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Otto: [――This is a report on the damage caused by the attack of the flying dragons.]
Emilia lowered her eyebrows with a pained expression at Otto’s explanation as he tapped the documents close at hand.
The Fortress City of Guaral had been hit by a “flying dragon cataclysm”―― Several days had passed with them repairing the city and dealing with the injured, until it could be said that things had settled down for the moment, the results of which had thereafter become clear.
From Emilia’s point of view, the city was in a terrible state.
The splendid defensive wall that surrounded the city had been destroyed, and the numerous boulders that had been dropped from on high were still scattered around the city. The damage to the buildings was extensive, less than half of them having survived unscathed. A fair number of people had died, and the house where Emilia and her group were sleeping, with its second floor collapsed, was one that no longer had residents to return to it.
Emilia: [If only…]
If only they had rushed there just a little bit sooner.
Such regrets kept poking at Emilia’s chest like sharp needles; however――,
Otto: [It’s pointless to speculate whether we could have rushed here earlier, so let’s quit with that.]
Otto was able to read Emilia’s thoughts, but he cut her off immediately. Emilia’s face dropped at his sharpness, but Otto gave a curt nod with his chin, indicating the outside of the window.
Otto: [Back then, the reason we allowed this to take priority was because a group of flying dragons passed by us overhead. Without that, we wouldn’t have had the option to hurry. In other words…]
Emilia: [In other words?]
Otto: [There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, you know. It’s a matter of cause and effect. You can’t have one without the other. It would be irrational to worry about that.]
Emilia gave Otto a strained smile as he slowly shook his head while explaining that.
His opinion felt like he’d read what Emilia truly felt inside, and that in itself, was of no surprise. Otto was a very good judge of people, so that was normal for him.
On top of that, she imagined Otto’s words to her were his way of consoling her.
He was telling her that worrying about “what if” scenarios was not constructive consideration.
And so Emilia was convinced, however――,
Petra: [But the issue lies with how you said it. I hate the way you put it.]
Petra turned her face away in a huff looking really upset.
Sitting in a chair in front of Emilia, Petra was in the middle of combing her bright brown hair and polishing up to her usual cuteness. This role was one Emilia had been entrusted with lately, but Petra’s attitude of never skimping out on taking care of herself, even during their journey, was one that always left her impressed.
She must have been exhausted from running around the city yesterday, but now that a new day had come, she was properly remodeling herself into a new self.
That too was a boon of Petra’s awareness of her position and sense of responsibility.
After all, she was――,
Otto: [――To hear that from our Mistress, Lady Petra, is very upsetting.]
As Otto remarked, Petra was in charge of organizing Emilia’s group as the lady employing them.
――Emilia’s group had entered the Vollachian Empire in search of Subaru and Rem, who had disappeared.
After many twists and turns and various hardships, they arrived in the Empire, but as they had expected, it was difficult to cross the border by regular means, and they ended up smuggling themselves into the country.
In doing so, they had to use aliases and fabricate a false story about the purpose of their journey, since things would get bad if Emilia and Roswaal’s true identities were discovered.
As a result, Emilia was assigned the role of “Emily”, the guardian escort, and the ones she had to protect were――,
Emilia: [Lady Petra and Lady Beatrice.]
Otto: [The reason we came to the Empire was to restore Lady Beatrice’s health… and this is a goal that will actually be fulfilled once we collect what we are after, so it is not entirely a lie.]
Petra: [I understand, but somehow… you know, it’s fine after all.]
Otto: [You stopping halfway has got me concerned, so it would be better if you just told me.]
Petra: [I suppose? Like you know Otto-san, could it be Master’s bad habits are spreading to you?]
Otto: [I knew I shouldn’t have asked…!]
Otto had ended up cradling his head in his hands, so Emilia hastily retracted the words she was about to say.
Otto looked really uncomfortable with it, but as for Emilia, she found Roswaal’s intelligence to be very dependable. So it was very encouraging to see two of the smartest people in the camp thinking alike.
Although it seemed that saying that would cause Otto even more undue suffering.
Emilia: [We’ve also got far less injured people in the city thanks to Garfiel, yeah?]
Otto: [That is, without a doubt, true, and I think it is a great credit to Lady Petra, Frederica-san, and of course you, Emily, for helping out.]
At Otto’s nodded response, Emilia could finally release the tension in her cheeks.
Garfiel’s hard work, Frederica and Petra’s help, all made Emilia proud. It was a struggle of which she and her dear friends could be very proud of.
