Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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Digging into the ground powerfully with their bestial claws, they launched their body forward with such force that they seemed to be pulling the ground out.
Their companions, using their wits and martial prowess, were scrambling to take control of the battlefield. As to aid them, Frederica Baumann raced across the battlefield.
The beautiful, golden-haired leopard sailed through the wind, fulfilling her role as messenger through and through, being that she was the second fastest among all those roaming around the battlefield.
Against the overwhelmingly superior quality of the regular soldiers of the Imperial Army, the rebels, who were, to put it bluntly, a patchwork of people, had been able to bring the situation to a stalemate thanks to the information gathered by Otto Suwen, Abel’s management of that information, and Frederica’s ability to transmit said information in a quick manner.
Regardless of whether Frederica had been aware of her contribution or not, now armed with information most important she kicked the ground away; the impact that that intel would bring about was of particular significance.
Frederica: [――A message from the Master and my brother; there are signs of a change within the land.]
With ragged breaths, pushing her exhausted beastified body, Frederica, undoing her beastification, announced her arrival at the main camp in a hurry, not hesitating in exposing her bare skin to all.
While she had been traveling across the battlefield, Garfiel, having survived a fierce fight, had communicated those words to Frederica bearing a passionate expression; one not proud of the outcome of the battle.
Ragged and bloody, Garfiel had lived through a fight to the death, a battle that Frederica could not even begin to imagine. Her sisterly feeling of wanting to sing her brother’s praises for his struggle had to be postponed in the face of his desperate plea.
Fortunately, Roswaal, arriving with the Flying Dragon Squadron as reinforcements, had been by Garfiel’s side, and had been able to lend him proper assistance, regardless of Garfiel’s feelings about said assistance being given to him by his love rival.
???: [――. That wasn’t very specific. Any more details?]
Frederica: [I do not know, I can only say that it was a gut feeling from my brother’s Divine Protection. It is just…]
Frederica: [My brother’s hunches are usually right, regardless of whether they are favorable or not.]
Garfiel’s instincts were as good as a wild animal’s; even though he had never been wild, one could call them his wild instincts. Garfiel’s instincts did not work well in everyday life, and his unrefined behavior would often come to the fore in front of Ram, but when it came to fighting, the reliability of his instincts was unparalleled.
That was why Frederica had, without any hesitation, rushed to the main camp.
Hearing Frederica’s plea, the beautiful Serena Dracroy―― a High Countess of the Empire who had come to their side with her Flying Dragon Squadron as reinforcements, looked to be deep in thought.
Rumor had it that she was an acquaintance of Roswaal’s, who the latter had gone to request help from. Since she was Roswaal’s acquaintance, she was probably a woman of strong character. However, it was also a common characteristic of Roswaal’s acquaintances that, personality aside, no doubts would exist in regards to the excellence of their abilities.
This was evident in the fact that she was currently serving as a substitute for the absent commander-in-chief at the main camp, where the movement of the rebels, now a large army, was being controlled.
???: [Frederica-sama! Here is a cloak for you to wear!]
A red cloak was draped over Frederica’s shoulders from behind as she looked thoughtfully at Serena’s profile. It was a cloak that only Generals of the Vollachian Empire were allowed to wear; but the person who had done so with grace was not familiar with the meaning of that adornment.
Because of this, Frederica smiled, happy for the gesture of pure goodwill.
Frederica: [Thank you, Schult-sama. I apologize for my unseemly appearance.]
Schult: [No, not at all! Frederica-sama has worked hard, running around amongst so many people! I think it is very admirable!]
Pulling the cloak tighter around her, Frederica thanked Schult for his hospitality. But, it was Schult who was the one who was bowing before Frederica, his small body filled with charm.
Schult’s feelings of being left behind in the main camp and having to watch the progress of the battle with a sense of dread must have been even more painful than Frederica’s, who was at least able to fulfill the role of a messenger.
Still, it was admirable of him to give Frederica words of appreciation upon her return.
???: [Yeah, Freh is great too. Uu wanted to go fight like crazy with Mii and the others like crazy.]
Next to Schult was Utakata, whose black hair was dyed pink at the ends, nodding with her arms crossed.
Flinching at the little girl’s warlike comment while saying, “I-I wonder about that”, Frederica turned her attention back to Serena.
Serena stroked the large scar on the left side of her face, which had been engraved by a sword, and spoke,
Serena: [Signs of a change within the land of Vollachia, yes? How foolish it would be to disregard the words of one whom Roswaal values so highly.]
Serena: [While maddening, it also fits with what the man who disappeared with the Stargazer said. It was a selfish thing to say, to entrust me with a great task that only I could fulfill. It was as if…]
Frederica: [As if?]
Serena: [It was pride as if he were the Emperor himself. Even though we’re in a position where we’ve come to bring him down.]
Serena, her arms crossed, sighed with a complicated expression that was neither angry nor bemused.
She spoke of the man in the oni mask―― Abel. He had originally been in charge of commanding the rebels at large, however, he had left the main camp, entrusting Serena with that role.
In regards to that, Serena had not disclosed any details regarding the kind of conversation that had taken place at that time.
Frederica: [Before he left here, what did Abel-sama say to you, Serena-sama?]
Serena: [――. That the conclusion draws near. However…]
Serena paused, her almond-shaped eyes now filled with indignation. Her well-shaped chin indicating the battlefield, her eyes glowing with resentment, the Scorching Lady, known for her fiery presence, continued,
Serena: [The conclusion won’t be favorable to either side, the Imperial Capital’s and the rebels’; it’ll end up being undecided.]
Frederica: [It will end up being… undecided?]
Serena’s expression suggested that she would not even be able to say it, which perplexed Frederica.
What kind of situation could possibly be expected when the outcome of a battle of this magnitude taking place would end up being inconclusive? In the first place, it would be inappropriate to use words that could be taken to mean that all efforts would be in vain when addressing the person whom he had entrusted with the command of the battlefield.
Abel, who had left that unsaid, did not understand the human heart to a fatal degree; that much must be said.
In any case――,
Schult: [Does this mean that the battle has concluded? If so, does that mean that Priscilla-sama, Al-sama, and Heinkel-sama will return?]
With melancholy in his round eyes, Schult stood up on his tiptoes and looked out over the battlefield.
The boy’s eyes were drawn to a corner of the increasingly harsh battlefield―― where the red sky and the white sky, two battlefields that even Frederica was unable to traverse, laid.
Merely approaching them instilled a feeling of dread in her beastly instincts, instilled a certainty that her body would not be able to withstand them.
For that reason, Frederica did not feel herself capable of speaking words of comfort so readily.
What had been happening under those skies was surely a phenomenon that transcended Frederica’s imagination. She felt ashamed, lowering the corners of her eyes.
Utakata: [Shuu, don’t worry. Puu and Yor are both strong. They’re as strong as Mii and Taa.]
Utakata: [Uu-chan is fine.]
Puffing out her chest, Utakata stroked Schult’s pink curly-haired head with violence, utilizing her hand.
It was a childish and baseless assertion, but it had resonated with Schult because Utakata had not hesitated in speaking it. Once Schult nodded his head, Frederica’s lips parted slightly.
Once again, turning to face Serena,
Frederica: [What are you going to do, Serena-sama? If you choose to not abandon my brother’s intuition, then you need to deal with what Abel-sama said…]
Serena: [I’m in a quandary. Needless to say, there’s no time for hesitation. ――Behold.]
Serena once again cocked her chin, directing Frederica to look toward the battlefield, to which the latter responded with a “Huh?”. With her emerald-green eyes, Frederica witnessed, even from afar, a change in the battlefield―― a rampaging giant castle wall shaped like a human, one of the Nine Divine Generals, had turned their back, rushing toward the Imperial Capital.
Frederica: [Is that… headed towards the Crystal Palace?]
Serena: [The more things go on, the more they go as he says, hm? ――Though, I don’t know the truth of your brother’s statement that Vollachia will become the enemy.]
At the reckless action of the Steelman, Moguro Hagane, Serena frowned with a face that seemed to have an idea of what was going on.
