Arc 7, Chapter 90 – “The Cradle of Hell”

 

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This an edited Machine Translation, which has been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality using feedback from the machine translators and prooferaders. This may have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read this chapter you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality.

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???: [――No doubt about it! In front, the first bastion is the Second Ranked, Arakiya!!]

???: [It’s presumed to be the Ninth Ranked, Madelyn Eschart, at the second bastion! A herd of flying dragons is circling overhead!]

???: [The guardian of the third bastion, still unidentified!]

???: [Also, no confirmation on the guardian of the fourth bastion! Unable to confirm!]

???: [Fifth bastion, such a flashy attack… Not a General First-Class! It is General Second-Class! Kafma Irulux!]

The battle conditions were coming in one after another in a loud voice, almost like an angry shout or a scream.

The soldiers assigned to the role of long-range observers took up as high of a position as possible, their eyes bloodshot as they tried to obtain as much information as possible by looking at the majesty of the Imperial Capital of Lupugana in front of them.

The decisive battle for the Imperial Capital had finally begun. If one considered the simple difference in the number of soldiers as the difference maker, the military strength of the rebel forces was nearly twice that of the regular army of the Imperial Capital. If all of these troops were to run out onto the plains at once and clash head-on, it would be obvious who would win the battle――.

???: [I never wanted to be on the attacking side of Lupugana, the robust Imperial Capital.]

Shaking his distinctive hairdo from side to side, Zikr Osman wrinkled his brow as he documented the reported battle situation on a map he had spread out in the simple command center.

As a General Second-Class of the Empire, he carried out his duty as a General and still had a high level of loyalty to Vollachia, so it could be said that the Imperial Capital was the armor that protected the heart that he needed to protect.

He would never have considered himself being in a position where he had to capture the Imperial Capital and vanquish the existence of the one who, perversely, called himself the Emperor on the throne.

???: [The situation, however, will not wait for your incessant whining to cease. ――No, not only you. Time passes equally for everyone.]

Zikr: [Abel-dono…]

Abel: [Return to the battle situation. Obtain the reports from the long-range observers. Priority should be given to the third and fourth bastions… No matter how trivial it is. We will identify the guardians there.]

Zikr: [Right away! Strengthen the long-range observations on the third and fourth! Without a doubt, a General First-Class is on the battlefield!]

Zikr nodded and ordered his nearest subordinate, causing the air to fluctuate at a dizzying pace.

Savoring the dry air on his skin, Abel squinted from behind his Oni mask at the Imperial Capital in the distance, outside the cloth-covered command center, where the star-shaped ramparts protected the city.

As noted previously, in terms of military strength, the rebels outnumbered the regular army.

However, the assembled rebels lacked a sense of coordination, a rabble that rushed off in haste likely as to not relinquish glory and military achievement to others.

In addition, the enemy, whom they needed to attack, was confined to the innermost part of the Imperial Capital, which painted a picture of robustness and solidity.

As was discussed when capturing the Fortress City of Guaral, some held the belief that in cases where the attacker was attempting to defeat the defender, if it only boiled down to pure military strength, they would require three times the number of men.

Considering that the defensive measures of the Imperial Capital were far superior to those of Guaral, the difference was all the more pronounced.

Above all――,

Abel: [――The existences that disturb the balance of military strength the most are the powerful who are equivalent to a thousand men in strength.]

Zikr: [It is a decisive battle in the defense of the Imperial Capital. Although the battle has started earlier than expected, how many of the Nine Divine Generals have been recalled?]

Even though the rebels could be surmised as a rabble, if they were to get hit on the head and doused with water, they would turn tail with their ears ready to listen. If that happened, then they would be able to incorporate them into their tactics and shape them.

That is, if the water was simply a wake-up call and not something that made them close their eyes forever――Which was no easy task when confronted with the “Nine Divine Generals”.