Emilia: [Otto-kun did a reaaally good job of talking with Zikr-san and the others, too.]
Otto: [Fortunately, Zikr-san was a person who can be reasoned with, so the difficulties were minimal. I am also grateful to Mizelda-san, who I happened to run into, and she was able to run me through everything.]
Petra: [Otto-san’s face is Mizelda-san’s favorite, isn’t it?]
Otto: [I have never had someone be so open about something like that, so I was quite perplexed.]
Otto gave a strained smile at Petra, who held up her small fist with a grin.
Mizelda, with whom Emilia had also exchanged words, was a very strong and kind woman. She had been kind to them from the beginning of their acquaintance and had shown them a lot of consideration.
Although part of her wondered why Otto and Garfiel were being treated differently.
Emilia: [I know she likes Otto-kun’s face, but Garfiel is cute, too…]
Petra: [Maybe it’s because Garf-san often has wrinkles between his eyebrows and nose. Also, perhaps it is because he is annoyed at being separated from Ram nee-sama.]
Otto: […I am going to go ahead and not say anything at all.]
Petra, placing her finger properly on her own shapely nose, gave this appraisal of Garfiel.
Emilia thought that Garfiel’s changing facial expressions were also charming, so she wanted Mizelda to look at Garfiel more properly.
All such digressions aside――,
Emilia: [But if the city’s cleanup is getting close to finishing its first stage…]
Otto nodded at Emilia’s words and then looked out the window once more. Ahead of Otto’s gaze was the face of the city, still standing despite the damage―― the City Hall.
Gathering there were the influential people of the Fortress City of Guaral.
In other words――,
Otto: [Finally, I think we can start talking about progressing things forward.]
And as Otto said that, the discussion began.
???: [Hey, ya never thanked me, Pops.]
Ascending the walls of the half-destroyed city, Garfiel called out to the back of the previous visitor.
In honesty, they were not someone he wanted to call out to, but turning right back around the moment their back came into view would have made him feel like he had lost, so his competitive spirit won out over his disinclination.
In the first place, why did he have to be the one to turn around?
If anybody had to turn tail, unable to bear the awkwardness, it ought to be the other person, rather than himself.
With that in mind, he had kicked things off with words like those of a punk, but――,
With the reply being a mighty click of the tongue, Garfiel immediately regretted his choice.
As a result of his stubbornness, he went through an even more unpleasant experience. Inside his head, he could hear Otto’s reaction, a “Well, of course” of exasperation.
Be that as it may, it was someone he was not fond of.
Although Garfiel had not been present when this previous visitor had been disrespectful to his people, upon hearing of it later, that affair had been more than enough to make him dislike the guy.
That had been Garfiel’s unchanging impression of Heinkel Astrea.
In light leather armor, a fine sword at his hip, Heinkel stood guard.
However, Garfiel had come to judge it as more of a display to cover up that he had nothing to do and no place to be, rather than it being an admirable desire to keep the peace in the city.
The scent of alcohol wafting from his back, the empty liquor bottles lying around him, were proof of that.
During the flying dragon cataclysm, Heinkel had apparently gone on an utmost ferocious rampage against the advanced flock of flying dragons, yet came to suffer a painful defeat against a Divine General.
Nevertheless, the tiny Schult had talked his head off in defense of Heinkel, but Utakata was frank, saying “He couldn’t do a thing”. That probably was the truth.
As evidence of this, among those Garfiel had to deal with while going around performing healing magic on the wounded, Heinkel had been amongst the ones with the most severe injuries. The damage he had received had been quite hideous, so much so that he would probably still be bedridden without Garfiel’s healing magic.
Garfiel: [Is that tongue-clickin’ supposed to be a thanks? Gee, that’s hella different from the social etiquette my amazin’ self’s aware of, oi.]
Even while bearing the other party’s situation in mind, Garfiel spat abuse.
Garfiel, too, had experienced defeat. He understood how frustrating it was, so he did not wish to heartlessly poke at the fact that he had been defeated.
However, with the other party refusing to be polite, Garfiel was tempted to make at least one snide comment. Not to mention that he did not have a favorable impression of Heinkel.
Garfiel: [This is the Empire. There may be some social etiquette my amazin’ self ain’t aware of, but… You’re from the Kingdom, ain’t’cha? On top of that, you’re the father of the Sword Saint, yeah?]
Garfiel: [As my amazin’ self said, he’s one tough asshole. Ya’d think that someone that strong’d have great parents, but ya didn’t even have the decency to be polite――]
Heinkel: [――No matter how great the parents are, it doesn’t mean their kids are just as great.]