Serena: [Tell everyone. ――As soon as there is anything abnormal at the Crystal Palace, cease all the fighting. To prepare for things to become inconclusive, where this battle, the blood spilled, and lives lost were all in vain.]
――With a shrill sound, the Blue Dragon Sword, an axe, and a barbarian sword struck each other in midair, sending off sparks.
All of those were steel, steel wielded without mercy for the purpose of reaping the life of their opponent.
One person’s senses had been growing duller, but once something was directed at them once more, feelings of dread welled up from within their skin, from within their bones, due to their life being threatened.
They had never thought of themselves as mentally fragile. Rather, they had always believed that, compared to other children of their age, they had been blessed with superior courage, combined with the experience of having survived scenes of carnage.
However, upon experiencing the sizzling pain of being scorching by a blast on their skin, upon feeling as if their lungs had contracted due to the tension of the moment, causing them to suffocate, it seemed like the foundation of that trust directed at oneself was wavering.
The most important reason for that feeling was――,
Even amidst that fierce battle, a contemptuous gaze would be directed toward them.
The man’s gaze was the biggest factor that increased Petra’s feeling of suffocation; it was as if it was saying he had not forgotten about her and holding a knife against her.
The man was an Imperial Soldier with a bandana wrapped around his head, wielding an axe.
This person, whose name she and her companions did not know, was the true identity of the formidable foe that was currently tormenting Petra and her comrades.
As long as one lived, death would always be adjacent.
Regardless of the situation, circumstances could change in the blink of an eye. Petra ground her teeth together with force, as the man in front of her seemed to be an example of that absurdity.
Kneeling on the ground, Otto struggled to breathe. Having taken the brunt of the blast from the magic stone used for the emergency evacuation, his fatigue was quite high.
That was why Petra could never afford to be weak on the battlefield, where both the strong and the weak alike put their lives on the line.
Medium: [Haaah! Al-chin!]
Al: [Yeah, Lil’ Miss Medium.]
The one person with the high-pitched voice, a voice unsuitable for this blood-scented battlefield, and the one person with the dispirited voice worked together, exchanging sword blows with the one person possessor of a pitch-black murderous intent.
Cooperating with Medium, who used her small body to the fullest, Al waged battle with the Imperial Soldier. Their fighting ability was not enough to overwhelm their enemy however; and so, their fierce bout continued.
No offence to Al being who he was, but Petra was disappointed with him as a reinforcement.
Petra: [If only it were someone like Garf-san or Emily…]
Not only were they reliable allies, to put it plainly, but they would surely have overwhelmed their opponent as far as fighting ability went.
Al’s ability, being unlike theirs, was not very high in Petra’s estimation. Even though he was better than non-combatants like Petra and Otto, she felt that he was weaker than any of the People of Shudraq.
However, in the sense of possessing not-so-outstanding strength, the same was true of their opponent, the Imperial Soldier.
Without a doubt, that Imperial Soldier was weak compared to Emilia, Garfiel, and the Nine Divine Generals of the Empire. Even still, Petra was terrified of him.
Overwhelming magic would not be needed to shoo away a bug that had perched itself on a flower. It could be brushed off with a finger or even with a bit of water. Thoughts of the sort were apparent in the attitude of this Imperial Soldier.
On this battlefield, Petra and the rest of her group were nothing more than hard-working little bugs――.
Soldier: [――You’re a pain in the ass, man.]
Suddenly, the man’s voice slipped into the cowering Petra’s ears.
For a moment, her shoulders jumped. But, the one who the other person was calling out to was not Petra nor was it Otto, the man was calling out towards the pair he was crossing weapons with, which was also the direction Al was in.
Al: [Hah! Ngha! Take this!]
The man swung the axe in his hand, aiming it at Al’s thick neck. However, the moment the Blue Dragon Sword in the one-armed Al’s possession met it, the man immediately turned himself around, delivering two, then three heavy attacks in quick succession.
By means of some bizarrely risky slights of hand, Al managed to parry the barrage of blows.
Petra was not at all at ease, even letting out a couple of little screams of “Kyah!” and “Yikes!” as she watched.
Otto: [I would like to support Al-san somehow, but…]
Otto seemed be similarly anxious, there had been more impatience than fatigue in his voice.
There was clearly a sense of urgency in the battle waged by Al, who had made his entrance with much fanfare; although he was fortunate to have been able to survive up until now, there had been five times where one wrong step could have resulted in his death.
The possible existence of a sixth time, to Petra, seemed to have some terrible odds.
Soldier: [You’re still a pain in the ass.]
However, it seemed that the opinion of the Imperial Soldier was slightly different from that of Petra and her comrades.
The man, who continued to shrug off the attacks, even though it was by the skin of his teeth, took a large step backward, whereupon he raised his axe-less hand, casually waving it in the direction of Al and Medium.
Immediately after, a fireball burst to life in the air, rushing furiously toward them, incinerating the sky.
She did not understand why, but a Spirit was being forced to obey in an unjust way.
Al and Medium ran to try and escape the fireball approaching them, in great troubles. The fireball missed the two of them, going onto the trees in the surroundings, then spreading to the grass on the ground, causing a swell of flames.
Otto: [This is bad… Hk.]
Petra understood what Otto had just muttered.
From what she saw, the flames brought about by the fireball did not burn Al and the others, instead consuming their surroundings. The blaze surrounded Petra and everyone facing the Imperial Soldier, blocking any escape.
The rising fire created a circle, trapping them.
The Imperial Soldier could have possibly been aiming to block their escape route, even in case he had missed. But, that situation had Petra’s group grinding their teeth in frustration. Their opponent tilted his head.
Soldier: [I don’t like this.]
To that quiet, totally inappropriate remark, Al raised a “Huh?”.
His Blue Dragon Sword in hand, he pointed to their surroundings, now in flames,
Al: [After all this, what are you saying? Cherish what you got, your resources. How hard do you think plants gotta work to make oxygen, so that humans can take a deep breath and be aight…]
Soldier: [I should’ve killed you about six times so far, but I haven’t been able to kill you even once. Even when I’ve pushed you into spots you shouldn’t be able to dodge out of. It’s disgusting.]
Al: [I can’t believe you just said that. Man, today’s a real pain.]
Al’s response was met by the man shrugging and growing even more distrustful of him.
Not knowing the limit of Al’s strength, the Imperial Soldier seemed to be quite confused. To be honest, it was very disgusting to agree with that person, but Petra had the same doubts about Al.
Al looked like he was going to die, but he still did not.
He was meeting the attacks of the Imperial Soldier, but managed to avoid fatal wounds with his high-risk movements. ――He had surely avoided fatal wounds, and fatal wounds only.
But it did not give off the feeling that he was hiding his capabilities. It was all inconsistent.
That was why the Imperial Soldier could not get a decisive blow to cut his losses, as well.
Soldier: [Even if you’re on the same level as I am, I get the feeling you’ve got no training at all and that you’re just winging this. In that sense, that guy over there is probably more in my class.]
Otto: […Do you mean me? If so, I would like to raise an objection on my honor.]
Medium: [That’s right! Your evil character is different! You’re more dangerous, and sneakier!]
Otto: [Even though you are on my side, you still stab me in the back.]
Otto, having unexpectedly been pulled into the discussion, gave a wry smile.
His demeanor made Petra somewhat frustrated, but that quickly faded.
Otto glanced and winked at Petra. She thought about it, sensing something other than bitterness in his expression; he was plotting something.
Without saying a word, he wanted Petra to try to guess.
Soldier: [This is taking too long.]
Just after Petra had surmised this, the Imperial Soldier, with a cold voice, snapped his fingers.
Right after that, about ten fireballs, each smaller than before, were created all at once. They scattered in all directions at unreadable speed, which ignited not Petra and the others, but the trees and ground surrounding them.
He did that to expand the formation of flames encircling them, magnifying it with more flames and black smoke――,
Medium: [Hothothothot! It’s burning, it’s burning!]
Al: [Calm down, lil’ missy! Come here before your braids burn!]
