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Heroic Tale from Zero
Subaru: [A bard is coming to the village?]
He’s told an astounding word, and Natsuki Subaru repeats it again with an astonished look.
Subaru turns around with a dust cloth in his hand, and just like always, was wearing his butler outfit in a style that wasn’t very suitable for him, while awkwardly cleaning the window, because of his injuries still remaining from the other day.
The incident where the Witchbeasts surrounded Margrave Roswaal’s mansion and Arlam Village, the closest place near it―― they abated the disturbance before it was possible to have any casualties, and he received a literal injury of honor. The confusion of the incident cleared up, and the mansion and the village were already back to their usual appearance. With most of Subaru’s healing finished, he was working with all his might on chores in the mansion while rehabilitating at the moment.
Emilia: [Yes, a bard! I heard Ram talking about it, after she came back from the village. Have you come across a bard?]
What responded to Subaru’s question was a voice that sounded like a refreshing, silver-bell melody. The long, silver hair of the owner of that voice sways. She had such a beautiful face that even artists wouldn’t be able to bring themselves to draw it.
However, her deep amethyst eyes were filled with so much curiosity that she looked entranced, and if you looked at her cheeks that reddened from her uncontrollable excitement, those strong emotions would overwrite the prettiness of her appearance. Subaru would also still show childish fascination every now and then.
Emilia: [Eh? What did you say just now?]
The name of this girl who tilted her head in slight doubt at that nonsense was Emilia. She was a benefactor, and a person that was also beloved to Subaru. Subaru laughs at her innocent behavior and says,
Subaru: [Well, I’ve never personally seen one myself… But Emilia-tan, seems like you’re looking forward to it.]
Emilia: [I don’t just seem like it, I am looking forward to it. Bards are people who tell stories through things like singing and dancing, right? Surely you should know various things about them… Hey, Subaru can you…]
Emilia has hope in her eyes, and she looks at Subaru as she put her hands together.
She calls his name with a sweet voice, and looks up with a spoiled gesture. As if there would be a man out there who wouldn’t give in to a girl as beautiful as Emilia making a request like that. Or at least, Subaru immediately gave in.
Subaru: [Yes ma’am. After you clean up and ask for Sensei’s permission, that is.]
Emilia: [Yeah. Sorry for having you accompany me because of my selfish request.]
Subaru: [It’s okay. She’s not expecting much with my chores while I’m in rehabilitation, so the date has priority.]
Emilia: [Oh, I see. We’ll be going out with the two of us, so it’ll be a date again, huh.]
Subaru looks at Emilia’s smile, who didn’t seem to notice the sinfulness of it, and held the dust cloth with the returned bucket and headed towards the mansion. In the window, he saw a view of the faraway village of Arlam.
Subaru: [Bard, eh…]
When he said the word again, he felt like it gave off a more feelings of a fantasy than he had imagined.
He looked calm in front of Emilia, but there’s no way his heart wasn’t excited. A singing voice would roll up the people and the world cheerfully and melodiously, and it would start to spin a tale.
Just from imagining it, it also excited Subaru’s heart without him knowing it, as he walked alone in the corridor with a cheerful mood.
???: [Well then, I will now sing. Please listen.―― The dolphin betrayed by the sunset.]
It was a melody that was depressing with its melancholy and it seemed sad, but it flowed through the village’s plaza like the rain of a day during Rain season.
What stood on the rough stage made up of only lumber in the middle of the plaza, was a form of what seemed to be an instrument between the guitar and the ukulele. It was a person playing a wooden stringed instrument.
The musical instrument with a geometrical pattern seemed to be bouncing in temperament, but perhaps exhibiting gloominess to this sort of extent was something that depended on the singer’s technique. That was how impressive this gloomy atmosphere that wrapped up the village was to the villagers.
They are moved by the very depressing melody and the lyrics of the piece, and the villagers that acted as the audience had emotionless, dead eyes. Considering the appearance of these old ladies that were breaking down and crying from what felt like the end of the world, perhaps there was a possibility that they’ve never seen something this cruel, even with the unease with the Witchbeast incident.
???: [If it’s this sad, then I’d rather die. I won’t die. They won’t let me die…]
in the midst of the song, the dolphin betrayed by her friend and fiancée was being protected by the setting sun, on top of the bridge where an important promise was exchanged before. This seemed to be the climax of the story, and it was choosing whether or not to drown itself.
The singer played her musical instrument. It didn’t even matter if she was singing enough for it to be called a song; she supported it with her gestures. The story was full of realism, and a world was developed. Tears that couldn’t be handled appeared within the eyes of the audience that saw a trickle of tears go along those cheeks, and they too started to sob.
???: [It spits bubbles and sinks into the silent sea. Oh, dolphin. Oh, oh, dolphin…]
It seemed that the dolphin boldly sunk into the riverbed. The breeze and the flowers that could do nothing but watch her sorrow simply grieve over her miserable death, and the act came to an end――
Subaru: [As if this could be a tune chosen for performance recitals, my god!!]
Subaru finally couldn’t take it anymore and gave a retort when there were still lingering sounds.
The poet who sung the bad ending jumps up and down, surprising the audience, and the story world that had wrapped up the plaza crumbles. The villagers who were captured in the song’s world come to their senses, and they look at each other.
???: [Ah, eh…]
???: [Wow, look at that. I cried a lot.]
???: [Aw man, the tears come quickly when you get old…]
???: [Dolphin, you are another version of myself!]
???: [The poet girl is cuuuute.]
Then, they all exchange their impressions unanimously while having tears in their eyes. And when they relayed their first impressions for a while, one of them looked back at Subaru, who had snuck to the row furthest to the back in an attempt to run away, and said,
Petra: [――You are ruining the mood, Subaru-sama!!]
And he got shouted at, which startled him so much that it made him jump.
Liliana: [Allow me to introduce myself. I am the bard of the flow. I’m called Liliana.]
The person who said that was this cute girl who bowed quickly and still had traces of childishness in her.
She had eyes full of cheerfulness and curiosity, and yellow hair that seemed to reflect an aggressive personality. She had pigtails, and under her light cloak, she had dancer-like clothing that was decorated with ornaments that used nuts and animal bones. She was short, but her hands and legs were long, and her exposed skin had a healthy brown color. She was a girl that really did give off a feeling of a vagrant traveler.
Subaru: [Well then, thank youuu for your politeness. My name is Natsuki Subaru. I am a tumultuous, luxurious and gorgeous legman. At the mansion you see at the other side of the road, I am an all-round star as a servant.]
Emilia: [Tumultuwhat…? Ah, never mind. Hello. Nice to meet you.]
Subaru was being unkind with how he was greeting himself at his own pace, even when it was their first time meeting each other. Liliana pushes her doubtful look under a forced smile, being frantic as she tried to avoid hurting Subaru and Emilia’s moods, who explained that they were people related to feudal lord.
However, Liliana’s precautions were smashed up at once by Emilia’s next actions.
Emilia: [That song was reeeaally good. I might burst into tears any minute, so…]
Being overcome with emotions, Emilia takes Liliana’s hand at once and expresses herself. Liliana becomes surprised for a moment by Emilia, as she was agitated. She quickly becomes aware of how she had been praised and then smiles.
Liliana: [Nooo! I am glad that you offered your kind attention too! I am still inexperienced, but just from you saying that… Huh!?]
Liliana responded to Emilia with a smile, as Emilia acted amiably, but as soon as Liliana looked at her, she immediately became dumbfounded. Liliana had her mouth open in astonishment, and she stiffened up. Subaru and Emilia widened their eyes at that reaction, but Liliana still had a surprised look on her face. While having that look, she says,
Liliana: [A-are you a goddess…?]
Liliana: [I-I mean, I’ve never seen such a lovely person before! Woww, woww! This is what happens when you take care of yer hair and skin!? We really the same type of humans!?]
Liliana jumped up and down at that spot, being moved by Emilia’s beauty. Emilia became speechless from her exaggerating reaction, but Subaru was in complete agreement with Liliana’s opinion. Emilia was a little too indifferent to her uncommon appearance. That was cute.
Then, when Liliana suddenly stopped jumping, she raised her instrument and bowed.
Liliana: [I just came up with a good idea. Please listen. ――Ohh, Goddess.]
Liliana draws in a small amount of breath, and she picks up the rhythm while being at a halt. She starts to play a melodious tune while smoothly plucking the strings of her instrument.
Liliana: [So profound to the point of being entrancing, light like a gem, eyes with bluish purple pyroxene in them. The flowy, silver hair of the moon’s tears. Delicate looks that cause Divine Protection to swoop down onto the fingertips of doll makers. Unbeknowing of how her skin, similar to white snow that falls and piles up, tramples on others. Slightly long ears that… ears that… ears thatttt?]
Subaru and Emilia: [――――]
Liliana suddenly pauses her beautiful voice, who had been fluently expressing her feelings into a poem. Subaru saw the three changes of emotions in her golden eyes: from doubt, to realization, and then surprise.
She looks towards Emilia’s ears, and adds on words to the song she sang herself.
Liliana: [The length of her ears, her silver hair… no way, the Witch of Envy!]
Subaru: [Alright, stop! It was a nice song, but I have suspicions that it has been caught by copyright! The verdict will be brought up later after a strict inspection, and so we must humbly cut off relations with you and…]
Subaru stops Liliana from speaking at once and covers her mouth up to prevent careless words from coming out. However, the person who criticized Subaru’s actions was none other than Emilia herself.
Emilia gets joint locked by Liliana, and Emilia pouts at Subaru, who held Liliana’s shoulders.
Emilia: [I’m happy about Subaru worrying for me, but it’s not okay to be rude to girls. Tsk tsk―]
Subaru: [Haven’t heard «tsk tsk» nowadays… Or rather, even disregarding that, Emilia-tan…]
Emilia: [It’s fine. Even if you try to cover it up after she’s noticed, it won’t solve anything.]
Emilia gave an explanation without blame, and she did act dignified, but Subaru couldn’t act like that. Her not saying anything and exposing herself to blame made him feel sick.
――Emilia was born between a human and an elf. In other words, she was a half-elf. There were various kinds of demi-humans mixed in this world, but discrimination against demihuman clans―― it seemed there was an ingrained opinion of half-elves, and Emilia experienced days of hardship alone.
That being said, there was no just cause for Subaru to continue restraining Liliana, seeing how Emilia had forgiven her. He reluctantly let go of the girl’s body who was held by her wrists, elbows, shoulders, and arms.
Liliana: [*Pant* My chest! My chestt! Don’t attack things necessary for my work! What’re ya doing to a young girl’s body, maid-san!?]
Subaru: [I want to be a man that uses up the power he has and protects the things important to him. Also, I’m sorry to say this, but even with my experience, it’s hasty to count you as the bottom for girls with soft fair skin, young lady.]
It was a different world with a very high percentage of beautiful girls, but Liliana ranked among the least lady-like ladies (according to Subaru’s inspection). Starting from the bottom, perhaps the first would be Beatrice, second would be Felt, and Liliana would be the winner for third place.
Liliana: [Alright! On top of holding a girl by her joints, you’ve also hurt a girl’s feelings! But but!]
Liliana stood out in front of Emilia with her mouse-like agileness while feeling indignant towards Subaru’s assessment of her. The short girl Liliana looks at Emilia, and her expression stiffens slightly. However,
Liliana: [Not only are you noble in your beauty, but you’re noble at heart. That moved me.]
Emilia: [Eh? Ah, yeah. Really?]
Liliana: [Yess! I am sorry for my careless behavior earlier with my bad manners. If the maid hadn’t restrained me, then I would have been eradicated by family and followers for my impoliteness!]
Subaru: [You’re the type to ruin yourself energetically, aren’t you!]
Subaru was surprised by her energetic, all out confession, but Liliana started to strum her instrument cheerfully.
Liliana: [I may look explosively abundant with sensitivity, but when there’s something in front of me that causes me to have an idea, I stop being patient! Thus, I will anxiously combine Emilia-sama’s beauty, graciousness, and her various reasons for not being able to publicly talk about her race!]
Subaru: [You sure are fresh, considering how I’ve never come across someone like you before.]
Liliana showed her necessary liveliness. Her noisiness wasn’t strange, nor was it pleasant. This was because of her honest personality and her voice. Her beautiful voice that smoothly crept into people was natural. You could certainly say that being a bard was her calling.
Subaru: [Or maybe her calling is forcing old people to buy things like filled futons and water purifiers.]
Liliana: [What is this? I feel like those words just now gave off a cruel sort of feeling.]
Liliana overreacted to Subaru, who showed his admiration, although she did clearly ignore that.
To the side of Subaru, him being dumbfounded along with his wariness having faded away, Emilia also smiled at the wild girl.
Emilia: [However, although I am happy that you praised me, I don’t really think I am a beauty.]
Liliana: [Ah! Ahhh! As a woman, I just had unforgiving feelings pop up inside of me! I’ve got it. Please listen. ――Oh Goddess…]
Subaru: [Shut up! But I do think that recognition of Emilia-tan needs to be corrected!]
Subaru and Liliana both give their denial, and Emilia tilted her head slightly with a look that made it seem as if she had said something unbelievable, appearing to be troubled.
――Now that he thought about it, he did feel tormented by anxiety and tension in the morning when he was first called out to the dining hall.
That’s what Subaru thought of at the Roswaal residence’s parlor as he tilted a cup of black tea.
Emilia: [What’s wrong Subaru? You’re making a reeeally weird look.]
Then, once he thought about it, Emilia called out to Subaru, her sitting to his side, as he had a bitter look because of the exceptionally dark flavor.
Subaru: [I thought a little bit about the past. I was just thinking about how I curled up too during my initial times at the mansion.]
Emilia: [That’s how it was? Didn’t you grin boldly back then just like you do now?]
Subaru: [When you put it like that, my suspiciousness increases, and that hurts!]
Subaru becomes astonished from the evaluation that had quite the difference between its subjectivity and objectivity. Emilia looks at Subaru, him kneading his cheeks into a dissatisfied look, and she put her finger on her lips.
Emilia: [Yeah, I was kidding. I tried teasing you a little since it looked like you were in deep thought.]
Subaru: [Seriously? Well then you are EMA1!]
Emilia: [Yeah yeah. Also, you don’t have to be that tense too you know, Liliana.]
Emilia ignored Subaru’s nonsense, and she called out to Liliana, who cowered at the front. Liliana curled up with a pale face as she looked up saying “Oki”, as if the liveliness she had at the village was gone.
Subaru: [What is this what is this? You’re being awfully nervous. What happened to your cheerfulness from earlier?]
Liliana: [Even if ya’ll say that, I’m nervous. A―an ol’ country girl like me suddenly being invited to the feudal lord’s mansion… also, for it to be the Margrave’s mansion… I―if I do something careless…]
Subaru: [Your family and your followers will burn not just your roots, but even the fields around it. Like dogs, that is.]
Subaru gives a gesture of chopping his neck at Liliana, who became nervous and started speaking with an accent. Liliana sees that gesture, her face becomes ghastly pale, and Emilia got angry as she hit his knee.
Emilia: [Geez, Subaru!]
Subaru: [I’m sorry I’m sorry. I did not think it would have an instant effect on her.]
Subaru apologizes with a wry smile at Emilia, who pouted with her cheeks. That being said, Subaru did feel gratified with Liliana’s behavior of acting quiet and meek, as he was manipulated at the village.
Subaru and the others returned to Roswaal’s mansion from Arlam Village, and were currently having a friendly chat at the parlor―― which meant that they were spending time together with a bit of a heavy atmosphere.
They had spare time from the mansion’s master to meet Liliana, who was a visitor. In other words, this is why these three were on the couch facing each other.
Subaru: [Even so, did you see Ram’s displeased face as she acted as an intermediary? It seemed as if her eyes were scorning us as burdens that brought in unnecessary trouble.]
Liliana: [Eek! I’m not invited after all. The… n, I need to run now…]
Emilia: [No come on it’s fine. Subaru wasn’t threatening you either. Don’t you feel sorry for Liliana?]
Subaru: [I wasn’t trying to scare her, I just told her the objective reality. It is true that I don’t like the idea of Ram increasing Ros-chi’s work, after all.]
Ram was a maid of the mansion, and she adored Roswaal. She was a girl who had an improperly prideful attitude towards being a waiter, so she let out a blunt sigh when she was requested to convey a message to Roswaal for the Liliana issue. She was now talking with the master, while certainly feeling annoyed.
Subaru: [As of now, I don’t know what type of infamy Roswaal is hearing about. She might even be telling him that a giant bard over two meters high with a hoarse voice is asking for an audience.]
Even Roswaal, someone who was well known for strange things to some extent, wouldn’t see a suspicious person that might not be worth meeting. Thus, Liliana was pitiful with how she lost hope, but――
Rem: [You don’t have to worry that much. Nee-sama will be fair. Nee-sama won’t include arbitrary feelings when confirming Roswaal’s intentions, after all.]
The person who negated Subaru’s worries was this blue haired girl carrying a tray that gave off steam.
It was a beautiful girl wearing the very charming remodeled maid outfit that revealed her shoulders and back―― It was Rem.
The girl who entered the room adds tea cakes with a graceful gesture, and she goes around pouring second servings of tea into the empty cups. Subaru sees Rem holding the teapot, and he held out his cup.
Subaru: [Putting the sweets aside, I thought that serving tea was only Ram’s job.]
Rem: [Nee-sama is always busy, after all… Also, I always want to prepare Subaru-kun’s tea. I put in a lot of things into the tea, such as my feelings, and other things as well.]
Subaru: [Can’t you just include the tea leaves and hot water? Please, I am begging you!]
When Subaru’s cheeks twitched as he said extreme words, Rem said “Too bad”, pouting with her lips.
Rem’s has always been like this towards Subaru ever since the Witchbeast incident was resolved. He was honestly happy with that expression of her deep affection, but Subaru was also a bit confused, as a part of male instincts.
The people around him and he himself did not know that this was a young man’s sad nature of not knowing about how this was a romantic period.
Subaru: [Anyways, I’ve used tea and sweets as excuses to invite you to join in. The contract has expired.]
Rem: [My… to use the delicious tea, sweets, and the cute maid as excuses… I’m blushing.]
Subaru: [It’s the truth, but you smoothly added on one more thing, didn’t you?]
Subaru gives a quiet retort at Rem, who put her hands on her blushed cheeks. She accepts that, and Rem says this softly with a whisper while having an embarrassed smile―
Rem: [Even so… I heard that it was just a bard, but why the mansion?]
Subaru: [Ahhh, Emilia-tan was extremely interested… There’s that, but the matter is a little more complicated. Somehow that girl broke through Emilia-tan’s recognition inhibition.]