Garfiel looked daunted, having continued his sarcastic nagging towards a back that would not even turn around.
He had assumed he would still be ignored, but an unexpected rebuttal had arrived. Garfiel’s eyes went wide, but Heinkel, still without turning around, said,
Heinkel: [And vice-versa. There’s no reason at all why the parents of a monster also have to be monsters.]
Heinkel: [You’re way too bad at hurling insults. If you want to provoke someone, take a lesson from Miss Priscilla. As you are, you’ve failed.]
His attempt to get the upper hand through insults was seen through, and was replied to in kind, ultimately.
Having just been told what true provocation really was, Garfiel faltered. As things were, the conversation was finished. But were he to turn his back and leave, he would be the one defeated in the true sense of the word.
In the end, Garfiel stuck around out of stubbornness, sitting a short distance away from Heinkel, gazing over the southern horizon devoid of the ramparts with which to guard the now-defenseless city.
Having been assailed by countless flying dragons, the walls of the famed Fortress City of Guaral had been severely damaged.
The damage yielded by the boulders thrown from a high altitude had been extensive, and although the crumbling, demolished walls were being repaired as fast as possible, the city’s defensive abilities were considerably lowered.
In particular, the city’s southern wall had been the one to suffer the greatest damage.
The western wall, which had borne the first attack, was also in a rather horrible state, but that was nothing compared to this. Forget about the wall, the entire area had been razed to the ground.
Garfiel: [I heard that Emilia-sama… No, Emily and the Princess they call Priscilla fought a Divine General but…]
The ferocity of the battle could be perceived in clear terms, judging from the disastrous scene below them.
Most of the buildings had not retained their original shape, and a terrible shockwave had mowed down anything and everything in its path.
The battle with the dragonkin, that which is one of the “Nine Divine Generals”, had its denouement orchestrated by a white light――Garfiel, too, had been in the city when the shockwave blew him away. Emilia had explained what it had truly been.
Garfiel: [――A Dragon’s roar.]
While ground dragons, water dragons, flying dragons and the like were species of dragons, Dragons were a cut above them. 
Dragons possessed power said to be beyond all reason. With merely a single breath, everything was uprooted.
There was a fear that, had the duo of Emilia and Priscilla not strived to oppose it, the damage would have spread even further.
Garfiel: […No matter what, my amazin’ self’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time.]
As he praised Emilia and, while he was at it, Priscilla for their accomplishments, a bitter feeling brewed in his heart.
By failing to accompany them to Pleiades Watchtower, Garfiel had missed the chance to come face-to-face with the Divine Dragon Volcanica, whom Emilia had met. Not only that, but this time he had missed the chance to come into contact with yet another Dragon despite being in the same city.
In a Subaru-like way of saying things, he had to say that the fish got off the hook.
His sulking was not at all because he had been unable to meet a Dragon, an existence that had been spoken of since ancient times.
It was because Garfiel’s role was to fight and defeat powerful enemies. To defeat those who would try to disrupt the Camp’s goals, and to carry out his role as a military officer.
Going around treating the wounded was absolutely not a part of those duties.
Garfiel: [More than that, my amazin’ self also couldn’t do a thing when enterin’ the Empire.]
In the act of smuggling themselves into the Vollachian Empire, Garfiel had been useless.
They had relied on Otto’s family, on the Suwen Trading Company, for getting into contact with the people that would guide them across the border. And when they got into a disagreement with them along the way, Petra had concluded negotiations in a dignified manner.
After that, when problems arose as soon as they entered the Empire, Frederica used her own blood to overcome the situation, and all Garfiel ultimately did was to knock out a guy he did not like, as to get him to shut up.
At the very least he had found hope in the name of the black-haired valkyrie, “Natsumi Schwartz”, who was rumored to be in the Fortress City, but just when he had thought his reunion with Subaru would finally come to be――
Garfiel: [Just missin’ each other after the Captain left… Unlucky ‘til the very end, seems like absolutely everythin’ was my amazin’ self’s fault…]
Of course, he was fully aware that this was paranoia due to overthinking.
Just as Garfiel and the others had had a great adventure arriving in the Empire, Subaru, having been hurtled off into the Empire, had also been on a great adventure there. Nothing more, nothing less.
Getting involved in a major incident straight away, even in a place he had been hurtled off to, was a situation that was very much like the Subaru that Garfiel knew.
Garfiel: [――A scramble for the top of the Empire, that’s one hell of a big deal, Captain.]