Surrounded by flames, a fiery Medium jumped up and down, holding her long braids. She crossed the line of flames, jumped to Al’s side, and looked back at him with tears in her eyes.
Gripping her barbarian sword tightly again, she glared at the person who had done this to her――,
Al: [Is this for real…?]
Medium’s surprise was matched by Al’s exasperation.
The cause of their reaction was the disappearance of the Imperial Soldier who had created this spectacle of flames.
The figure of the Imperial Soldier had vanished amidst the flames and black smoke. Had he retreated to hide from the flames, or was he simply waiting for them to slowly burn to death?
Medium: [He’s totally gone! We gotta get out of here before we burn, too!]
Al’s helmet-covered vision swept around, searching for the figure of the man who had disappeared into the flames. All the while, he held his Blue Dragon Sword against his own neck in a strange stance, his eyes looking for the Imperial Soldier.
Beside him, Medium also looked around a bit, impatient with the enemy she could not find, pleading for them to escape the growing fire.
It was certainly natural for a person to give priority to getting away from a dangerous place, rather than obsessing over the man’s whereabouts; thus avoiding putting carriage before ground dragon.
His body supported by Petra, Otto placed a tad more strength into the hand of his that was placed on the former’s, squeezing it. And that tight grip was taken as a silent instruction by Petra.
Petra vehemently agreed with his wariness; they should not let their guard down.
Furthermore, Petra put her other hand on top of Otto’s hand――,
Otto: [――Thank you, Petra-chan.]
Immediately after uttering these words of gratitude, Otto shifted in place and fell onto his back. ――A moment later, an axe, cleaving the air sideways, narrowly missed him.
The killing intent of the Imperial Soldier, approaching covertly amidst the smoke emanating from the spreading fire of the camp, struck, and missed.
The man, having missed in that moment of truth, widened his eyes in amazement ever-so-slightly. But, as if quickly regaining his composure, the man attempted to pull back the axe he had just swung――
Petra, holding up five fingers, released from all of them a low-power Jiwald that caught the Imperial Soldier in the face, drawing an arc; one of the five rays had seared their opponent’s right eye.
Petra’s attack had aimed to suppress the enemy, sacrificing pure power. It had achieved its goal in splendid fashion, the man who’d had his eye burnt crying out in agony and recoiling.
Then, a spinning figure leapt at him from above.
Medium: [Let’s gooo!]
Beyond the flames, Al hunched over, and from his back, using it as a springboard, Medium leapt.
Spinning vertically, Medium flashed the barbarian sword tightly gripped by both her hands, driving it into the Imperial Soldier, his posture shot, without relent.
A hard sound echoed, and a shade of vermilion different from that of the burning flames mixed with the latter.
The sound that had echoed was not the sound of a skull being split by the barbarian sword. Raising her head, Petra took a glance, and came to see that the man had, by his own volition, met the swing of the barbarian sword with his forehead.
That hard sound had probably been from armor that he had placed under his bandana. That was how he had taken Medium’s blow. Of course, he was not completely unscathed.
Swinging his axe with vigor, his shaking free hand on his forehead, awkwardly he dodged the follow-ups, stepping back, and further back, and further back――,
A bandana stained with blood fell from the man’s head. Even with the armored bandana there, the man’s forehead had been cut open, the bleeding from his split forehead did not seem like it could be stopped.
The man, bleeding profusely, glared towards Otto and Petra.
The look in his eyes seemed to be asking how his surprise attack had been detected――,
Otto: [――I will not tell you. I am not your parent, nor am I your brother.]
Even though Otto was lying on the ground, he still spoke up as if he were proud of his victory.
In response, the Imperial Soldier clicked his tongue. He clicked his tongue, wiped the blood from his forehead with his palm, and,
Medium: [Ah! Wait! It’d be so unfair if you just run away!]
He did not choose to be reckless, and rush at Otto.
With his right eye closed, occluded by heat and blood, the Imperial Soldier disappeared amid the flames. Having become unable to be seen once more, Petra was wary of yet another surprise attack.
Al: [He ain’t coming back… He doesn’t seem desperate enough to continue fighting with such a disadvantage.]
Petra: [Ummm, I disagree. Wasn’t it like we were the only ones who were desperate?]
Al: [I know how you feel, Lil’ Miss. But it’s the other side that ran away without leaving any final words. We win, we win. ――It’s our wiiiiiiiin!]
Medium: [We wiiin!]
Facing the direction the Imperial Soldier had just disappeared into, Al and Medium shouted a victory cry.
Petra’s heart was lightened a little by the two of them. Although, she was not sure if their cheering would actually pester that Imperial Soldier.
In any case――,
Petra: [In the end, how did you know how to read that man’s moves? It was a gamble, wasn’t it?]
Otto: [It was not my doing, it was thanks to you, Petra-chan.]
With Al, who had sheathed his Blue Dragon Sword, lending him a helping hand, Otto was helped up, and spoke of Petra. However, she was unable to take credit for everything.
Otto: [In the first place, I was his target, so I knew that the last move would be aimed at me. It was the sound of footsteps that told me the time and direction of the attack.]
Petra: [Otto-san’s channel let him hear from the little ones under the ground… Correct?]
Otto: [Correct answer.]
With her guess proved right by Otto, Petra put her hands together in front of her chest.
From the start, the reason Otto had been targeted by the enemy was due to his use of the Divine Protection of the Soul of Language to maintain control of the entire battlefield. However, they had no idea how that Imperial Soldier had appeared while avoiding Otto’s Divine Protection, as he could grasp the entire situation by hearing the voices of animals and insects.
To perceive such an opponent, the same method as before was not enough.
Petra: [So, that’s why the little ones under the ground… They were useless as Otto-san said, since they don’t have eyes to see what’s going on outside.]
Otto: [I just wish I had chosen my words a little more carefully…! Anyway, I took a listen to the animals and insects in the ground and determined where he was by the sound of his footsteps. It was a bit hit-or-miss, but Petra-chan was able to help me pick up the voices with her Yang Magic.]
Petra: [Otto-san, you had a bad look on your face when giving me the signal.]
What Otto had requested from Petra, back when he had gripped her hand tightly, had been the support of Yang Magic.
With her help, Otto had employed his Divine Protection, and thus, he had guessed his opponent’s position from the sound of his footsteps, avoiding the latter’s final ambush and conversely, they had inflicted a painful blow on their opponent, forcing him to retreat.
Otto: [――. To tell you the truth, I wanted to make him unable to continue fighting.]
Petra: [I agree. He wasn’t strong, he was just good at killing. More importantly…]
Medium: [Hothothot! We’ve gotta get out of here fast, or we’re gonna get cooked!]
Having a dangerous enemy retreat did not necessarily erase the situation of having their environs on fire.
Hearing Medium’s appeal, Al lent his shoulder to Otto and said, “Yeah, you’re right”. Petra, along with Medium, led them along, looking for spots where the effects of the flames were less severe.
And so, the group attempted to leave before the flames engulfed them――,
Otto: [Let us get out of here as soon as possible. There is now a reason to return to the main camp.]
Al: […The way you just put it doesn’t sound like the prelude to a heroic tale in which you brag about surviving a dangerous opponent.]
Otto: [Yes, it is bad news. Things are getting very time-sensitive… Earlier, I was trying to listen for footsteps, and this is just a secondary piece of information that I happened to hear.]
It was an unpleasant preface, one spoken just as one hardship was about to be over.
Chased by the heat of the flames, but still unable to overlook his statement, Petra turned to see a grim-faced Otto behind her―― or rather, he was looking out over the entire battlefield.
Otto: [I got indications that the whole battlefield is going to become even more dangerous due to something completely different from the Dragon and the burning sky and whatnot. In fact, it is right in front of our eyes.]
By complete coincidence, at the exact same time that his bro detected it through the Divine Protection of Earth Spirits, Otto Suwen had obtained the same information through the Divine Protection of the Soul of Language; he now voiced it.
???: [――I have heard that there is a so-called Great Disaster drawing near which will endanger the Vollachian Empire. As I am a General First-Class of the Empire! As I am a General that still survives though living in disgrace! No matter what it takes! I shall not die without being of service to His Excellency the Emperor!]