Abel: [At minimum, Arakiya, Madelyn Eschart, and Moguro Hagane will be in play. Kafma Irulux is equivalent to a General First-Class on merit alone, and Olbart Dunkelkenn may refuse to participate due to his injured arm, but that is unlikely.]

Zikr: [There will be no participation by General First-Class Goz or General First-Class Groovy. Is that what you expect?]

Abel: [Goz Ralfon may or may not be alive, and Groovy Gumlet may or may not have been recalled from the West, it depends, but the latter is difficult to mobilize. The uncertainty concerning the West’s movements is neither orchestrated by this side nor theirs. ――But it smells fishy.]

In the first move of the rebellion, Goz had taken up resistance to allow Abel to flee as he was ousted from the Imperial Capital. He was likely to have died, as no further information about his whereabouts was known.

Goz, who possessed the extraordinary support of his soldiers because of his superior command capabilities and personality, would be one of the greatest threats in the war if he were to become an enemy. But then again, knowing the identity of the impostor sitting on the throne, there was practically no chance that Goz would join the other side, making him nothing more than a dead pawn that was hard to deal with.

Abel: [The only possible effective use of a dead pawn is to utilize its death… Something around the lines of taking Goz Ralfon’s death and pinning the blame for it on the rebels to stir up the morale of the soldiers.]

Zikr: […I do not wish to think about it. If I had remained unaware of the situation over there, I would have also taken up the sword for the sake of General First-Class Goz, even if it meant dying.]

Even Zikr, a “General” in his own right, mourned the supposed death of Goz.

It was a feat of trust and achievement that Goz Ralfon had built up, and in fact, if they were to resort to such a scheme, it would be necessary to re-evaluate the strength of the regular army.

But, if they had intended to do so, the best time would have been before the war had begun.

Abel: [Either he deliberately passed up on the opportunity, or he did not want the uncertainty of any fluctuation in force due to improved morale. Either way, he is going to be pulling the strings.]

Running through his thoughts, Abel put his hand on the edge of his mask and tried to grasp the other party’s intentions.

When it came to reading one’s intentions, there was no room for being worse at it against most opponents. However, this time, the opponent was outside of the “most” category, and in addition, he was an enemy who knew the hues of his mind better than anyone else so far.

The conditions here were the same; however, different win conditions mean different options. And so, to the place where Abel was staring at the map was――,

???: [――Abel-chin, Abel-chin!]

A lively voice sounded through the entrance of the tent, and with a quick movement, a little girl jumped into the room. She took her place at the desk and turned to Abel, her blue eyes shimmering with immense emotion.

Medium: [I want to go, too! Big bro is there, remember? I can’t wait anymore!]

Abel: [Nonsense. We do not need more contingencies. How can you be sure that your brother is in the Capital?]

Medium: [There was a girl named Madelyn! She’s the one who took big bro and Rem-chan! If she’s there, then maybe the two of them are there too! Right?]

Abel: [That hardly sounds like a guarantee. Furthermore, your brother and that girl are of little strategic value in the current situation. Do not confuse our priorities.]

Medium: [But there is nothing more important to me than big bro and my friends!]

With a banging on the desk, the girl――Medium snapped at Abel’s words.

This was an emotional and implicit opinion. Ultimately, as he said, there was no reason other than emotion to give priority to Flop and Rem, who were both kidnapped under the circumstances of this war, and therefore was a worthless decision for Abel.

There was a liberating alternative for Medium, though.

Abel: [――. Causing needless dissension, hmm?]

Medium: [――? What?]

Lowering her eyebrows, Medium tilted her head unconcerned about her own worth. Or was she encouraged by the rightful appraisal of herself? Abel quickly dismissed it as overthinking.

In any case, he could not afford to devote much time to her.

Abel: [No matter how much you voice your aspirations, you should be aware how lofty your goal is right now. If you cut loose your shackles and head for the battlefield, you needlessly throw away your life.]

Medium: [Mm! But that…]

Zikr: [Miss Medium, Abel-dono is concerned about your safety. And I share his opinion; I cannot just let you go.]

