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――The “curse rule” that supposedly did not exist, had been activated to kill everyone on the Gladiator Island.
What had taken Subaru’s life at the very final moment, had been the sharpness of a cold knife.
However, just before that, the sensation of slowly dying from edges of his body had eaten into Subaru without any room for doubt, working to ensure he died a cruel death.
Ultimately, everyone aside from Subaru―― the gladiators, Tanza and the others included, as well as the guards and Gladiator Beasts, which were supposedly on the administration side of the Island, and even Cecilus, had died in an instant for reasons unknown.
As somewhat of an exception, Subaru had been the only one to outlive it, but just why in the world had that been?
Perhaps that question was one for which an answer could not be produced, even if one thought about it.
There was no person he could ask for the answer, and he thought it was not worth the time or brain cells.
Instead, he needed to focus on the information he could reliably gather.
Subaru: [That reaction from Todd… The answer is the curse rule.]
On the verge of death, with a brain short of blood, he’d had to choose between two options, but he had obtained the correct answer.
Had Subaru not rethought things there, fixated on the idea that it had been due to Arakiya’s magic, he would not have been able to return with that conviction.
Precisely because he had struck true, Todd had made the decision to kill Subaru in that split second.
He had concluded that Subaru was not a child on the verge of death, but a risk which he must kill immediately.
The speed with which Todd had switched gears, was the basis for Subaru’s conclusion that the culprit had been the curse rule.
Subaru: [But, why the curse rule?]
Now that the possibility of poison gas had been eliminated and evidence in favor of the curse rule had emerged, he no longer intended on entertaining the idea that the curse rule was just a scare tactic and did not exist.
But if that were the case, then Gustav’s behavior was now far too unnatural.
The basis for Subaru concluding that there was no curse rule, was that Gustav had not punished him using the curse rule, even though the Subaru had defied the rules of the Gladiator Island and had dangerously attempted to destroy order.
Certainly, Gustav did not seem eager to let the gladiators die, but when comparing the Island’s order to Subaru alone, it made no sense for him to hesitate to make use of the curse rule.
That was why, thinking about it the other way――,
Subaru: [――When I provoked him, even though Gustav-san wanted to use the curse rule, he did not use it. But, when everyone on the Island was killed, had the conditions to use it been fulfilled?]
For the time being, that was the arrangement of the events that had taken place that he could consider with the information he currently had.
Subaru: […Gustav-san’s an enemy, huh?]
Since the curse rule had been employed, in all likelihood, the Chief, Gustav, was an enemy to Subaru and the others.
In other words, with Gustav joining Todd and Arakiya, and it could be said that those were the three enemies. It was good to know with certainty that Cecilus was not an enemy, but at the same time, it was not enough for him to be pleased.
Since that curse rule was a threat of such caliber, that it had even taken Cecilus’s life.
In exchange for the information he had obtained, more and more bad ingredients were thrown into the cauldron.
Was it possible to filter through the contents of a cauldron of darkness boiling gently, and see all the way through to the bottom?
Thus, as far as the bad ingredients were, those were things he had to get rid of.
The reason was――,
???: [This shaking is…]
Subaru was crouching down, clutching his chest where no wound was present, only the leftover shock of being stabbed.
Weitz, who had been worrying over Subaru, was surprised to feel a tremor coming up from under his feet. Of course, Subaru had known this was coming, and what the reason for this shaking was.
He knew, but there was a big problem.
――The grace period until the drawbridge would begin to move, had been shorter than it had been for his previous retrial upon Death.
If he turned away from what he did not want to think about and covered his ears, the matter would be settled without him having to feel down.
But if he were to do that, and were to turn his mindset into one of a loser, there would be no way to overcome the impending defeat.
That was why, no matter how unpleasant reality was, he could not close his eyes and cover his ears.
――Even if that reality was, for instance, the restart point having moved forward by ten seconds.
The Authority of Return by Death possessed by Subaru had been yielding abnormalities, which had been particularly acting up recently.