Being thus informed by the large man that had been chained to a wall underground―― the person that had introduced himself as Goz Ralfon, Rem understood that problems aside from the rebellion would soon shake the Imperial Capital.
Although Goz had been quite weak after having been given only one meal every two days, after Rem had healed him as a mere stop-gap measure through her magic, he had become surprisingly energetic, his vitality regained.
She had believed the majority of that effect to have been brought by, most likely, due to his own pre-established notions.
Goz: [Girl, your treatment has saved my life! Normally, I would have liked to invite you to my home as to introduce my savior to my wife and children, but I must now head to His Excellency’s side! I shall repay you for this!!]
Rem: [Ah, umm, yes.]
Goz: [If possible, leave this place and join up with the regular army! General First-Class Moguro Hagane or General Second-Class Kafma Irulux shall do you no harm! Avoid the other Generals of the First-Class! Your words will not get through to them!]
Having been released from his chains, Goz thus declared in an extremely loud voice. He leapt out of the basement with tremendous speed and, after rebuking the soldiers guarding the mansion, ordered them to accompany him to the Crystal Palace, which was visible from a distance.
The opinions of the guards were divided in two in regards to that.
It seemed that even the mansion’s soldiers were split between those who knew of Goz’s existence and those who did not. Those who had been kept in the dark were not amused, while those to whom the information had been disclosed felt the deep trust placed in them by Berstetz.
Goz: [I see. You lot will stand in my way, then?]
With nothing to wear and his bare upper body covered with an armor of muscle, Goz fixed his eyes on the guards who had drawn their weapons, blocking his path.
Goz was unarmed, and the time he had spent in confinement was not limited to merely one or two days. He was far from being in perfect condition. However, the guards had opposed him not because they stood a chance of winning or whatever.
Goz: [Very well. Just as I am loyal to His Excellency the Emperor, you lot are loyal to the Prime Minister. I shall certainly see that honor through to the very end!!]
The overwhelming aura emanating from him was clear, even as he looked at the soldiers who opposed him.
Goz’s bare-knuckle fighting style in the one-sided battle that followed, too, was clear.
There was a swing of one of his huge fists, and in one blow, several guards were sent flying.
The slight advantage in numbers had not even made a difference. They had been instantly, and overwhelmingly, suppressed.
Rem: [I’d heard his name from Abel-san as one of the Nine Divine Generals, but…]
Actually, the only ones of the Nine Divine Generals that Rem had seen in person were Arakiya and Madelyn, back at the Fortress City of Guaral.
Even when compared to both of them, Goz’s presence would not be outdone.
He might have been at a disadvantage at this moment, but only in what could be accounted for in weapons, equipment, and exhaustion.
Goz: [You have fought well! That is why you are Sword Wolves of the Empire!!]
Thrusting his arms up in the air, standing right in the middle of the battered soldiers, Goz passionately uttered his praise.
If she was not mistaken, she had heard that he was the person who had risked his life, sacrificing himself so that the true Emperor, Abel, could escape. However, he was so lively that it seemed like a lie that he had been exhausted from having been tied up.
In the first place, it was unclear why he had been tied up in the basement of the mansion.
Goz: [Once again, Prime Minister Berstetz Fondalfon! I shall not let things go according to your plans! You too, General First-Class Chisha! Uooooooh――!!]
Before they could discuss things in detail, Goz boldly dashed out of the main gate of Berstetz’s mansion, with the guards on his side in tow.
Overwhelmed by the valor of the Lion Knight, Rem could do nothing but watch his back as he left.
Rem: [There’s no need for me at that palace.]
In an unexpected turn of events, the mansion’s soldiers were now gone; no longer were there any obstacles before Rem.
Rem checked to see if the soldiers who had been struck down by Goz were alive or dead. After applying only minimal treatment to those who had been seriously wounded, utilizing one of the long swords as a cane, she moved around the mansion, heading to a room which she had entered many times.
Rem: [Katya-san, it’s me, it’s Rem. Please come out.]
Katya: […I absolutely don’t want to come out. W-what was that loud voice just now?]
Rem: [I understand how you feel. But the person with the loud voice has already left. I think we should talk about what we’re going to do from here on out.]
Katya: [What we’re going to do…]
Rem’s voice urged Katya, who did not allow Rem to see her, to make a decision through the door to her room.
At present, Goz’s bravery, for better or worse, had wiped out the mansion’s soldiers, so the urgency to leave the mansion had diminished.
Rem: [The Great Disaster…]
That was the reason as to why Goz hastened to meet the Emperor, who was said to be present at the Crystal Palace.
To be precise, the main justification for Goz heading to the Crystal Palace was to confront the impostor posing as the Emperor. Nevertheless, it was true that his purpose was to prevent that mysterious disaster.
In any case, Goz had advised her against sticking around.
If that was the case――,
Katya: [――T-there’s no reason for me to leave here, after all. I-I’m a hostage.]
Rem: [There are no more guards left to detain us. There isn’t a reason for us to continue being held hostage any longer.]
Katya: [B-but still…]
Rem: [――I understand. Please, at least open the door. I’d like to check if you are safe.]
Though Rem was at a loss, Katya, who had been undaunted by her insistence, finally folded.
After a few moments of silence after that final request from Rem, the wheels of her wheelchair were heard moving, and the door was unlocked. And so, the door to the room opened,
Rem: [Excuse me. Let’s go.]
Katya: [Huh!? Ah, hey, wait!]
Rem: [I’m sorry. Me just wanting to check if you were safe was a lie.]
After entering the room, Rem found Katya by the door, and then, quickly walking behind her, she pushed her wheelchair out of the room.
A panicked Katya attempted to resist, but she was powerless to stop the wheels, unable to resist Rem’s forceful action; and like that, she was pushed along.
Katya: [Wait! I have someone I have to wait for here…]
Rem: [I understand that perfectly well. But waiting here isn’t safe. Even if we’re to wait for your fiancé, let’s at least go somewhere safe.]
Katya: [Safe? A place safer in the Imperial Capital than this place――]
Doesn’t exist, or so was Katya probably going to say next.
But Katya, who was in the middle of speaking while twisting her head left and right to glare at Rem behind her, abruptly widened her eyes round, staring towards the sky.
Prompted by Katya’s reaction, Rem gazed upwards, only to lay eyes upon a large, a titanic shadow overhead, as they walked down the hallway of the mansion.
――A colossal castle wall in the shape of a human straddled the mansion, stepping toward the center of the Imperial Capital.
In comparison to Goz’s rampage, or even in comparison to any of the attacks perpetrated by the rebels trying to breach the Imperial Capital, seeing a giant foot stomping and bounding through the city, passing close by them, had been heaps more shocking.
Feeling the wheels of Katya’s wheelchair lifting off the ground due to the tremors of the earth and the impact of the feet, Rem and Katya looked at each other in alarm, and,
Katya: [I-it doesn’t seem like this is a safe place, for sure…]
Rem: [Yes. Let’s hurry.]
As expected, the giant step just now was one of the few things that were an exception to the norm amidst this whole uproar, but it would be foolish for Rem to go out of her way to say that and incur Katya’s displeasure.
With Katya now meek and obedient, Rem who was pushing her wheelchair, headed for,
Katya: [Your companion is still recovering, isn’t he? What are you going to do?]
Rem: [He really shouldn’t be moving around too much. However, I can’t say that…]
Responding to Katya’s words with that, the two reached the room Rem had intended to reach.
Inside this room was Flop O’Connell, who had been brought to the mansion alongside Rem. He had not fully recovered from his serious wounds, and he was still under house arrest.
As per her answer to Katya, he should preferably be left to rest if at all possible, but――,
Rem: [Flop-san, it’s me. May I come in?]
???: [Mhm, is that Wife-san!? I’ll open the door now.]
She received a response immediately after she had knocked on the door, and subsequently, the door opened. The seemingly near-instantaneous reaction from the door made Rem and Katya’s eyes go round; it was no wonder, however, as Flop had apparently been lurking by the door, tightly holding a small hand mirror.