Looking up and down, Abel and Medium glared at each other respectively, and Zikr, who interrupted them, rebuked them in a calm tone.

Zikr, the General in command, was also aware of the unpredictable situation of the battle. Nevertheless, he must have been quite distressed trying to keep the unreasonable Medium at bay.

Without revealing any of these emotion with his expression, the man called “Womanizer” exchanged glances with Medium and spoke, “And what do we do about that?”.

Zikr: [That solid city wall is made up of five bastions. One cannot attack the Imperial Capital without considering these five bastions. At the very least, we need to understand our opponent’s intelligence and eliminate any ambiguity before we talk about this again――]

Medium: [That is why! I’m also properly taking this into account! I really want to hear from Madelyn about my big bro, but it’s hard to do that, so from an unguarded spot, I’m going to go inside…]

Abel: [――Wait.]

After Zikr’s attempt at gentle persuasion, Medium emotionally tried to push him away. However, Medium’s statement made Abel think of something so he interrupted them.

Abel grabbed Medium by her slender shoulders and turned her to face him, causing her to widen her eyes.

Abel: [You said, “an unguarded spot”. If you mean one of the bastions, from where did you get that information?]

Medium: [From where, you say? …Oh! That’s right! Sorry, Abel-chin!]

Her complexion changed at the question, and Medium grasped Abel’s hand on her shoulder with both hands. As she continued to hold his hand tightly, her blue eyes again wavered emotionally, and,

Medium: [I should’ve told you this! Well, the third bastion is full of golems, and the fourth bastion is nothing but black shadows… neither of them has a person like Yorna-chan!]

Abel: [――――]

Medium: [Abel-chin?]

Abel’s eyes widened slightly at the message from Medium’s mouth. However, this reaction was immediately quashed with a blink of an eye, disappearing in a silent sigh.

These uttered words, there was no need to scrutinize their content. He fully understood their meaning. The question was how the information was obtained――,

Abel: [Who made you tell me this?]

Medium: [Huh?]

Abel: [Who?]

Opposite his gripped hand, with his left hand, he held the back of Medium’s head and turned her to face him.

Medium gasped as he looked straight into her blue eyes. Then she moved her pale pink lips to answer Abel’s question.

The answer, to that question was――,

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――Otto Suwen closed his eyes while being engulfed in a vast, raging, whirlwind of information.

Otto: [――――]

A storm of voices, voices, voices poured in.

From right to left, from top to bottom, from front to back, an unending assault of voices.

It was the second coming of the cradle of hell, where he once spent for as long as he could, almost like a triumphant return to his nostalgic hometown.

Otto’s Divine Protection of Soul of Language was said to be one of the “outliers” among the many Divine Protections that existed in this world.

This Divine Protection, which allowed one to understand and communicate in every creature’s language, had too many flaws to be considered a strength obtained at birth.

First of all, a newborn child would have no ego or self-consciousness, and only a vague sense of self.

Since children cannot firmly establish themselves, they have no choice but to rely on their surroundings, but for the owner of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language, these surroundings would be far too vast.

It would not be about up, down, left, right, or depth, but literally everything.

More specifically, a child with the Divine Protection of Soul of Language could not even distinguish between human, animal, insect, wind, rain, or the ringing in one’s ears.

Such a living creature, bereft of definitive judgment and attention span, could hardly survive.

The only reason Otto was able to last through that period without dying was because of his circumstances.

It was the devotion of his wealthy and loving parents as well as siblings who never dismissed or denied their brother despite not being able to understand each other that kept Otto alive.

But even after establishing oneself as a living being, the suffering of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language did not end. Rather, it was just about to begin.

Those who possessed the Divine Protection of Soul of Language were able to communicate with everything around them, but they risked being isolated from everyone in return. This was a major factor in their lacking sense of belonging.

Assuming that talking, touching, and cultivating bonds were the foundations of life, the owner of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language could establish relationships with any creature.