In addition to setting unusual restart points, this time there was a slight discrepancy in time―― the grace period had been shortened by ten seconds.
This was an anomaly different from previous cases, in which grace periods would be extremely limited, making it a perfect situation for fueling Subaru’s sense of anxiety and despair.
This time it had shortened by about ten seconds, but there was no guarantee that it would not shorten further.
If this anomaly continued to occur over and over again, until finally the time to death became less than a second, or if it even became impossible to Return by Death in the first place anymore, what would be left for Subaru to be able to do?
Even if he did not wish make plans based upon Return by Death, he would still consider the possibility of using Return by Death.
Now that he was smaller, Subaru was more helpless than before he shrank. This Empire’s realms were not so kind as to allow him to rest on his laurels only because he was adorable.
× × ×
???: [O-oi, Schwartz… Are we seriously just gonna sit there?]
Subaru: [Seriously. I’m begging you, this is a big one, don’t freak out this time, Hiain.]
???: [I won’t! I won’t, but…]
Thus, Hiain, who was right beside Subaru, bit his teeth and hesitated to speak, his voice trembling so much that everyone could tell he was just acting strong.
Subaru could understand why Hiain would be frightened and try to get him to reconsider.
If they were found, they would not get a free pass; Hiain had no idea why Subaru would want to do such a reckless thing.
However, if Subaru were to talk about the events that would ensue with honesty, whether he believed it or not, there was no doubt that Hiain would not cooperate with Subaru.
For that reason, Subaru had tricked Hiain into cooperating under false pretenses.
He was willing to be somewhat reckless with Hiain in order to obtain information that he could not ignore.
That information that Hiain also could not ignore was――,
Hiain: [Shit, envoys from the Imperial Capital’re comin’ to talk ’bout a show…? Ya gotta be kiddin’ me…!]
Subaru: [――. I’ve asked Weitz to buy us some time. We’re gonna go get the details.]
Hiain: [Got’cha, I got’cha, I really do…]
Impatient and frustrated, Hiain was concerned about the island’s events―― a showcase of deathmatches involving the gladiators, the primary reason why Ginunhive was being run.
After having survived Sparka, and having been provided with an environment in which it was difficult to perish in a deathmatch between gladiators for the purpose of training, the biggest threat to one’s life would be an event being held.
Falsely claiming to have information about the upcoming show, Subaru had requested help from Hiain.
As a result――,
???: [――Come in. Allow me to hear what you have to say.]
With a stern voice, the sound of a door being opened echoed through the room.
Two log-like arms threw the entrance open, and the atmosphere turned heavy with the return of the room’s owner.
Subaru shut his mouth at their entrance and tapped Hiain beside him on the shoulder. Hiain too, responded silently, as if resolving himself for a situation they could no longer back out of.
It was only natural. Subaru and Hiain could no longer afford to screw up.
The reason being――,
???: [General First-Class Arakiya, and…]
A straightforward female voice answered Gustav’s words, the person of a large build who had opened the door. There was a hint of a strained smile at that short, unkind answer,
Todd: [Private First-Class Todd Fang. For the time being, just until this task is finished.]
So followed the voice of a man, as if it were crushing Subaru’s very soul.
With no regard for Subaru’s feelings, the two people who being guided―― Todd and the brown-skinned woman with an eyepatch, Arakiya, entered the room.
The room was Gustav’s office. The room to which Subaru had also been summoned for a stern warning the other day; Todd and Arakiya stepped in, as emissaries from the Imperial Capital.
Todd: [Though it’s for someone with a position like that of Governor, it’s a terribly plain room.]
In the middle of the room, standing to the side of the guest sofa, Todd surveyed his surroundings.
Admittedly, the things contained within Gustav’s room were few. With a work desk and bookcase, it could be said to be a room that matched its label as an office, containing naught but the necessities for carrying out his work.
It was understandable why he was paying attention to that point. But, Subaru wished that he would not look around.
And especially, not in the direction of the bookshelf in the corner of the room.