Rem squints slightly in response to Subaru’s details that he said in a whisper. The recognition inhibition was a technical effect weaved into Emilia’s robe that she wore so that people wouldn’t notice her lineage, as she was a half-elf. If the person didn’t have the power to break through that effect, or if they didn’t have Emilia’s approval, then the person could not recognize Emilia as Emilia.
Rem: [Breaking through that effect… It’s Roswaal-sama’s knitted technique, so it’s hard to imagine that being broken.]
Subaru: [Right? Which is why I couldn’t leave it as is and brought her along.]
And then he used Ram’s tea and Rem’s tea cakes as pretext to bring her to the mansion. Liliana also quickly fell over with that pretext, even though she had been hesitant at first. He was really worried about her future.
Anyways, Subaru thought about how he couldn’t leave it as is and brought her back to the mansion.
Rem: [I understand. In other words, force her to shut up before she reveals anything, right?]
Subaru: [You don’t understand, and when you say that, it sounds like something serious!]
Rem: [Aw, come on, Subaru-kun. Of course, I don’t go that far.]
Rem stuck out her tongue with a cute smile saying “Just kidding” but it wasn’t convincing because of various reasons. Though, those various reasons were only left at the back of his mind.
Subaru: [Even then, the effect of Rem’s tea cakes was outstanding.]
Now that he looked at it, even Liliana, someone who had been nervous earlier, went into a trance upon tasting the fragrant baked sweets. Rem’s ready wit for making pastry stood out, although she was already versatile with housework.
Subaru: [Let’s see, I’ll have one more… Yeah, it’s super delicious after all. Rem’s pastries are superb.]
Rem: [Thank you! I put in my body and soul for Subaru’s sake… I put in everything I had to the point of me being fine with never making sweets again… Those are the kind of feelings I made them with.]
Subaru: [You put in such determination as if it was like you were burning your soul, just for a casual moment like this!?]
While confirming the flavor of Rem putting in everything she had, Subaru pulls back slightly upon thinking about how pastries were risking their lives too.
And on the other hand, it seemed like Liliana also was able to relax. She leaned on the couch as she stroked her stomach.
Liliana: [Zzz… Zzz…]
Subaru: [I still don’t happen to have a heart big enough to overlook you dozing!]
Liliana: [Huh! I’m not sleeping! I am not sleeping! It was me planning to arrest assassins where I’d pretend to look like I was sleeping, and they’d get lured out after observing me.]
Emilia: […! That’s not good, someone is trying to get you…?]
Liliana: [See look! My naive angel has been fooled!]
Emilia, someone who didn’t know how to doubt people, had been successfully tricked by Liliana, who talked fast.
Perhaps Liliana was a girl that could only have extremely strong reactions or extremely weak reactions, as she wiped the drool that hung around her mouth.
Rem: [By the way Ma’am, I have heard that you are a bard.]
Surprisingly enough, Rem was the one who said that and broadened the topic.
The instrument that leaned against the sofa―― in response to Rem, who gazed at the Lyulyre, Liliana hastefully carried the instrument and raised her trembling voice nervously.
Liliana: [Yes, yes! I am sorry for being a reckless dream chaser that challenges the world with my Lyulyre2!]
Subaru: [You really are someone that just goes with the flow!]
Liliana was acting so abasing of herself that it was more refreshing to see, but Rem clapped her hands without caring about it. She had the same type of radiance in her blue eyes that Emilia had when she first heard her sing.
Rem: [Well then, Ma’am, do you know a lot of famous stories?]
Liliana: [――! Yeah, yes! Leave it up to me!]
Liliana’s eyes shine at Rem’s question, and she plays the Lyulyre.
Liliana: [I’m also a girl who lived independently for no less than 10 years like this by making a career out of playing the Lyulyre. I have confidence in my songs that bring tears to people’s eyes, exciting a bunch of people, swallowing them up into a swirl of madness.]
Subaru: [Hey wait! Living independently for 10 years? Just how old are you again?!]
Liliana: [I’ll be turning 20 this year, but is there something wrong with that?]
Subaru: [You’re 20 with that appearance and that calmness!?]
She had childish looks, and an immature chest, butt, and hips. He felt sorry for the exposing of her thin body, but he felt even more sorry now that he knew about her real age.
Subaru: [This isn’t a time for a legal loli to be saying this and that… I saw something even more horrible…]
Liliana: [Yeah, be quiet. A person you like has a request. Also…]
Liliana pushes aside Subaru, him being busy with being moved while feeling pity, and stares back at Rem’s look of expectation. She picks up her Lyulyre and took a pose of having one leg on the sofa.
Liliana: [Alright, I will take any request. What shall I do? One of the masterpieces… for example, speaking of immortal, famous poems, the «Sword Demon Love Poem» sounds good!]
Subaru: [Hey, that sounds like a disturbing title.]
Liliana: [What are you saying!? The «Sword Demon Love Poem» is a famous poem that is passed down through singing not just in Lugunica, but other various countries too! It’s a story that makes a lot of girls fret as they want to feel the same romance as the awkward but honest military man, and then they cave in.]
Subaru: [I―is that so…]
Liliana: [Yes, absolutely! The very last part in particular is one that I cannot sing without tears. The people that see the scene become fascinated by everything where the Sword Demon crosses swords with his lover and the weapons unfold!]
Subaru: [Isn’t that lovers crossing swords with each other!?]
It was a summary, but he could only think of it to be brutal. There was literature back in his original world where people would “kill each other from love”, but that was out of his scope to follow up.
As for Subaru, it was a title that simply gave only that sort of impression, but―
Rem: [What are you saying, Subaru-kun? The «Sword Demon Love Poem» is a famous poem that represents Lugunica. I’ve also heard of it over and over.]
Subaru: [Seriously!? Is that true!? Emilia-tan, do you cave in to it too?]
Emilia: [Eh? Sorry, I don’t really know much about it. I might not be able to meet your expectations.]
Subaru: [No, your response is fine! Emilia-tan’s response is just what I expected!]
Or rather, the unexpected trend of Rem’s tastes was becoming so clear that he was surprised. Liliana puts the three’s noisiness aside, and while seeming to be looking up a song book in her head, she continuing,
Liliana: [As for other ones, there’s «The Blue Lightning of Vollachia» and «The Figure of the Sword Hill’s Hero». Also also, can’t forget the classic example of success, one that represents the founding of Kararagi’s might, «Hoshin of the Wilderness».]
Subaru: [There’s a lot of them. Nevertheless, don’t a lot of the songs involve lineage of great men? Or did you gather only those type of songs according to your tastes?]
Liliana: [I do have my own tastes, but as you’d expect, the general public likes the ones about heroic tales and lives of great men. They are brilliant stories that cause people to have aspirations. I take it a step further from there, as I want to pass them down through songs.]
Liliana’s cheeks blush as if in embarrassment, and she reveals one end of the purpose of her journey to Subaru and the others. Subaru shook his head, indicating that he had no intentions to make fun of her attitude.
Subaru: [That’s awesome. Deciding on what you want to do at that age… Wait, you said you were 20, eh.]
Liliana: [You’re talking in a prickly way, but do you have a problem or something with me being 20? If you get too persistent, then you can go to court, and I’ll go too.]
Subaru: [Where would a court be in this world…]
Was it a place that held things similar to trials? Subaru didn’t know, being someone who was poorly informed on this world.
Rem: [So Ma’am, is spreading those songs the goal of your journey?]
Liliana: [Nooo, that’s not the only goal. Of course, I do think spreading the songs is a mission of mine as well, but I have a more rooted goal myself. That is…]
Liliana answered Rem’s question with a face that indicated the renewal of her mood. However, she was interrupted before she could take the opportunity to answer. That was because―
Ram: [――Sorry for interrupting in the middle of your chat.]
They hear a knock, and a lone maid that pushed the door open on the other side bowed her head politely.
Her appearance made Rem and her look like two peas in a pod, and the girl who squinted with the light red eyes under her pink hair―― Ram lifted her face, and said
Ram: [Thanks for your patience. Master Roswaal-sama will be seeing the guest.]
That’s how she expressed her message with a manner of welcoming the “honored guest”.
Roswaal: [I am the owner of this mansion, the Margrave of the Kingdom of Lugunica, Roswaal L. Mathers.]
He sits down at the chair up front. Liliana stiffened up without saying anything in front of the person who introduced himself.
He sympathizes with her behavior, judging it as understandable with a side glance.
He’s been introduced to people like the Margrave, along with nobles of high positions, without having mentally prepared for it. Out of all people it could’ve been, to make matters worse, this was a person who was so intimidating with the sense of lifelessness he had and――
Subaru: [I didn’t think we’d meet a pervert painted in white clown make-up.]
Ram: [Barusu. I will not forgive disrespecting Roswaal-sama. I’ll twist and cut your thing off.]
Subaru: [You’ve also made the same offensive of noticing Ros-chi’s current look, and what exactly are you going to cut off?]
Ram: [Hm, I wonder what…]
The person staring at Subaru to her side was this girl who completely lost her previous politeness, Ram.
Roswaal holds back Ram from her side, and he calmly crosses his legs on the leather couch. As his distinguished standing and title were mixed with those strange habits and costume, throwing initial impressions down the drain in very small pieces.
People thought highly of him as a feudal lord even in an appearance like this, so they’d suffer in the gap between the reputation he had in the territory and the real thing they’d witness.
Roswaal: [Juuuust as expected, seeing this new person’s surprised face is the greeeatest joy. I like Subaru-kun’s kind of reaction too, but this sort of reaction really is the best. Riiiight, Subaru-kun?]
Subaru: [Can you not imply that I’m an accomplice in toying with people’s hearts while enjoying it? I only have a little bit of those types of poor characteristics.]
If he had to say something about it, he did feel an indescribable pleasant feeling whenever he got on other people’s nerves. From an outsider’s point of view, Roswaal was much the same as Subaru. Considering how each of them thought they were better than one another, they both really were making themselves hopeless. Anyhow,
Liliana: [I am extremely humbled and delighted that you’ve granted me an audience. I―I am the bard, Liliana. I am honored to meet you, Margrave-sama.]
Roswaal: [Hmmm, splendid, splendid. If you’re going to speak in this situation while shaking that much, then there’s reason in meeeting with you. I am famous for being tolerant, soooo relax.]
He was blowing his own horn, but Roswaal’s words were not lies. If Roswaal was someone that held the temper of a villainous noble of a work, then people like Subaru would be dismissed the first day.
Emilia: [I heard that a bard was coming, and then I met Liliana. This girl says that she’s looking for tons of rare stories, so I was thinking that maybe Roswaal would be able to help.]
Roswaal: [I seeee. If Emilia-sama has that much expectation in me, then I have no choice but to show what I have up my sleeeeve.]
Roswaal gives a faint smile, creaks the back of the chair, and crosses his arms. Closing his eyes to go into deep thought, after a few seconds, he looks at Liliana with one eye―― with his yellow eye. Liliana gets put in the spotlight with that questionable look as she sits next to Emilia, and she starts to shake.
Roswaal: [You don’t have to be frightened like thaaaat. I am on your side. Seeing that Emilia-sama has decided to be on your side, I’m also putting in efforts to do the same.]
Liliana: [Y―yes. Th―th-th… thank you.]
Roswaal: [However, Bard. Bard, right. Geeeez, this is wonderful timing.]
Roswaal deepens his smile at Liliana as she cowered in fear.
For some reason or another, Subaru had a bad feeling while seeing his scarlet lips turn into a smile. This was because he could see nothing but Roswaal planning something from that smile of his.
Roswaal: [You said your name was Liliana, riiight? This is Emilia-sama’s request. I care about satisfying your wish. This is when I’d like to hear a little mooore details.]
Liliana: [W―when you say details, what should I talk about…]
Roswaal: [Let’s see. ――How about the goal of your journey? Frankly tell us about the goal itself.]
In response to Roswaal’s tone lowering slightly, Liliana’s facial expression changed, who had been stiffening up until now. And then Liliana connected that change with an expression she’d never shown before.
Liliana closes her eyes just once, and when she opened them once more, she looked straight at Roswaal.
Liliana: [――I am on a journey to seek newer legends in this world.]
In front of the leading domestic powerful person’s look, he saw Liliana’s unwavering determination in her eyes.
The words that she said―― the sound of those words, “newer legends”, made Subaru’s heart tremble.
Subaru was a man. There’s no way the power those words held wouldn’t cause his chest to fire up.
Emilia: [Newer legends…]
Liliana: [Yes, that’s right. I am looking for those, and I’m on a journey to sing them.]
Liliana had devilishness in her voice.
It was devilishness that sent feelings directly into the hearts that listened to it. Then the person who had whispered quietly, Emilia, nodded her head as if it touched her inside. She picks up the instrument that was to her side and makes a sound with it.
Liliana: [We… bards are beings who live and turn stories into songs. The songs permeate into the audience’s hearts, and they etch into the soul of the one listenings about a certain past… about history. The song that passes down for a long time, so long, has power. This means that the poet who made the song still has his or her remnants remaining in the world, even after death.]
Liliana continues to speak in a bright voice. Nobody could interrupt her.
Liliana: [We can’t leave something tangible behind. Our instincts won’t even let us settle down while not making things, not knowing letters. We wander the world with these feet, sing songs at the places we arrive at, and if we’re able to pass the song into someone’s heart, we search for another place and begin walking again. And if at some point we arrive at empty wilderness, our instrument decays as a pillow―― That’s the type of people we are.]
There was power in her voice, words, eyes, and gestures. It was just like when she sung.
Liliana: [Since we are beings that can only leave things in people’s hearts, not being able to leave something of form, we want to create something that will continue to remain in everyone’s hearts. We want proof that we certainly lived, a proof that has our souls carved into history. That is the only honor we wish for, if we were to want something out of this.]
There wasn’t music, but the words of the girl who told her will were comparable to it, and they etched within Subaru. Liliana had such an established view of life that it was touching. Hearing that speech, Subaru could not let out a word, and it was the same with everyone else in the room.
They probably judged that she was being obstinate and excessively self-righteous too. However, doing that would mean denying the way of life bards had, which was the same as hers.
Subaru still lacked a certain “something” in order to do that.
Therefore, Subaru was not qualified to evaluate Liliana’s determination.
Roswaal: [I seeee… So that’s why you want new legeeends.]
The voice that responded to Liliana’s determination in this period of silence was Roswaal’s.
The man who had the most experience with coming across determination out of all these people nods at her readiness.
Liliana also straightened her back to show admiration for Roswaal’s nod.
Liliana: [Vivid legends―― History that continues to remain in everyone’s hearts strongly for a long time. Passing down existing songs already is a prideful way of life as a bard. However… If I could, I would like to be the first singer that sings a song that remains in everyone’s hearts. I want to sing and pass down the newest, freshest history in this world with my throat…with my tongue. ――That is my wish.]
“That is why I want the newest legends”, Liliana said.
The first page of history that nobody sings about and knows about yet, but is still etched into the world.
That’s why this girl wished to accomplish singing, despite knowing that what awaited her would be her last moment of decaying in the wilderness, as she continued along the journey.
Roswaal: [That enthusiasm is spleeendid. However, what kind of legends are you looking for? Chasing things without form is the same as grabbing onto the clouds, after aaall. You might even miss the things you desire, unless you have a definite form inside yourself.]
Liliana: […If possible, I want a heroic tale.]
Roswaal: [A heroic tale…]
Roswaal asked a question. Liliana answered. Emilia admired it.
The meaning of those three’s reaction and the power of the sound of the words “heroic tale” also fascinated Subaru.
Heroic tale―― Those definitely were words that excited people and had the power to cause anyone to have wild enthusiasm.
Even in his original world, many of the names left in history were heroes that rendered famous, distinguished services in war. Heroic tales were things that had the power to captivate anyone’s heart in any world during any time period.
Emilia: [Then Liliana wants to know new stories of heroes?]
Liliana: […Well it’s not that simple coming up with new heroes in this current age. There may have been a place for development of a hero several hundred years earlier when Witches were rampant and the world was full of threats… In this world with peace, even if it’s only apparent peace, a new hero would be very…]
There was no room for a hero to be born precisely because it was a peaceful age.
An age without a hero was also an age when a hero wouldn’t be necessary. It seemed that Liliana also understood that, but she stifled her emotions in response to that helpless matter. However―
It was a slight murmur, but it reached everyone’s eardrums. But Subaru expressed confusion, since he could not understand the meaning of that murmur. Being looked at everyone, Roswaal opens his differently colored eyes widely and laughed.
Roswaal: [A bard has come here like this, seeking a not yet known heroic tale. How should I describe this flow of events that is like fate, other than saying it’s amusing? Wait wait I caaan’t, this is amusing!]
Emilia: [Wait, Roswaal. What are you saying? Everyone… is bothered, including Liliana… along with myself. Don’t just have understanding by yourself, give a proper explanation.]
When Emilia drew closer to Roswaal, him looking like he was enjoying himself, he looked at that beautiful face and says―
Roswaal: [Easy to do, Emilia-sama. I will fulfill Miss Liliana’s wiiiish.]
Emilia: [Eh!? Then does Roswaal have an idea of a new heroic tale?]
Roswaal: [Of course I do. ――Also, it’s related to Emilia-sama toooo.]
Emilia: [I’m related to it…?]
Roswaal gives a profound smile at Emilia, who had a look of being completely clueless. Subaru suddenly understood Roswaal’s intent, as he looked at that expression, being across from Emilia.
――If his prediction was correct, then that sure was a new legend.
Liliana: [You know a new hero? If so, then please let me hear about it…!]
Roswaal: [Ah, I wiiiiiilll noooot.]
Roswaal mercilessly knocks down Liliana, who was in high spirits after hearing that the goal of her journey would come true. Emilia takes place of Liliana, her letting out a shriek like a squashed frog, and she glares at Roswaal.
Roswaal: [Don’t make such a frightening look. It ruins your beautiful face. Aaalso, nothing about this is me being maliciooous. Do I seem like that kind of a bad guy to you?]
Emilia: [I’m doubting if it’d actually be weird for you and Subaru to do things like that.]
Subaru: [That’s an impassioned harmful rumor!]
In response to Subaru, him getting hit by a stray bullet, Emilia says “Ah, is it not like that?” as a follow up in a panic. In front of that follow up, Liliana looks up at Roswaal once again, still being crushed, and says,
Liliana: [Th―then… What can I do… to have you tell me about it?]
Roswaal: [This new “legend”…It’s not something we can rashly talk about eitheeer. Thuuus, we must make sure that you are a person we can truuust.]
Liliana: [Wh―what do I have to do? Y―you can’t have my hands, but if it’s just my toes, then I can offer them as an oath!]