There was no need to merely bond with human beings.

One could communicate with any animal, insect, and even fish because of a Divine Protection allowing one to connect with all living things, thus making it easy to isolate oneself.

One could be trapped in an eternal prison of doubt as to who one was.

Due to that, all of the previous holders of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language met an early demise.

Otto did not even want to think about how many of his fellow possessors of the Divine Protection had died without even being able to speak their names, let alone realize the power of their Divine Protection or make it known to their surroundings.

What was the value of living in the midst of unrelenting downpours, uninterrupted storms, and utter helplessness knowing one would never be understood?

In fact, he had never heard of any accomplished possessor of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language.

And Otto understood that feeling all too well.

Literally, the cradle of hell was a place where one was forced to listen endlessly to lullabies enticing one to death.

Otto: [――――]

In this nostalgic hell, Otto consciously narrowed the focus of the voices he had lent an ear to.

It was the same way people picked up only the voices in a crowded place or at a party that talked about topics that were relevant and interesting to them.

It was a domain only a handful of possessors of the Divine Protection of Soul of Language had been able to enter in which could adjust the effects of the Divine Protection.

It was that kind of constantly active Divine Protection that would lose its impact when its effect were adjusted. Otto, too, usually set his Divine Protection to the lowest setting so that his head was not filled with so many words.

He increased the volume of the weakened Divine Protection and raised its intensity to the maximum.

Otto: [――――]

When Subaru pestered him about the Divine Protection of Soul of Language before, he had called it a “channel”. He thought that that did not sound so bad, so he opened a “channel”.

The countless “voices” that popped into Otto’s ears and mind were all related to the battlefield centered around the Imperial Capital. Many of them were accompanied by avoidance, loathing, fear, and anger, and pretty much useless, but he scrutinized them all.

Anyhow――,

Otto: [I have asked a lot of Garfiel, too…]

When Emilia made the decision to enter the battle for the Imperial Capital, Otto concluded that it was Garfiel who would have to shoulder the most difficult role in this battle.

Because of their prowess as combatants, Emilia and Garfiel were the ones taking on the dangerous enemies in battle. However, they could not let Emilia fight to the death.

Of course, Emilia’s life took top priority, even before recovering Subaru and Rem.

Therefore, if Emilia was in danger, he would make her back down, no matter what she said.

Everyone in the camp, except Emilia, had been notified of this commonly acknowledged fact. However, it was not an option to come all the way to the Empire and return empty-handed; they must bring Subaru and Rem back home with them.

In order to achieve this goal, Garfiel was responsible for sustaining the most wounds and spilling the most blood.

Otto: [Garfiel may or may not be aware of this.]

Did Garfiel understand how reckless and cruel the instructions were for the role he was entrusted with?

Otto was certainly aware that he had been terribly self-serving and unreasonable in his instructions, and Garfiel probably thought he was being reckless, but did he truly get the gist of it?

Or perhaps Garfiel took it as a sign of trust?

Otto: [I do not like this…]

Muttering a few words, Otto thought of Garfiel’s innocent look of trust.

Even if he was giving unreasonable instructions, Garfiel believed that Otto had an idea and that it was his role to see it through. In the same manner, Otto anticipated Garfiel would see his instructions that way and entrusted him with a role only he could fulfill.

At first glance, this was an exchange of mutual trust. However, Otto, as someone involved, believed that this was not a fair balance of what each side had to bear.

Garfiel was the one in harm’s way wherever they went. Not Otto.

All I do is sit back in my comfort zone, feeling pain and guilt. And when all is said and done, Garfiel would say, “As I’d expect of Otto-bro!” I am not sure how I feel about that.

You’ve gotta be kidding.

Otto: [If I can bear it, I should bear it myself. Do not run away from your responsibilities, Otto Suwen.]

Otto placed his hand over his mouth as he reminded himself.

When their camp had finally decided on a course of action to take on the Empire’s upheaval, Otto warned Emilia, “You’re going down a thorny path”.