× × ×
Gustav: [――. It is an office. I have assembled everything I, in my capacity, need. Are you here to conduct an inspection?]
Todd: [Not at all, I’m just General First-Class Arakiya’s assistant. The General is very particular and has no subordinates but me.]
Arakiya: [Few in number, but elite.]
Todd: [Saying I’m elite, I feel that evaluation’s a bit impolite to my superiors.]
Todd shrugged at Gustav, who closed the door to his room and headed for his work desk. Todd slowly sat down on the sofa, his expression unchanged by Arakiya’s subsequent words.
With that gaze now removed from the bookshelf, inwardly, Subaru took a very, very big sigh of relief.
It had been an unthinkably tense moment.
No matter how much he thought about it, the one who had repainted the worst situation with fear had been Todd.
That was why, from the bottom of his heart, he was afraid that he might be noticed again.
――Beside the bookcase, while covered by Hiain camouflaging against the surrounding scenery, Subaru was listening intently to this situation.
Subaru had asked Weitz to stall the incoming carriage, and during that time, he and Hiain had trespassed into Gustav’s office, hiding themselves using camouflage.
While there was a precedent of stalling being successful, whether the camouflage could be detected or not was something that could not be known without trying. He thought that he had understood the mechanism of Hiain’s camouflage through the first Sparka and their conversations afterwards, but his conviction in it was a different matter.
The precision of Hiain’s camouflage was influenced more by his nerve while remaining motionless, rather than the state of his mind and body. Were he to have the guts to stay still, he would be almost invisible, being assimilated into the scenery. He could hug Subaru’s small body, so that the same effect would apply on him as well.
However, as soon as he moved, the ambience of the camouflaged scales would become disorderly, and turning it very much like a child playing hide-and-seek; they would be in full view of everyone.
In their fight against that lion-like Gladiator Beast, his scaredy-cat nature had caused him to die many a times. It was Hiain’s own weak heart that hampered his strong points.
――However, the camouflaging he was performing right now should be able to tackle those weak points, to better them.
Subaru: [If they don’t find us, we won’t have to worry about them doing anything to us. The coming emissaries are a Divine General and her sharp-eyed second-in-command, but as long as your camouflage doesn’t waver, you’ll be fine. Besides――]
Subaru: [――I’ll be with you.]
Before they went into the office, Subaru looked him straight in the eye and told him that.
Even though they were the words of an audacious child with short arms and legs and a voice that had yet to become deeper, they had reached Hiain, whose friends’ lives he had saved. Indeed, it seemed to resonate with him.
――That was why, this was the “first time” Hiain’s camouflage had gone undetected.
Just what had Arakiya, and her second-in-command Todd, have come to the Island to discuss with Gustav beyond this point? This was the first time that conversation was able to begin.
Gustav: [General First-Class Arakiya, would you care to take a seat?]
Arakiya: […I’ll stand. Since, I can’t settle down.]
Gustav: [You cannot settle down?]
Arakiya: [It seems various things have happened since I came to the Island. I guess, it’s because a Dragon’s nest is nearby.]
Even when encouraged to take a seat, Arakiya shook her head and remained standing. Her second-in-command, Todd, sat on the sofa, with Arakiya standing behind him.
Even so, the picture of Todd with his boss behind him did not feel out of place to Subaru, perhaps because he had too much of an image of Todd as someone very powerful and dreadful.
The moment Hiain’s camouflage had become slightly distorted, he had gone straight for the kill, so it was impossible to not be cautious of someone like that. But――.
Gustav: [If that is fine with you, then it is no problem to me, as the official. So, the purpose of this visit is…]
Todd: [I appreciate being able to get right to work. We don’t want to take too long either. General First-Class, permission to hand over the letter?]
Arakiya: [Do as you please.]
Todd: [I’m grateful. Governor, this is a letter from the Imperial Capital, from the Prime Minister.]
While Arakiya was quite literally standing there like a decoration, Todd took the letter out of his pocket and handed it over to Gustav. Now in Gustav’s hand, the letter was sealed with a proper waxen seal, as to indicate the sender.
