Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Section 3)
Machine Translated By:
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――It was hard to decide which should be considered the main event between the second Sparka and the subsequent grand banquet, but three days had passed since both had occurred.
During that time, nothing of note happened on the Gladiator Island.
What had also been an anticlimax to Subaru was that there had been no third Sparka to welcome new gladiator candidates from the outside, and none of the usual deathmatches were organized.
The usual deathmatches were a preparation for the shows, a kind of practice match so the gladiators did not lose their strength.
However, even though they were just practice matches, there was still an invariance in that it was quite possible for those who lost their focus to end up as corpses, and there were also dangerous people who were capable of producing corpses regardless of whether or not they lost their focus.
And different from the Sparka, even if he received a punishment in relation to those deathmatches, since it seemed difficult for Subaru to interfere, it would be a great help.
Hiain: [The guards’re gettin’ awfully on edge. Well, guess they’re just scared of ya bro, and us as well, ain’t that right?]
Those were Hiain’s words, who had been interpreting the atmosphere of Gladiator Island for the past few days as feeling good.
It seemed as though this lizardman was very happy that his friends had been saved during that second Sparka, and since then, his friendliness toward Subaru had risen to a different league.
It had been Subaru who had called him a bro first, but he was treated like a bro by him as well.
Subaru: [Well, I don’t feel bad in the slightest.]
Despite being stunned by his self-centered personality, Subaru warmly welcomed Hiain’s attitude.
It would be more comfortable for everyone to get along peacefully, rather than have everyone on edge. The softening of Hiain’s attitude had been very striking, but there had been a change in Weitz’s and Idra’s attitudes as well.
Weitz had substantial trust in him, and Idra displayed some vague respect; that, was how they had been treating Subaru.
And that change in attitude was spreading to the gladiators on the Island in a positive way.
???: [Yo, Schwartz, ya got a good look in yer eyes today!]
???: [Ya’re overflowin’ with fightin’ spirit!]
???: [The guards really deplore ya. At this rate, they’ll lose all their Gladiator Beasts!]
The number of people who talked to Subaru in such a cheerful and friendly manner had increased tremendously.
His impression concerning this had been the same it had been as towards Hiain, so Subaru gave it a warm welcome. With the people he could talk to being as many as possible, it was easier for Subaru to gather the information he needed.
For now, the present situation was such that Subaru could forget about Gustav’s “curse rule”, since the information that Subaru wanted the most was――,
Subaru: [――The control tower for the drawbridge.]
The sole means connecting the Island to the outside. How could he operate the dropbridge and enter the control tower?
Right now, that information was what Subaru desired most.
Subaru: [The control tower itself’s in plain view of everyone, but it seems like you can’t get inside…]
The control tower itself stood proudly on the island side, in the vicinity of the drawbridge.
There weren’t any guards posted at all, but the entrance was secured with a very impressive lock, and it was impossible to open the large metal door without obtaining the key.
Over the last few days, they had been trying to locate the key, but since Gustav apparently operated the drawbridge himself, it was very likely that the key was on his person.
Subaru: [Ummm, we’d stand little chance squaring up against Gustav-san.]
As a matter of fact, Gustav’s strength was quite unknown even to Subaru.
In appearance, he was equipped with four arms, after all. Besides, he had been entrusted with the management of the Gladiator Island, and given his position, that of ruling over the rough-and-tumble gladiators, there was no way he was weak.
Of course, if they fought one time, he could assess if Gustav was strong or weak, but――.
Subaru: [I don’t want to aggravate Gustav-san in the first place…]
From his standpoint, Subaru and Gustav had a confrontational relationship as a gladiator and Chief, but Subaru personally did not dislike Gustav.
In fact, in the Empire, where many people were rather difficult to talk to, he had never once raised his voice to Subaru. So, his impression of Gustav was that he was a valuable person whom he could have a proper talk with.
At least, it was much better than the fake Cecilus, who hovered on the border between friend and foe.
So, the ideal course of action would be to sneak in and steal the key from Gustav.
Subaru: [However, I don’t want to be hanging around Gustav-san’s side like Ceci.]
Now that the curse rule was no longer binding him, it seemed that Gustav, who was faithful to his duties, was no longer a danger to Subaru in a sense. Even so, Subaru was not as brazen as to be careless enough to go around openly looking for or asking about the whereabouts of the key.
The worst-case scenario for Subaru was that Gustav would find Subaru a nuisance, lock him up somewhere on the Island, and prevent him from doing anything.
If that came to pass, Subaru would have to fall back on the last resort behind his molar.
Subaru: [We’ll just have to keep investigating little-by-little.]
Scratching his head, Subaru grumbled as his lips pursed at the challenges that lay ahead.
In order to get information about the drawbridge, Subaru was investigating the people in control―― in other words, the guards watching over the gladiators.