Rem: [Um, Flop-san, what’s with the mirror?]
Flop: [Weeell, to tell you the truth, it was kinda meant to be a weapon. You heard a very loud voice earlier, didn’t you? The city’s getting noisy, so I thought someone hostile might come barging in.]
Flop answered as he twirled the hand mirror, reminding Rem and Katya that they were there as prisoners of war and hostages, so there had been no tools in their rooms that could be employed as weapons.
However, a mirror as a countermeasure was not ideal.
Rem: […You mean, you can fight using that mirror?]
Flop: [Unfortunately, this is about all there was in this room. But I’ve never fought with a mirror before, so maybe I have a dormant talent for it! What do you think, Wife-san?]
Rem: [Sure, why not. I’d like to stop talking about unnecessary things and do what’s necessary, however.]
Flop responded to Katya’s scornful eyes in his usual tone of voice; it was reassuring that he was behaving as he normally did, but at the same time, Rem wanted to put this aside for a while, as they were in such a dire situation.
Rem: [This is Katya-san. I met her at this mansion.]
Flop: [I’m Flop O’Connell. You must be the friend of Wife-san’s that I heard so much about.]
Katya: […I-I don’t remember becoming friends with this girl, but…]
Flop: [If that’s the case, then you should prepare yourself to become friends with her. Making good friends is the key to a better life. Even if it isn’t, there’s nothing wrong with having a lot of friends.]
Katya: [I’m… probably not as good at that as you are…]
As per Rem’s expectations, Flop’s personality was one that Katya was not very comfortable with. Nevertheless, Flop’s disposition was such that he did not mind if Katya was frank with him, so it would be the best situation if Katya was just bitter about it.
Rem: [Flop-san, the situation in the Imperial Capital right now is…]
Flop: [I’ve more-or-less understood it. Madelyn-kun came to meet me right before she left for the battle.]
Rem: […Madelyn-san, came to meet you?]
It was an unexpected personal connection; she knew that Madelyn had been visiting Flop, but she had never expected that they would become friends, even going so far as for her to come to greet him before going off to battle.
However, if one of the Nine Divine Generals had spoken to him directly, it was even possible that Flop would know more about the situation going on outside than Rem.
Rem: [Well then, that makes the conversation faster. The guards of the mansion are already gone, so we should be able to stay or escape at our leisure, but… I say we should escape.]
Flop: [I wonder if that has anything to do with the loud noises and the terrible tremors from just now?]
Rem: [Yes. But it’s not just that. Something even worse could happen.]
Katya: [W-worse than that! A-are you kidding me…?]
Rem answered Flop with concern, and upon hearing that, Katya turned pale, shaking.
All of that had not been about scaring Katya into obedience, but rather about a real, though unconfirmed, possibility of danger. On the other hand, it was no more than “something could happen”, so it did not provide any assurance off of which they could act.
Flop: [Still, I think we should leave this place, Wife-san.]
With that question from Flop, Rem nodded without hesitation.
Despite the fact that they were under house arrest, life in the mansion was not so uncomfortable. Although they were not allowed to leave the premises, they were allowed to go to each other’s rooms, Flop’s wounded body was being taken care of, Rem had been able to meet Katya, and there was no reason for any great anger or hatred toward Berstetz, who was supposedly their enemy.
As for the reason for Berstetz’s rebellion, Rem had a suspicion that Abel, or rather, Vincent, was the one at fault all the more.
Nevertheless, leaving such circumstances aside, Rem’s emotions were probably the most decisive reason as to why she wanted to leave the mansion.
Staying in captivity like this would worry a number of people who had shown kindness towards Rem.
That was the reason as to why she needed to get out of such an unjust and dishonest situation as soon as she possibly could.
Flop: [Okay, got you. I have no objection either. Wife-san and Miss Katya, let’s get going.]
Rem: [Are you sure?]
Flop: [Even if I stay, there’s not much that I can do other than lie in bed. I’m still a peddler, so I have to be somewhat physically active or I won’t feel at ease.]
As to keep Rem from getting upset, Flop made a clenched fist as he smiled. Then, he interjected with a “Besides”,
Flop: [Actually, I’ve been entrusted with a message. If I accidentally overslept and missed the opportunity to tell it, I wouldn’t be able to face the world, or my sister, for that matter.]
Rem: [A message… who is it from?]
Flop: [From a Sword Wolf of the Empire who has taken on the stigma of a traitor himself, and who, in my personal opinion, has taken a great gamble.]
Flop winked, and Rem looked daunted at his reply.
Apparently, it was not the person that Rem had in mind, but it was nice to know that Flop would be coming along.
Rem: [As you can see, it’ll be no small feat to push Katya-san’s wheelchair while carrying Flop-san on my back, so…]
Katya: [You’re asking me what to do, but you have no intention of letting me do it, do you!]
Rem: [As long as all of you aren’t in danger, I’d be happy to leave you alone…]
As long as it remained unsafe to take them out by force, they were left with no other choice but to do so. As expected, Rem did not intend to save them beyond the extent of her ability, but if she could do so, then she had no choice.
She would do so, even if she had to manipulate their feelings. ――Even while knowing that it would not shine well upon her.
For a moment, Rem felt like she was doing the same thing as she had done to the hand that had been extended toward her, and her heart fluttered due to her complex feelings on the matter.
Quickly shaking off that feeling, Rem nodded to Katya and Flop with a “Well then”,
Rem: [Let’s be careful when leaving the mansion. If we encounter someone, be cautious. We don’t know the people who are coming into the Imperial Capital, either.]
Katya: [Don’t say such scary things… Aren’t you injured? Can you even go?]
Flop: [Ha-ha-ha, thanks for your concern. Fortunately, Wife-san has been casting her healing magic on me devotedly. The gouged flesh is filling in nicely, and I think my blood’s starting to replenished. As for my physical condition, I guess I’ll just have to ask you to give me a shout when running is needed.]
Rem: [I’ll take that into consideration. My legs aren’t in perfect shape, and Katya-san’s in a wheelchair.]
Once again, she realized that each of the three gathered here were physically impaired. Still, it was crucial for them to join forces, as losing any of them would be unacceptable.
And so, with much enthusiasm,
Flop: [By the way, Wife-san, what about all the other people who are being held prisoner besides us?]
Rem: […That eluded my mind.]
Flop pointed that out, taking the wind out of her sails, prompting Rem to put a hand to her forehead.
There was a separate building in the mansion, and in that building were held captives other than Rem’s group―― among them, there were several people who claimed to be the black-haired Crown Prince, the illegitimate son of the Emperor of Vollachia.
Most of them had apparently been used as a justification to raise an insurrection against the Emperor. However, this was not a problem unrelated to Berstetz, who had rebelled over the issue of the Emperor’s heir. So, they were being taken as prisoners of war whenever possible and kept to ascertain whether they were truly the Emperor’s child or not.
Rem: [They can’t be said to be either our enemies or our allies, so I want to ignore them, frankly.]
Currently, setting Katya aside, Rem and Flop’s situation was a very complicated and difficult one.
Even though she had no strong cause or claim, she had reluctantly joined the rebels led by Abel. However, she had been separated from that group, and she was not acquainted with the group of “Crown Princes” being kept captive.
Rem and her group had no idea if they were friend or foe, and their attitude towards them was also unknown.
That was why, her real opinion was as she had just stated.
However, leaving them in the locked detached building while Rem’s group left the mansion to escape from the looming, incomprehensible Great Disaster also brought Rem distress.
Even if saving all of them was a difficult deed, she wished to diminish casualties as much as possible.
That was why the guards who had been beaten down by Goz had been given the minimal amount of treatment.
Katya: […Why don’t we just find the key and place it where they can retrieve it themselves?]
Katya: [I-I don’t know. I don’t know, but if it’s dangerous, I don’t want to get involved. But I can’t help but hesitate. Is that strange!?]
Rem: [No, no, it’s not strange. Right?]
Seeing that Rem was worried, Katya offered a compromise.