Though Subaru was unable confirm the imprint mark.
Subaru: [Imperial, Prime Minister…]
As Todd explained who had entrusted them with the letter, his words made Subaru’s tongue dry up.
As he recalled, according to what Subaru had heard from the disagreeable Abel, the person in the position of Prime Minister was one of the main culprits for Abel having been driven out of the Imperial Capital.
Gustav had received a letter from the wicked Prime Minister who had chased out the Emperor of poor character. Moreover, the one who had delivered the letter was the human devil, Todd.
Considering the massacre that would occur on the Gladiator Island after this, this letter was nothing but a bad premonition.
Todd: [High Count Gustav Morello, I heard that you were assigned to this island as Governor by the order of His Excellency the Emperor, Vincent Vollachia.]
Gustav: [There are no discrepancies in your understanding.]
Todd: [Even though it was by the order of His Excellency the Emperor, a loathed job such as the management of the Gladiator Island Ginunhive isn’t suitable for someone such as a blood relative of the hero of Vollachia, Kurgan, the Eight-Arms.]
As if to support Subaru’s premonition, the atmosphere of the room tingled with an intent to kill.
The cause was Todd’s rude, rambling manner of speaking. And Subaru knew what made Gustav the angriest based on their previous encounters.
The reason behind Gustav’s anger, more-so than what had been said about himself, was――,
Gustav: [――That manner of speaking, do you doubt the honorable judgment of His Excellency the Emperor?]
That anger was due to disloyalty towards His Excellency the Emperor, or in other words, disloyalty towards Abel, who was Vincent.
× × ×
At the stern air Gustav emitted, Arakiya suddenly lined up next to Todd.
Arakiya’s face did not show what she was thinking, but that action alone made Subaru think that Gustav’s extreme loyalty would be crushed with force.
However, saying “General First-Class” while holding up his hand, it was none other than Todd himself who stopped Arakiya’s threat.
Todd: [Just now, I went too far with my words. The Governor’s anger is justified.]
Arakiya: […But, I won’t let you die. You need to exact vengeance for your friend. Right?]
Todd: [――. Ah, of course, that’s right. Right now, that’s the purpose I live for.]
Despite reprimanding Arakiya’s attitude, Todd’s face showed sadness as he answered.
Vengeance for his friend, so had Arakiya pointed out towards Todd; Subaru could not help but bend his lips as he tried to not miss a single thing they said.
Todd, and vengeance, they were words with such terribly poor compatibility.
Subaru did not know Todd well enough to say that, but he supposed it meant that Todd had people who were important to him.
Neglecting his fiancée despite wanting to see her so badly, he had come to this island to kill a lot of people.
Todd: [I’m sorry for speaking so thoughtlessly, Governor. General First-Class Arakiya and I have some external concerns. Because of that, my behavior was inadequate. I apologize.]
Gustav: […I accept your apology. But, going too far with what you say can invite disaster.]
Todd: [As far as that goes, it is painfully true to hear. I’m very, very aware of that.]
Todd, who had held Arakiya back, made a bitter face at Gustav’s advice. Ignoring Todd’s reaction, Gustav cracked the wax seal with his thick fingers, and opened the letter.
The Imperial Prime Minister, the person who was responsible for the current havoc within the Empire, the contents of his letter were――,
Gustav: [――This is…]
Todd: [It was the intention of my impolite talk earlier, I didn’t mean to offend. I just wanted to say that if the Governor’s tired of managing the Gladiator Island, that’s completely fine.]
As Gustav ran his eyes over the letter, small wrinkles were notched into his rock-like face.
Gustav ran his eyes over the letter and carved little wrinkles in his rock-like face. Todd closed one eye as it seemed like a crack had been made on a real rock, and that crack was spreading.
Leaving Arakiya silent, Todd continued, appearing as if he was the main representative emissary.
Todd: [The gladiators of this Island are liable to cause internal conflict. In accordance with His Excellency the Emperor’s wishes, they are to be disposed of, all at once.]