The guards who followed Gustav at the top were fewer in number than the gladiators on the Island, but their presence gave the impression that they were strong Imperial Soldiers, with little room for weakness or vulnerability.
Gustav’s guidance and instructions seemed to be so thorough, that even if the child Subaru attempted to talk to them, the guards would become more alert, rather than relax their guard. Perhaps this was due to the precedent set by the fake Cecilus, a child even less lovable than Subaru.
Either way, it was very difficult to get information from the guards.
Whether Gustav had also conveyed information on what Subaru was up to or not, wherever he was, their stern gazes would be directed at him, so perhaps he had made a bit of a mistake.
Although he had been trying to get to the bottom of the curse rule, it had caused Gustav to become alarmed.
Subaru: [If I had been punished for a different reason than that… Nah, no use in saying it.]
While reflection was important, nothing of value came forth from regret.
Regret was only what he wanted to do. Unfortunately, Subaru had no time to feel sorry for his own stupidity. No minute or second should be wasted.
If one guard gave him the cold shoulder, he would only have to tackle tens, hundreds of others.
Subaru: [Right, a great man once said that picking up girls is all about the amount. Even though I’m not picking up girls.]
With his fists clenched, Subaru referenced the words of the pros in different disciplines to help him regain his bearings.
And with that, walking about the Island briskly to make the guards in some other area hate him,
???: [Yer a restless guy, Schwartz…]
Subaru: [What, Weitz?]
Speaking in a low voice to Subaru as he walked around looking for the guards, was Weitz.
Seeing Weitz sitting on the ground, leaned against a wall, Subaru tilted his head. Their location was near the passageway connecting to the gladiatorial arena. However, the gladiatorial arena was not accessible outside of Sparka or on the occasion of a deathmatch, so an iron gate was lowered in the corridor.
In other words, this day was filled with nothing but dead-ends.
Subaru: [What are you doing in a place like this? Hide-and-seek?]
Weitz: [I dunno what that is, but prolly not… I came to see what’s going on in the basement, for a tad…]
Subaru: [Basement… Oh, over there.]
Weitz jerked his chin, and Subaru turned to glance in that direction.
Right next to the passageway to the gladiatorial arena, there was a door connecting to the basement of the Island. As per his knowledge, the Island floated atop a lake, so the basement did not lead anywhere.
Rather, it was more-or-less connected to the outside world, however――,
Subaru: [It’s just a direct connection to the lake, so its purpose is to dump the bodies, they said.]
Weitz: [Gladiators and Gladiator Beasts that die in the deathmatches… They’re lumped together… If we’d lost, we would’ve been fish food in the same way…]
Subaru: [That gives me the shudders.]
By fish food, he was talking about the aquatic Witchbeasts that inhabited the lake.
Rather savage ones were loose there seemingly; the most common causes of death on Gladiator Island were deathmatches, but the second most common cause of death was falling prey to the Witchbeasts, whether by accident or by trying to escape.
Subaru, too, would become no more than fodder for those Witchbeasts were he unable to utilize the drawbridge.
Weitz: [Have ya heard… the story of the gladiator who escaped from the Island, in the past…?]
Subaru: [Huh? Oh, yeah, I heard. I heard it was because of what happened with that person, the previous Chief was fired, and Gustav-san was chosen as the new Chief.]
Weitz: [Those poor conditions’ve improved… but now, the position of gladiator’s become stable… What do ya think…?]
Subaru: [What do I think…?]
Weitz: [Should we… resign ourselves to the position of gladiator, to the position of being ruled over…?]
Weitz’s words made Subaru check to see if anyone was nearby on reflex.
Weitz’s statement just now had been quite out-of-line for a gladiator of the Gladiator Island. If a guard with poor character were to hear it, it would be enough of an excuse to give him a warning.
Regardless, Weitz would probably be looked upon more harshly than other gladiators because he was in the same Unit as Subaru.
Subaru: [Uhh, Weitz, I think you shouldn’t be too careless about what you say. It’s fine with me, but I wonder what other people might think about it.]
At that, Subaru tried to correct Weitz’s thinking.
If it were only Subaru getting caught up in the next Sparka, there would be ways to deal with the situation. However, if Weitz were to be added to the mix, the level of difficulty would rise dramatically.
But, in response to Subaru’s thoughts, “Schwartz…” Weitz continued,
Weitz: [Why do ya think I went to the basement… It’s so I can help ya…]
Weitz: [Ya intend on getting outta here… And, and I’m also going with’cha… I’m not gonna stay here as a gladiator… I owe ya a debt, too…]
While saying that, Weitz slowly rose to his feet.
Then, on his tattoo-covered face, he directed earnest eyes toward Subaru. Being gazed at intently by those eyes, Subaru gulped and stiffened up.
The atmosphere was not one to be making jokes about, or to deceive someone.