Rem only had one of two options in mind; to help, or not to help. She felt saved by Katya’s words.
As the latter had stated, it would be fine to locate the key to the detached building, making sure that the captives had only a little trouble obtaining it. That would ensure the captives’ safety along with her own peace of mind.
Flop: [Seems like you’ve got everything covered.]
With Rem’s and Katya’s conversation coming to a close, Flop nodded in satisfaction.
Meanwhile, he had been braiding some of his own long blond hair, before then gently placing his hand on the door. As he pushed it open,
Flop: [Well, for now, we need to find where the key to the detached building is… Let’s wait a sec.]
Flop, who was about to go through the door, closed it while withdrawing his earlier statement. That sudden action of his caused Rem and Katya’s eyes to widen, astonished.
However, Flop put his finger to his lips and said, “Be quiet”. Then, he opened the door slightly, as to peer outside. Standing beside Flop, Rem also looked out.
Katya: [H-hey, what is it? I don’t have a good feeling about your reaction at all…!]
Once Rem found out why Flop had closed the door, her breath hitched; frightening due to the signs the two gave off, Katya’s voice quivered.
But Rem was unable to find words to relieve Katya’s anxiety right there and then.
That was because, for Rem and Flop both, it was a scene that was outside the realm of their imaginations.
In the courtyard of Berstetz’s mansion, figures other than the soldiers were standing there.
Flop: […Somehow, they look sickly pale, don’t they? Maybe they aren’t getting enough sleep, I wonder.]
The looks of the figures, enveloped in a bloodthirsty aura, were so, so strange, that Flop’s joke had come out as dry.
Donning pale complexions with no signs of life, cracks running across their visible skin―― a group of people, bearing features that could be recognized at a glance as bizarre, were occupying the mansion of the Imperial Prime Minister.
Flop: […At a glance, they all appeared to be Imperial Soldiers, didn’t they?]
Shutting the door without a noise, Flop muttered, holding his breath together with Rem and Katya.
In frankness, the scene they had put their eyes on had been so alien that Rem, bereft of the composure to do as much as to pay attention to the details, was unable to affirm Flop’s irresponsible claim.
It was just that――,
Katya: [T-there are creepy people entering the mansion…? Doesn’t that mean someone from the rebel army is trying to kill His Excellency the Emperor?]
Rem: [They seem like they’d be impossible to communicate with, and they also gave off a different air. It wasn’t like they were angry or overexcited or anything like that, rather…]
Flop: [It’s like they’re creatures that aren’t human, but take human form. I also got the feeling that it’d be difficult to gain an understanding by talking to them. It feels like my wounds are spiking with pain, that’s a bad omen.]
Whether she wanted to or not, Rem agreed with Flop’s opinion.
As she had not checked what lay outside, Katya had not seen or understood the people the other two were referring to, but she surely would have been shaken had she looked.
Looking at her friend, who she felt had quite a different sense of logic, Rem had a sudden brainwave.
Rem: [Don’t tell me, that’s the Great Disaster…?]
She had only heard of the expression “Great Disaster” from Goz, but she supposed it was something nefarious regardless of its exact nature. Having heard about it being imminent, and having laid eyes on the beings outside, she could not help but believe there was a connection between the two.
Moreover, this was just Rem’s intuition as a practitioner of healing magic, but,
Rem: [It didn’t feel like there was life in them. It was as if…]
Katya: [Y-you’re not going to say they’re dead people, right? Calling them something like Hollows, is ridiculous…] 
Flop: [Though, it may be too soon to laugh that off still. The ones outside took the appearance of Imperial Soldiers, and come to think of it, their armor, as well as their faces and napes, seemed to be somewhat tattered. Perhaps there’s a chance they still bear the wounds they received in life… What do you think?]
Katya: [What do I think? I have no idea!]
Flop’s expression, true to his nature, caused Katya to lose her head and dart her eyes about in bewilderment.
But the fact that she was rejecting it vehemently served as undeniable proof that she, too, had perceived that something abnormal was happening from Rem and Flop’s behavior.
Even worse than that was――,
Small wails of pain were heard in succession, wails from the guards outside who had been put to sleep―― due to having been beaten down by Goz. Rem had deferred their treatment for later, yet they now spilled their death cries.
In frankness though, it was not as if she had ascertained it with her own eyes.
Flop: […Seems it’s going to be hard to talk and reach a mutual understanding with them.]
Flop’s words, his cheeks tightening greatly, told of the undeniable ultimate fate of the soldiers.
Those enigmatic forces, their faces pallid, had bestowed the collapsed soldiers with the coup de grace. There had been zero margin for discussion. ――That Rem, and everyone else, would be an exception to this rule, was difficult to envision.
Had she at least put the soldiers in some room, would it have been different?
Had they, in their unconscious and defenseless state, been moved to a safe place, their arbitrary demise could have been avoided. That being the case, the onus for their deaths would lie with Rem. She had not done everything possible.
Katya: [――Hk, is this the time to be thinking about that!]
Katya: [If you get depressed now, it won’t just be those three who die. I-I don’t want… anything like that…!]
As Rem cast her face downwards in chagrin, it was seized by both of Katya’s hands, one hand on each cheek, and the former’s head was raised by force. A teary-eyed Katya snapped at Rem as to reproach her, attempting to obliterate Rem’s fainthearted disposition.
Katya’s momentum, and wholly honest words made Rem catch her breath.
Nodding quietly after that,
Rem: [Flop-san, the situation has changed. We have no choice but to go unlock that one separate building.]
Flop: [Mhm, indeed, Wife-san. I was thinking the same thing. I dunno if we’ll be able to get on friendly terms with the Crown Princes who’ve been detained in that building, but there’s always the train of thought that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.]
Rem: [Yes. With a common enemy, there’s the possibility that we can work side-by-side.]
With that declaration, Flop immediately approved the change in course. Seeing the consensus between Rem and Flop, Katya shook her head up and down in agreement, and spoke,
Katya: [If that’s decided, then get on with it, get on with it already! Please do your best at breaking the lock to the detached building already. Y-you can do it, right?]
Rem: […Fortunately, I picked up a sword to substitute for my walking stick, so I can use that.]
The sword would likely break, but in exchange, she would be able to destroy the lock on the door, at least.
No longer would it be possible for them to traipse around the mansion searching for the key. It would be too difficult.
Flop: [We need to get there before they turn their attention to the detached building, but the problem is…]
Rem: [Katya-san’s wheelchair…]
All eyes were on the wheelchair.
The wheelchair, which had been a gift from her fiancé, was a very well-made, high-end one, but that notwithstanding, it would not be possible to conceal its sounds; those of the wheels turning, and those of its many parts operating.
It was not ideal for situations in which one had to move without being detected.
Katya: [I… I…]
Faced with the same tough challenge, Katya’s gaze faltered as it flickered left and right, upwards and down.
However, seeing as she possessed a physical disability, Katya and her wheelchair were inseparable. She herself was aware of this, and after a few moments of anxiety, Katya spoke.
Katya: [Leave me, and go open that building. I-I’ll wait for you alone…]
Rem: [Alone… But, I can’t let you do something like…]
Katya: [I’ll lock myself in my room! They won’t know I’m there if I shut myself in there and stay quiet, right? If those people are undead or anything of the sort, it’s probably safer to stay hidden and not do anything stupid. B-but I’m not telling you two to go and do something dangerous.]
The fact that she was speaking so quickly, and that her voice had gone up in pitch, was no more than evidence that her innermost thoughts were frantic.
But that Katya’s proposal came from her mustering the entirety of what paltry courage she possessed, was something Rem and Flop comprehended to a painful extent.
They understood that her feelings, her faith, ought not to be rejected.
Rem: [Flop-san, stay with Katya-san and…]
Flop: [No, you’ve got to take Miss Katya’s determination in mind, Wife-san. The chances of success are higher if the two of us were to deal with it. Worst-case scenario, one of us could serve as a decoy.]
That truly was the worst-case scenario, but if she were to avert her gaze from that which she wished to not think about, she would have no escape from being overwhelmed by the horrible situation once she actually found herself in it.