× × ×
Matter-of-factly, with a deadpan delivery as if he were just talking about taking out the trash on garbage collection day, Todd had made a firm request to Gustav for the gladiators of the Gladiator Island―― for several hundreds of people, to be disposed of.
The only reason Subaru had been able to stomach that forecast of the worst outcome being right on the mark, was that he had already seen the massacre actually killing everyone on the island, and had henceforth steeled his heart.
Thus, it was a miracle that Hiain, who had received a bolt from the blue, did not scream.
Although, it would be more accurate to say that he was far too dumbfounded to grasp the situation.
That singular voice had been so devoid of any sense of reality, that Hiain had forgotten to even move.
However, although they had gotten past through the lucky break of the camouflage not coming undone, Subaru could not help but bite down on his molars.
This request, it had led to the activation of the curse rule that would kill everyone on the Island.
As expected, it was just as he feared, Todd and Arakiya, and finally Gustav, had become his enemies.
As long as he could not stop those three from committing that heinous act, he would not be able to prevent that massacre.
Gustav: [Fear of internal trouble, you say…]
Todd: [Internal trouble is internal trouble, it’s something that, with its insolence, darkens the gracious influence of His Excellency the Emperor. Be that as it may, the Prime Minister does not believe that it is something Gustav is sheltering. The Governor’s loyalty is the real thing.]
Todd: [For that reason, it must cause your heart to anguish. I am told that ever since the Governor was appointed to this Island, the quality of the gladiators unveiled at the shows is incomparable to what it used to be.]
While ordering the disposal of those gladiators, Todd’s attitude was one of showing appreciation for Gustav’s work.
As he looked down at the letter, Gustav’s expression did not shift. Just how had Todd’s words been resonating within him? Lacking freedom as he watched the situation, Subaru did not comprehend.
Gustav: [――. By decreasing the risk of needless deaths, by allowing them to acquire the foundations of how to fight, and by having them stand side-by-side rather than outmaneuvering others, the quality of the gladiators who survive shall improve.]
But, in Gustav’s own notions, having performed the administration of the Gladiator Island, it felt as if there had been something like pride in the tone of his voice as he calmly responded.
Instead of making the gladiators into a mere spectacle, Gustav had trained them, nurtured them, and reformed the rules of the Island in order to win the favor of both the Emperor and his subjects.
Probably, gentleness akin to attachment or affection towards the gladiators had not been present there.
It was Gustav’s decision as the person placed in the position of Governor, and only that.
Arakiya: [Finished? Talking, that is.]
So Arakiya asked of Gustav, who had placed all four of his hands atop the desk on which he had placed the letter as he closed his eyes.
It was an insensitive question that completely ignored the flow of the conversation, something that Subaru might have reacted to with anger and a flushed face, had he been in Gustav’s shoes.
But, Gustav did not object to it, and Todd simply took it as a given.
Todd: [I’ve heard of a curse rule that’d be very convenient for the disposal. It seems that you have a curse tool given to you by General First-Class Groovy Gumlet, of the Nine Divine Generals. Using that, you can get them all in one go, or something.]
× × ×
Gustav: [It is possible.]
Todd: [Then this’ll be a quick affair. Let’s get this over with and head back to the Imperial Capital together. We’ll need some time to prepare the new gladiators, so we’ll have to shut down Ginunhive for a while――]
Todd spoke as one might at the end of a class, putting away all the supplies he had used. The lack of seriousness in the way he spoke interfered with Hiain’s ability to reboot, his thinking still shut down.
However, even if Hiain had yet to reboot, it seemed like they were running out of time towards the great trigger.
If Gustav were to activate the curse rule in accordance with the written decree brought by Todd and Arakiya, total annihilation would follow.
Knowing that it was a capricious and unstoppable future, the only way to stop it was for Subaru to make a move here. But, just how should he act?
He already had the perfect notion that if he were to himself without a plan, he would be killed on the spot.