Subaru: [Weitz, I…]
Weitz: [I know who ya are…]
Weitz: [But, that ain’t the point… Don’t get me confused with Hiain and his sweet-talking… I ain’t interested in the crown ya wear… I just wanna lend ya my strength. Remember that…]
The hairs on Subaru’s body stood on end upon those words of Weitz, saying that he knew his true identity. But what Weitz said after that, made Subaru’s whole body go numb. Even if Subaru was a nobody, Weitz had stated he would pay his debt, and lend him his strength.
That is, that is extremely――,
Subaru: […Reassuring, Weitz.]
When Subaru gave a thumbs-up and laughed, Weitz looked away and sniffed his nose. Subaru took this not-at-all honest reaction in good humor, as it was typical of Weitz.
The reason why Weitz had come to explore the underground had been to find a way to operate the drawbridge―― to help out Subaru, who was searching for a way to escape outside.
In the end, there was nothing of that sort here, and as expected, there was no way to leave aside from the drawbridge, and so it seemed the conclusion was for them to return to their original method.
Then, something happened at the moment Subaru reached that conclusion.
Subaru: [――Hk, this shaking!]
Weitz: [Is it the drawbridge…]
As a tremor seemed to shake from below the earth, and a low sound shakily resounded, Subaru and Weitz exchanged glances, having reached the same conclusion.
There were only two possible options for a big mechanism that could shake the entire Gladiator Island, those being the gladiatorial arena and the drawbridge. And, since the passage leading to the gladiatorial arena was already closed off in Subaru and Weitz’s vicinity, the drawbridge was the only natural candidate.
Subaru: [Another new group of people…]
For people to arrive meant that the next Sparka would also begin.
Weitz looked at Subaru, who muttered to himself while experiencing a thirst in his mouth. Receiving Weitz’s gaze, Subaru displayed a smile.
As if to reassure him that there was nothing to worry about.
Subaru: [――. Let’s go take a look…]
Whether his smile had bore any effect or not, and how Weitz felt, it was impossible to tell, as the latter turned his back on him. But, following behind a Weitz who spoke scant words, him and Subaru ascended from the lower stratum of the Island to the middle stratum, and then to the high ground overlooking the drawbridge.
Subaru: [It’d be nice to see the entrance to the tower open and close if possible, though…]
???: [Schwartz-sama, over here.]
A young girl’s voice called out to Subaru, as he wiped the sweat from his chin, short of breath as he rushed up the stairs. Tanza, who had reached the high ground earlier, waved her hand, and Subaru and Weitz joined her.
While Tanza was taking notice of Weitz,
Tanza: [It seems you were with Weitz-sama.]
Subaru: [We happened to meet downstairs and had an embarrassing conversation… What about you Tanza?]
Tanza: […I was examining the tower. As expected, it seems that the key is in Gustav-sama’s possession.]
Subaru: [Ugh, I knew it.]
Tanza also knew that it was necessary to operate the drawbridge in order to escape the Island. Since they also both knew about the curse rule, the two children were conspiring to get off the Island together.
However, right then was when Weitz suddenly interjected,
Weitz: [If ya wanna take the key away… Should we fight with numbers…?]
Subaru: [That plan is awfully shortsighted! Most likely, you’ll get hit by the curse rule if you try something so reckless.]
Weitz: [That’s right…]
Weitz’s shortsighted suggestion was dissuaded by Subaru using the curse rule as a pretext.
Hearing this, Tanza’s eyes widened, so Subaru put a finger to her mouth to quiet her.
The truth that there was actually no curse rule, was something he had yet to confide in anyone other than Tanza. Of course, the fake Cecilus who happened to be present in that place also knew, but on the other hand, the fake Cecilus had no friends to talk to about it with, so there were no concerns about the information spreading.
However, Subaru believed that this was a truth that would be very frightening to spread.
Subaru: [Part of the reason why the gladiators are so behaved is because of the curse rule.]
There were no major complaints about their treatment, since there was a curse rule which if disobeyed, would cost them their lives.
That was the reason the gladiators in Ginunhive were ruled so obediently by Gustav. If it turned out that there was no curse rule, people who thought similarly to Weitz would emerge.
Should that happen, an all-out war would begin between the gladiator side and the administration side.
In terms of numbers, despite the casualties, the gladiator side would perhaps win, however――.
Subaru: [Every guard’s got a Witchbeast with a broken horn, so they can deal a ton of damage.]
Not only were the Gladiator Island’s guards themselves strong, but the fact that they were accompanied by Witchbeasts was also a troublesome aspect of the guards.
Since all the Gladiator Beasts used in Sparka were Witchbeasts kept by the guards, there were still many more like the lion and rat, which Subaru and the others had found difficult to defeat.
That was why, they would be in trouble if Weitz were to become impatient at this juncture.
Tanza: [It seems to me, however, that it is not very practical to wait until Schwartz-sama has defeated all the Gladiator Beasts in Sparka.]
Subaru: [That’s just as reckless as it sounds… First of all, if the Gladiator Beasts were replenished, my spirit would be broken. I’m not planning that kind of strategy.]