Subaru: [Calm down. Also, take more care of your own body, young woman.]
Subaru calms down Liliana, who started to talk about which muscles would be acceptable and unacceptable to give, and he sighed.
It sure was difficult to make a differentiation between the title flow bard and someone who had no fixed address and no occupation. It was comparable to the suspiciousness of Subaru’s lineage, as he was someone who was summoned into a different world and didn’t have a family register.
Anyhow, Roswaal had a sound argument. If Roswaal’s plan was exactly what Subaru was thinking of, then they couldn’t rashly get Liliana involved.
Liliana drops her shoulders. It was too ironic how being a bard that goes with the flow was hindering the reason to act as a bard who goes with the flow.
Roswaal: [So, thaaaat is why we first need time for ascertainment. Let’s see what we could do. How about we allow you to stay at the mansion for a few daaays. If we’re able to see you as a trustable person during that time, then I’ll reveal what I know about heroic tales.]
Perhaps this was her reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.
Surely that would be how you’d describe Liliana’s current mental state. That is what Subaru thought while looking at Liliana, who had hope within her eyes despite being pushed into the tunnel by Roswaal.
Liliana: [O―okay! I’m also a woman! If you’ll compromise that much, what kind of bard would I be if I wasn’t on board with it! Come at me with what you got! Come at me!]
Seeing this girl being this easily manipulated in the palm of his hand by a carrot and stick made him vaguely think about if she had talent as a dancer.
Liliana: […Oops. Did I perhaps just get manipulated? Is it just my imagination?]
Subaru: [It’s more something you brought upon yourself, rather than your imagination.]
Subaru points out Liliana’s simple mindedness while they walked the distance to get to the Arlam Village together. When he did, she makes a look indicative of being very hurt and says
Liliana: [H-how cruel of you to say that. This isn’t the behavior you should have towards a dejected girl that has just noticed that she got fooled and manipulated… Don’t you think? Don’t you think so!?]
Rem: [Wrong, ma’am. Subaru-kun is always lovely.]
Liliana: [I have no way to express my anger towards that blind reply.]
The person who turned down Liliana, her half crying, was Rem, who was accompanying the two of them. While looking at Liliana as she shook and fought alone, Subaru let out a sigh, as if thinking that it would be boring for a while.
Liliana successfully got caught in Roswaal’s tricks, and it was decided that she’d be observed in the mansion.
They were now on their way towards Arlam Village to get the luggage she left behind. Subaru and Rem appeared to be her helpers, but they actually had the role of supervising Liliana to make sure she wouldn’t escape.
In actuality, Subaru was warned by Roswaal to not let Liliana out of his sight, and Rem was this unreliable person’s backup. Neither Subaru nor Liliana was trusted. That being said, in truth, it was actually just Subaru reading too much into it, and Rem respecting her intentions.
Subaru: [But, Ros-chi is boorish… we don’t know what he’s aiming for either, after all.]
Liliana: [But can Mr. Maid imagine what the Master’s idea is?]
Subaru: [Roughly. However, I won’t speak about it for the same reasons Ros-chi has. He and I have the same opinion, although it irritates me.]
Even though Subaru spoke out, it was a failure, and Liliana let out scream that sounded similar to one of a peculiar animal. There were points where he should’ve felt sympathy for this girl’s circumstances, who had her journey’s goal in front of her and still couldn’t see the full picture very well.
Subaru: [In reality, etching your name into history isn’t a simple task. If we look into history from now for things like heroes and all that, we can’t learn about them intuitively.]
Liliana: [I agree. It’s very difficult. I couldn’t be any happier if I found a hero whose name hasn’t even shown up in the world yet and put their traces into a song… Although it would be a different matter if we had a method to look into the future.]
Subaru: [A… A―a―a… As if a method like that exists, stupid!]
Liliana: [Why are you overreacting that much?]
In some sense, it would be correct to call Return by Death something that was similar to being able to foresee the future.
The conversation becomes blurry because of his own peculiarity, and Liliana turned towards Subaru with a doubtful look, him being disturbed. However, Rem interrupts Subaru and Liliana’s moment. Rem claps her hands with a smile and says―
Rem: [Ma’am, I have good news for you. The truth is that I know a new legend.]
Liliana: [Ehh!? R―really…!?]
Liliana comes across unexpected good news, and her look becomes weird as she had both surprise and joy. Considering how Rem had been friendly until now, there was credibility in her line of saying that she had an idea.
However, on the other hand, the person who stayed silent and didn’t overlook it was Subaru. If Rem’s idea was Roswaal’s secret details, then it was still too early to tell Liliana about it.
Subaru’s worries were put aside, and Rem pointed to the side with a face full of confidence.
Rem: [It’s Subaru-kun.]
Rem: [It’s the newest legend. And it’s a hero whose name will rise up, Subaru-kun.]
Subaru and Liliana’s dumbfounded voices overlap, and Rem supports Subaru to pile onto that.
Subaru forgets to ask “Eh, a joke?” as a response to the excessively confident recommendation.
Rem: [It’s Subaru-kun.]
It was hard to say if Rem was being serious or if she was trying to deceive them, as she presses for an answer. But at the very least, it seemed like a conclusion appeared inside of Liliana. She compares Subaru and Rem’s face and says,
Liliana: [I’ve got it. Please listen. ――A new legend: «Skillful Playboy».]
Subaru: [Shut up!]
Subaru scolds Liliana, her not even acting like she believed in him, and he lets out a deep sigh.
The feudal lord’s attendant male servant that sensed the disaster that would happen in the village before anything happened, the person who risked his life to stop the Witchbeasts from causing damage, the person that protected the citizens’ safety and trust―― Who would believe in that guy? Such blasphemy.
Rem: [I was serious… too bad you won’t believe me.]
Rem feels discouraged, hanging her head, and she really did look disappointed, so Subaru started to feel sorry. Subaru was confident that he wasn’t great enough as a man to be rewarded with that much pure trust.
The ability to Return by Death was Subaru’s unique last bit of hope in this different world―― However, even when he had that power, there were many times when Subaru couldn’t save the swirl of tragedies at the village and the mansion.
If it was someone else, that person would do a better job. That type of evaluation of himself was rooted within him.
Subaru: [No matter how I die, the pain is the same… Even if I could save and reload more easily, Heaven would punish me.]
It was an ability with many restrictions that had death as an absolute trigger for activation.
He couldn’t welcome it with both hands either because it wasn’t something he wished for. He actually wanted to complain about the existence of this paranormal power he had been given, more than he wanted to show his thanks for it.
That was when the mood suddenly changed.
Rem calls out to Subaru with a low, cautious voice, and after she reached out, the course of the situation was interrupted.
The sound of the seriousness in Rem’s voice caused Subaru to immediately come back to reality after he had been in deep thought. And then, he clearly saw why Rem stopped him.
Subaru: […Who are these people.]
Before Subaru’s eyes, who whispered, there were figures of four people that blocked the road to the village.
They were clearly suspicious people―― they were completely covered in white clothing. Their faces, the length of their hands and legs, and their builds were concealed, completely burying their lineage in white.
They had white hoods, white masks, and white costumes. They were entirely white, from head to toe.
Subaru: [To think I’d see the day when I’d come across perverts other than Roswaal like this…]
Subaru tells a joke and scans his surroundings.
The eccentric clothing catches his eyes. He couldn’t commence an independent surprise attack for now. If that was the case, then it was unlikely that the mere itinerant entertainer would do so either, considering how she stayed silent and stood in his way.
Subaru: [If you don’t know the road, trace your footsteps. The globally common term for ground with no maintained grass is “road”. By the way, the feudal lord’s mansion is behind me, and a small village is at the front, but…]
Subaru: [Ah, I guess you guys aren’t lost children that want to hear about the road after all.]
Subaru acts provocative. The edge of their knives flicker at the end of the white clothed people’s sleeves.
They put their specialized weapons for specific times into their hands and the white clothed people sliding towards him cause Subaru to gulp.
The four people swing up their knives towards Subaru and the others without even a warning and――
Rem: [I don’t know who you people are, but I judge that you all have hostile intentions.]
The faces of the white clothed people that were at the front receive a violent punch from Rem’s fist, pushing them upward.
Her rough fist hitting their bodies makes a sound, and the men sent flying into the opposite direction land on the ground with their heads, tumbling down. Their limbs are made limp, and they saw that the masks on their upwards facing heads were becoming red.
Subaru sees that ridiculously gruesome state and says “Wow, that looks painful”, honestly letting out his impression that he had.
Once he looked, the white clothed people that were silent until now let out their voices in dumbfoundment. They look at their comrades that were sent flying, and they quickly started to feel the human kindness in the figure that stood upright.Although, that would have no effect at all on the event that would happen from this point on.
Rem: [I lost my weapon the other day at the forest, so until I get a replacement, I’ll fight you empty-handed. Got a problem with that?]
“Lost property in the forest” was a cute way of saying it, but the thing she lost was her morning star, which was a brutal thing that had thorns on it. Rem’s white slender hands that liked to use those as her specialized weapon were also beautiful but dangerous weapons that sent those men flying just a moment ago.
Rem put up her hands, and the white clothed people immediately conspire with each other in response to the girl who showed those dangerous weapons.
The men slip away to retreat just like when they were nearing them, and they carried their unconscious comrades, quickly withdrawing from the area. Rem kept an eye on the men that came into the side forest and tried to run, but once she saw that not a trace of them was left, she lost the strength in her shoulders.
Rem: [I was a little anxious. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to protect Subaru-kun empty-handedly when we come across people like that, after all.]
Subaru: [You say that you were anxious, but that was a serious, good straight right.]
Rem: [Subaru-kun, you’re making me blush with how you’re praising me that much.]
Subaru nods at Rem, who put her hands on her blushed cheeks, and he looks at the forest that the white clothed people ran from, although they didn’t look like mere thieves.
Subaru: [What do you think that was about? Maybe it was disturbance related to Emilia or something.]
Rem: [That’s a possibility, but Roswaal-sama is also someone that doesn’t have many enemies. If he restrains himself that much, then I don’t think he’d get frequent enemies, but it’s a possibility.]
Subaru: [Seriously? I’m a little worried about my workplace’s safety. ――Also,]
While getting cold feet from Rem’s response, Subaru finally glares at the side.
He saw a girl that kept her silence until now, and she had just stealthily turned her back. Subaru grabs her shoulder from the back, and while putting on the friendliest smile he was capable of he says―
Subaru: [Whaaatcha doin’, trying to run off? Hmm, Liliana-chaaan?]
Liliana: [Eek! Sorry. I apologize. I’m sorry, so please don’t make that angry look.]
Subaru: [I don’t look angry! It’s a smile of a smile that’s trying to loosen its tension. Take a good look!]
Liliana continued to be frighted by Subaru’s full throttle smile. That reaction astonishes Subaru, but Rem takes over Liliana for him as she patted her back like she was comforting a puppy.
Rem: [Don’t worry, Subaru-kun isn’t scary. It’s just that his eyes are a little more lovely than others’.]
Liliana: [Th―that’s a personal opinion, but I’m fine. I’ve calmed down, yes.]
Subaru: [I have some subtle feelings about that… But whatever. Anyways, why did you try to run? I think this would be unlikely, but are you perhaps…]
“An accomplice of those white clothed people, and a comrade that’s trying to disturb Emilia’s royal selection”―― Was she someone that got close to Subaru and the others with that goal? The moment he tried to ask that, Liliana prostrated herself.
Liliana: [I’m sowwy! But but, I am not a bad person! It’s just that those people have always been trying to get me. I tried and tried not to think «Man, I want to do something about this. Oh yeah, how about I get the mansion people to help me».]
Subaru listens to Liliana explain herself, as she prostrated herself, and it made him goggle in astonishment, and seeing that franticness made him erase the possibility of her being a threatful spy.
Subaru: [You’re telling me that when you said assassins were trying to get you while you were dozing off at the mansion, that actually was true!?]
Subaru could do nothing but be troubled and groan in response to feeling another problem popping up.
Subaru: [And so yeah, Liliana got chased by some unfamiliar people.]
Subaru finishes his report, and he sinks deep into the couch.
They returned and were at the Roswaal residence’s office. Four people, including Subaru, were in the room. Subaru points at Rem, who was sitting next to him, and he said―
Subaru: [Frankly, Rem being there saved us. I hate to admit it, but if it was just me and Liliana, then we would’ve gotten killed.]
Rem: [Yes. Thankfully I was there, too. Though, I would’ve been more useful if I had my iron flail.]
Subaru: [If you did, then they would’ve become forest fertilizer… Yeah, I thought it was graceful and cute.]
Subaru’s heart calmed down, having evaded a massacre. The men that got knocked out by Rem, who was smiling, surely didn’t expect to almost get beaten to death by a cute maid. Anyone would understand those feelings.
Ram: [So, is the bard you were talking about in the guest room?]
Subaru: [Yeah, with Emilia-tan, that is. She is there under the pretext of guaranteeing her safety, but it’d be problematic if we pressured her awkwardly and made her run away. That’s why Emilia-tan’s suited for the job, since she knows nothing.]
Ram: [I see. It seems you understand why Roswaal-sama wants to keep that poet here.]
Ram gives an acknowledging gesture with her chin, and she pierced Subaru with a cold look. Subaru responds to that look by shrugging his shoulders.
Subaru: [He wants to make Liliana have a position of something like a news spreader for Emilia-tan during the Royal Election, right? Liliana wants to create a new heroic song with her own hands. She seems perfect for a success story of a country’s new King.]
Ram: [That was some quick understanding for someone like Barusu. My suspicion of you having a hollow pumpkin from the neck up has been cleared.]
Subaru: [Have you been trying to talk about a jack-o’lantern or something?]
Setting Ram’s usual assessments aside, Roswaal’s intentions were probably something like that.
This was a world where things like TV and newspapers to communicate information to the general public were non-existent. The influence of a bard going to various places conveying things such as history and events through song was something definitely far beyond the capabilities of Subaru’s imagination.
――In regard to the Royal Selection too, Liliana would be a big help to Emilia with her songs.
Roswaal: [Subaru’s also quick on the uptaaaake. My plan is exactly what you saaaaid. Although, I plan to keep an accurate balance between the merits and demeriiiiits.]
Subaru: [Merits and demerits, eh.]
Subaru felt suspicious with Roswaal giving a pleased answer while chuckling. Seeing Subaru’s reaction, Rem takes Roswaal’s spot, and while facing down she says,
Rem: [I hate to point this out, but Emilia-sama is a half-elf, after all. You cannot deny the possibility of a normal poet using that as a reason to decline the proposal. For that point, Liliana-sama seems to be friendly with Emilia-sama, so I figure she might accept the proposal, depending on the conditions.]
Subaru: [So a plan in which we force the responsibility for trouble that can’t be resolved alone onto someone else and make it feel like an undeniable proposal, too… Did I just make a really evil look?]
Ram: [It was your usual evil person face.]
Rem: [It was as lovely as usual.]
Subaru curls his lips at the evilness of Roswaal’s personality while receiving the sisters contrasting assessments.
On top of his crafty speaking that got Liliana to stay at the mansion, he really was a smooth talker with his cunningness.
When he glared at him to criticise him slightly, he waved his hand with a full smile, and Subaru sighed.
Subaru: [Anyhow, I guess our current aim is to solve the problem while paying attention to Liliana’s surroundings. It really sucks how we let our attackers get away. If we caught even one of them…]
Ram: [If only you broke 5-60 of their bones, made them throw up as much as possible, and killed them.]
Subaru: [They wouldn’t even be able to spit out blood anymore if they got harmed that much. Take it easy on them.]
The fact that he couldn’t affirm it as a joke showed just how terrifying Ram’s loyalty was.
Subaru: [I am careful myself, but if I do get attacked, I’d only be able to cry for help in a super high-pitched voice. Though, I wouldn’t expect people to try it in a mansion with a feudal lord on the watch.]
Rem: [If I hear Subaru-kun’s voice, I’ll come running over right away. Even if I’m cleaning, even if I’m cooking, even if I’m taking a bath, please always call me.]
Subaru: [Quit looking at me with scornful eyes before I’m able to say anything!]
Rem shaked her invisible tail as a puppy maid, while Ram looked at Subaru with completely scornful eyes as a kitty cat maid. After the usual interaction, they sought to conclude the conversation.
Roswaal: [Anywaaays, as for me, I just want to keep the status quuoo. How about we find a solution after asking Liliana a little more about the situatioooon?]
Subaru: [Okay, then let’s talk to her with that in mind. Honestly, right now she probably feels more dead than alive, after all.]
Ram: [She caused a problem that’s bothering Roswaal-sama. She should suffer a little.]
Subaru: [Even if it’s towards the guest, that is too rude, Nee-sama.]
Subaru smiles wryly at Ram’s abusive language, and he puts his hand on the door to leave the room. Then
Roswaal: [As long as you’re with us, your safety is guaranteed. Maaake sure you communicate that point propeeeerly.]
Subaru was shocked by the deep statement that came from Roswaal’s voice that hit his back.
Liliana: […S―so, I don’t gotta worry about y’all slaying me with a sword for now?]
Subaru: [Uh, where do you come from?]
Liliana listens to the conclusion of the discussion, and she collapses in the chair dead tired, having stiffened up her whole body from nervousness. He decided to honestly excuse her slovenly appearance for now. Because she must’ve went through suffocation while waiting, after all.
Subaru: [If you’ve learned from this experience, then don’t think of trying something like involving a feudal lord with your own motives. This is actually something that could get you slain with a sword, you know.]
Liliana: [Agh! I-I’ll reflect upon my actions. I’ll be finer than wind, clearer than water!]
Subaru: [That’s a duplicate of my acting style. So, from now on, you’re not allowed to use it.]
Liliana currently did not have the composure to respond to Subaru’s cold retort with a witty joke.
Liliana basically got people related to the feudal lord involved in her situation and exposed them to danger. Her idea was surely foolish, and she was certainly naive, too.
As you’d expect, seeing Liliana down was a good way for Subaru to relieve his grudge. However, the one who saw Subaru and Liliana and puffed her cheeks angrily was Emilia.
Emilia: [Subaru. Liliana seems to reaaaally be reflecting on herself, so don’t go any further.]
Subaru: [You can’t be like that, Emilia-tan. If we don’t warn her firmly this way, she’ll never start to have self-awareness. She has to be taught just how much trouble you can cause to everyone around by staying silent and keeping a secret… Emilia-tan, what’s up with that look?]
Emilia: [No, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about how terrible it is to not have self-awareness.]
Subaru gets stared at by Emilia, and for some reason it makes him feel uncomfortable.
Subaru understands the turn of events, and he changes the target of the conversation back from Emilia to Liliana.