On the other hand, even if they tried to take the one who was probably able to make use of the curse rule, Gustav, he was significantly stronger than both Subaru and Hiain――.
Gustav: [――I refuse.]
And so Gustav declined Todd and Arakiya’s demands, so he would take advantage of that. Take advantage.
Advantage, taking advantage, what would that be?
Subaru, desperately trying to wrack his brain, was just as scrambled in his thoughts as Hiain was.
In contrast to Subaru, who had lost his train of thought, Todd’s voice was unfeeling and sharp.
Subaru felt as if the atmosphere in the room had become more thick and viscous.
That change in temperature was fundamentally different to the time Gustav had gotten offended by Todd’s manner of speaking. It was not the heat or moisture in the atmosphere, but rather, what had changed was its very color.
Clad in that atmosphere, staring at Gustav, who had his hands on his desk, Todd said,
Todd: [Is there any discrepancy between the contents of the written decree and what you understand from our end?]
Gustav: [No. The letter contains the same information you have just given me. The Prime Minister’s name and his seal are not misprinted.]
Todd: [If that’s the case, then what kind of intent are you expressing?]
Spreading his arms out, Todd asked this of Gustav, who had thrust aside his demands.
Subaru, too, did not understand anything that was going on. Gustav had rejected the demands Todd had brought from the Imperial Capital to purge all the gladiators on Gladiator Island by utilizing the curse rule.
Just why? The reason was――,
Gustav: [――As the official, I have been ordered by His Excellency the Emperor. In preparation for the emergency, strive to develop the gladiators, trained in both body and mind.]
Todd: [The seal of the Prime Minister reflects the will of His Excellency the Emperor. Are you saying that, because it conflicts with what your orders from beforehand, you’re unable to make a decision? The written decree is the real thing, you know.]
Gustav: [I do not suspect forgery. I accept it as a written decree from the Prime Minister.]
Todd: […But it’s still not worth considering?]
Frowning, Todd turned his discerning eyes toward Gustav, someone he could not understand.
For just this time, Subaru shared the same opinion as Todd. Even though he was grateful that Gustav had brushed off the demands, he had no idea of the true motives behind that.
Then, in front of Subaru and Todd, who were harboring identical bewilderment, Gustav continued.
Gustav: [From His Excellency the Emperor, I have directly been given orders.]
Todd: [Like I said, the written decree is retracting that, and telling you to obey the next orders…]
Gustav: [The order of His Excellency the Emperor, came when I was installed as the Governor of this Island.]
Interrupting Todd’s words, Gustav was stating the basis for his option. Several years ago, the time when Gustav had been appointed as Governor of the Gladiator Island.
Gustav: [His Excellency the Emperor told me this. “――Even if you receive orders from me, do not disobey this first order.”]
Those were undoubtedly the words that would guide Gustav, who had been placed in this situation.
Those words had foreseen that Gustav would be placed in this situation. Something like “proper preparation” was not adequate in the least, so it was an order that could not have been established without prescient foresight.
Because of the Vollachian Emperor, Vincent―― no, because of Abel, there were preparations for the future.
Todd: [So, what you’re saying is, because you have previous orders from His Excellency the Emperor, you cannot obey His Excellency the Emperor’s current orders?]
Gustav: [He also told me that I need not know the reason. As the official, I agree. Regardless of whether I know or not, the duties that I, in my capacity, must carry out, do not change.]
Shaking his head, Gustav firmly responded to Todd’s question.
Todd slightly narrowed his eyes as he faced Gustav, who maintained his resolute attitude. That his gaze was trying to somehow persuade Gustav, was not what his face suggested he was thinking.
After all, he no longer had any reason to exhaust his words trying to persuade the resolute man who refused to listen.
In other words――,
Todd: [Arakiya. ――Negotiations have broken down.]
Like that, Todd spoke to Arakiya in a flat voice.
The subsequent instant, before a fatal situation arrived, Gustav grabbed all four sides of the desk with all four of his arms, and was about to lift it up and throw it at the two visitors.