A sign of great war that would engulf the Fortress City―― no, that would engulf the entirety of the Vollachian Empire.
What kind of causality had led to him being right in the middle of such a situation? However, Garfiel thought, Surely this was the result of Subaru being who he is.
While eagerly, desperately struggling to return to his place beside Emilia and the others, he had bonded with the people he had encountered on the way, and unable to abandon them, he kept running.
Right now, he was someplace far away, in a big city to the southeast, seemingly negotiating with influential people.
Regardless of the outcome, it would be nice if he were to return safely――,
Heinkel: [――Hey, brat.]
Heinkel: [Your teeth’ve been clattering like hell for a while now. Can’t you behave and shut your mouth?]
Heinkel suddenly spat those words at Garfiel, who had been lost in thought.
The seemingly annoyed red-haired man glaring his way put a finger in his own mouth and traced his canine in demonstration. That was to say that Garfiel’s habit of clacking his teeth was getting on his nerves.
Garfiel: [Ha, why should my amazin’ self hafta listen to anythin’ ya say? If it’s that hard on the ears, ya can leave whenever ya want.]
Heinkel: [Is that your best insult, you petulant brat? I was here first. Know your place.]
Garfiel: [――Hk, the guy who chickened out against a Divine General shouldn’t be so arrogant!]
Loathing the idea of being cornered in the same way as before, Garfiel forcefully shouted that back.
After asserting that, Garfiel realized he had made a rash remark. However, his opponent was his opponent. Retorting to such an extent, needing to feel guilty about that was――.
Heinkel: [Ahh, that’s right, isn’t it. ――I got scared. That’s why, it turned out like this.]
Heinkel: [I also wrecked Miss Priscilla’s mood so now I’m getting dead drunk. Aah, how irredeemable.]
However, the words that Heinkel offered in return were weak, leaving Garfiel puzzled.
Lifting the bottle of alcohol in his hand to his mouth while he sipped its contents, Heinkel grumbled in a low voice which seemed to curse the world—— No, seemed to curse his own being.
Just as if the very world itself had abandoned him, his demeanor seemed to have fallen to utter desperation.
Garfiel: […Yer opponent was a Divine General. They’re the Empire’s strongest military force, s’natural ya couldn’t beat ‘em, Pops.]
Unable to stand watching that pathetic appearance, he vocalized that comfort.
Despite having said it himself, Garfiel was astonished by the fact he had made that remark without shame. Just before, he had verbally abused Heinkel for losing to a Divine General, but now he was comforting him by saying it was natural for him to have lost.
It was incoherent, and probably completely failed at being comforting. If Garfiel had been in the same position as Heinkel, he might have flown into a fit of rage at being told the same thing.
However, Heinkel gave a spineless laugh at Garfiel’s comfort,
Heinkel: [I may not have won, but I had a duty to carry out. All the more so if I’m to reap the benefits of going with Miss Priscilla… Heh, what a fucking masterpiece.]
Garfiel: [It’s, a masterpiece?]
Heinkel: [The thing I’ve been chasing for over ten years keeps slipping through my fingers. No matter how far I go, I’ll never be able to change my piss-poor nature.]
At Heinkel’s incessant self-derision, Garfiel began to see him differently.
At first, due to the reckless actions Heinkel had taken at the Watergate City, Garfiel’s impression of him had been enmity and disgust. After just a short period, the very moment he thought it had been affirmed, seeing Heinkel curse himself made Garfiel reevaluate his impression.
There stood a weak, exhausted, miserable man.
The words that spewed from his mouth were blades to himself and to others, though their sharpness was pathetic. If those were only directed towards others, Garfiel would merely scorn them and be done with it.
However, when he realized Heinkel directed them at himself as well, Garfiel felt an unpleasant sensation in his chest.
Garfiel: [Bastard, why’d’ya got the nerve to be rottin’ away like that. You’re still livin’. Then…]
Heinkel: [——. I wonder, why am I still alive?]
Garfiel: [——Hk, Ya really dare to say that in front of the person who saved ya?]
Heinkel continued to grumble words of self-abandonment which invited Garfiel’s wrath.
At Garfiel’s response, Heinkel glanced at him and muttered “Ah”, as if realizing it for the first time.
Heinkel: [Now that you mention it, you were the one that healed me. Be careful next time.]
Heinkel: [Don’t miss the opportunity to abandon the guys you hate to spare yourself from future troubles.]
Heinkel gave a spineless chuckle as he asserted so.