In response to Otto’s words, Emilia stoutly held her chest and chose her path.

It was probably a stupid idea, a foolish path. If Otto were alone, he would never have chosen this approach of all danger and little gain.

But there was something important in the little that was gained, and Otto was relieved that Emilia had chosen a path that he never would have chosen on his own.

He was inwardly delighted. Thus, he could not be the odd one out.

Out of several possibilities, it was Otto who had chosen this path.

If blood needed to be spilled for that purpose, he did not want to leave the bloodshed to others.

Therefore――,

???: [Otto-san, you can be a real dummy sometimes!]

Suddenly, amidst the flood of meaningless “voices”, he heard a clear “voice” and blinked his eyes.

In an instant, the sound of hellish rain and storms faded away, and before Otto turned around to squeeze through the channel, his eyes met Petra’s, whose eyebrows were lowered with dismay.

She went up to Otto and offered him a white handkerchief saying, “Take this”.

Petra: [Your nose bleed is really gushing. I’m a little scared.]

Otto: [Nose… Ah, I failed to notice it.]

Petra: [So it seems …Please sit down. You don’t have to stand, right?]

Otto looked at the handkerchief offered to him in a daze. Irritably pulling Otto’s hand, Petra made him sit down on the grassy field.

She then put a handkerchief against Otto’s face and wiped off the blood.

Petra: [Is that what happens when you overuse your Divine Protection?]

Otto: […Yes. If I increase the number I am listening to and the range, this is what happens. I do not really resort to this, but it is an emergency.]

Petra: [So that you don’t lose to Garf-san?]

Otto: [――――]

Petra: [As I thought. Otto-san, you really are an idiot.]

As Petra stared at him, Otto scratched his head saying, “Guilty as charged”.

Petra’s point was correct in a broad sense, although subtly different from what she was trying to say. If she had been smart, she might have known what Otto really meant and rephrased it.

Petra, the fastest-growing member of the camp, was getting sharper and more strong-willed by the day.

Petra: [Even if Otto-san has lots of nosebleeds, I don’t think he can ever be like Garf-san.]

Otto: [Certainly, the amount of blood we shed can not be compared with each other. Unlike Garfiel, I bleed to death much more easily. But I should at least be prepared to bleed myself.]

Petra: [Is it because Otto-san told everyone to go?]

Otto: [I truly am no match for Petra-chan.]

Otto laughed as his nose was pinched to flush out the blood that had accumulated.

Considering only the events that had taken place, it was Emilia who had decided that she would participate in this battle, and it was Emilia who had declared that they would do it, so Petra’s point was way off the mark.

But the reality was that Petra was correct, it was Otto who had led her to say that.

――No, those were precisely the words Otto had wanted her to say.

Otto: [In fact, I am not hurting myself for nothing either. I hate to say this, but my Divine Protection is very useful in war. I can not afford not to use it.]

Petra: [――――]

Otto: [It is difficult to find someone that can help us because of the circumstances, but it is worth just getting the information. I just entrusted Medium-san with a message. I-If Abel-san can make effective use of it, then the state of battle… Petra-chan?]

Petra: [Haa~]

Otto attempted to at least make amends by explaining the usefulness of his actions, but Petra’s response was one of cold and growing dismay.

Saying “Good grief”, Petra ran her hand through her light brown hair and looked into Otto’s round eyes.

Petra: [I am not the slow-witted child you believe me to be, Otto-san!]

Otto: [No, um, yes. I think Petra is a very quick-witted girl.]

Petra: [In that case, Otto-san, I don’t think you’re as smart as you think you are.]

Otto: [That is… a tough one to respond to.]

I am not so conceited to believe that I am one of these all-seeing schemers no one else can match.

Otto’s self-assessment for why he had been able to make it this far would be the number of rules of thumb and small tricks he had, as well having excellent crisis management skills.

If they started comparing intellect, he would fall far short to the all-seeing schemers.