Subaru: [So, I’m gonna ask you to speak in detail… But, uh, when in the world did the white clothed people start going after you?]
Liliana: [I don’t really know. I became clearly aware of them going after me in these past few days… nothing special happened until that point.]
Subaru: [Nothing like an accident that would give a hint?]
Liliana: [No. At best, there were things like my own feather pen going missing, my clothes going missing after I took a bath, used tableware disappearing from the inn…]
Subaru: [That sounds like damage from stalkers!]
When Subaru raised his voice because of the devious tricks, Emilia and Liliana both tilted their heads. It seemed like these girls couldn’t grasp the concept of a stalker.
Emilia was perfect. Liliana was a beautiful girl if she didn’t open her mouth, so he wanted them to be careful, taking that into consideration. That said, when Subaru remembered the attackers’ situation, he shook his head.
Subaru: [Your belongings going missing probably isn’t related to those pursuers. You just have passionate, curious fans. Have they ever chased you around with a knife?]
Liliana: [Hmmm. The way you speak is a slightly confusin’… But anyways, today was the first time someone flicked a shiny object at me. If it wasn’t, I woulda had a little more of a serious look on my face.]
Subaru: [Doesn’t really look like you have a serious look today either… But I guess this means their approaches have suddenly changed.]
Subaru goes into deep thought with Liliana’s evidence, and he searches for the cause of the white clothed people’s change in their actions. However, there was one thing that came to mind when he thought of changes that happened most recently to Liliana.
Subaru: [Did they panic… because you met with this mansion’s feudal lord?]
If Liliana’s contact with Roswaal was what motivated the people who chased her, then it would fit the puzzle. But on the other hand, it meant that there was a reason to be worried with Liliana getting involved with people of power.
Subaru: [You really don’t have any idea, huh. You seriously feel like a pretty dangerous troublemaker. If there’s something you know and you don’t barf out all of it around here, we won’t be able to protect you.]
Liliana: [Such ridiculous remarks you’re making by saying stuff like barf in front of a girl! I swear on the souls of my ancestors and this Lyulyre that I’m not hiding anything! Actually, I can’t swear it on my Lyulyre yet. Please wait.]
Subaru: [Don’t just lose confidence right off the bat!]
Subaru sighs at Liliana after yelling as she held onto her business tool tightly. But, Liliana was also seriously looking for a clue, so while groaning she said―
Liliana: [I’m not even remotely trying to hide anything, but I got nothin’. Although, this discomfort kinda feels like small bones getting stuck on all my teeth.]
Subaru: [Take out the bones properly before you eat fish.]
Subaru responds coldly at Liliana, her lacking seriousness even though she had a serious face, and he turned to Emilia, wanting to have a serious conversation.
Subaru: [So, Emilia-tan, did you have any realizations while we were talking about being dirtied with small bones? We made you listen to an unproductive conversation, right?]
Emilia: [Not at all. Based off what Liliana said, things felt off about two weeks ago… it seems to have started before she came to Arlam Village, when she left the town of Warwar. So, if we assume there’s a reason for that…]
Subaru: [That’s where it is, eh. I’m almost certain something that happened there was the cause. Some sort of impressive matter, or whether she did something there or not, oi.]
Liliana: [Why are you assuming that I did something, even after I let you guys treat me disgracefully?]
Subaru ignored Liliana while she had a whiny look on her face. Liliana grabs onto her pigtails while pouting, and she shook her head back and forth.
Liliana: [Even if you say that, it was the same as always. That town is a little cold to outsiders, so feeling unwelcome would be… Aah! Aah! The song! Don’t sigh after the song ended…! Don’t look at me like that…!]
Subaru: [I do feel bad for your heart breaking because of bad memories, but come on, say things that can give us hints.]
Emilia: [Besides, why’d you even stay at a rude place, even if it was just for a little? I do have experience myself, but I don’t think it felt good for either of us.]
Subaru: [I caught a glimpse of Emilia-tan’s painful past.]
Emilia’s innocent experience telling pierced Liliana while she held onto her head shaking.
However, it was natural to point it out. Being a bard meant that you’d go where the wind blew, that you’d do things on a whim. There shouldn’t have been any reason for a rootless girl to stay in a place that made her feel uncomfortable.
Liliana: [Ah, you see, those people certainly were cold, and they did completely irritate me, but fortunately, the richest grandpa liked me!]
Subaru: [Oh, a rich grandpa, eh.]
Liliana: [Nooo! Jeez, I meant that he adored me like a granddaughter. He even bought me a new Lyulyre! That’s why it’s new.]
She holds out the Lyulyre to show it off, and Subaru accepts it without thought. Liliana was euphoric, but to Subaru it only sounded like her fooling a lonely old man and making him support her.
Liliana: [I ate delicious food, slept in a comfy bed, and he even bought new things like a Lyulyre and clothes… It was like a dream hehehe.]
Subaru: [You should do something about that vulgarity you have whenever you aren’t singing.]
Liliana had an intoxicated look with drool that looked like it was going to drop. However, after she ignored Subaru’s point, she suddenly made a gloomy expression.
Liliana: [But, unfortunately that time didn’t last for long, either. One day the grandpa kicked me out of the mansion, not knowing what I did wrong. And that was the end of my riotous pleasures.]
Subaru: [Did you make careless mistakes while sleeping like breaking vases and snatching food?]
Liliana: [H-how rude! The last time I made a careless mistake was 5 years ago!]
She said 5 years ago, but that was when she was 16. Although, it would be tiresome to dig into that, too. Liliana made a baffled look, appearing to really have no idea why she was kicked out.
There was an expression he was suspicious of, but “rich grandpa” was far from the core of the reason as to why she got kicked out. He also thought about the possibility of Liliana’s pursuers having misunderstandings about there being something going on between her and the old man.
Subaru: [Either way, I guess the hints are Warwar Town and that grandpa. I’ll tell this to Roswaal just in case… But can this even be investigated?]
Liliana: [But but, the grandpa helped with the things around me, and he also taught me the «Song That Must Not be Sung No Matter What», so I really have no idea.]
Subaru: [Is that so… Then I guess he can’t be a clue. I’m stumped.]
Emilia: [No, hold on a second.]
Subaru was just about to miss something that seriously could not be ignored, and the conversation stopped in confusion. However, the two girls were tilting their heads. It seemed like they weren’t even kidding. That’s why airheads are scary. Emilia-tan is seriously an angel.
Emilia: [Um, what is the «Song That Must Not be Sung No Matter What»?]
Liliana: […? It’s a song the grandpa taught me, and it’s about the secret that made a fortune in a lifetime. Honestly, it’s not for me, whether it be because of the music or the lyrics.]
Emilia: [Jeez. You can’t talk like that about a song someone taught you. Can you play it once?]
Liliana: [Yes, with great pleasure! If you don’t mind, I’d like to show everything in my repertoire!]
Liliana takes her Lyulyre from Subaru, and she was in a good mood strumming it.
It also made Emilia’s eyes light up. Her heart was pounding like a drum because of the request.
Subaru closed his eyes with the two of them in front of him. After that, he took a deep breath and said―
Subaru: [――That song is completely at fault!!]
Then, he put an end to the two airheads’ conversation with no retort in sight to come from them.
Subaru: [But you know…]
Liliana: [Fai? Fwht’s up?]
Subaru: [Don’t talk with your mouth full. Ladies can’t be vulgar.]
Liliana: [Haha. It seems like Mr. Maid finally noticed my sexiness as a woman.]
Liliana appeared to be prideful for some reason, and the way she interpreted Subaru’s remark was unknown. At the very least, her appearance of having her cheeks inflated with candy like a squirrel did not have a bit of an adult woman’s sexiness.
Liliana stuffed a ridiculous amount of Rem’s homemade sweets in her mouth, and it was now afternoon snack time. Subaru let out a sigh while enjoying the tea and sweets during the beautiful afternoon.
Subaru: [It’s already been 3 days since you came here…]
Liliana: [It has. That was quite quick. What about it?]
Subaru: [It’s hasn’t been at the level of continuous attacks, but seriously what have you done!?]
Subaru yells, looking back on the three days, and Liliana made her wide eyes even wider in surprise.
In the three days Liliana stayed at the mansion―― The gang’s attacks on her were done frequently, be it in the morning, at noon, or at night, and she was attacked more than 30 times already. How good was the guess of them most likely hesitating if she was sheltered in the mansion?
Subaru: [At the moment, Rem shoots all of them down, but them escaping is the only thing unusual. Not a single one of them has been caught. Just who are we dealing with?]
Liliana: [Oh come on now. If I knew that, then I wouldn’t be having trouble. Please don’t make me say that at this point.]
Subaru: [Just how carefree have you become in merely three days!?]
It was as if Liliana got very carried away in these past three days, laughing like it was none of her business. She only cowered in fear for a few hours in the first day. Now she was walking so confidently as if the mansion was her own place. Or maybe Subaru was the one taking them lightly.
Subaru: [Though there is luck in leisure… At this rate, I don’t think Ram wants to wait, either.]
Liliana: [I apologize for the inconvenience… If you aren’t gonna eat those sweets, can I have them?]
Subaru: [Your gratitude really is just for show and lip service!]
Liliana stuffed herself with Subaru’s share of sweets, appearing to have taken Subaru’s angry voice as permission, and she was delighted. That behavior made Subaru feel bad for Ram, who was acting for Liliana’s sake.
As of now, Ram was doing an investigation all the way up to the Warwar Village Liliana stayed at before. She did this because it seemed that the town’s rich man was related to Liliana getting chased.
Although it was Roswaal’s order, he could not forget the truly displeased look Ram had on her face before she left the mansion. You could say that the future of Ram letting out her anger on Subaru after she came back was guaranteed.
Liliana: [But you’re very popular with everyone besides Ram.]
Liliana: [Songs are simply stubborn things that soak deep into hearts, indiscriminate of countries, words, and races. Well, bards succeed in life because of their true abilities. Sincere feelings move people. Hehe.]
Subaru: [I’m not convinced…]
Subaru felt some sort of sense of defeat in the beautiful girl that had a vulgar smile. It was splendid how her secrets to success were things such as her looks and true ability, but she was far from convincing.
For a girl to be charming, Subaru felt like she had to have beauty in the heart.
Subaru: [For that, Emilia-tan truly is fitting for my first star.]
Emilia: [Did you call me just now?]
Right after murmuring his feelings out loud, Emilia showed up in the room, and his heart jumped.
Seeing Subaru reflexively straighten himself, Emilia pointed above the room’s door. There was this world’s ma-time-crystal sparkling, which you could tell the time with based off the change in color.
Emilia: [See, it’s about that time of the day again, you know? I came here because I couldn’t wait.]
Subaru: [That’s a line I’d like to hear in my room when everyone’s asleep at night… Rem said that she was going to clean up the tableware and stuff, too.]
Emilia: [Haha. Rem’s also looking forward to it, after all. I’m interested in the continuation from yesterday, myself.]
Emilia had her cheeks sweetly blush a little because of her expectations. He felt jealous because that captivating face and her eyes weren’t looking at him. Subaru unconsciously glared at Liliana.
Liliana: [I’ve got it. Please listen. ――Another person’s love, the taste of honey.]
Subaru: [Shut up!]
Liliana takes a lick of the pastry cream on her finger, carrying the Lyulyre on her shoulder, and Subaru roared at her. He was simply a poor loser, so Liliana’s triumphant look made him feel complete frustration.
Rem: [Ah, was it just about to start?]
Emilia: [No it’s okay. Subaru was just teasing Liliana like always.]
Subaru: [Inside your head, I was the one doing the teasing, Emilia-tan!?]
Emilia speaks to Rem, who came in late, and she was making space for her on the sofa. When Rem sat next to Emilia with a “Excuse me”, there was one seat left. Then
Beatrice: [――I’m coming in, I suppose.]
The door to the room opened had opened three times. However, this scene had a different effect than all the others.
On the other side of the door, a scenery was now drawing a faint library in their vision, something that should’ve usually been connected to the mansion’s corridor. A spacious room and cramped, rows of bookshelves. There was a childish girl walking towards them from there.
It was a girl that had cream-like colored hair put into magnificent drills. She made her doll like pretty face into a sour look, and she entered the room while the edges of her flashy dress shook.
She looks around the room, and she gave a little snort while having a composed expression.
Beatrice: [Well, you waited quite long for Betty, in fact. That’s the only admirable thing about you, I suppose.]
Liliana: [Oh please. There’s no way I’d start without Beatrice-sama. Neglecting my obligations would be disgraceful of me as a woman.]
Beatrice: [Yeah. Nice prudence, in fact. It seems like there are others who should follow your example, I suppose.]
In response to Liliana’s welcome, the girl―― Beatrice looked down on Subaru.
She did, but Subaru’s eye level wasn’t like that, and as long as he was used to her impudent behavior, she was nothing but lovely.
Subaru: [Even so, I still can’t believe Beako leaves the Forbidden Library to listen to Liliana’s songs.]
Beatrice: [Occasionally experiencing a world that isn’t reading books isn’t that bad, I suppose. That girl’s singing voice has its own value, in fact. A singing voice alone has more value than you, I suppose.]
Subaru: [I seriously might get worried about my own worth, so can you quit it with those type of expressions?]
Beatrice ignores Subaru, him worrying about his own rating, and she sat down on the remaining seat.
With this, the Roswaal residence’s Liliana fans were all gathered together. With Emilia and Rem, and even Beatrice, the ones who liked Liliana’s songs were the whole mansion, and it surprised her.
Liliana: [Wow, well then, thanks for gathering like this today again. The singer that will color everyone’s time through songs and stories is I, Liliana.]
Liliana gives a speech in the middle of the room while being looked at by her audience of four.
The way she said the standard phrases had dignity. It seemed that her behavior as a bard was the only thing she took seriously. He didn’t criticize her for having bits of sweets stuck on her mouth.
Liliana: [Well then, from here, what I will sing is a famous modern-day poem, «The Sword Demon Love Song Act II». Starting from when the sword demon who knew nothing but the sword meets a beautiful girl amidst the flowers.]
The girls’ applaud moderately at Liliana, her bowing, while Subaru applauded at her loudly.
Subaru was aware of the fact that he was here, secretly looking forward to hearing the continuation of the song from yesterday. All in all, Subaru, and again Emilia and the others, all felt the same way.
Sadly, Subaru was also wowed by this little singer’s singing voice.
Liliana: [I will sing. Please listen. ――The Sword Demon Love Song.]
Liliana plucks the strings of her Lyulyre, and her thin voice gets into the song, and she began to sing the prologue. That moment, the room’s atmosphere melted into the song’s space made by the girl, and the feeling of the world changed completely.
The world changes form with Liliana’s gestures, and even for the scenery, the way the song surrounded it was just amazing.
Subaru tried his absolute best to hold back his oohing and aahing while he continued to have goosebumps.
He couldn’t do something like destroy this beautiful world because of his own lack of insensitivity.
The story starts from when the swordsman, who devoted himself so much to the sword that he was called the Sword Demon, won his first fight after becoming strong at the Royal Capital and finally met a lone woman. The love song changes color from there. The Sword Demon ran through the battlefield as he swung cold steel while keeping his unconscious love to himself. Act 2 ends when the sword demon exchanged words with the girl, feeling something equivalent of swinging the sword.
Liliana: [――Thank you for your kind attention.]
The tune of the Lyulyre that shook the atmosphere ends. Liliana bends her back, leaving something that would stay in their minds.
Seeing that, Subaru naturally straightens his back, and he clapped. As for those next to him, Emilia and Rem were also applauding the same way. Beatrice was the only one not clapping, but her mouth that formed a faint smile was proof of her satisfaction with Liliana’s song.
Emilia: [As lovely as I thought… The story will definitely begin from here.]
Rem: [The Sword Demon Love Song is a song I know from beginning to end, and yet it felt like it was my first time listening to it. I can only admire Liliana’s song. It was wonderful.]
Beatrice: [It was okay, I suppose. Might as well come again to listen to the continuation, in fact.]
Subaru: [What a dishonest loli…]
Beatrice was viewing from above for some reason while Emilia and Rem were expressing their true thoughts. While putting in a retort for Beatrice, Subaru also intentionally avoided the opportunity to say his thoughts out loud.
Liliana: [So, what did you think of it, Mr. Maid?]
However, the bard that made her nostrils flare while having an evil smile would not permit Subaru’s weak self-esteem. Subaru bites his lips, and he sighed, immediately giving up.
Subaru: […Yeah, damn it. It hurts to say it, but it was amazing. I’m honestly concerned with you as a person and as a girl whenever you aren’t singing, but when you do sing, it’s the one time you are perfect. I was thinking of suggesting that you always sing, for the world’s sake, the people’s sake, and your own sake.]
Liliana: [What is this!? That should’ve been praise, and yet I don’t feel satisfied! How strange!]
He felt annoyed honestly praising her, so it turned into a complement with unintentional tints of abusive language. That made Beatrice snicker, and it caused Emilia to have a warm look.
Rem: [The Sword Demon Love Song is a total of five acts. I of course love the final fifth act, but I can’t miss out on listening to tomorrow’s third act, too. I’ll finish my work and run over, no matter what.]
Subaru: [Rem, you really love this. As of now, I’m not so absorbed in Liliana’s song that it overwhelms me, but if I listen to it until the end, then my thoughts might change.]
Rem: [Yes, they sure will. The Sword Demon’s way of life is the ideal way for many men and women, even today. Subaru-kun, please come and see me someday just like in the Sword Demon Love Song.]
Subaru: [If the spoilers I heard were true, then wouldn’t that mean Rem and I would kill each other in the end?]
While replying, Subaru loosens his lips upon seeing Rem having her cheeks blush slightly because of her excitement. It was rare for Rem to show her emotions this much. It was the same case with Beatrice going to listen, but Liliana’s singing voice really did have power. He was honestly a little jealous of that.
Subaru even tried so hard to become friendly with Rem, as much as he did with anyone else, so much he literally died.
Subaru: [She simply did that. That was not fun.]
Liliana: [What is up with you, Mr. Maid? Even if you make such a whiny look, it’s neither cute nor pleasant at all. You need to look at yourself objectively more.]
Subaru: [You’re not very convincing with how you usually act. Or are you trying to make the difference big to make the amazingness you have when singing stand out? I guess you’re a schemer aiming for gap moe.]
Liliana: [I don’t understand what you’re saying, but that’s exactly right- om nom”
Subaru: [Don’t eat in the middle of speaking!]
The unexpected guessing ended in an unexpected way. The song ended, and Liliana reached for baked sweets once again, having put her Lyulyre against the wall. The majestic and splendid angel became a fallen angel the instant she was polluted by the world called sweetness.