Tanza: [If that is the case…]
Subaru: [I’ve been considering a lot of things, so don’t worry. You don’t have to believe me, but please trust my feelings that there are people I definitely want to see.]
Understanding that the secret was to be kept from Weitz, Tanza kept silent after Subaru said that. She slightly cast her eyes down, then continued, “Those that you wish to see”,
Tanza: [Are they, your family?]
Subaru: [Hmm? Well, they’re people as important to me as family, and there’s even a girl I like.]
Subaru replied to the slightly delayed question with a tilt of his head.
Having heard that, Tanza’s lips still moved as if she wanted to say something. Although, before she could say anything, Weitz pointed to the drawbridge below, saying, “Look…”.
From their side and the side over yonder, from both ends the drawbridge was activated, and the new residents of the Gladiator Island would be coming this way.
Subaru: [What kind of people will these new arrivals be…? Surely they aren’t Weitz’s or Idra’s acquaintances this time.]
Weitz: [Anyone who knows my face, I’d be fine with them all dying…]
Subaru: [Please don’t say such scary and lonely――]
Things, just as he tried to say that, he saw a carriage coming across the drawbridge, clearly.
The carriage was pulled by an armored black Galewind Horse, but there was something a little different about it from the one three days earlier, the difference being in how docile the people riding in the carriage were.
Last time, Hiain’s friends, Orson and the others, seemed to be riding obediently in the carriage, but the people this time were not like that. ――Someone was standing on the roof of the carriage.
On the roof of the swaying carriage, with brown skin, was a slender-bodied woman――.
As soon as Subaru saw that face and the distinctive features of her appearance, he stifled a scream in the back of his throat, and hurriedly crouched down in place. Hiding behind the railing, he made his body smaller.
His heart was beating at a tremendous rate and the sound of blood pumping through his head was explosive.
Tanza: [S-Schwartz-sama? Is there something wrong, being like that all of a sudden…]
Subaru: [That, woman… is bad news.]
Next to Subaru as he crouched, Tanza, having similarly crouched down, widened her eyes.
But, Subaru could not afford to be concerned about Tanza’s surprise.
Weitz: [Woman… That woman…?]
Hearing Subaru’s mutterings, Weitz, leaning against the railing, looked toward the drawbridge. Even Weitz’s eyes seemed to see the person on the roof of the incoming carriage.
Weitz did not seem to know who the woman was, but Subaru was aware of her identity. And being aware of that, he thought it was the worst possible time for her to be there.
That carriage, or at least the woman on the roof, was not a candidate for the next Sparka.
After all, the identity of that woman was――,
Subaru: [――The name doesn’t come to mind quickly, but she’s a Divine General.]
Because, she was an overwhelmingly strong woman, donning silver hair and an eyepatch, someone who had gone on a rampage in Guaral before.
???: [The visitors this time aren’t gladiators, but apparently messengers from the Imperial Capital.]
That, had been Idra’s report, which he had heard leak from a guard.
Subaru and his comrades had been watching the arrival of the carriages from a vantage point, but the shock brought on by the woman on the roof―― by that transcendent enemy, was too great.
???: [That woman noticed me and looked this way…]
Next to Subaru, who had immediately crouched down, Weitz, watching the carriage finish crossing the drawbridge in his stead, had his voice tremble upon witnessing something unbelievable.
Their impression was that they were a hundred meters away, but to feel a gaze, even from there, was monstrous. Subaru was right to squat, since she had looked in Weitz’s direction, per his own words.
Of course, even if she were to look at Subaru now, she would probably not recognize him.
Tanza: [Half-dogperson, Divine General… In all likelihood, she is General First-Class Arakiya, I am certain.]
???: [Ya also know her, Tanza?]
Tanza: […She is one of the people who previously targeted Yorna-sama of Chaosflame. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I heard that she covered an entire city block in flames.]
???: [Y-ya’re just makin’ a tasteless joke. Right?]
Hiain tried to laugh off the seriousness in Tanza’s voice. But, there was no one present who could laugh it off.
Subaru, in particular, had received a considerable impact.
Subaru: [Guys who are just plain strong are usually the most troublesome for me.]
Subaru had a chance to win if there was an opening to be taken advantage of, or if the opponent could be managed with a little ingenuity.
However, when it came to opponents with simply too big of a gap in ability, he would be out of strategies. They were strong, after all. Cheap tricks did not work on strong opponents.
It was the privilege of a strong person to trample upon all his preparations.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, please do not be too pessimistic. Since she is a messenger from the Imperial Capital, it should not mean that there will be anything happening involving us. To declare them as an enemy now is…]
Subaru: [Too premature, huh. Yeah, yes, that makes sense. That totally tracks, but…]
Subaru: [I can’t help but think of the worst-case scenario… You get me?]
Hugging his thin arms, Subaru answered that to Tanza who had encouraged him.