The moment he heard that, Garfiel felt the sensation of his vision being stained a deep red, and he found himself clutching the man’s collar and scowling at his face reeking of liquor from a close proximity.
He heard a light smashing sound of a liquor bottle shattering by his feet.
That was because Garfiel had seized him by the collar, and lifted his body up through sheer force, causing the liquor bottle, with its contents still remaining, to fall from Heinkel’s hand to the bottom of the ramparts.
Following the fallen liquor bottle with his gaze, Heinkel heaved a sigh.
Heinkel: [That’s just a waste, isn’t it?]
Garfiel: [Bastard, is that all ya got t’say?]
Without resisting, Heinkel turned his lethargic eyes towards Garfiel.
His blue eyes, bereft of spirit, were of the same origin as that of both Reinhardt, whom Garfiel had spoken to, and Wilhelm, whom he had gone under the gaze of.
Nonetheless, Garfiel could hardly believe that they were the same.
Just how could human eyes become so dull?
The emotions whirling in the utmost depths of those two eyes, over just how many months and years had they been degraded for?
Garfiel: [The fuck’s with that? Why’re ya lookin’ at me like that?]
Heinkel said that he had displeased Priscilla, having suffered a loss against a Divine General.
The truth of the matter was unclear, but Garfiel believed that it was far too inconsiderate to blame someone for lacking the power to be able to put up a good fight against a Divine General.
At least, that was Garfiel’s perspective, who had not arrived in time to have a chance to fight.
At Garfiel’s gaze and words, Heinkel’s eyes wavered slightly.
His eyes, which had not even been focused on Garfiel, the man right in front of him, finally connected with Garfiel so that he was clearly reflected in them.
Heinkel: [——My wife…]
Regardless of the fact that he had just been gulping down alcohol, the lips of Heinkel, spilling out that hoarse voice, were parched.
But, when he finally received words that held meaning, Garfiel clenched his molars, and decided he would hear what the wavering man had to say beyond that.
However, the words Garfiel expected, yet again were not heard.
Still being clutched by the collar, Heinkel’s eyes lost focus of Garfiel once more. His gaze went past Garfiel, and directed themselves towards what lay behind him.
Garfiel thought that was frustrating and irritating, however,
Heinkel: [It’s a horse carriage.]
Garfiel could not help but turn around, at the words that had been spoken.
Since he was grabbing Heinkel, Garfiel’s back was facing the south side of the city—— from beyond that horizon, there was indeed a small contour that could be seen approaching their direction.
Straining his eyes, even Garfiel was unable to tell if it was a dragon carriage or a horse carriage, but if he believed Heinkel when he called it a “horse carriage”, that was——,
Heinkel: [——Hah, so it’s the honored return of the bunch who went out.]
Through different words, Heinkel affirmed the thoughts of Garfiel, the latter catching his breath.
The contour was still only the size of a fingernail, but its outline was becoming slightly more visible; that might be the carriage that the person whom Garfiel was eagerly waiting and searching for was riding in.
Heinkel: [Oi, let go of me, brat.]
Garfiel’s eyes sparkled with anticipation and excitement, an air of liquor-reeking breaths hanging over him. A frown crossed his face as he looked in front of him and was greeted by Heinkel’s sullen look.
The profile of a man who was just about to speak from his heart was no longer there, and all that was left was the face of a hateful man, spewing disgusting and reckless remarks to those around him.
The moment he realized that, Heinkel tilted his neck and broke free from Garfiel’s hands.
Garfiel felt that was both an escape physically, and an escape emotionally. What should have been caught by the tips of his fingers, had coldly slipped away.
Heinkel: [The person you’re waiting for seems to be coming. Why don’t you hurry up and go meet them?]
Garfiel: […Bastard, you…]
Heinkel: [I’ll serve my duty as a lookout. My job is to report it if I see something after all. Even if I’m drunk, I can at least do that much… Though it’s probably not going to score me many points.]
With a wave of his hand, Heinkel drunkenly staggered as he turned his back to Garfiel.
For a moment, he hesitated if he should call out to that back to try to stop him, but in the end no words came out. Just as Heinkel had pointed out, Garfiel’s heart had already started to get impatient.
As soon as possible, he wanted to rush over to the contour approaching from beyond the horizon.
Heinkel: [It’d be tragic to miss the opportunity, wouldn’t it? Those final words, you’ll end up chasing them endlessly.]
Leaving just those words behind, Heinkel jumped off of the ramparts before Garfiel. Surprisingly landing safely inside the city, he headed for the center of the city.