As the muscles in his thick, strong arms bulged, he easily lifted the desk, which seemed to weigh close to a hundred kilograms――,
Together with that unfeeling chant, Arakiya pointed the wooden branch she held towards Gustav.
Immediately subsequent to that, an immensely powerful jet of water spurted from the tip of the wand, blowing away Gustav’s stone-like face in its entirety alongside everything else above his neck, and that life of his transformed into a deceased one.
There was a heavy thud, and the desk whose legs had been lifted for a moment fell to the floor. A beat later, as if trying to throw the desk using his entire being, Gustav’s body, having lost everything upwards of its neck, collapsed to the ground.
A large amount of blood gushed from the wound on his neck, where he had lost his head, which dirtied the floor of the office non-stop.
The fresh blood that spread seemed to insist on Gustav’s quick death, which did not feel real.
Todd: [People of the Multi-Arm Tribe, they sure are the same no matter how many arms they got. If anything, just go and get some more heads.]
Todd cracked the bones in his neck while looking at the dead Gustav. Then he looked back at Arakiya, who was staring intently at the tip of her branch, and asked “What’s wrong?” as he tilted his head.
Todd: [No way, you couldn’t be surprised by your own power, right?]
Arakiya: [Incorrect. But, I’m surprised… So much power, with mere water.]
Todd: [Oh, that, huh. If you’re aiming for a crowd of people who are spread out, then fire’s better, but if your opponent is one person, then water’s definitely the best. Next time, just put one glass of water’s worth or thereabouts inside your opponent’s head, that’d be enough.]
Arakiya: [Understood… Todd?]
While suggesting some frightening things, Todd walked up to Gustav’s corpse. As she cast her eyebrows down, Arakiya called out to him, who had drawn a somewhat large knife from his side.
Not answering her call, Todd went around behind the corpse atop the desk, and thrusting his knife into its thick back without mercy, he sliced it open vertically.
It was a method sparing no quarter, as if carving up a fish.
There was a large quantity of blood flowing from the neck, but the spurts of blood from the already-dead body were minimal; even so, while basking in an amount of blood that was not small in the least, Todd dissected Gustav’s body.
Reflexively averting his eyes from that scene, Subaru became aware of his own trembling.
Until now, Subaru had considered Todd to be a dreadful enemy, but this was the first time he had seen him involved in such grotesque conduct. ――To think that he would take a person, and dissect them as if they were an animal.
Todd’s violence was consistently focused straight on the goal of eliminating enemies and danger.
If he had such a liking towards defiling a corpse in this way, Subaru wondered if every time, after Todd had killed him, his own corpse had been defiled in the same fashion.
Thinking this, an unbearable sense of dread and feeling of revulsion dominated his entire body.
Amidst the unpleasant noises that made him want to plug his ears, Subaru was unable to do so.
Even in a scenario that made him want to kill his emotions by instinct, he never knew what could be lurking there. Perhaps when running away from Todd, if there were corpses nearby, then he might get distracted by them.
And why he was thinking about such a stupid thing was――,
Todd: [――There it is.]
Arakiya: [――? What is?]
Suddenly, that unpleasant wet sound came to an end, and Todd and Arakiya’s conversation shifted.
Arakiya, too, had lowered her voice at Todd’s vulgar taste, to which Todd had replied quite indifferently, wiping the blood splattered on his cheek with the back of his hand.
Todd: [It’s the curse tool y’know, the curse tool. I figured someone like him would keep it embedded in his body somehow.]
Arakiya: [Curse tool…]
Todd: [It’s necessary to activate the curse rule… Ah, it’s fine if you don’t know. Anyhow.]
While saying that, what Todd had pulled out of Gustav’s body was what appeared to be a black orb, which had been embedded dead center in his large body.
The orb Todd had called the curse tool was around the size of a golf ball, at most.
Even so, it was the curse tool necessary to activate the curse rule.
In other words――,
Todd: [As long as I have this thing, it doesn’t matter whether the owner lives or dies. ――He sure did something stupid.]