He appreciated Tanza’s sentiment, and he was sure that she did not want to make enemies of the Nine Divine Generals herself. To put it mildly, Arakiya was as strong, if not stronger, than Yorna.
Being trapped on an Island like this, Subaru felt that he could not fight against such an opponent at the top-level of strength.
Hiain: [B-but why’re ya so worried, bro? If that party came from the Imperial Capital…]
Idra: [Hiain, don’t you get it? Right now, the Empire’s split in two.]
Hiain: [Huh? Ah, ahh! Damnit, so that’s it…!]
Besides Subaru, who was deep in thought, Hiain and Idra were also discussing with serious expressions.
Subaru did not quite understand the flow of their conversation, but he did not have time to worry about it.
In fact, it was more likely that Subaru was overthinking it.
Subaru: [At the moment, I don’t think that Tanza or I are that woman’s…]
Tanza: [General First-Class Arakiya.]
Subaru: [Arakiya’s objective.]
Even if Subaru and his comrades were somewhat conspicuous on the Island, it was unlikely that they were well-known outside it. And even if they were, it would be him, in this form.
It would be unreasonable for that to be considered a problem. Even if Olbart would want to do something about Abel, he could not think of any reason for Olbart to care about Subaru or Tanza.
Tanza: [So, for what purpose did a messenger come from the Imperial Capital to the Island?]
Weitz: [Thinking ’bout it… Perhaps for the Island’s show…?]
Tanza: [Show… That is the original purposeof the Gladiator Island.]
Weitz and Tanza came up with a possible reason for Arakiya’s visit.
The Island’s shows, the original role of the Gladiator Island Ginunhive, was to make a spectacle of deathmatches between gladiators for spectators who hailed from other places.
It was an event in poor taste, but Subaru had heard that it helped to curb the fearsome desires of the people of the Empire.
Hiain: [If we have a show, a-are they gonna make us fight again…? But, with the rebellion happenin’ and all the panic everywhere, why’d they do it at a time like this?]
Idra: [There’s also the idea that it’d be precisely because times are like that. The purpose is to enforce the thought that the people of the Empire must be strong, in a situation where the Empire’s shaking…]
Weitz: [His Excellency the Emperor’s thoughts, huh…]
With Hiain’s voice cracking, Idra’s persuasive thoughts, and Weitz’s grave mutterings, the eyes of each one of them turned towards Subaru.
It was as if they were expecting Subaru to know the answer, but Subaru did not have the answer either. Subaru had no choice but to shake his head.
Subaru: [I think both Hiain’s and Idra’s ideas are possible. But…]
Subaru: [I wonder if the Emperor really cares about this place…]
Subaru already knew that the Emperor, who was giving orders in the Imperial Capital, was a fake.
Real and fake were both in Chaosflame, and since there was a rebellion going on, it was unlikely that Abel had returned without Subaru’s knowledge.
So, as designation was that they were from the Imperial Capital, it had to be the fake Emperor’s idea. It was hard to believe that Vincent, the fake Emperor who could devise a plan virtually as good as Abel’s, would waste his time and energy on useless things.
Subaru: [There has to be a reason for this, absolutely.]
What reason would they, and not the Abel who was supposed to be the real Emperor, possess, to send a Divine General to this lake Island stranded from the entire world.
Tanza: [General First-Class Arakiya, she did not barge in with a large group of people, did she?]
Tanza: [I only saw it from a distance too, but it was a single carriage that came. There were at most five or six people. The only one that stood out was the General First-Class.]
Subaru: [Is… that so?]
Eyes downcast, Tanza stumbled over the same thing as Subaru, not knowing what the other party was up to.
One could say that they were overthinking things and that they should just keep their heads down and wait for the storm to pass. That could also be a way to see it.
Weitz: [How ’bout, if ya think ’bout it the other way ’round… Hide in the carriage that the messenger rode in, and leave the Island…]
Subaru: [The hiding in the carriage bit, I believe that was already done back in Chaosflame.]
Tanza: [I would be fine with the same method, as long as it works more than once…]
Weitz’s suggestion was taken seriously by Subaru and Tanza. But Hiain, who was listening to the three of them, said in a loud voice, “Wait, wait, wait!”.
The gray-scaled lizardman made them turn to him with his loud voice and,
Hiain: [Are ya seriously thinkin’ ’bout leavin’ the Island? Are ya nuts?! Ya’re gonna die!]
Weitz: [If ya stay here, ya’ll eventually die fighting something, idiot…]
Hiain: [But not today or tomorrow!! Schwartz… Bro, I need ya!]
Subaru: [I don’t intend to stay here forever, either. I mean, I don’t want to stay forever.]
Hiain quivered as his big mouth, lined with tiny fangs, gasped at Subaru’s plan. Perhaps, from Hiain’s point-of-view, he would be more comfortable living on the island than out there.