That final comment, the earnest emotion contained therein, Heinkel had asserted that they would stab into Garfiel’s heart like a thorn.
Garfiel: [Now is——]
Shelving the existence of that thorn for now, Garfiel jumped down the opposite side of the ramparts that Heinkel had.
Landing outside of the city, Garfiel stretched out his bent knees and broke out into a vigorous sprint. His legs kicking off the ground like explosions, faster than even the wind, he ran directly for the oncoming contour.
Through the crevices in his sharp fangs, Garfiel’s unbearably deep emotions leaked out.
It was intimidating to consider the feelings of Emilia, Beatrice, Petra, and the others, but Garfiel was also one of the people who had been earnestly awaiting a reunion with Subaru.
That was why, transforming his feelings of excitement into running strength, he headed for the carriage at a breakneck pace.
Just a little further, just a few dozen more seconds of running, he would be reunited with Subaru, and——,
And so, those overflowing expectations turned to unexpected feelings of confusion.
His speed, fast enough to leave the wind behind, came to slow down, and before long the wind overtook him. On the contrary, he became fast enough to leave everything except the wind behind, and finally came to a standstill.
In Garfiel’s trembling emerald eyes, the single carriage that had come from beyond the horizon—— no, the multitudes of carriages and ox carts that were approaching were reflected.
Garfiel: [Th-this is…]
Hoping that he would be able to meet Subaru without hesitation, Garfiel blinked his eyes.
Considering the purpose for which Subaru and the others had departed from the fortified city, the current view was indeed one of the possibilities, but at that time, Garfiel had not thought that far ahead.
In any case, stopping in its tracks before the overwhelmed Garfiel, at the head of the convoy heading down the road towards the city, was the carriage drawn by an excellent Galewind Horse which he had brazenly arrived at.
???: [——You, what are you fooling about for. If you are a messenger of the city, surely there is something you ought to be doing.]
So, examining his expression, the man in the Oni mask caused Garfiel to catch his breath.
???: [You must be exhausted, Miss Frederica.]
At the aroma of the tea being gently offered to her tired and thirsty self, Frederica looked at the person’s face with faint surprise.
A smile on his gentle face, he who showed appreciation for Frederica was a man whose point of view was close to the ground.
By nature, Frederica, who was tall in stature, often surpassed men in height, but even disregarding that, the one in front of her was a short person of a small build―― however, over the course of several days, Frederica had recognized that in contrast to his height, he had a large heart, and possessed good will.
Frederica: [――Zikr-sama, I accept your consideration with gratitude.]
At the top floor of the City Hall, amidst the busy people, the man―― Zikr Osman, had personally brewed her tea, and she accepted it with gratitude.
As the soft, warmth-infused scent crept into her nostrils, Frederica could not help but smile.
Originally, such a role should have been the responsibility of Frederica, who was a maid. However, Frederica’s current position in the Empire made her hesitant to engage in the work that had been ingrained in her over the years.
Ostensibly, Frederica’s role in the Empire appeared to be as a guard of dignitaries―― in hindsight, since Otto and Garfiel’s roles were the same, there had been no need for Frederica to leave her role as maid, but it was too late to change things.
That was why, accepting the goodwill offered by the commander who despite being burdened with responsibilities in this place had personally brewed her tea, she quietly concentrated on gently hydrating her tongue and throat.
In fact, as might be expected of him for taking the initiative, Zikr’s tea-brewing ability was quite magnificent.
Frederica: [For a General of the Empire, you seem to be very talented at this kind of thing.]
Zikr: [Haha, I am honored by your praise. However, I am unable to bear responsibility for the taste of the other Generals’ tea. In my case, I was trained by the many older and younger sisters of my family.]
Frederica: [Well. If that is the case, I must thank Zikr-sama’s esteemed elder and younger sisters. Even in such a hectic situation, we can still enjoy the taste of tea.]
Zikr: [Indeed, you never know what will be useful in this world… Of course, my enthusiasm in being prepared is more for a beauty like you, Miss Frederica, than for my own family.]
There was no ulterior motive in Zikr’s casual repartee, and Frederica naturally accepted his praise.
Those words were not falsehoods, perhaps it was the influence of having spent time with so many sisters. His admiration for women was so deep and reverential that it was almost embarrassing.
At first, when told that the personage who took the name of The Womanizer was the head representative of the city, Frederica had been quite nervous and wary of the situation.
Frederica: [I would be troubled should something happen to Emily, Lady Petra, or Lady Beatrice.]