Therefore, despite taking into account the possibility that that worst-case would overwhelm her, Rem assented with a nod.
Rem: [Without fail, I’ll unlock the detached building and return.]
Katya: [D-do it properly. It’s no good if you don’t come back too. Promise!]
Rem: [――I will.]
Grasping Katya’s hand, Rem exchanged words of firm promise with her.
Bearing Katya’s concern, so clumsy as she was, Rem kept its weight within her heart so that she would not forget it. And with that, Rem and Flop nodded to each other, and they exited the room.
Flop & Rem: [――――]
While stifling their breaths and concealing their bodies, the two of them made their way out into the corridor, and as they surveyed their surroundings―― in search of those eerie “enemies”, they managed to advance towards the back of the mansion, where the separate building laid.
As they made their way, wafting in the wind was the scent of blood belonging to the soldiers that had been slain. A deed performed by the enemies, numbering over ten, wandering through the mansion paying no concern to any danger.
Flop: […Seems like they’re looking for something.]
Rem: [People who are alive, perhaps?]
Flop: [No, I get a feeling like, taking out the ones on guard duty was something they just did while they were at it. There aren’t enough people for them to comb the mansion that thoroughly, it’s likely they have a much more definite target.]
Keeping their bodies low while enroute, Rem and Flop exchanged opinions on the enemies’ behavior.
Hearing Flop’s keen insight brought Rem some vexation, feeling as if she were always off-mark every step of the way.
Flop: [I’m not too sure of this idea either, it’s something I just thought of.]
And, to have Flop smooth over things frustrated her.
At the very least, she would contribute to freeing those imprisoned in the separated building, thus making up for it.
Rem: [――That wouldn’t be enough, would it.]
Something that ought to be called fortunate, however, was that the sensory functions of the strange-looking “enemies” did not seem to differ much from those of humans, nor had they been boosted with incredible abilities beyond Rem and Flop’s grasp.
Thanks to that, somehow, they had managed to approach the separate unit while avoiding detection. Though, a problem arose then.
Flop: [As expected, they didn’t fail to notice it completely, huh?]
Having witnessed the same sight Flop had, Rem nodded in silence, agreeing with the former’s words.
As they hid behind the building and examined the unit’s surroundings, the problem, three figures belonging to “enemies”, could be seen. As they were searching for something, it would be unnatural for them not to stop by such a conspicuous structure.
The problem was the building’s interior; if the Crown Princes were truly confined within, the “enemies” would massacre the former without a word edgewise the moment they broke through the door.
There was no time to lose. If they did not act this very instant, their lives would be forfeit.
Flop: [Wife-san, I’ll attract their attention. Can you do them in while I keep all three occupied?]
Flop: [I don’t mind if we reverse our roles, Wife-san, but I think it’s more likely that you succeed than me with my lack of nerve. I’d like you to decide now.]
A forceful declaration, but a decision was necessary.
Taking that in, Rem closed her eyes for a second, then quickly opened them.
Rem: [Let’s do it. I’ll go around the back. Flop-san, it’ll take only a second.]
Flop: [Yeah, I’ll leave it to you. I don’t want to boast, but serving as a decoy’s one of my strong points.]
Rem nodded to Flop’s answer, speaking of himself as reliable, and they then split up.
With the three “enemies” right in front of the building’s entrance, while they planned to breach the large door, Rem and Flop separated in different directions, as if to sandwich their foes.
Squeezing onto it, Rem ascertained the feel of the steel sword she had carried for the purpose of breaking the lock.
Never had she had experience wielding the sword, nor was wounding another her forte. If anything, breaking Subaru’s finger was all Rem’s battle experience amounted to. It was possible to say that it was far from a solid foundation for her self-confidence.
But whether she had confidence in herself or not was irrelevant. She had to do it.
Flop: [Heyhey, gentlemen, are you all doing well? I’m a peddler with nothing to sell. At present, I just want to make myself known!]
Abruptly, Flop slipped out from behind the building, and started a conversation with the “enemies”.
Although he had to draw their attention on the spur of the moment, and although there had not been any major preparation done in advance, and speaking of Flop’s demeanor, it was far too assertive as to slip by them.
Enemy: […Who the hell are ya?]
Riveted by Flop’s entrance, the “enemies” turned around, one of them apparently uttering so.
Their voice was cold and devoid of warmth, yet in it dwelled definite intelligence, which had come to Rem as a fairly large surprise, having presumed that communicating with them, let alone negotiating, would be impossible.
Flop: [Oh my, perhaps you can speak? Assuming you can, then maybe I should change my attitude, don’t you think?]
Enemy: [Ahh, ya’ve got it wrong, then. Everyone in the Empire’s gonna die.]
Flop: [I see. ――Turns out there’s no margin for negotiation after all!]
So did Flop loudly assert, as to veil over the savage reply given by the “enemy”. An unequivocal cue for Rem’s heart to melt, in whom hesitation had emerged for a moment, so that she would stir.
Having heard things thus far, Rem did not hesitate in her subsequent action.
Rem: [Ah, AHHHHHH――!]
The moment she resolved herself to make her move and initiate her assault, albeit she knew she ought to be silent, she emitted sound. Were she to forgo raising her own morale in that manner, from within, she would not be able to continue with said subsequent action.
Pulling the sword from its scabbard, she held it aloft, and with might and main, she thrusted it at an “enemy’s” back turned to her. They raised a shriek of “Wha!?”, but twice, thrice she swung the sword in a daze.
Not granting the “enemies” who had turned their attention to Flop a chance to turn around, a chaotic series of strikes ensued. She knew not what it would take to incapacitate her opponents from doing battle, nor how long it would take her, hence she swung the sword with reckless abandon.
She had conscious awareness of the solid sensation of her hand rebounding, though everything besides that was rather blurry.
Flop: [Wife-san! It’s okay now! You’ve done them in already!]
Having been called out by an earnest voice, Rem came to her senses and saw Flop’s figure in front of her.
Then looking for the “enemies” that were supposedly between the two of them, Rem came to find them at her feet, defeated―― or rather, she found the pieces of what used to be those “enemies”.
Upon gazing at that, at the completely unexpected way they had been felled, Rem’s eyes widened with a “Huh”.
Flop: [To me, it looked like they were shattered. In fact, looking at the remains like this, it looks like they shattered like pottery or glass.]
Rem: […Do you think they’re… dead?]
Flop: [At the very least, I think it’s doubtful that they were even alive before they were smashed into smithereens like this.]
Crouching down, Flop answered, holding scattered pieces of the “enemies” between his fingers.
Hearing his answer, Rem got quite the unpleasant feeling upon realizing that, exactly as if it were the answer she had been expecting.
For Rem, taking the life of a living creature was something abhorrent that ought to be avoided as much as possible.
Consequently, she realized that she had held a shameful expectation; she had wished to protect her mind through the doubt of whether the “enemies” she had vanquished were defined as a living being or not.
Flop: [Wife-san, their companions will notice it before long as well. Let’s hurry to the detached building and open it up.]
Flop made the decision to put off Rem’s sentiments for the moment. She did not object to Flop’s course of action as well, believing it to be the correct choice.
At the minimum, she attempted to give legitimacy to her actions; and as she was on the verge of unlocking the separate unit, she noticed something.
Beneath her feet, the fragments of the “enemies” she had ground to a fine powder wriggled unnaturally, the wriggling different from how it would occur when caused by the wind or an earthquake.
???: [――We won’t die that easily. ‘Cause we’re dead.]
Rem shuddered, and the moment she experienced a sensation of unease, the voice of an “enemy” slipped into her awareness.
Turning around, Rem and Flop witnessed the supposedly-beaten “enemies” regenerating. The broken pieces of pottery fused together as if time had been reversed; though fissures with the appearance very much as if they were seams were visible, they had been restored to their original state.
Rem & Flop: [――――]
Petrified by that impossible spectacle, Rem and Flop both froze in place.
Rem promptly decided to do the reverse of what Flop had done back in Guaral, where he had protected her, and put strength into her legs, hoping that she could at least shield Flop.