It was not an overstatement to say that, once someone got over Sparka and became a gladiator, their life was safe outside of deathmatches. It was understandable that one might be tempted to think like that.
Hiain: [Pipsqueak! Idra! Damn ya…]
Tanza: [Like Schwartz-sama, I have my own reasons for not wanting to remain here any longer.]
Idra: [I-I… would get out if I could, is what I think.]
Hiain’s words, who seemed to believe himself in an unfavorable position, received these responses from Tanza and Idra. Despite the differences between positive and reluctant responses, neither of them had positive feelings about the Gladiator Island.
Although, it was hard for Hiain to believe.
Hiain: [T-there’s a limit to how reckless ya can be with yer life…!]
Subaru: [I’m sorry to put you on the spot, Hiain, but I want you to think about it too. Should you stay here forever?]
Hiain looked at Subaru and the others, his eyes similar to as if he were looking at something terrifying.
But Hiain would know this, were he to think long and hard about it. The peace of mind and safety that they could get here was only a stepping stone, reached only after sacrificing many things.
Hiain: […Even if ya leave, what are ya gonna do about the curse rule?]
After giving up with his knee-jerk denial, that had been Hiain’s next move.
The unseen chains that bound the gladiators of the Gladiator Island, the main reason why the gladiators still remained there, was something that Weitz too, had mentioned.
That they had already been neutralized, was something he did not want to say until the very end. But, as he remained cautious of that, Hiain continued to doubt Subaru and everyone else’s sanity.
So, Subaru thought to at least make him slacken his caution a little bit.
Subaru: [I’ll do something about the curse rule, too. In fact, I’ve got a hint on how to do it.]
Hiain: [――Hk!? About the curse rule?]
Subaru nodded with a confident look on his face, indicating that it was not a good idea to waste any more time here.
The answer surprised not only Hiain, but also Weitz and Idra. Only Tanza, who was already aware that there was no curse rule, quietly observed the scene without saying anything.
Subaru could not speak the truth, but his chest puffing out here would aid in dispelling Hiain and the others’ fears. Ergo, Subaru could not show a lack of confidence.
Even if Arakiya’s objectives as an emissary remained unknown――.
Subaru: [Surely, I’ll find a way to get off this island. So――]
When that time comes, I’ll need your strength. ――Was what he had wanted to say at that time.
But, Subaru did not say those words.
To be more accurate, it no longer made sense to continue them.
There was the sound of a snatched breath escaping, and Hiain collapsed, his eyes bloodshot.
Trembling, slitted-pupil eyes bleeding, Hiain’s large body toppled sideways.
Without any forewarning, Subaru was unable to react quickly to such a sudden and unexpected event, and was unable to support Hiain as he collapsed.
Subaru: [H… iain?]
With a heavy thud, Hiain’s body fell limp to the floor of the common room. After collapsing, Hiain was motionless. All he did was spasm, his limbs twitching.
It was like a cicada, he thought. Like cicadas in the middle of summer, overturned on the road.
Hiain was dying, moving like a cicada.
――Hiain was not the only one.
There was a sound, light in comparison to the sound of Hiain falling, and Subaru turned around, stunned.
The three who had been talking to Subaru, Idra, Weitz, and Tanza, all lay on the floor, convulsing and trembling in the same way.
He did not understand a thing. Not a single one, rendering him unable to react.
Crouching right next to the collapsed Tanza, he turned her slumped body over. Tears of blood streamed from Tanza’s eyes while she lay limp, her head slumped over.
Blood was running from her eyes, nose and ears too, dripping onto the floor with a trickle.
And, Subaru’s throat squealed, causing him to drop Tanza’s body.
He rushed to check on the other three. All of them had stopped moving, bleeding from their eyes and noses.
Why, a questioning voice started making a tremendous sound in his head.
Whywhywhy, Subaru’s head was whirling, the ringing in his ears was immensely loud, as his mind was filled with questions as to why and how the scene before him made no sense.
The feeling of his head splitting open was about to engulf Subaru――.
Holding his own head, Subaru looked up.
A sharp, intense pain struck his head, and blood trickled from Subaru’s nose. The ringing in his ears did not stop, and there was also a sensation of blood seeping out.
The sequence of events, was different. Subaru suffered from the same pain as Tanza and the others had, although slower.
He wondered, what the meaning of it was.
Subaru: [This… doesn’t make sense…]
Propping himself up with his hands to the floor and against the wall, Subaru managed to stand up. He got up and went out into the hallway to see what was going on.
Inside the room, Tanza and the others were already beyond hope. And, it was not just Tanza and the others that were beyond hope. Many, many more were.
The adjacent common room, the passageways here and there, the main hall, the drawbridge area, everyone in them had been beyond hope.
With limping feet, flickering eyes, and the contents of his head feeling as if they were melting out of his ears, Subaru, his clothes covered in blood, looked around the Island.
Everyone, was dead. Absolutely everybody, was dead.