Mixing in Liliana like that and transitioning into the tea party while chatting was the daily life for the past 3 days.
――However, today she didn’t seem to behave herself.
Rem: [Excuse me.]
Suddenly, Rem said that, stood up, and headed towards the window.
Rem opens the window without a sound like that, and she gazes outside of it as she squinted her eyes. She checked on the mansion’s main entrance, and she picked out something from her pocket with her right hand.
Subaru: [Rem, what is that?]
Rem: [A little iron sphere. Since I don’t have something I’m used to using at hand.]
Rem rolls an iron sphere about the size of a golf ball in her palm, and she threw it outside at a high speed, having a shy expression as if she was embarrassed. After one second, there were thick, rough screams.
Rem: [――It hit.]
Subaru gives Rem a wry smile as she looked outside and gave him a thumbs up.
When he looked outside while being next to Rem, he saw the white clothed people carrying their unconscious comrades.
Subaru: [They don’t learn do they… Rem has bashed it into their heads so many times for them to learn.]
Rem: [When I bash them, maybe the things they learn get poured out.]
Subaru shuddered at Rem, her not denying the bashing, and he sighed after watching the group that fled. This pattern of the group getting repelled by Rem like this repeated for three days.
Rem: [It was the people with white clothes this time.]
Subaru: [Yep… Wait, what’s up with that bothering remark. This time it was people with white clothes?]
Rem: [About the groups that are clearly after Liliana-sama, the white clothed people and the crudely dressed people have mixed attacks. Most likely, I think the white clothed people employed thugs, as they didn’t have enough help.]
Subaru: [Seriously? Are you sure there are two groups? What’s the possibility of them being unrelated?]
Rem: [With this timing, it’s hard for me to think that the two reckless forces have separate goals.]
Subaru also nods in approval at Rem’s point. As one would expect, considering this timing, it would be too unlucky if the white clothed people coming for Liliana were a separate suicidal group attacking them.
But even so, he really was disturbed with the attack pattern.
Subaru: [Can’t we just go all out one time and catch them properly?]
Rem: [I did think about that, but they were really good at escaping. I think I can catch them if I chase them seriously… But I’m worried about going too far from the mansion.]
Subaru: [Even if they get past Ram, there’s still 2-3 boss characters in this mansion.]
Thinking of fighting strength, Rem was in the middle of the pack for real ability in the Roswaal residence.
There was Emilia, who was dependent on Puck, and Roswaal and Beatrice with their solo fighting power. When looked at from outside, this was a mansion that had such an excessive amount of fighting power gathered that it would be foolish to attack them.
Emilia: [But, leaving them on the loose too long would make me worried, too. It would be reeeaally problematic if they became impatient and started acting reckless.]
Subaru: [What I really want to do is solve this quickly. These are hot-headed guys that just come at us randomly, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem… But at worst, if they stop caring about how they go about it, they might even attack those around them.]
If say, the damage reached Arlam Village, the worst outcome would become true. Although, there was the worst-case scenario of Roswaal burning the attackers to nothing without sympathy after they attacked his people.
Subaru: [It would be nice if Ram found a clue as soon as possible, so that doesn’t happen.]
Emilia: [Ram is smart, so she’d definitely figure out something right away. We haven’t come up with anything even after listening to that song…]
The song that Emilia spoke of was the Song That Absolutely Must Not be Sung that was recognized as the cause of people going after Liliana.
Subaru also listened to it many times to confirm it, and the Song That Must Not be Sung No Matter What condition already made no sense to him. However, even Subaru didn’t feel like it was a song that had any special meaning.
It being closely related to a secret of a wealthy man making a fortune in a lifetime was also fake considering how it was a plain, pastoral song that was about a hometown. Ram was acting now to confirm that.
Beatrice: [You’re stuck in a trivial pickle, I suppose. Cutting up those bothersome and boorish people completely would make you feel better, in fact.]
Subaru: [People were even finally searching for a peaceful solution, read the atmosphere.]
Tilting her cup of black tea to drink, Beatrice cruelly finishes saying that with an unemotional voice.
It was ultimately a last resort but ending it by destroying the hostile people would leave a bad aftertaste. Subaru learned that lesson with the conclusion of the Witchbeast uproar. Not to mention, the people they were dealing with this time were not Witchbeasts, but human like he was, so it would the lesson applied here even more.
Subaru: [As long as we have solid defense, we can impair them… Plus, if we attack aggressively ourselves, they all might proceed at once.]
Liliana: [We don’t have enough help or information to do that. It’s all over already. There’s also the option to hang onto our heads and wait for the storm to pass by. Let’s do that.]
Subaru: [You, why are you so careless about this? Everyone’s doing their best for your sake, you know?]
She was probably more relaxed in the time she was put under than she was in all her other days until now. Seeing Liliana relaxing, he guessed that he wouldn’t need to have fears about his relationship with her after solving the issue.
But there was still no hope for a process to arrive at the solution.
Subaru: [Going on the offensive ourselves, eh…]
He mutters the words he said again, and Subaru went into deep thought as he closed one eye. When he did, seeing Subaru’s face from the side, Emilia gently knit her nicely shaped eyebrows.
Emilia: [Oh, Subaru, by any chance are you doing some sort of evil plan again?]
Subaru: [Not nice of you to say again. … Though it sure is an evil plan.]
Subaru makes an evil smile in response to Emilia’s point, and he looks back at the four people inside the mansion. While having the attention of all the girls, Subaru raised one finger and made a proposal.
Subaru: [I have a plan I want to try out. Can you guys help me?]
???: [――Still, what a stupid thing you’ve done. But it does make our job easier!]
Subaru stopped his cheeks from twitching as the man spit dirty saliva and laughed.
They were in a dim cabin, and the windows were sealed so that they couldn’t see outside. The Lagmite light crystal was the sole source of light, and it was still barely enough to faintly see their surroundings.
A gang he was now familiar with that acted as rough as they looked. That’s how Subaru assessed them.
???: [If you continued staying at the mansion, nothing would’ve happened because of that monstrous maid, but now you’ve sealed your fate by showing up. You got a bit carried away, don’t you think?]
The gang, who were just like thugs with a crude aura, altogether consisted only of 8 people, counting the ones that were in and out of the cabin. These people were at the top of the list of men who treated Subaru cruelly with vulgar looks on their faces.
???: [Oh? So cuuuuute. You’re shaking, aren’t youuuu. Go calm her down, Mr. Handsome.]
Next to Subaru, who was acting frustrated, there was a girl faced down shaking her head. Once the man saw that and spoke to him with a mocking voice, Subaru took her hand to protect her from the laughing men.
Subaru: [It’ll be alright, calm down. You don’t have to worry, it’ll all work itself out…]
???: [How brave. As if this is something that’ll work itself out. We were always careful to avoid being found by that maid. Well, as long as we have the woman, you aren’t needed. After we beat the hell out of you, we’ll let you go.]
Seeing Subaru cheer her up, the man cracks his knuckles loudly to show off. When Subaru took a breath, he realized that she held his hand back tightly. It was a native dress that only covered her body minimally. She looked lonely with her exposed white shoulders, so Subaru hugged her gently to hide her from the men. She holds her breath, and the men whistle. Then it happened immediately after.
???: [――Are you serious about getting her back!?]
The door opens roughly along with that voice. The sunlight lights up the room in darkness, and once Subaru squinted reflexively, he saw a person’s shadow out of breath standing while being backlit.
When the shadow came into focus after several flashes of light, Subaru noticed that it was a young man. He was well dressed, and he caressed his hair randomly.
The boy looks around the room, notices Subaru and the others, and widens his eyes. And then,
???: [Oh, Liliana! I finally―― Wait, who’s that guy?]
???: [He’s someone from the mansion where she hid, and they were caught… Master?]
The eyes of the boy looking at Subaru sharpen, and his face suddenly flushes. Once he saw the thugs acting carefully to not hurt the young man’s mood, he figured that he was their boss―― The mastermind.
Subaru makes that judgement, and the young man breathes near him heavily with his nose.
???: [You bastaaard! W―who said you could touch her like that!?]
The enraged boy kicked Subaru into the wall with all his might. Subaru’s head spins as he got hit with sudden violence, and the thugs around him take his place as they shout.
???: [M―master, what are you doing!?]
???: [T―t―this guy was getting all intimate with my Liliana!]
The boy, shaking off the men who were holding him back, kneels before Liliana, who he forcefully pulled away from Subaru. He holds his hand out to Liliana, still facing down, and he says,
???: [Ahh, Liliana. We finally meet. It is your servant of love, Kiritaka. When I heard that you were brought to that infamous mansion of the Demihuman Lover, heart-breaking fear overflowed like spring water. Ah, ah, Liliana…]
The boy named Kiritaka continues speaking to her, acting like he was getting drunk off his own words. Subaru could only frown since he knew his colleague had such a bad reputation that he couldn’t really say that it was a false accusation. While patting her shoulder, he looks back at the thugs and says,
Kiritaka: [Don’t you all have any thoughts on working for that guy?]
???: [He’s a boss that’s generous with his money. He can have that thin bodied girl, while we take it easy for a while. That guy would probably overlook us doing that for a bit.]
Based off the thugs’ grumbling, it seemed they also knew «that guy» meant the boss. Subaru finds out about how they are tight on money and anticipates that he was going to be wrong about all the fuss around Liliana.
He’d thought that they were surely going for Liliana because of the song, but it looked like she herself was the one Kiritaka, the mastermind, had the hots for.
Expressing love sure may be like paranoia, but the boy couldn’t see what else there was to it.
Kiritaka: [What’s wrong, Liliana!? Why won’t you look at me with your lovely eyes?]
Kiritaka, who had been appealing for love with nothing but passion, knits his brows in response to the girl that continued to keep silent.
Kiritaka: [Why won’t you speak… They must have done something awful when they took you!]
???: [Please let it go, Master! We did as you said. Not to be rude, but there’s no way anybody would think of doing something to a girl with a body this thin…]
Beatrice: [――Annoying squirts won’t shut up, I suppose.]
When Kiritaka and the others started quarrelling, a girl’s low voice interrupts them.
Kiritaka, hearing that with his face lifted, has his facial expression dyed with surprise. He was the only one who noticed it at this time. ――That the voice of the girl in his face was different from the one he sought.
Kiritaka: [W―who a―are you!? You’re not my Liliana!?]
Beatrice: [Betty doesn’t have the faintest memory of being named by you people, in fact.]
Subaru puts aside his retort inside of him that was “Didn’t they do that halfway through?”, and the girl stands up as her pigtails shook. But unlike Liliana’s hair, it was braided into quite elaborate drills.
Beatrice: [Inside and outside, a total of 9 people. ――An amount that can be counted on fingers, I suppose.]
The next moment, inside and outside of the hut, there was the sound of men screaming roughly in a violently blowing storm.
Attacking the gang going after Liliana was a simple plan Subaru proposed.
Subaru: [A decoy plan where we try getting caught, since we couldn’t find out where they go after chasing them away and get taken to the mastermind. Good thing they weren’t an energetic gang.]
Beatrice: [You made Betty go this far, in fact. Of course it was going to go well, I suppose.]
Beatrice lets out a sigh. She was using the towel Subaru gave her to wipe off her hands and feet.
She wipes off the paint that changed her skin color, and her brown appearance was slowly returning to its usual light skin. Subaru folds his arms while looking at Beatrice, who was wiping her whole body diligently.
Subaru: [Still, the more you return to your usual Beako appearance, the more I feel like something’s weird about that getup.]
Beatrice: […And whose proposal was it again to make Betty look like this, in fact?]
Subaru: [I mean, yeah it was my proposal, but… I didn’t think you’d look this pitiful.]
When Subaru shrugged his shoulders as if to lament Beatrice, blue veins showed on her forehead.
Beatrice’s current appearance was a disguise to trick the attackers―― In other words, exposing dancer fashion that Liliana would usually wear. There wasn’t a significant difference between Liliana’s constitutional feminineness and Beatrice’s constitutional feminineness, so why did he feel more pity for Beatrice?
It was probably because he knew how she usually looked and that she was someone he was friends with.
Beatrice: [If Nii-cha didn’t ask me and if it wasn’t for that girl’s sake, then I wouldn’t have done this, I suppose.]
Subaru: [Well, by using that as an excuse and expecting it to go well, you surprise yourself with how bad your personality is… Still, all in all, you really are simple.]
Beatrice: [I feel like you just made a ridiculously irritating assessment of Betty, I suppose.]
Subaru: [I complimented you. It’s the latest trend of signs of moe. Not sure if it’ll stick 10 years later, though.]
Subaru ignores Beatrice’s look as she scowled, and he views the disastrous scene in the cabin. On the floor all over the place, there were the beaten-up thugs that invoked Beatrice’s wrath. Subaru finds that Kiritaka, the mastermind, was now trapped under the large men, and so he put his hands together and prayed.
There was a condition for the decoy strategy, which was that Liliana couldn’t be exposed to danger. Making Rem be her guard, someone the men were being careful of, was a no. Putting Emilia under the bus would be outrageous, so Subaru and Beatrice had to be the perpetrators.
Therefore, Puck asked and convinced Beatrice, who was hesitant, and she was made out to be Liliana, getting taken away from the girls as they screeched, and the decoy strategy was put into action. Although, Subaru, the one who directed the plan, didn’t expect it to go this well.
Subaru: [It’s scary how fitting you are with my own plans. But since we’ve met the mastermind, Ram’s efforts were in vain. Now there’s even more of a chance that Ram spews venom when she comes back. This is too depressing.]
Beatrice: [If you have time to complain, you should tie these guys up, so they don’t get away, I suppose. The younger sister will be here before long, and we’ll have to take these guys back, in fact.]
Subaru: [That’s when they’ll have a scary discussion with Roswaal. He’s in this with us, though he had it coming.]
It was the conclusion of the expression of love that went too far. This basically meant that stalkers were scary no matter what age and no matter what world it was. Kiritaka, who foamed at the mouth and fainted, was the only one who knew what was so great about Liliana besides when she was singing.
Subaru: [Anyhow, that was a disappointing conclusion. If the white clothed guys knew that we captured the boss, they would have surrendered and abandoned ship. With this, I think the case is closed.]
Subaru still felt something was missing, but for the time being he just dropped his shoulders in relief. Then, what he picked up with his hand as he reached out was a Lyulyre given to them generously that was inside a case. It was an option they brought along after Beatrice disguised herself as Liliana.
Subaru: [It’s undamaged, right? Who knows what Liliana would demand if it broke.]
Subaru, with a simple posture, takes out the Lyulyre carefully and plays it with his fingers. He confirms that it can make a light sound, and Beatrice was surprised when Subaru started to play a random tune.
Beatrice: [You can play that instrument, I suppose.]
Subaru: [The strings of it aren’t really that different from an acoustic guitar. I borrowed it from Liliana every now and then in these past three days, and I can usually play it if it’s a 70s folk song.]
Back at his original world, he would borrow his father’s guitar and spend his free time playing and singing folk songs. It was useless practice since no one was there to listen, but his creativity was finally flourishing now that he crossed over worlds.
Subaru: [Copyright won’t catch up, so I guess now is the time I should start a renovation in this world’s music.]
Beatrice: [As far as Betty knows, this is the first time I’ve seen a human improve only skills that are useless as you are, in fact. What’s the point of being good at only those things, I suppose?]
Subaru: [The fact that there is no point makes me burn with passion. That’s what being romantic is.]
Listening to Subaru’s nonsense, Beatrice made a completely astonished look and sighed. Then, without any particular meaning behind it, she starts to listen carefully with her eyes closed. With a curious, calm look on her face.
Subaru: [Sheesh. ――Guess I have no choice.]
It would be awkward to stop playing in front of Beatrice when she was already ready to listen.
While Subaru used that as an excuse, the two of them had a peaceful concert alone until Rem came running into the cabin with a worried look.
Emilia: [So our attackers and the song have nothing to do with each other?]
Emilia, hearing about the circumstances from Subaru, murmurs that with her eyes wide open.
The decoy plan safely ended as a success, and as for the attackers and the mastermind brought into the mansion, they should now be having a nice little chat with Roswaal and Rem.
Subaru went to Emilia and Liliana while he waited for them to get something out of the interrogation, and he was now done with telling the details to the two people who were in suspense this whole time the strategy was carried out.
The two finished listening to the story at the mansion’s courtyard, and they both were relieved now that a peaceful solution was in sight.
Emilia: [Really, thank goodness. Subaru, you aren’t hurt anywhere, right? And is Beatrice safe?]
Subaru: [They roughed me up a bit, so I want to cry, but I’ll act tough since I’m in front of Emilia-tan. Beatrice also turned back to normal, changed clothes right away, and shut herself in a room.]
Emilia: [I see… Beatrice was so cute too. It’s kind of a shame.]
Subaru smiles wryly at Emilia, who became despondent.
As for Beatrice, she must’ve suffered from having to be a dress-up doll. When she came back, she immediately changed clothes, threw the clothes at Subaru, and quickly disappeared into the forbidden archives.
Liliana: [Is that so?… I really wanted to thank Beatrice-sama, that’s too bad.]
Then, Liliana, who had been silent up to this point, let that out quietly.
As one would expect, it seemed like Liliana also had a lot of thoughts on being presented with the settlement of an uproar focused on her, since she was the victim of a pretty insidious stalker.
Subaru: [About that mastermind Kiritaka, do you know him? From what I’ve seen, he seems to have quite the crush on you, but maybe it’s his bad eyesight.]
Liliana: [Ignoring that last part, uh, I do know him. It was before I came here, and before I came to Warwar. There was a commercial town I passed by, and I think there was an heir of a famous merchant family.]
Subaru: [I thought it was going to be like the rich man who got fed up with you, but it’s exactly like it… Did you not know that you were being followed…? Or well, I can’t believe you weren’t aware of it.]
Liliana: [He liked the songs a lot and treated me with stuff like delicious food… but I wanted to leave it at that and say goodbye.]
Subaru: [So you’re saying that everywhere you end up, you always cajole someone?]
Perhaps Liliana’s looks were in high demand in this world, like with the rich man at Warwar. It was a view that conflicted with Subaru’s, as someone who thought Emilia looked the best. Being stared at rudely by Subaru, Liliana holds onto her thin body with her arms.
Liliana: [W―why are you looking at me with dirty eyes all of a sudden? Have you finally fell for my charm, knowing that everyone else is so interested in me? Did I steal your heart?]
Subaru: [There, there. I’m really glad that it looks like you are back to your normal self. You are not being stalked because of your own clumsiness, so don’t have shame. Here, I’ll give you your Lyulyre back.]