However, that concern had been dispelled upon meeting with Zikr in person.
The fact that they had been involved in lifesaving efforts in the city, which had fallen into turmoil after the devastation of the flying dragon cataclysm probably had some influence, but Zikr and the others had willingly taken in Fredrica and her group.
She was also grateful for Otto’s decision to speak with city representatives the moment he arrived in the city.
Frederica: [I heard that he wooed Mizelda-san as soon as he met her, Otto-sama is truly reliable during times like these.]
If Otto himself had been listening, he would have said, “I think that is somewhat misleading!” as his voice quavered; while thinking this, Frederica nodded quietly.
Although she thought of him that way, Frederica was helped considerably by Otto’s presence.
The responsibility of the two senior members of Emilia’s group, Frederica and Otto, was quite heavy. ――After all, Roswaal and Ram were off doing something separately.
In the search for the whereabouts of Subaru and Rem within the Empire, it had been decided that the group smuggling themselves into the country would split up into two.
The split groups consisted of Roswaal and Ram, as well as the six including Frederica and the others.
After separating from Emilia’s group, which was searching for Subaru and his group through steadily asking around, the pair of Roswaal and Ram headed for an Imperial Noble with whom Roswaal was acquainted.
Frederica had never imagined that his reach extended to the Empire, although Roswaal was originally unable to make contact with this person whom he was close with.
In any case, with the choice to rely on his acquaintance, Roswaal headed there for negotiations, while Frederica and the others began to search for the whereabouts of the two people in a different direction.
As a result, the roles of Frederica and Otto had inevitably become more important.
Frederica: [Although, Emilia-sama seemed to be rousing herself up to do her best.]
Frederica’s lips parted at the thought of Emilia’s enthusiasm, overflowing with motivation and responsibility at the fact that she was the most senior member.
If one strictly applied seniority to the Emilia camp, the utmost seniors would be Puck and Beatrice, followed by Emilia.
Having been separated from Subaru, it had become difficult for Beatrice to replenish her mana, and she was thus in a state of “Eko-mode” to keep her usage within limits, spending most of the day sleeping. That was why Emilia, the next oldest, was inspired to do her best. 
Of course, the final decision had been left to Emilia, but the discussions leading up to that point had been carefully considered mainly between Frederica, Otto, and Petra.
The reason they had traveled to the fortified city was because of a rumor so incredible that she had doubted her ears.
Frederica: [A rebel army rising against the Empire, and the black-haired maiden who is supporting its ringleader…]
When Frederica had heard her name was “Natsumi Schwartz”, she had been unable to grasp its meaning, and her thoughts had come to a complete halt.
Frederica had also wondered if someone with the same name as the one she had previously heard of also unexpectedly existed in the Empire.
Frederica: [If Otto-sama had not recognized the true intention behind it, I wonder if I would have been able to realize it.]
Ultimately, it had been Otto who had explained that the name of the person being propagated through rumors was a message from Subaru.
Otto: [After all, that man has a tendency to think that cross-dressing is an all-purpose solution… In fact, I am afraid that it might encourage him to assume that it might be considerably useful.]
That had been Otto’s response, with a face somewhere between exasperation and acceptance.
The group had more or less concluded that since Subaru’s position in the Kingdom of Lugunica was known, he had taken measures to avoid having his name brought up within the Vollachian Empire.
By the end, only Emilia had been left tilting her head in confusion at the fact that the name of a woman she knew was being used, “Why, Natsumi’s name…?”.
In any case――,
Zikr: [It will not be long before Miss Natsumi will be back. Finally, Miss Emily and Miss Petra’s wishes will be fulfilled.]
Frederica: [――Yes, absolutely.]
Zikr gave a nod to Frederica, who was engrossed in her thoughts while enjoying her tea’s aroma.
Just as he said, their reunion with the two people they were searching for―― or at the very least, their reunion with Subaru was expected to come true in the not-too-distant future.
Frederica and her friends had been correct in assuming that the name Natsumi Schwartz was a message, and Subaru had indeed been confirmed to have been present in this fortified city.
The problem was that after he had left the city to resolve another matter, another situation had befallen Rem, the other person they were in search of――,
Zikr: […If only we had been able to protect Miss Rem.]
Frederica: [That was the extent of the situation. There is no reason to blame you, Zikr-sama, nor anybody else. Though, I certainly do regret the outcome.]
Frederica loosely shook her head at the words of Zikr, whose eyes were downcast.