They were all dead, bleeding from the eyes, nose, and ears. They were all dead. Dead.
So suddenly, the gladiators, the guards, and everyone else had died without any exception.
Everyone, and so suddenly.
Everyone was gone. Suddenly, unexpectedly.
Unable to believe it, and unable to accept it, he had no choice but to totter and ask.
To whom, if one may wonder, then to the sky. If not to the sky, then to the water.
Suddenly, someone answered Subaru’s voice, which no one should have been able to answer.
Suddenly, without warning, Subaru had been left behind on an island where everyone had died abruptly. He himself was bleeding from both his nose and ears, making him worried. Scared.
So, at the sound of someone who might give him an answer, Subaru turned around, and then.
???: [――Hey you, what are you doing in a place like this?]
There stood a man that caused Subaru to freeze instantly, right after making him feel saved.
???: [As you can see, I’d thought every guy on the Island had died, but…]
While saying that, the man with the black bandana cracked the joints in his neck.
With his bright orange hair collected in a bandana decorated with lines of red, the slender silhouette wore the appearance of an Imperial Soldier.
At first glance, the impression his face gave off was that he was friendly. However, that was a terrible misunderstanding. Do not be deceived.
Both his gentle-looking face, and his voice that sounded as if he wanted to be good friends, were complete fabrications.
The name of the man who fabricated such things was――,
Subaru, who was supposedly having an increasingly, albeit minutely so, harder time opening the drawer of his memories, had stored that name in a place so important that he could easily retrieve it.
Then, if one were to ask why that name was important.
Todd: [――. Hey you, why do you know my name?]
Because, upon being called out with only that single word, his attitude did a complete one-eighty. That was why the man closing the distance between them was a dangerous person.
Taking long strides, the man―― Todd, was lumbering in Subaru’s direction. Even if he tried to hurriedly run away from Todd, his body, having become worn-out on its own, would not permit him to do so.
His back had been immediately caught up to, and Subaru’s body was violently forced against the wall.
Todd: [I sure don’t recognize you. I never forget a face once I’ve seen it, but this is really a face I don’t know. ――No.]
His face being forced against the wall of the building, there was a rough sensation on his cheek. Whilst Subaru writhed from the relentless pain, Todd’s nose drew close to his hair.
Just like that, Todd sniffed his nose and got a whiff of Subaru’s hair.
Todd: [Hey kid, you smell like a scary guy I know.]
Subaru trembled as he was spoken to in a low voice, regarding just who Todd was talking about. It was just as if it were a combination technique, one that mixed the feeling that the one being referred to was himself, along with the unpleasant feelings that arose when facing Todd.
If possible, his face was a face he had wished to never encounter again, so then just why was it like this? Why was he on the Island?
Subaru: [Why, is…]
Todd, a man who should have fled from Guaral, in this place?
Come to think of it, as of his escape, Todd had taken the captured Arakiya along with him. He should have realized it. If Arakiya was here, then Todd was possibly present as well.
Something like that was absurd. Just because they had escaped together, did not mean something like being together in the next location was guaranteed.
Why? How? I don’t like it. It’s scary. Why, is, Todd, here?
Subaru: [Why has, everyone…]
Todd: [Been killed? Hey, I can’t answer that sort of thing. From my point of view, you surviving was a miscalculation. Well, if I leave it as-is then it’ll just be a matter of time, but…]
Todd: [Time and chance and whatnot, I’d dislike leaving it all up to stuff like that, you see.]
As Todd’s voice whispered close to his ear, something cold was gently pressed against his neck. It was the blade of the large knife that Todd had drawn from his waist.
A knife that seemed as if it could be used to flay the skin off a large animal, extreme to the point he thought if it was given even a slightly firm tug, then not only would Subaru’s neck be cut, but his entire head would probably come right off.
And, it seemed that even if his opponent was a child, Todd would certainly not hesitate.
There was an highly unlikely scenario.
One in which Todd would not kill Subaru―― No, one in which he would not kill him here, and possibly put it off for later. A possibility that he would try to enquire Subaru about something. If that were to happen, then things would become irreversible.
Things would become irreversible, a hopeless possibility.
That was why, he would sooner――,
His head was aching, his nosebleed would not cease.
In the midst of the sensation of his consciousness wavering due to his loss of blood, to somehow make use of his last resort, Subaru fumbled his tongue around at his molars.
The subsequent instant, Todd thrust his fingers into Subaru’s mouth.
Having the inside of his mouth invaded against his will with violence, Subaru squirmed with all his might. His stomach was going to regurgitate its contents. However, not worried about anything, Todd continued to move his fingers around.
Then, together with the regurgitated meal, he dragged that out.
Todd: […What’s this? No way, is this poison?]
Todd: [Oioi, just what kind of brat are you? To go out of your way to prepare poison in your mouth, that’s for committing suicide when you’re down on your knees, isn’t it? There’s gotta be something wrong with you, for you to treat your life like this.]