Liliana: [Hmph. That doesn’t satisfy me at all! But I’ll take back my Lyulyre.]
He pushes the Lyulyre against Liliana, and she accepts it with a dissatisfied look. Still, if she was fine then she was fine, even if it was just on the surface. The more he could get out of her, the better.
Subaru: [What is it, Emilia-tan? Why are you looking at me with those kind, cute eyes?]
Emilia: [No, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about how Subaru is as dishonest as Beatrice.]
Subaru tilts his head in confusion at Emilia, who gave a slight chuckle.
Liliana: [But with this matter, now I owe a lot to everyone. So, I can’t just start talking about a story of a new hero with the lord. I have so much regret. There’s no more hope.]
Liliana viewed the situation objectively; in this situation she put herself in, on one hand, the immediate problem had been resolved, and she was depressed with a shocked look on her face. From her point of view, she was someone who caused trouble repeatedly at the mansion.
Even Liliana, someone who shined with shamelessness, didn’t want to act any bolder than this.
However, if Liliana knew Roswaal’s true motive, she truly was worrying over nothing. Rather, since Liliana the bard had a debt to get involved with the Royal Election, you could even say that this strife actually led to a beneficial result.
Subaru: [Well, Roswaal will tell you about that part of the story. He might even give you a backhanded compliment for indebting yourself.]
Liliana: […? What do you mean by that?]
Subaru: [You’ll find out soon enough.]
Emilia and Liliana both tilt their heads in response to Subaru’s speaking. Emilia couldn’t wrap her head around the situation behind the scenes, though it would’ve been nice if at least Liliana could, and it was cute how she was trying to help out of her own pure, good will.
Then, Subaru gets up from the lawn as he went “All right”, and he looks up at the mansion. It had been nearly one hour since the start of the interrogation―― This should be about the time when they got some sort of information out of them regarding the situation.
Subaru: [It wouldn’t be right to make the stalker’s victim and the assailants confront each other, but I do want to see what Roswaal has to say about this. I’m gonna go check it out for a bit.]
Liliana: [Oh, then before you do that, I’d like to leave my instrument and a change of clothes in my room.]
With a serious look, Liliana, who heard that he was going to where the mastermind was, requests him to prepare her things. It’s true that it wouldn’t be suiting to have the clothes Beatrice wore and the Lyulyre in the confrontation room.
Subaru: [Then let’s leave behind the luggage first. Emilia-tan, you can go to the office.]
Emilia: [Yeah, got it. We need to discipline the evil people properly, after all.]
Emilia, who was gentle and cute, clasps her slender hand as she was in a huff.
While feeling pleasant, Subaru heads towards the direction opposite of Emilia with Liliana. Emilia was heading to the office from the courtyard, while they were heading to the east wing where the guest room was at the front. And so――
Emilia, who had been going up the mansion from the courtyard using the main wing stairs, suddenly raises her face because of a sudden presence. She sees Rem land on the landing of the stairs that headed up to the third floor, swirling her skirt.
Emilia, seeing the short edge of her skirt swaying gently, blinks with surprise.
Emilia: [Rem, it’s dangerous to run like that through the corridor.]
Rem: [――Emilia-sama, sorry. But it’s an emergency.]
Emilia: [An emergency?]
Rem, someone who was usually calm, showed a rare sight of being in a panic, so Emilia raised an eyebrow. Then, Rem trots up to Emilia, and she looks around the bottom of the stairs.
Rem: [Weren’t you with Subaru-kun and Liliana-sama?]
Emilia: [Um, they went to go leave the luggage in the room… Did you find out something?]
Rem: [Roswaal-sama got them to spill most of the beans. Things like the ringleader is the heir of the company Muse, the person named Kiritaka Muse, and that he is after Liliana-sama because of an extreme crush.]
Emilia: [Yeah. Subaru did tell me that much…]
As for Liliana, she herself had no idea how much of an infatuation he had, and it was strange to her. But Rem shook her head in response to Emilia’s reply.
Rem: [Sorry, but that’s not the point. About Kiritaka, he hired thugs and paid them to bring Liliana-sama to him. Though, his efforts came to nothing because of Subaru-kun’s decoy strategy…]
Emilia: [There’s more to it?]
Rem: [According to Kiritaka, he kept insisting that he had no memory of hiring the white clothed group and that he had nothing to do with them.]
The moment Emilia heard that, she understands why Rem was in such a hurry and jumps down the stairs. With Rem next to her, Emilia ran as fast as she could to the east wing, where Subaru and Liliana went―― to Liliana’s room.
Emilia: [――They aren’t… here.]
Emilia doesn’t find the people she sought in the room left open, and her voice trembles because of her own blunder.
On top of the rattling cart being pulled, there was Subaru wrapped in a bamboo mat, glaring at the sky.
Liliana and he were going back inside the mansion, and just when they realized they were hit, they were in this situation. He was laying down facing up, and he only saw the blue sky. It was the worst situation. He was tied with rope from the top of the cloth that covered him tightly, and he couldn’t move at all.
Once he made a guess based off this situation of pain being left slightly on his head and being wrapped in a bamboo bat,
???: [Oh, looks like this lad woke up too. Sorry for treating you roughly.]
The voice Subaru heard came from someone that noticed he woke up.
When he moved his head to see where the voice came from, he saw a white clothed person sitting. Subaru confirms the bad taste of having pure white from top to bottom, and he was pretty much right about the situation.
He thought they’d caught their boss, but the white clothed people kept acting―― So, they were unrelated.
Subaru: [Which means that the Liliana fan and the song are separate matters! This is too complicated!]
Liliana: [I’ve got it. Please listen. ――Liliana, The Name of a Guilty Flower.]
Subaru: [Shut up! This is not the time to be saying that!!]
Subaru roars upon hearing the voice of the girl wrapped in a bamboo mat just like he was.
He wasn’t in a place where he could see Liliana, but at the very least, it seemed she had enough composure to say her usual slightly stupid comments. While feeling relief inside thanks to that, Subaru looks at the white clothed man.
Subaru: [Anyways, would it be safe to say that we’ll be able to talk without you hitting me and kicking me?]
???: […Yeah, that’ll make it easier for us too. I should’ve said this earlier, but our top priority is to transport you peacefully.]
Subaru: [You really should have. You’re not very convincing.]
When Subaru made that reply, the man said “You got that right” with a soft chuckle. Then, the man takes off the hood of his white clothing, exposing his unshaven face to the air. It was a middle-aged man in his 40s.
???: [We are the mercenaries White Dragon Scales.]
The man, face exposed as he named his organization, was looking to negotiate. While feeling the shaking of the cart platform, Subaru also felt like there was something off about his attitude, which was relatively rational considering how he roughly kidnapped him.
Subaru: [Hey, I think I’m going to feel sick. Can’t you sit me up before we talk?]
???: [If I do that, you’ll then want to lean against something, so it’ll be too much to deal with. I got carried away and tied you up too tight, practically like a pole, so it’d be a pain to make you stand too. Sorry, but you’re gonna have to lie down.]
Subaru: [I’m going to vomit once I hit my limit. All I have is mayonnaise inside of me. Feel the horror of my white vomit.]
He only ate the minimum amount of food this morning because of the decoy plan――he had only slurped mayonnaise he reproduced in the different world, so if he did throw up, that would be the only thing to come out of him.
Then, when the man gave up and threw his hands up upon hearing Subaru’s reply, a different voice came into the conversation.
Liliana: [Is this not a dragon carriage, but a brave ox Farrow carriage? Feels like you’re using a pretty outdated animal. It’s antique now.]
???: [I don’t care if you’re trying to shock me, being sarcastic, or trying to praise me with that, but nothing good will come out of doing any of that, so shut your mouth for a bit.]
Subaru tilts his head as much as he could, and at the corner of his eye he sees someone’s feet caught. It looked like Liliana was laying down facing the opposite direction of Subaru, and she was moving her tiptoes repeatedly.
Subaru: [I wouldn’t really put it as one disaster happening after another. Maybe more like experiencing two disasters and still not figuring out what’s going on.]
Liliana: [The success of the careless decoy strategy completely backfired! I wonder what Mr. Maid has to say about this as the one who proposed it.]
Subaru: [If I can just smack you for acting like you’re not a part of this, I won’t even care what happens anymore.]
Somehow Subaru was keeping calm thanks to Liliana managing to act the way she usually would.
They were actually completely in the palms of the white-clothed people’s hands.
Just like Liliana said, they went to an insecure place after the decoy strategy’s success, and they were attacked. The situation had the two groups cooperate, even though they hadn’t even planned to do so, and the groups led them around by their noses.
Subaru: [Now’s about the time when the ones in the mansion should’ve probably noticed that we aren’t there…]
The fact that he had only a few people dedicated to pursuing meant that it was going to be difficult for them to get immediate help. Even out of the little personnel they had, Ram was out of the mansion to investigate. There was no way Emilia and Roswaal would act directly, and whether Beatrice would help or not was unknown.
Which would mean that the only one who could surely do something was Rem.
Liliana: [And she has to guard the others too, so I’m guessing we can’t count on it?]
Subaru: […Yeah, that’s right.]
Those words hit Liliana where it hurt, as if she had predicted Subaru’s thoughts. If he didn’t have much options with his forces and the situation, then how would he guarantee their safety――
Subaru: [We won’t rely on anyone else, and it’ll depend on our own negotiation.]
As ready to talk as to act, he carves the path to release them, one that wouldn’t incur the anger of the person they were dealing with.
Fortunately, the person had intentions of talking with them. Subaru had no choice but to come up with a solution they both would agree with, and struggle so that they could be released safely.
Liliana: [Do your best, Mr. Maid.]
Subaru: [There’s a higher chance it’ll work if you don’t say anything. I’m not going to repeat it again, so just keep that in mind.]
???: [Are you two just about done talking?]
The man who had been waiting for Subaru and Liliana to stop talking gets in Subaru’s eyes again, perhaps thinking that this would be a good time to do so. The man sinks down onto the cargo platform and sat cross legged.
???: [So, I’ll introduce us again… We are the mercenaries White Dragon Scales.]
Subaru: [Sorry, but I just left my hometown, so I don’t really know much about the rumors here. That woman probably doesn’t know about it either, seeing as she’s a bard that goes wherever life takes her, a rootless wanderer. Plus, she’s a bit dumb anyways.]
Liliana: [Hey, Mr. Maid!? Why’re ya callin’ people stupid?]
The conversation was going to stop moving forward, so Subaru ignores Liliana’s complaint. The man with an unshaved face also treats Liliana the same way, ignoring her voice as he felt his chin.
???: [Even if you aren’t familiar with it, I can’t do anything about that. Even in Lugunica only one area knows this name, and it’s already been almost 10 years. We can’t push ourselves as much as we did back then, too.]
Subaru: [Back then… did you guys reform or something? If you’re going to be naughty, you should consider how old you are.]
???: [We neither broke up nor retired. Though, there was a reduction in activity. This is because there’s a final job we must settle. We won’t throw in the towel until it’s taken care of.]
The unshaven man says that with a low voice, determination in his eyes.
A strict aura, and a hint of a tragic man. Subaru guesses that he had some uncommon circumstances, and he sighed while lying down.
Subaru: [What is that last major task needed for you guys to throw in the towel?]
???: [Our mercenary group’s safekeeper took every single bit of what we owned and betrayed us. We’re going to get back what he stole. We won’t stop until then.]
Subaru: […? What does that have to do with Liliana?]
Liliana couldn’t possibly be the betrayer, considering their ages.
???: [You see, that damn backstabber built a mansion at our town. That’s where he went on a spending spree and lived the good life… We found his tracks. We were going to get our money back immediately and make him pay. But, that bastard!]
???: [The bastard noticed that we found out where he was, hid the money in a cave, of all places, and sealed it from the top with a Meteor. The key to remove that seal is the Song.]
Subaru: [The song…! So that’s how it’s related.]
As Subaru heard the unshaved man’s angry voice, Song ran through his mind like thunder.
The old man that welcomed Liliana and taught her The Song that Shouldn’t Be Sung―― That person was the safekeeper that betrayed the White Dragon Scales. The song wasn’t hiding how the old man built a fortune. The song itself was the key to the seal for the treasure the old man hid.
The old man forced Liliana to make the key, who happened to pass by, and he drove her out of town to keep her away from the seal. The White Dragon Scales noticed that Liliana knew about the song, and so they tried to capture her. Kiritaka was just an idiot. Just noise that complicated the situation.
Liliana: [So the one who betrayed you was Warwar’s rich man. Do you want revenge?]
???: [It’s too late to bear a grudge against that guy who betrayed us, so we don’t care about that. What we want back is the treasure… All we want is a significant amount of money. We have to get it back.]
The man facing down had a serious look as he lowered the tone of his voice. For some reason, they needed a large amount of money. They also didn’t have time to waste.
Subaru: [Do you know where the cave with the money is?]
???: [I do. So all we need is the song to remove the seal. In other words,…]
Subaru: [You’d be extremely happy to have Liliana remove that seal with the song.]
The problem was solved, and Subaru and she were released safely. Subaru looked very cheerful since he found a common ground and a way for them to be released safely. He calls out to Liliana, who shook her tiptoes, to get her approval.
Subaru: [Hey, Liliana. You were listening, right? As long as you sing that Song That Shouldn’t Be Sung No Matter What in the cave, the problem is settled. So…]
The foolish voices of Subaru and the unshaved man overlap.
It was because Liliana’s answer was so unexpected that it made them speak in unison unintentionally.
Liliana stretches her tiptoes firmly. It was almost looked like she was saying that she wouldn’t change her mind――
Liliana: [I don’t sing to open the seal to caves, nothing like that.]
Liliana: [Songs are… Songs aren’t replacements for stuff that will eventually disappear, like treasure and gold. I refuse! Songs, stories… bards, don’t you dare look down on them!]
Subaru adjusted his seating position on the cold, hard ground, trying to ease his aches.
He rubbed his thighs together, sat inside this chilly cave, wondering what the time was. Dusk had been setting in before they’d entered the cave, so it was likely nighttime outside by now. The howl of the wind would echo through the cave from time to time, brushing against his eardrums, like the wails of many evil spirits.
He could see why this place was feared as an underworld disconnected from the world of men, at least if it were not for the faint glow of moss on the walls and the presence of people hovering nearby.
Subaru: [With the howl of the wind, this place gets shivering cold, even in broad daylight. Even the locals refuse to go near it with all the talk about how no good can come from it. Guess that makes it the perfect place to hide treasure.]
The unshaven man, who was standing by a wall, gave him a fierce grin, as if reinforcing Subaru’s conviction.
His looks and manner of speaking were rather rough, but despite that, he was pretty rational and willing to talk things out with them. He still had his mask off, which he’d removed during their journey, and was interacting with them with his face uncovered.
Subaru: [Though, I think I’ve heard somewhere that a kidnapper showing their face to their hostages is a bad omen.]
Unshaven Man: [It’s your bad for getting involved, bro. It’s gonna be annoyin’ if you’re gonna kick up a fuss about it now. If you’re gonna hold a grudge, then hold it against yourself for being with the lil’ lady back there.]
Subaru: [No way, it’s pretty obvious that I’d hold a grudge against you people. Don’t try and shift the blame!]
Unshaven Man: [I guess that’s how it is.]
The unshaven man gave his belly a pleasant slap and smiled at his hostage, who just wouldn’t shut up. How could he even smile in a situation like this? Subaru thought to himself.
???: [Quit being so fucking stubborn! You’d better not piss us off too much!]
A furious voice came echoing from deeper inside the cave, drowning out the howl of the wind and bringing all kinds of threats, intimidation and coercion with it. The rage it carried was the real deal. It was obvious to anyone listening that their fury could explode at any moment, bringing violence with it. Yet despite that…
Liliana: [Absooolutely not, I refuse! I don’t sing my songs in any other way than the way they’re meant to be enjoyed! You can’t treat bards like this!]
Matters had been complicated by the frantic anger she was showing in response to him. The girl’s shrill voice rejected the demands the man had set, and instead kept insisting on the importance of her own professionalism.
Unshaven Man: [Doesn’t look like they’re makin’ any headway.]
The unshaven man briskly scratched his short hair. Subaru completely agreed with what he’d muttered.
They’d both reached conclusions they couldn’t back down from, so it seemed unlikely that they’d give into a compromise.
Several hours had passed since Liliana had tearfully cussed them out. Their heated argument hadn’t stopped, even when they’d arrived at the cave.
The White Dragon Scales were a small group that numbered around ten people in total, which included the unshaven man that was keeping an eye on Subaru. Apparently, he was the representative of the group. It was thanks to him taking the sensible approach that they’d, so far, managed to avoid a situation where the others would use violence against Liliana and Subaru.
Nevertheless, there were still several among them who’d suggested making use of the extremists. Even now, a young man with short brown hair and a ghastly voice was engaged in a shouting match with Liliana, spittle flying from their mouths. The youth had a bandage wrapped around his nose; the way he’d acquired this injury served as one of the reasons for his stubbornness.
Unshaven Man: [That’s what he got from bein’ hit by the blue-haired girl when we first began to probe your mansion. His nose got smashed up good, so his resentment towards that is part of the reason why he’s so pissed.]
Subaru could only agree with a “Uh-huh” to what he’d said. There were three more of them that had strong shades of anger filling their voices. They’d all been victims too, who had fallen prey to Rem’s small iron sphere.
Subaru: [But Liliana’s stubborn as well… like stubborn as heck. Is professionalism really something so important that you’d trade your life for?]
Liliana wasn’t going to change her mind, even with each of the men threatening her in tandem.
Though you’d think she was just a frivolous, air-headed woman, she did also have this side to her where she’d stubbornly stick to her beliefs like this. Troublesome and difficult to deal with; she was the very paragon of that.
Unshaven Man: […It’s a big deal for her. There’s always something out there that makes you willin’ to trade your life for.]
None other than the man in white garb voiced his agreement with Liliana’s intent, having caught ear of Subaru’s muttering.
Subaru turned doubtfully towards him. As soon as he did, the unshaven man fixed his gaze at the back of the cave with an uncomfortable look on his face.
Unshaven Man: [Anyone can eat, breathe ‘n sleep if they just wanna stay alive. But, ya know, there’s always gonna be stuff you can’t compromise on when yer tryin’ to do other things in life.]
Subaru: [You sure are acting all relaxed. Shouldn’t you be in a hurry?]
Unshaven Man: [The other guys are, I guess. But for me… I don’t really have a reason why I should be in a hurry anymore. And yet, I’m still goin’ along with this because I’d like to believe I wasn’t just eatin’, breathin’ ‘n sleepin’.]