However, it seemed that this notion of Otto’s had missed the mark here.

Petra: [Right now, that’s not the kind of intellect I’m talking about. Otto-san, I have no intention of being the kind of helpless child you think I am.]

Otto: [――. That is.]

Petra: [I believe I can be of proper assistance. For instance…]

Saying that, Petra tightly squeezed the hand of the baffled Otto. Then her small hand gave off a white glow, which then permeated through Otto.

At that moment, the ringing in Otto’s head abated slightly.

Otto: [Is this… Yang magic?]

Petra: [It’s part of the magic that I have been learning from the Master. Even though it is just the absolute basics.]

Otto: [――――]

Petra: [Otto-san, I also know the time calls for unreasonable actions. But, that doesn’t mean taking on more suffering is an admirable thing to do.]

Otto, who had been determined to put himself in harm’s way earlier, held his breath at Petra’s words.

Petra sighed a little at the sight of Otto,

Petra: [Even though that’s the kind of thing that Otto-san would always say. I won’t tell everyone, Otto-san, but you’ve been fretting all along, haven’t you?]

Otto: [Um.]

Petra: [You have been angry the whole time. I know how you feel, but your voice and attitude are too harsh.]

Hearing that, Otto bowed his head and could not even make a sound.

As Petra had said, Otto had made some uncharacteristic misjudgments as if he got stuck in a vicious cycle of misunderstandings.

Through Petra’s small hands, he felt that he could grasp what she was trying to say.

Otto: [The admirable thing to do is not getting a nose bleed, but getting done what you need to.]

Petra: [Yes. What would you like to do, Otto-san?]

While holding the hand of the still sighing Otto, Petra lifted hers,

Petra: [If I’m present, you can do your best more efficiently. And yet, you want me to stand back because it’s something children are not supposed to see?]

Otto: [That is a bad way to put it!]

Petra: [Would you like me to back off?]

With a smirk on her face, Petra put pressure on Otto. He had succumbed to that pressure. Giving in willingly to it, Otto let out a long sigh.

Otto: [――――]

Even now, countless “voices” popped in as soon as he opened a channel. Just when he was about to be washed away in the midst of the furious momentum, Petra’s hands held onto Otto into place.

A little more, distantly, many, just so you might listen to them, or so they would have you believe.

Otto: [I will have Frederica scold both of us later.]

Petra: [Yes! I’m glad to hear Otto-san say that he would rather have a nosebleed with me than have a nosebleed alone. I don’t like nosebleeds, though!]

Otto smiled radiantly and closed his eyes at the sight of Petra, who had decided to help him.

There was no way that this clever girl could not have noticed the slight tremor in his tightly clenched hands.

It was Petra’s first time seeing war, a battlefield where her loved ones were involved, and the safety of her friends who were sent away was in jeopardy, and she wished she could do something about it.

Imagine their thoughts. ――Use the hand at my disposal when I can. Be a merchant.

Otto: [Petra-chan, please lend me your hand. ――I will control the channels on this battlefield.]

Petra: [We will control them!]

Otto chuckled at Petra’s brisk reply, “Well, then”, he replied, and opened the channels to dive back into the cradle of hell.

――So Otto returned to his nostalgic hometown, with the only difference being that he was no longer as lonely as he once was.

5 thoughts on “Arc 7, Chapter 90 – “The Cradle of Hell””

      1. We barely saw anything from her post arc 4 and because of her being a child it is not unrealistic for her to have a sudden boost in intelligence.
        I believe it was also described that she learns quickly and is a hard worker

  1. Wait, Roswaal is teaching Petra magic? I…. suppose that makes sense, actually. All of the other maids in the mansion are combat trained, so it’s likely a job requirement to be capable of defending yourself at bare minimum. Petra isn’t a natural born warrior like an Oni or lion-beastgirl, so magic is going to be her only option. Helps that she’s got the very rare Yang magic, I think Priscilla’s the only other one with that alignment.

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