growing stronger.
Hiain, Weitz, Idra, and naturally the other gladiators too, were all holding their breath, seemingly paying undue attention to what Subaru would reply with to Tanza’s question.
None of it made any sense to him at all.
Subaru: [Just so you know, if I tell you about my dad, it’ll be a long story, okay?]
Tanza: [Please try to be brief.]
Subaru: [You asked and then you put a condition on it!? Huh, come on, already!]
Scratching his head in a rough way, Subaru sullenly grumbled, “Ugh~”. But that sort of attitude did nothing to divert Tanza and the others’ interest.
Subaru did not understand why the topic of telling them about his father was brought up, but.
Subaru: [My dad’s my idol. He’s super cool, loads of people love him, and he’s always at the center of everyone’s attention. What can I say, he’s charismatic… Like he was born with the disposition of a natural leader, he’s amazing.]
Tanza: [――! Always at the center of a great number of people…]
Subaru: [He’s got a lot of people depending on him, and his work seems tough too, but he always has time for me and he teaches me a lot of things… I, you know, I respect him a whole lot. He’s super cool.]
As he spoke, the face of his father, the face of his mother, the face of those who loved him came to mind.
Subaru felt a sudden surge of warmth behind his eyes and clutched at his chest. Now that he was in this other world, it was both joyful and very painful to remember the two of them.
But, as painful as it was, his cherished parents were the pillars that supported Subaru’s core to this day.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, that is…]
Tanza hesitated for a moment before saying her next words, perhaps taking what she had been in Subaru’s expression into consideration.
But, having said all this, Subaru would not be offended no matter what Tanza asked him. Thinking this, Subaru waited for Tanza’s next words, and after waiting for a while, Tanza said――,
Tanza: [Your father’s name, what is it?]
Subaru tried to answer Tanza’s question, but hesitated.
With a sentimental feeling, Subaru tried to answer “Natsuki Kenichi” as usual, but this would have been a bit complicated. Since Subaru was known as “Natsuki Schwartz” on the Gladiator Island, the combination of his family name and his first name was reversed.
On the other hand, telling them another name, such as “Kenichi Schwartz”, would have added to the complications, with little benefit.
So, Subaru wavered for a moment and then said――,
Subaru: [Sorry. I can’t tell you my dad’s name.]
The moment Subaru replied, Tanza’s expression stiffened in plain sight.
Her eyes were wide and wavering, and her round cheeks were tense and tight. And, though he was surprised by Tanza’s reaction in front of him, that was not the only one――,
Weitz: [Seems it’s no joke, apparently…]
Idra: [Is it possible? Well, no, but it was that conduct that led us here.]
Hiain: [S-see, I told’cha! How ’bout that, am I still crazy? Well, oi!]
The gladiators in the hall, with the members of Subaru’s Unit at the helm, began to make a commotion all at once.
Their mutual exchanges of glances, and their noisy chatter brought great puzzlement to Subaru. What could be the reason as to why everyone was so surprised?
Subaru: [Umm, guys?]
The commotion receded as soon as Subaru called out to them.
Subaru felt a pang of loneliness there and then――,
Weitz: [Schwartz, whoever ya are, we’re not gonna think of ya differently…]
And so, Weitz was the first to speak to the anxious-looking Subaru.
Weitz donned scary-looking tattoos on his face and all over his body, but the words he said were out of concern for Subaru, and were probably meant to reassure him.
Idra: [I-I agree. I mean, I have come to a point of understanding. I’m more than ready to cooperate with you… Schwartz.]
Hiain: [Yeah yeah, that’s right! What’s the matter with’cha bastards! He ain’t any different! He’s a gladiator just like us, he’s my bro!]
Following Weitz’s words, Idra thumped his own chest, and Hiain, running up to him, put his arm around Subaru’s shoulders and turned back to the gladiators as he spoke.
Idra aside, Hiain’s behavior had even Subaru bewildered, but――.
???: [――Right! Great kid, that Schwartz!]
???: [I knew ya weren’t some run-of-the-mill guy! That’s the only way ta explain it!]
???: [Yes, the guidance of the Sword Wolf we serve! Thank you for this day’s charities and fortune!]
Triggered by the words of the three members of his Unit, the silent gladiators erupted in cheers.
The voices echoing through the hall were so loud that they sounded as if they might shake the entire Gladiator Island, and Subaru’s amazement intensified as they went round and round.
But before he could fully process the surprise, Subaru was being vigorously pushed by Hiain.
Hiain: [Heyhey, we haven’t even finished celebratin’ today’s Sparka yet! Ya’re the one who made the big splash this time, so make some noise, bro!]
Weitz: [Hiain, yer totally self-interested!?]
Hiain: [S’all good ain’t it, come on, open up a seat for bro! Bring meat and drink!]
Pushed by Hiain, wearing a big, undignified smile, Subaru was crammed into the middle of the large crowd of gladiators.
Orson and his teammates, with whom he had fought together in today’s Sparka, having returned from the healing room, were present, raising a modest toast and welcoming Subaru’s arrival.
Orson: [Thank ya so much for today, Schwartz. ――It was good ya were with us.]
Subaru choked on the words in his throat as he was greeted by teary-eyed lizardmen.
There was a mountain of things he wanted to say and questions he had, but the words exchanged at this moment were more than enough to reward Subaru for taking on that Sparka.
Subaru: [Thanks for saving me, too.]
And so, for the first time in three days, he shared with them the bone-in-meat that was brought out, one after another.
Cecilus: [――Miss, aren’t you going to make a racket with them?]
Tanza: […My position is complicated.]
Whilst looking over the crowd of people noisily clamoring together, Tanza mixed in a sigh with her reply to the boy who was talking to her.
A boy who looked exactly like a person she knew, with the exception of his height and the length of his limbs. She was hesitant to express her feelings to him, unknowing of how much he knew about the situation.
Naturally, that was regarding the black-haired boy’s surprising identity which Hiain had brought about, but also about the complex feelings Tanza had when facing that person.
As she joined her hands together with her kimono, Tanza thought of her beloved master.
And then, with the wish Yorna harbored, the personage not unrelated to that wish, and the boy seemingly not unrelated to that person, it all kept being churned around and around, chaotically.
Only, if there was something she wanted say clearly――,
Tanza: [――I have no other way but to rely on Schwartz-sama.]
Was it really okay for her to believe that? Those doubts had been removed, at least that much was true.
Even if she did not know how far they could go together, after all that.
Cecilus: [I see, your expression truly is a complicated one of being at a loss, there’s indeed a sorrow afloat, isn’t there.]
Cecilus: [Oh dear, Basu sure is a guilty guy too, isn’t he! Well, well, however.]
She glimpsed the boy beside her, bereft of any regard to her feelings, smiling brightly out of the corner of his mouth. But, that smile appeared to be more ominous than any smile the boy had shown until now.
Tanza felt a faint shudder as she listened to the boy’s next words.
Cecilus: [――If things don’t start moving soon, my patience’s probably going to run out. Just kidding!]
 The word Subaru employs is a modern word (福利厚生), hence why Cecilus doesn’t know it and mispronounces it.
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