The unshaven man looked down, took the liquor bottle that he had with him, and downed it in one go. He crudely wiped away some drops that had spilled from the side of his lips and turned his somewhat vacant eyes towards the darkness.
Subaru didn’t know the details behind this, nor was he planning on asking. The man wasn’t going to tell him that much either. Even so, spending time like this was only going to add to their pains.
Subaru: [Hey, sir. Beardy. I’m sorry, but it’d be really sweet if you could loosen this rope a bit, so it’s easier to move about.]
Unshaven Man: [Heyhey, I ain’t gonna use violence ‘cuz I’d like to resolve things peacefully, but I can’t let you be free like that. It’d spell trouble if you were to be found showin’ signs of escape, or whatever.]
Subaru: [I know, I know. I’m not going to run away. You can still leave both of my hands tied up. Just let me walk to the back on my own two feet. I’ve got a bunch of things I’d like to say to Liliana.]
The unshaven man pondered Subaru’s request for a while, before heaving out a sigh.
Unshaven Man: [It’s not like we’re gettin’ anywhere at this rate… Fine. We’ve been persuading her, but there’s probably a better chance of her bein’ swayed by one of her own. Go persuade her properly. For both of our sakes.]
The unshaven man untied the rope from Subaru’s legs. Subaru stretched his legs out, which had grown completely stiff in these hours, and after he’d gotten the blood flowing properly in them, he stood up.
Subaru: [You come as well. There’s no point in you staying here drinking liquor.]
With a jerk of his chin, Subaru headed towards the back of the cave with his arms still tied behind his back. A cold breeze swept across his fringe as he walked forward, and for a few moments, his eyes squeezed shut due to the light of the Lagmite ore.
Then, he tentatively opened his eyes and took in the situation.
Subaru: […So this is the door that’s sealed by the song. What a troublesome Meteor.]
There was a black wall in front of him, blocking the way to the deepest part of the cave.
The wall was practically crammed between the rocky passage, with patterns grooved into its surface and a blue crystal in its middle. Though the material it was made of resembled iron at first glance, its stygian appearance gave it an uncannily creepy and oppressive look.
Unshaven Man: [This contraption sets specific conditions ‘n won’t move unless they’re fulfilled. It doesn’t have to always be a song, but this door’s fine-tuned to use the lil’ lady’s song as its key.]
Subaru: [It’s fine-tuned to Liliana’s song?]
Unshaven Man: [It won’t open if someone else sings the same song. They made the Meteor lis’en to the song back at the mansion, and sealed the cave up like that. That’s why only the lil’ lady’s song is capable of opening it.]
Subaru once again stepped towards the Meteor after hearing the unshaven man’s explanation. Liliana was standing in front of the black wall, refusing to listen to anything she was told. Along with her were the men clad in white, who were painstakingly trying to get her to sing.
???: [We’re just one goddamn step away, don’t screw about! Just sing a wee bit and everything will be over!]
Liliana: [I refuse. How could anyone look down on singing so much, to even go as far as saying «sing a wee bit». Though my inspiration is flashing! Listen if you please: ――Your hearts, unlike the clothing you wear, are pitch black.]
Subaru: [Shut the hell up! You really never change, quit provoking them!]
Subaru snapped at Liliana as she kept provoking them, her face averted away.
The men reacted in surprise at this third-party intrusion. Liliana too looked up at him, keeping only one of her eyes open.
Liliana: [Whoa, what’s up Mr. Maid? Have things perhaps gotten to the point where they’re going to beat you up to make me listen to what they have to say? Just to let you know, I’m not going to give in, even if they beat you to a pulp.]
Subaru: [Quit it, this isn’t going to cut it. Besides, if these people get into the mood to play hard, it’s going to be you, the woman, who’s going to have a rougher time. You know that, right? Right?]
Liliana: [W-what are you imagining? S-stop… That’s shameful…]
Liliana’s face turned beet-red, denoting her shame at how the conversation she’d been thrown into had developed. Subaru let out a sigh seeing her thoughtless demeanor and then looked over at the men.
Subaru: [I’m all too familiar with the troubles you’re going through, she doesn’t listen to anything, right? I hate to say this, but I doubt this girl’s gonna change her mind, even if you ruffle her up.]
The men looked at each other awkwardly after Subaru had spoken, his words laced with sighs.
Subaru: [So, you’re definitely not going to sing, yeah? They’re so eagerly awaiting your song, yet you still won’t sing it.]
Liliana: [Mr. Maid.]
Liliana looked straight at him with a serious look on her face.
Liliana: [I’d sing if my song was actually needed. But what these fine gentlemen are looking for isn’t my song. They’re looking for the results my song will bring them. I will never sing for something like that. Even if they cut my throat and tear out my tongue.]
Subaru: [So in the worst case, you wouldn’t budge, even if your life was on the line…?]
Liliana: [Correct, even if my life was on the line. Creases would appear in one’s pride, once you abandon it to save your own skin. Then it would fold quite easily, over and over again. Eventually, the countless creases would make it so your pride wouldn’t be visible to anyone else. I would definitely hate looking at a prideless me in the mirror.]
Liliana chewed her lower lip after she declared that.
Her expression showed resolve towards the possibility that her comments had bought the displeasure of the men, as well as preparedness to be hurt by them.
An unwavering sense of professionalism. Rather, that was already quintessentially Liliana’s way of life.
Subaru let out a sigh at her stubborn attitude, having lost count of the times he’d done so already.
Subaru: [My life is going to be in danger as well if you’re not going to sing. Are you not going to bother, even when it comes to that?]
Though she’d kept her gaze steeled, she had let out a small noise, still not showing agreement to what he’d said. Something wavered in her eyes for a moment, causing Subaru to smile broadly, as if he were saying “Oh well there’s no helping it”.
If she’d been the sort of girl who unreservedly put other’s lives beneath her pride, Subaru would have gladly been able to give up on her.
…However, since she’d hesitated and considered putting a crease in her pride for a moment, there was really no helping it.
Subaru: [It’s as you’ve heard. She’s not going to sing. So I’m not gonna make her do it either.]
Unshaven Man: [Hey, what are you…]
The unshaven man expressed his surprise at what Subaru had said, almost like he was saying, “That’s not what you told me”. He could sense far more dangerous signs developing among the men nearby as well.
Liliana: [Mr. Maid, why are you…?]
Subaru: [If you don’t wanna sing, then you don’t have to. It’s just how I feel about it as well.]
Subaru shielded Liliana from the men’s gazes. Her voice trembled as she looked at him from behind. Hearing how her voice sounded, Subaru realised that he was on the right track and faced towards the front.
Subaru: [Her songs aren’t tools. You’d all understand if you were to actually hear them.]
Mercenary: [You’d better stop screwing around…]
Subaru: [If she doesn’t wanna sing, then I definitely don’t wanna make her! As much as it frustrates me, her singing is really damn good! Just about anyone would be able to see that if they were to listen. I don’t wanna do anything that’d make her pointlessly waste her talent, so I ain’t gonna let her!]
Subaru shielded Liliana as he broke into that tirade, standing in front of the men whose eyes had grown cold.
The unshaven man looked around in panic, but all the other men clad in white seemed ready to cross the line at last, thanks to Subaru’s insistence. One by one, the men stepped forward towards them, the air ripe with tension.
Liliana: [Mr. Maid…]
Liliana called out to Subaru, her voice quivering due to the ferocious looks on the men’s faces.
There was something apologetic about her voice…
Mercenary: [Fucking bastards, I’m gonna get even with this fucker and then force that little girl to sing…]
Subaru: [How about we do this instead!]
The white garbed man who’d leaned towards him, looking ready for a fight, was caught off guard by Subaru’s shout and toppled over.
Subaru brought his own face near to his, as he lifted his own up, and said.
Subaru: […Let’s just ignore the Meteor’s seal while still taking all the treasure.]
All it took was a simple change to how they approached it.
The treasure was hidden in a cave located inside a rocky mountain, not an iron-walled fortress or a pyramid made from huge slabs of stone. The only thing blocking their way was this magical door.
Subaru: [Thus, we can just dig a tunnel and go around it. The bedrock is pretty loose, so it should collapse if you dig your pickaxes into it.]
Unshaven Man: [Who would be dumb enough to meticulously hide their treasure in such a brittle cave…?]
The unshaven man muttered that beside Subaru, looking rather shocked, as the latter supervised the excavation with his arms folded. With sweat pooling down his forehead and his face smudged with dust, the unshaven man looked up ahead of him and said,
Unshaven Man: [Even so, I wonder why I couldn’t get my head around something so simple.]
Subaru: [When you’re so dead set on looking at things in one way, you lose sight of all the options you have at hand. You see, I live my life to find faults in others, that’s our main difference.]
Unshaven Man: [That doesn’t really sound flattering.]
He forced a smile on his face as he heard Subaru’s un-boast-like boast, before then straightening his back up and returning to his work. The men clad in white were taking turns digging the tunnel with some tools they’d brought along.
They were extremely motivated considering that the treasure they sought was almost within their grasp. The tunnel that would bypass the Meteor would probably be completed in no time.
Subaru: [In that case, I can safely stand down from my post. Guess I’ll just be a bystander for now.]
Liliana: […Um, Mr. Maid.]
Liliana timidly called over to Subaru as he sat on a rock in afterthought mode.
Both of them had already been freed from their restraints, so if they felt like leaving this place, they could. However, they were sticking around because it’d be a shame to leave without seeing the treasure.
That, and they couldn’t really say that their efforts were going to let them off the hook, even if they’d been released without harm.
Subaru: [What’s up? It’s not like you to be so timid. Why don’t you take a seat? Though be careful, the rocks are sharp around here.]
Liliana: [Alright… Well then, excuse me, but… Hyaaa!? OW! OWOWOW! It’s sharp! It’s really sharp! T-The end nearly went up my bum! It nearly went up my bum…gh.]
Subaru: [Didn’t I just warn you!? It’s really not my fault you know!?]
Subaru frantically defended himself as Liliana rolled about in agony, holding her buttocks. After a little while passed, she sat on a rock that wasn’t sharp, with tears in her eyes, and glared at him.
Liliana: [That really hurts. You’re responsible for this, so you’d better give me tons of money!]
Subaru: [How am I even responsible. Besides, you can’t get anything genuine from something you’ll run out of one day, wouldn’t you think?]
Liliana: [You need money to live in the moment. You can’t fill your belly only with dreams.]
Subaru: [Where the hell did you throw that noble image of yours you were showing before? Shouldn’t you go and pick it back up?]
Liliana stunned Subaru with her rapid-fire snobbish remarks before casting her eyes down.
Liliana: [Mr. Maid, um, about before… Why did you stick up for me?]
Subaru: [‘Cuz I’m a guy, and you’re a gal, I guess? Though, I could imagine myself using you as a shield back there, shrinking down behind you and crying out in fear; but, I didn’t want to do that.]
Liliana: [T-that’s not what I meant. Though, yeah, you did step out in front of me too… But what I meant was, why did you forgive me for not singing for them?]
She said that in a small voice that he could barely make out, seemingly a manifestation of her unease. Subaru groaned out a “Mhm” in response, and continued,
Subaru: [It’s no biggie, it’s just like I said when I shouted at them. I didn’t let you sing because you didn’t look like you wanted to. It’s not like I didn’t have a backup plan.]
Subaru: [If I didn’t have a backup plan, I would have probably made you sing. I ain’t strong enough to back you up no matter the circumstance, and we ain’t close enough for that either. There was a way to handle both matters, so I took them. That’s all.]
While giving her this rather blunt response, he looked over at the men who were busy swinging their pickaxes. Liliana followed his gaze before then muttering the word “Both” to herself.
Subaru: [Those guys are pretty pushy, and they’re low-lives of course… But they do give off a pretty desperate vibe. They have some kind of goal in mind, so I guess they need that money. They don’t look like they’re acting in self-interest to me.]
It had been the case for both the way the unshaven man spoke, and the youths who’d been seething in frustration.
Something was gnawing at their hearts, something which they needed the treasure to vanquish.
The shrill clang of their pickaxes crashed against the rocks as Subaru waited anxiously for the tunnel to be complete. He didn’t take notice of Liliana gazing at his face in profile, with various mixed emotions swirling across her eyes.
All that was left for him was to wait for the men to let out their cheers of joy.
???: [On closer inspection, I do envy how laid back you are, Barusu.]
Hearing a rather familiar voice saying his nickname, Subaru jumped in fright before turning around.
At the end of his gaze, by the cave entrance, was the figure of a girl in maid’s dress holding a lagmite ore lamp in one hand―― Ram.
She looked at Subaru and Liliana, whose eyes were wide open in shock, and gave them a sigh accompanied by a shrug of her shoulders.
Ram: [You’ve totally screwed up, Barusu. I had to go out of my way to come here after Rem desperately told me about this. I even had to put Roswaal-sama’s orders on hold for the time being.]
Subaru: [I’m really sorry about all of this… But why were you even in the vicinity?]
Ram: [I was busy investigating the rich man who’d looked after the singer. I got an urgent message from Rem while I was working on it, meaning I had to round off the investigation. Though, as I’d been expecting, these people in the white outfits are the White Dragon Scales.]
Ram stepped over to where Subaru and Liliana were. She gazed at the men’s back who were busy at work, before letting out a snort.
Ram: [The rich man in question died from an illness a few days ago. It seemed to me like he’d earned a lot of people’s grudges during his life, so his mansion and assets ended up being seized afterwards. That’s where his involvement with the White Dragon Scales comes from. This cave is more or less a hiding place which he came to a bunch before his death.]
Subaru: [And the treasure he hid away, that probably wouldn’t have been taken from him before his death, is about to be recovered now by the very companions who he double-crossed ages ago.]
Subaru pieced together the information Ram had given him, gaining a pretty good idea of what was going on. Having heard that, Ram also seemed to come to the same conclusion. She looked towards the men at work, and said,
Ram: [They probably have some mitigating circumstances, but the actions of the White Dragon Scales are in direct defiance of our lord Roswaal-sama. They all need to be severely punished.]
Subaru: [Well, wait a sec. That’s natural of course, but before that, listen to what I have to say…]
Ram: [Besides, it’s not just the safety of you two that I have to confirm.]
Ram passed down her merciless verdict as Subaru sought for a temporary reprieve. However, she jabbed her finger at Subaru’s face as he tried to stop her.
Ram: [There are two assets that haven’t been recovered from the dead man’s mansion. The first one of those is a Meteor, which he went out of his way to procure for a large amount of money. It’s apparently some kind of door or wall.]
Subaru: [That one’s over there. No one’s paying any attention to it, since we couldn’t get it open.]
Ram: [Well, alright then. The other thing is―― Something that the dead man also procured during his lifetime, but this one will be far more troublesome if we don’t find it.]
Ram gave a curt nod in reply to his words. There was a small silence before she answered him.
And just as she did…
A roar shook the cave, causing the men who were working up ahead to scream.
Dust filled the air as the sound of part of the wall crumbling rang out; the terrain in front of them changed.
Subaru gulped, body stiffening at the abrupt change in the situation.
He could see a stocky arm in his vision covered in thick black hair, whittling away at the rock face.
Ram: [I did say the other one was troublesome.]
Next to him, still looking apathetic as ever, Ram spoke those words with a trace of exasperation.
Ram: [A Witchbeast which the dead man procured from the black market, known as the Sturdy Ape Lauda, was unaccounted for you see.]
The Lauda’s roar sounded like the noise an eighteen-wheeler’s exhaust would make. At least, that’s what Subaru thought.
The Witchbeast’s appearance was quite close to that of an ape, as the name Sturdy Ape implied. Nevertheless, it was large enough to completely fill the path in the cave, with its arms being about as thick as Subaru’s torso.
The difference in strength between them was such that his arms and legs would probably end up dislocated if the Lauda were even to pick him up gently.
Unshaven Man: [FALL BACK, FALL BACK, FAAAALL BACK!!]
The unshaven man took the situation in and ordered an immediate retreat. The Lauda let out a roar as it tried to chase after the men in white, who were fleeing for their lives with nary a glance behind them. However, the Lauda’s giant body was stuck in the passageway, rendering it unable to move as it desired.
Subaru: [Though, this is gonna get real bad if it makes it out to somewhere wide enough where it won’t get stuck.]
Ram: [We can say the old geezer’s a treasurer that keeps guard over his assets, even in death. I just can’t believe that a treasurer who betrayed his companions would go as far as using a Meteor and a Witchbeast to try and protect his assets… What an utter good for nothing.]
Subaru: [This isn’t the time to talk about it! We need to get the hell out of here!]
Ram spat those words with a bored look on her face. Subaru grabbed her by the arm, as they both stood before the fleeing men, preparing to flee with her. But, before he could scamper away, he realized something.
Subaru: […!? Where did Liliana go!?]
She’d been right beside him until a moment ago, and now she was nowhere to be seen.
Maybe she’d ran out of the cave ahead of everyone else? He probably wouldn’t have bothered to stop in his tracks if he thought she was cold-hearted enough to act like that.
Subaru: [That dumbass! Why did she go there of all places!]
Subaru scanned the inside of the cave and found Liliana, placing his hands over his head in exasperation.
As the roars resounded throughout the cave, Liliana was scampering towards the passageway where the Lauda was still thrashing about―― Rushing over to where the men in white had left their cart.
Deafening roars, and chunks of rock flying about everywhere. In the midst of this fatal flurry, Liliana stuck her head into the cart in frantic search for something.
Subaru: [Ram! Follow me!]
The moment he realised what was happening, Subaru threw away his hesitation, broke into a sprint and raced towards the cart Liliana was in.
Right before his eyes, the Lauda was twisting its massive body, looking like it was going to wrench itself free from the passageway at any moment.
What was Liliana even preoccupied with at a moment like this…?
Subaru: [Liliana you fucking dumbass! Do you have a death wish? We need to get the hell out of here…]
Liliana: [My Lyulyre’s gone. Without it, I’m…]
Subaru: [The brand new one, yeah? I’ll talk to Roswaal after we’re rescued, for now, we need to prioritize getting away from here!]
Liliana: [It’s not the Lyulyre itself, it’s the case! I got that case from my Mother!]
Subaru resisted the urge to click his tongue at her after hearing her grief-stricken wail.
He ran his eyes across the cart; however, neither he, with eyes wide as plates, nor Liliana, who was turning the place upside-down, could find the familiar Lyulyre’s case. Despite her Lyulyre having definitely been brought into the cart after they’d been captured.
Unshaven Man: [What are you two doing there!]
The unshaven man caught sight of them as he fled. Subaru turned around to look at him; seeing the impatient look on his face, he pointed at Liliana,
Subaru: [Where’s her instrument gone!? You put it in its case and brought it along, right!?]