However, the unrest in her mind caused her knees to stay rigid, and her crippled legs would not let her actualize it.
If anything, it produced a fatal collapse of her posture in front of the “enemies”.
She had to raise it, she had to raise the sword. She had to do it, faster than her opponent, and yet.
She would not make it in time.
There was a flash of a grey light of dull hue with a swish. An “enemy” was about to strike Rem and Flop down, devoid of any mercy, with the sword in his hand―― And it happened at that exact moment.
Two high-pitched voices overlapped, ushering in the extraordinary phenomenon that occurred immediately afterward right in front of Rem’s eyes.
Before her eyes, purple crystals scored a direct hit on the three sword-wielding “enemies” from behind, running through their chests. Furthermore, the astonishment did not end at that.
And then, in the moment immediately subsequent to a howl of pain from one of the pierced “enemies”, they had their entire body morph into the same dark-purple crystal that had penetrated their chest. And once more, they shattered.
If a difference did exist, it was that the “enemies”, now in purple fragments, displayed no signs of reviving.
And the one who had successfully saved Rem and Flop just barely, was――,
???: [――Kept you waiting, Rem! The real star has stepped on the stage!]
Bravely announcing so, a small silhouette jumped off a large horse that had leapt over the outer wall, infiltrating the grounds of the mansion.
And thus, a boy of black hair with nasty-looking eyes, holding up a little girl in a dress in his arms, turned to Rem, closed one eye, and flashed a toothy smile at her.
Rem was left speechless due to his flamboyant appearance and announcement, and finally, she spoke.
Rem: [――Who are you?]
The young boy who had so gallantly made his appearance was someone who, to Rem’s eyes at least, was unknown.
――There was a loud, violent knock on the door, which caused Katya to feel a chill run down her spine.
Katya: [No, no, no, don’t come in, don’t come closer…]
Pushing her wheelchair to the back of her room, she clutched her curly hair and prayed, frantically.
She had sent Rem and Flop away, having declared that she would wait alone for the time being. Katya was going to stay hidden as long as possible, even breathing as little as she possibly could.
And yet, an”enemy” had noticed her existence, and now she was frightened to death.
Katya: [I’m unlucky. I’ve always been so, so, unlucky…]
The fact that an“enemy” had stumbled upon this room was purely the result of random chance, in their attempt to find survivors. Seeing as they had found her so easily, her luck was awful.
Maybe Rem and Flop would not make it back in time. Such a convenient thing would never happen to her.
Obviously, she was unable to see the other party outside the door.
However, according to Rem and Flop, the third party wandering around outside, who were neither Imperial Soldiers nor rebels, had the appearance of the dead.
When it came to the dead, the first person that came to Katya’s mind was her own big brother, Jamal Aurélie. The brother whom she had thought unkillable, and who had met an untimely demise.
She could not help but think that she would like to see him at least one more time. Even as a Hollow.
However, when it came to the inexplicable situation of the dead actually being out and about, what came to mind was not an obsession with her brother, but rather self-pity; it was wholly unsightly.
She could not even have such lofty compassion as to pray for Rem and Flop’s safety and hope that they would survive in her stead. All she had was a sense of self-preservation, a sense of self-preservation which she could not help.
I’m just an imperfect and helpless person, one who doesn’t deserve to be loved by anyone.
Katya: [I’m kind of like…]
Anticipating, hoping, and wishing to be saved was a mistake in and of itself. Due to her thinking such impudent thoughts, Rem and Flop would possibly end up as collateral damage.
Was this not the result of Katya’s bad luck and ineptitude, which had ended up getting Rem and Flop caught up in this?
Katya’s throat froze as those endlessly desperate thoughts were interrupted by a creaking sound of the door, finally beginning to show signs of being broken into.
Faced with such a hopeless situation, she cursed her body, seemingly incapable of even screaming satisfactorily.
Just when she thought that the door was about to be breached, it happened.
On the other side of the door, the “enemy” that had been trying to break in ceased moving. ――Or, more precisely, they had been forced to stop their destruction.
Because, the entire body of the “enemy” had burst into flames, enveloped in vermillion.
???: [The Micro Spirit I scared into doing that was my last one.]
A new voice, one different from that of the burning “enemy”, reached Katya from the other side of the door.
Katya looked up as if she had been startled by the sound of the cursing voice. Then turning the wheel of her wheelchair, Katya took hold of the door herself by her own volition.
With a trembling hand, she unlocked the door that she had been so afraid to open, and opened it.
Behind the door stood a man, kicking the burnt and charred corpse of the “enemy”.
???: [Kept you waiting, Katya. ――Let’s get out of here.]
He had lost his familiar bandana, and his normally upswept hair was hanging down. Katya’s eyes widened at the man, his forehead and cheeks covered in dried blood, who was reaching toward her.
Then, as she wheeled toward the man,
Katya: [Late… you’re so late, you idiot! I-I would’ve killed you if I’d died!]
And then, she tearfully dove into her fiancé, who had ruthlessly made his appearance.
――At the Crystal Palace of the Imperial Capital, at the star-shaped ramparts, and at the rebel stronghold, various situations were unfolding.
There were some who were aware of the circumstances, and others who knew absolutely nothing at all.
Those people were all jumbled together on a battlefield transformed into a crucible of chaos―― no, the Vollachian Empire was what had been transformed.
Where bloodshed was rife, where the loss of life, akin to leaves falling from a tree, was revered, where taking action for the sake of blossoming ambition was considered the right thing. Its vast lands pulsated, and those engraved into the history of the Empire rose, one after the other.
What could it be called, if not a nightmare?
???: [――The Great Disaster.]
Indeed, if not to be designated as a nightmare, then it could only be designated as a Great Disaster.
The Stargazers, who infested the Vollachian Empire, had loudly proclaimed this to be one of the mass-scale disasters that would drive the world to ruination, as declared by the commandment they had been bestowed with.
That in itself was a matter inconsequential to the crux that had brought about the circumstances known as the Great Disaster.
The important thing was that this disaster induced the ruin of the Empire’s soil, and at its terminus, the wish would be fulfilled.
For that purpose, the moves to be made, the measures to be exhausted, absolutely everything would be expended.
Dying and bringing death, killing and being killed, through those means, amassed on the vast lands of Vollachia, were mountains of corpses.
If the entirety of Vollachia’s spilled blood was the foundation of the plan, all that remained was.
???: [All that remains is to carry the plan out to the end. ――Deliberation: Required.]
With that, the bearer of the Great Disaster, the symbol of ruin, congratulated herself very, very quietly.
For more context on this last section, you can read some of the added contents within the Light Novel release of Volume 33 here.
 Hollows are the Re: Zero world equivalent of “spirits of the dead”, the thoughts and regrets left behind by the dead in the world of the living, unable to return to Od Lagna.
Though the author has not officially confirmed it in the Web Novel yet, the Light Novel synopsis confirmed that Volume 33 is the end of Arc 7. Thus, this should be the last chapter of the Arc. Meaning, we will be moving to Arc 8 next! Of course, we at Witch Cult Translations will be there to translate it once the author starts writing, so make sure to stay tuned, and once again, thank you everyone for your immense support throughout the years!
Currently, we are also recruiting for Machine Translators and Japanese – English checkers for Arc 8; this is a paid opportunity, if you are interested and would like to help the translation effort and get early access to the chapters, please contact Ice#6557 on Discord or leave your contact details in the comments below.
Update: In the April Fool’s Chapter we received this year, the author has given a statement about the end of Arc 7 and beginning of Arc 8, which is translated below.
Once again, I will begin to update the main story again soon. I’ve said this already in the book publication, but the current part is the end of the developments under Arc 7. Arc 7 “Land of Wolves” has come to an end, and from here on out, it will become Arc 8 “Vincent Vollachia”. The production of the third season of the anime has also been announced, so after this, please continue to keep supporting Re: Zero!
Now that Arc 8 has begun releasing, we at Witch Cult Translations will of course be translating it, and you will be able to find out Arc 8 releases here.
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