While wiping his dirty fingers on Subaru’s clothes, Todd brazenly said that.
Though, it did not feel like he was making fun of him. He was seriously unable to believe Subaru’s thoughts; that was the feeling his attitude gave off.
It was just as if to say that suicide was a foolish thought.
Todd: [I guess that’s about right. It’s not like I particularly care if you suffer. Feel free to use it.]
Subaru: [Is, that…]
Todd: [Ah, if you’ll die, then even suicide’s fine. Then I’ll also complete this without dirtying my knife.]
With that evidence, Todd shrugged his shoulders, and put the wrapped “drug” back into Subaru’s mouth.
Carefully placing it on one of his molars, in a position so that if he bit down with force the package would tear. Then the contents would leak out, and Subaru’s life would be snuffed out. That, he understood.
Todd: [I’m fine with either. As long as you die.]
Grabbing his shoulders, he spun Subaru around to face him.
With Todd’s form right before his eyes, Subaru’s back was pressed against the wall. One way or another, he wanted to retaliate against Todd with a retort, but his body was rapidly losing strength, and he went numb.
Slowly, the same Death that Tanza and the others had experienced, was eating into Subaru.
Why that came so, so slowly, he did not understand, however.
Todd: [Running out of time, suicide, or knife.]
The destination ahead remaining unchanged, Todd raised three fingers as he pressed Subaru for an answer.
Extremely, extremely silently, Subaru abhorred Todd.
Tanza, Hiain, Weitz, Idra, had all died.
Orson and the others, Old Man Null, even the guards, everyone had died.
For what reason, was Todd alive? For what reason, was Subaru also going to die?
While experiencing these thoughts tearing away at his chest so, so terribly, Subaru bit down hard on his molars.
The package tore, and the “drug” contained inside leaked out. Gradually, that flowed into the crevices of his tongue and teeth, it flowed in, and then――.
A large quantity of blood filled his mouth, and resolutely, he spit it out towards Todd who stood before him.
To take him down along with himself, his intentions were not anything like that. Feeling vengeful, he thought to soil his clothes. However, Todd’s perception was excellent. The instant Subaru readied himself, he flew to the side.
Because of that, the blood did not hit him. So, having merely spat blood out, Subaru collapsed.
Collapsed, he collapsed, and then, and then, and then――.
Subaru: [Ah, uh, ah, ooooah…!]
As his whole body was quaking in fear, the poison circulated with incredible vigor.
From his nose and from his ears, blood poured out with more vigor than ever before, his eyes swelled up, bulging to the extent it seemed like they would explode, and in unison, both the flesh and bones of his body started to groan.
No, it only sounded like they were groaning. His whole body, was screaming.
Subaru: [Uh, guh, gugueh, gueeeeh…!]
The heat was akin to blood burning. The heat, was akin to being plunged into a boiling pot.
His whole body was boiling, just as if he had been skinned, and then things like wasabi, mustard, and all sorts of other spicy substances were being thoroughly smeared all over his body, just as if a mountain worth of needles were stabbing into him, just as if his whole body was being scraped away on a fine grater, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt.
With only pain, he started wanting to die.
With only suffering, he started wanting to die.
Todd: [Hey you, there’s gotta be something wrong with you.]
As he fearfully struggled like a fish that had been reeled in, he headed towards death.
While looking at Subaru drowning in a sea of blood, Todd was muttering something. Whatever he was saying, Subaru could not understand, he did not understand, it was not something he could understand.
He could not understand anything, anymore. He could not understand, any――.
Todd: [――If you’re using poison to kill yourself, wouldn’t you normally prepare one that wouldn’t make you suffer?]
The voice, was distant; his consciousness, went white.
And yet, until the very end, until, the end, the pain, and the suffering, and the blood was, bloodwasbloodwasbloodwas, bloodbloodbloodbloodblood, bludbludbludblud, blud――.
There was a pop, and blood, and his eyes could not see.
???: [I know who ya are…]
???: [But, that ain’t the point… Don’t get me confused with Hiain and his sweet-talking… I ain’t interested in the crown ya wear… I just wanna lend ya my strength. Remember that…]
Whittling away at his whole body, was roasting, burning, pain.
Just when he felt such pain suddenly come to an end, Subaru found himself within chilly, cold air.
Subaru: [Ah, ah…]
Cradling his own body on the spot, Subaru opened his mouth wide and screamed.
Screamed, he screamed, trying to expel the poison from within him. He tried to expel the poison that should no longer be present in his body. He got the feeling it yet remained, a poison which brought the end through death.
A deadly poison that would make Subaru suffer, it would make him suffer, it would certainly bring him death.
No matter how many times he tasted it――.
Subaru: [Gah, hu, AHHHHHHH…!]
The Death brought about by that drug, was a reminder to Subaru that there was no easy way to die, the guardian of the last bastion from which he must never escape from.
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