Fiddling with the curse tool in his hand, Todd moved away from Gustav’s corpse’s back, which had lost its head under heroic circumstances, while calling out to it.
There was neither pity nor sympathy in his voice. Instead, there was a tinge of indifference and disgust.
Todd: [It’s strange that you thought you could compete against a monster.]
Todd muttered as he tilted his head, presumably referring to Arakiya, who had killed Gustav in the time of a single breath.
However, neither Gustav, who had lost his life, nor Subaru, who had been present at the scene, could help but think that the “monster” in question was undoubtedly Todd.
――Thus, by any means necessary, he must steal the curse tool from that “monster”.
Todd: [Arakiya, give me water. I need to rinse off the blood, then, as for the guys on the Island――]
Todd’s attention turned to Arakiya after tearing Gustav’s corpse open, wanting to wash his bloody knife and hands.
Putting the curse tool in his hand onto the work desk for one moment, Todd turned to Arakiya’s side.
――Instinctively, Subaru decided that it had to be then.
And, prompted by Arakiya’s word, her mouth wide open, Todd turned back around. Noticing a child having appeared in the middle of the room all of a sudden, reaching his hand out to the curse tool on the desk, Todd’s eyes opened wide.
Hiain’s camouflage came to an end, having completed its job.
So thoroughly, that neither the meticulous Todd nor the monster-grade Arakiya, had noticed Subaru and Hiain’s presence.
The instant he caught onto the curse tool with his fingertips, Subaru called out to Hiain, who had concealed himself by assimilating with the floor he lay down on.
However, his gaze was in a completely different direction―― the entrance to the office.
Facing that way, he raised his voice,
Subaru: [Blow away the whole room!!]
Todd: [――Hk, Arakiya!]
Hearing Subaru’s strained shout, Todd immediately called out for Arakiya. While also keeping vigilance towards the door, Arakiya clung close by Todd’s side.
If an outrageous attack were to be cast from near the door, they would be able to respond to it.
Todd: [――It’s a bluff!?]
In one second, a moment in which nothing happened, Todd saw through Subaru’s intention. But by being given just that second, Subaru was able to fulfill his objective.
He grasped the cursed tool, and just after――,
While howling, Hiain came flying towards the waist of Subaru, who had gotten a hold of the curse tool, and grabbed him. Just after, Hiain held Subaru in his arms as they plunged into the side of the room opposite to the entrance―― into the window of the office.
The entire weight of their bodies crashed into it, and Subaru and Hiain flew out as the window frame was destroyed.
The moment they jumped out――,
And, with power unimaginable from such an unfeeling chant, a flash flood devastated the office.
Water with tremendous pressure blew away the upper stratum of the Gladiator Island, and the furniture and bookcases that Gustav, the owner of the room, had so meticulously arranged, were swept away without mercy.
Arakiya: [They’re gone.]
Watching the items in the room streaming out of the broken walls one-by-one, Arakiya, the one responsible, stepped on the wet floor and muttered so.
Looking towards the exterior of the broken office, downwards, a white cloth tied along the wall could be seen.
If one were to grab it and let their hands glide, they would be able to descend to the bottom.
Todd: [So they were fully prepared to ambush us, huh? ――That kid, just what is he.]
Next to Arakiya, also looking out the wall, Todd put his hand over his mouth, murmuring.
Narrowing his eyes, Todd, in careful thought, let out a small sigh,
Todd: [Arakiya, go recover the curse tool. It’s alright to kill.]
Arakiya: [Understood. What about you, Todd?]
Todd: [The things I’m going to do, you don’t need to know about them.]
With a shake of his head, Todd brushed off Arakiya’s question like that. However, Arakiya was unbothered by that, and instead leaned out of the broken wall and dropped straight down.
Without cheap tricks, without any assistance, from dozens of meters high.
And then, seeing Arakiya off as she chased after the intruders, Todd heaved a sigh, and,
Todd: […That brat sure had a nasty smell.]
And, muttering so, his eyes lacking any expression, he clicked his tongue in annoyance.
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