When Frederica and the others had arrived at the city, it had not only been Subaru who had been missing, but also Rem. On top of that, Rem had disappeared in the midst of the flying dragon cataclysm.
It was said that, in order to make the Divine General assailing the city withdraw, she had made herself a hostage.
Frederica: [――. As soon as you wake up, I would be convinced that you were Ram’s younger sister.]
While she worried about Rem, Frederica lips spoke of such sentiments.
Frederica did not remember Rem, whose “name” and “memories” were stolen by the Authority of the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony. At least, she had no memories of her being awake.
All Frederica knew was what Subaru had told her about Rem’s personality and that she looked exactly like her twin sister, Ram. However, it seemed that she was also bold and daring like Ram.
Otherwise, she probably would never have been able to negotiate with one of the Nine Divine Generals and save a city which had its very existence in jeopardy.
Then having accepted her negotiations, the other party had a reason to keep Rem alive.
Having considered it logically, that belief had been their sole salvation. If it had not been for that, Frederica and the others would have immediately pursued the whereabouts of the now missing Rem.
Of course, to tell the truth, she still could not help but to want to rush after her.
Frederica: [If Ram had been there, she would have… No, that girl is clever, she probably would not have done that.]
It was hard to judge which option Ram would have taken, in the opinion of Frederica, who was well acquainted with her.
Ram was wise. But at the same time, she also had a deep love. Frederica knew that she had been visiting her younger sister’s room as much, if not more, than Subaru, who had visited Rem every night.
She had wanted to reunite them. ――After all, no matter how brash she was, Ram was her beloved protegee.
Zikr: [Miss Frederica, please do not worry too much about it. Conditions in the city have calmed down for the time being. Finally, we can begin to talk about the future.]
As Frederica gently placed her hand on her chest, Zikr spoke as such out of consideration for her.
As he said, the scars left by the flying dragons that had attacked the fortified city had finally been patched up, and the conditions were now suitable for discussing what to do in the future. Of course, what happened next would depend on the direction of the discussions, but――,
???: [――General Second-Class Zikr!]
It was at the moment Frederica was about to reply to Zikr’s statement.
A sharp voice strained with deep emotion that was something different to being cornered, and reverberated through the City Hall. Running up the staircase, and rushing towards them was one of Zikr’s subordinates.
Zikr turned to him and said, “What is it?” as the man placed his fist in front of his chest, and,
Subordinate: [We have a report. Numerous carriages are arriving on the south side of the city, all from the Demon City.]
Frederica: [――! From the Demon City. Then…!]
Involuntarily, Frederica proactively reacted to the report to Zikr. Normally, her embarrassment would have outweighed her reaction, but at this moment, that did not bother her in the slightest.
Zikr nodded deeply at Frederica’s enthusiasm, and,
Zikr: [Have they returned? As expected, you are an ally with impeccable timing. Call Miss Priscilla, Miss Petra and the others at once.]
Frederica’s heart pounded at the good news that the person she had been waiting for had returned.
Her somber feelings of concern for Rem’s safety had considerably improved from just before. At least for the time being, she thought that with this, half of their objective should have been fulfilled.
Zikr: [Everything is well, Miss Frederica.]
Zikr gently smiled at Frederica, who stroked her chest in relief.
At his words, Frederica tried to thank him with an “Indeed”.
Subordinate: [――General Second-Class, the truth is, about that…]
Frederica’s words were interrupted by those of the Imperial Soldier. Furthermore, as he began to speak with a tinge of unease, Frederica held her breath.
Zikr seemed to feel the same concern and turned to his subordinate, who had spoken in a low voice, and questioned “What’s wrong?” as the tone of his voice lowered.
In response, the subordinate slightly hesitated, and then――,
Subordinate: [The carriage has returned from the Demon City, but Miss Natsumi Schwartz is not present… they say that they lost track of her whereabouts in Chaosflame.]
Indeed, it was a cruel declaration that the twists of fate would continue once more.
 A bit of clarification here on why this is capitalized: the word “dragon”, in Re: Zero, is written in Japanese in two ways. For the first, the character “竜” is used to signify “dragon”, which is what is used for ground dragons (地竜), water dragons (水竜) and flying dragons (飛竜). For the second, the character “龍” is used, and this is employed for dragons taken as more powerful, such as the Blight Dragon Valgren and the Divine Dragon Volcanica.
 ショウエネ is translated as “Eko-mode”, the original Japanese is closer to a corruption of the term used for “energy conservation” (省エネ), hence why the misspelling.