Unshaven Man: [Her instrument…? Oh, ohhh! If you’re talking about that, then…]
The unshaven man’s face went pale as he looked around, while the Lauda thrashed about close by. His gaze was pointed at the Meteor rather than the tunnel. Subaru instantly understood what he meant.
The Lyulyre had been brought to where the Meteor stood, in preparation for Liliana eventually giving in and singing. That’s why it was still there.
Subaru: [This is really bad, for fuck’s sake! Liliana, get away from here! I’ll go grab your Lyulyre!]
Liliana: [Wha! W-Wait, Mr. Maid! It’s mine, so I’ll…]
Subaru: [Listen up, you goddamned idiot! I’m going to get it! Meanwhile, you’re going to get away from here! Also, my name is Natsuki Subaru!]
Being called stuff like Mr. Maid all the time was really getting on his nerves.
Subaru picked Liliana up against her will and tossed her over to the unshaven man, who’d come rushing towards them. Subaru pointed to the outside as the man panicky took her, before running towards the back of the cave.
The Lauda had now pulled half of its body free, wedged right by the passageway he was heading to. It wildly swung its arm out towards him.
Subaru: [Why do I always have to keep drawing the short straw…!]
He regretted his stubbornness, he rued how he’d put up a front. After all, the girl he actually wanted to show off to wasn’t even here. And yet, here he was again risking his life.
The Lauda’s stocky fingers scraped off the rock face as it tried to dig them into Subaru. He just barely managed to avoid them, sliding right in front of the Meteor while dodging fist-sized chunks of rock.
Subaru: […There it is!]
The Lyulyre was right in front of his eyes.
The Meteor was still standing in the crumbling cave, without even a blemish on it. The Lyulyre, which was now right beneath him, had also escaped from harm. He felt relieved that he hadn’t ended up wasting his effort.
He picked the case up and turned around without wasting a moment, ready to escape.
Subaru’s knees quickly gave way, causing him to stumble down to the floor. And that just barely saved his life.
The Lauda swiped its arm out, grazing the air above him, before then smashing into the Meteor behind. The force of the impact was reflected back at it, giving rise to the Lauda’s screams of agony as they echoed throughout the cave.
The roars crashing against his eardrums kicked him back to alertness. He got his trembling knees in check and darted headfirst down between the Lauda’s legs, grazing its wiry hair, yet escaping from the dead end he was in.
Its long tail hit the side of his face the very moment he’d thought he’d managed to avoid its massive body.
He flew over, groaning in pain as his body crashed against the rocky ground. The case he was holding in his arms was still safe. I’m such an idiot, he thought to himself.
Subaru: [This sort of thing really isn’t worth trading your life for…]
What really depressed him was how he was being so desperate to protect someone else’s memories.
Stifling a curse, he spat out the blood that had pooled in his mouth. The blow had split the inside of his lip quite badly. Though the pain he felt was sharp, it did make his awareness keener.
Ram: [El Fula!]
The Lauda’s tail had been about to strike him again from the front, however, a blade of wind severed it at its root.
With darkish blood flying about everywhere, Subaru broke into a sprint, affording himself only a sidelong glance at the tail that was thrashing about like a snake. That magic just now must have been backup from Ram. He could see that both the unshaven man and Liliana had reached the exit of the cave as well.
So long as he made it there, the clear conditions for this place would be met, or so he hoped.
Subaru: [You’re really getting on my nerves!]
Even with its tail cut off, the enraged Lauda stood in front of Subaru, blocking his way.
The Witchbeast had smashed up the narrow passageway, finally setting itself free. Now it stood ready for battle, swinging its arms and legs about. Its massive body, when standing upright, was about three metres tall, to the point that its head scraped against the cave ceiling.
Even with Ram backing him up with magic, how much could someone like him really last?
While keeping a firm hold on the Lyulyre case, Subaru contemplated on whether he should use his trump-card magic.
He could send the Witchbeast’s senses haywire with Shamak and gamble on Ram coming to pick him up while unconscious. The odds were really against him, but there was at least more hope in it than letting this devolve to a fist fight, where his chances of winning would be zero.
Subaru turned to look at Ram over by the cave exit so he could tell her about his plan. She met his gaze dead-on before swinging her arm, her “blue hair” swaying about.
Her spiked flail, carried by its centrifugal force, smashed into the side of the Witchbeast’s face while turning at breakneck speeds. The Lauda’s attention had been fixed on Subaru, so it was completely defenceless against the powerful blow that angled in from behind.
That single blow caused half of its head to burst open; tons of blood was pouring out from all of its facial organs. It looked back feebly and let out a small whimper, as if it were asking, “What killed me?”.
???: […My apologies.]
A silver bell-like voice came in response to the Witchbeast’s last throes, leaving behind an ethereal echo.
A blue-white glow filled the cave. Subaru could see a silver-haired girl, with both of her arms held up. And hovering above the palm of her hand was a tiny little cat, wagging his long tail…
???: [Sleep tight, Mr. Monkey. ――Have a nice, quiet journey.]
The cat gave its farewells in a neutral tone of voice. And straight after that, the blue-white glow became a myriad icicles, revolving in mid-air. They shot out from everywhere and rushed towards the stock-still Lauda.
The missiles of ice pierced the Lauda’s entire body. It looked up at the ceiling and opened its mouth wide, trying to let out its final, dying throe; and like that, surrounded by the crackling sound of air, its body turned into a sculpture of ice.
For a few seconds, the cold air inside the cave was ruled completely by silence.
Without really comprehending what had happened in front of him, Subaru looked up at the frozen remains of the Witchbeast.
The Lauda had met its end encased within the ice, and thanks to that, his own life had been spared.
Stunned, and wondering what had just happened, Subaru looked up as he heard his name being called.
He turned over to where the voice was coming from. Waving her hand at him was a familiar, good-looking girl: Emilia. She lowered her brows in relief, a gentle smile appearing on her face as she placed her free hand on her chest.
???: [Subaru-kun! Are you okay? Are you hurt? I’ll get you patched up immediately!]
Then, hurtling down through the treacherous terrain of the cave came Rem, her short skirt billowing. He could see her familiar arme de guerre hanging down from her hand, and finally, he understood everything.
It looked like Emilia and Rem had come to his rescue at the perfect time.
Subaru: [How opportunistic again…]
This time around however, their opportunism had saved him.
Subaru dragged his aching body along, making his own way over to the onrushing Rem.
…It was just as he did that, that cracks began to form down at his feet, along the walls, and up on the ceiling.
They grew wider as the rocky wall began to crumble down. Seeing this, Subaru pointed at the exit as he felt the hairs on his body stand on end,
Subaru: [Get out of here quickly, all of you!]
Several seconds later, the cave with the treasure in it collapsed completely.
???: [We were super worried after Subaru and Liliana went missing, but that man boasted he knew where Liliana had been taken to.]
With a wry smile on her face, Emilia pointed over at the young man who was spinning around on the spot.
Liliana’s stalker, Kiritaka, should have been tied up. Yet here he was getting onto his knees and handing Liliana a bouquet of flowers that he’d pulled out from somewhere.
Kiritaka: [I, Kiritaka, am a slave to this love. I would come rushing for you, love of mine, whether it be o’er hell and high water, or caves full of Witchbeasts―― Oh, but above all else, I’m glad you’re safe!]
Liliana: [But, you didn’t even come inside the cave, no?]
Kiritaka: [Gnnh! T-that’s because that lady tied me up outside…]
Kiritaka dejectedly spluttered his excuses as Liliana looked at him in disdain.
They had never expected that his presence would have ended up playing a part in resolving this commotion.
Rem: [It seems like the hair bobble he gave Liliana-sama was a Meteor that came as a set of two. Apparently, so long as each of them holds one, it has the ability to tell you where the other is, no matter how far apart they are.]
Subaru: [So you mean like a homing device. I guess that’s like the very epitome of a stalker nature.]
The people who’d been rescued, however, found that clingy love affair to be quite gross.
Emilia and the others had quickly begun searching for Subaru and Liliana, immediately after they’d been kidnapped. But it was with Kiritaka’s assistance, and Ram’s presence as she conducted her own investigation, that they’d found a break in the deadlock.
Kiritaka’s Meteor, along with Ram, who’d anticipated the situation, were able to work hand in hand. The two of them had found the others in their awful predicament just as they’d arrived at the cave.
Rem: [Roswaal-sama has stated that he’s willing to let him off the hook this time. Though, he’s made it clear that he’s not to rope up others in his wooing from now on. It wouldn’t be advisable for him to force his feelings onto other people.]
Subaru: [Well, as much as it pains me to say, he did save our life, though I ain’t gonna thank him for it.]
Rem had been healing Subaru’s body, and now, she nestled closer to him. Still, since she was so close to him, and ever so soft, he couldn’t really concentrate on his treatment.
Emilia: [But the problem we have now is regarding those people, right?]
Standing next to Subaru, who had an awkward smile on his face thanks to Rem trying to cuddle with him, Emilia turned to look at the collapsed cave. There she could see the figures of the utterly crestfallen men garbed in white.
The cave was completely filled with rock and earth, making it impossible for them to take the treasure to the outside. Although the collapse had been caused by the Lauda, the results would have probably been the same if they’d turned off the Meteor.
Rather, without Subaru and the others, the White Dragon Scales wouldn’t have been able to defeat the Witchbeast. They would have likely been wiped out in the worst-case scenario. They should at least be glad that they came away with their lives.
Subaru: [But that’s just how things are… It’s hard for them to admit they’re satisfied with only coming away with their lives.]
The unshaven man had stammered out the reasons why the White Dragon Scales coveted the treasure to Subaru and the others.
An endemic disease had broken out several years ago where they’d been born, with the contamination in the soil being pinned as the cause behind it. They needed a lot of money to mend the soil.
The endemic disease was a strange kind, in which the bodies of people afflicted by it would gradually turn into something like stone, until finally, completely turning into actual stone―― It was a diabolical endemic that occurred in lands defiled by a certain Witchbeast.
Emilia: [The aftereffects of the Blacksnake spreading its pestilence.]
Subaru felt a similar gut-wrenching feeling as to Emilia’s frustrated mutter.
There was no way to fix endemic diseases originating from Witchbeasts except for cleansing the contaminated soil. To do that, they needed a ton of colorless magic ore, as well as the funds for them.
But those funds had been snatched away from them, due to that one man’s betrayal, and so their final hope lay crushed beneath those rocks. The men’s families were back in their homeland. That was why the youth was so frustrated, and the glazed look in the eyes of the unshaven man too, was still pointed towards the family he’d lost.
But it was already too late. All hope was lost, and with it, so would be their homela――
Kiritaka: [So, how about this, I’ll employ everyone from the White Dragon Scales. As for the contaminated soil in their homeland, the Muse Company shall take care of all the funds and materials required.]
Raising his voice in disbelief, Subaru was flabbergasted to hear this unlikely suggestion coming from the most unlikely person here.
Likewise, Emilia, Rem and all the members of the White Dragon Scales opened their mouths in shock.
Then, after making that surprising suggestion, Kiritaka spun round on the spot and looked up at the heavens above,
Kiritaka: [Luckily, the main product of my family-run Muse Company is magic ore. The colorless kind is fairly expensive, but it isn’t difficult to get them in bulk. That, and merchants are always in need of swords to protect their wealth. I reckon this will be full of benefits for both parties.]
Subaru: [D-do you… Do you plan on taking all the credit for yourself!?]
Kiritaka: [It’s in a man’s true spirit to live up to the pleas of the woman he loves. But not only that, there’s so much to sympathize in their plight. It’s, how do they say it, «One good turn deserves another».]
His adage was similar to one that went like: the good you do for others, is good you do yourself.
Speaking like helping people was only natural for him, Kiritaka now looked like a messiah. When they’d first met him, he’d only looked like a huge dumbass blinded by love. Actually, no, once a fool, always a fool.
Even so, there was something as well that bothered him about what Kiritaka had said.
Subaru: [Did you really ask him that, Liliana.]
Liliana: […I did. After all, I was the one who turned them down and wouldn’t listen to the situation they were in.]
Liliana cast her eyes down and said that in a quiet voice as she clutched her Lyulyre case.
She had flat out refused the men’s frantic, threatening demands both back in the cart and in the cave.
Though, if she was blaming herself for that, then Subaru was equally guilty too. Besides, the Witchbeast would have still been something they couldn’t avoid, even if Liliana had sung to switch the Meteor off. The same applied for the cave-in as well.
Liliana: [Mr. Ma-… I’ve just realised that as a bard I’ve always thought that I was meant to travel the world alone, and live alone while singing through it, before dying alone. But it really isn’t like that. People hear my songs where I go, and feel something from them. That effect isn’t something that just blinks out and dies… The world is telling me that it’s not going to leave me behind.]
Subaru: [Are you regretting not dropping your pride for a bit?]
Liliana: [I’m regretting not realizing the importance of things other than pride.]
Liliana looked up at Subaru’s question. There was a beam on her face.
She showed him her Lyulyre, poised between her arms as she stroked its case.
Liliana: [Thank you so much for grabbing my Lyulyre.]
Subaru: [Yeah, you owe me one.]
Liliana: [For sure. If there’s anything I can do to thank you, then…]
Subaru gave it some thought and said “Right” as Liliana looked up at him.
She had to pay the price for him protecting her cherished item with his life. The demand he made needed to have the same weight to it.
And thus, Subaru had decided what he wanted.
Subaru: [Sing for me, Liliana.]
Subaru: [I’m knackered, yet we’re all alive despite thinking we were gonna die, so most of our problems are solved, practically. Meaning we need to roll the credits for the grand finale. And those typically come with a song.]
Liliana: [My inspiration is flashing! Listen if you please: ――The day you hit your head, was the last normal day of your life.]
Subaru: [Shut up!]
She’d implicitly pointed out that what he’d proposed was strange, though, Subaru was already fully aware of it.
The price he was demanding for risking his life was for her to sing.
It seemed absurd, and it probably, definitely was. Yet, that was okay with him.
Liliana: [Then I shall sing. ――A sky transcending dawn.]
She strummed at the strings of her Lyulyre as the morning sun peering over the mountains welcomed a new day.
A series of high notes. What she was playing was a soul-stirring melody. The prelude blended in with the chilly morning air, drawing the audience’s gazes towards the singer, as they plunged into the start of the fantasia. Then…
Liliana: [♪ ♫ ♬]
Her voice rang out all the way to the far-away sky.
A raucous, new morning came, pushing the night away as her voice and melody went out to greet it. The birds sang back in response to her song, and even the blowing wind joined the ensemble.
The next thing Subaru knew, tears were trickling down his eyes, unable to contain the emotion welling inside him.
The same was the case for Emilia, Rem and the squirming Kiritaka.
The members of the White Dragon Scales, who’d previously dismissed her song as merely a means to pry open the Meteor, were also moved to tears by the sound of it.
Serves them right. Subaru was sure they would have understood what he meant.
Liliana: [♪ ♫ ♬]
Her song was ideal for an end to this absurd story, so full of coincidence to the point of absurdity.
As for whether the warm tears trickling down his cheeks, and his quivering heart, were a just recompense for staking his life.
…There was no need for him to ask something like that to anyone.
Subaru: [Are you really going to go to where Kiritaka’s from with those guys?]
Liliana: [Yeah, I am. It’s not like the debts the White Dragon Scales owe have nothing to do with me… At the very least, I’d like to stay with them until I have a clear idea when their debts are going to be done being paid.]
It was two days after the series of commotions had ended, Liliana had finished her packing and now said that in a cheerful tone.
Despite their many attempts at dissuading her, she had never caved to their firm persuasions.
Liliana had been the one to suggest Kiritaka to hire the White Dragon Scales, so she insisted she had an obligation to see them through. No one could change her stubborn mind.
Subaru: [Well, I guess that Kiritaka guy is gonna be over the moon, and it should mean you won’t be getting exposed to danger anymore… Though I don’t know what this’ll mean for your innocence. You’d better get Sir Beardy to protect you.]
Liliana: [I shall do. You have to be prepared for anything when you’re standing by a starving beast. And besides, it seems like everyone in the White Dragon Scales has become captivated by my song.]
As Liliana, who was clapping her hands in high spirits, had said, the men in white clothing had become whipped by her singing.
It was pretty clear that the recital she’d given them outside the cave had really touched their hearts. She’d also been incredibly influential on getting them the funding required to save their homeland. To them, she was practically a goddess of salvation. Since then, they’d been treating her with the utmost respect.
Emilia: [That’s reaaally too bad. You can come back anytime, alright?]
Liliana: [Yeah, gotcha. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, Emilia-sama, and everyone else too. When we see each other again, I’ll definitely have a new song prepared. I’m also gonna be looking forward to all the new sweets and stuff. Teeheehee…]
Subaru: [Can’t you keep acting like a heroine for at least ten more minutes?]
Subaru butted into the conversation in awe as Liliana drooled with a vulgar smile plastered on her face.
Several of those who were loath to part with Liliana had gathered here, in front of the mansion. Emilia and Rem especially loved her songs, so they were feeling quite downcast at the prospects of having to say goodbye to her. Even Beatrice had come out of the mansion to give her a short sending off, much to their surprise.
Liliana had only stayed for a few days, but those few days had been fantastic, albeit clamorous.
It had gotten to the point where it looked like they’d really miss her, when they realised they wouldn’t be hearing her singing tomorrow.
Subaru: [Anyways, it seems like Roswaal’s aims were a lil’ off the mark. Since we can’t keep Liliana around, it’ll mean that Operation «Emilia-tan’s Propaganda Ambassador» goes back to the drawing board.]
Although Roswaal’s forecasts being off once in a while was definitely something to gloat about, it was also a little unfortunate that he wouldn’t be able to hear a eulogy about Emilia from Liliana. No, maybe not just a little.
As Subaru wallowed in regret, Liliana waved her hand over to him and said “Y-You got a mo’?”,
Subaru: [What’s up? Beako wanted to tell you one last thing, but she couldn’t get the words out. She’s getting fidgety, so maybe you ought to help her out.]
Liliana: [I will of course, but I’ve got something quick to tell you first.]
Setting the fidgeting Beatrice aside for a bit, Liliana stood on her tippy toes and brought her lips close to Subaru’s ear.
Liliana: [Actually, I heard this straight from the esteemed Margrave himself. Emilia-sama is going to be challenging the grand stage that is the Royal Selection in the future, or something like that. That’s why I was taken in, right?]
Subaru: [O-oh… So you knew all along…? Well, yeah, you’re right. Are you insinuating something?]
Liliana gave her flat chest a pat, faced with the shrewd preparations Roswaal had set.
Liliana: [Nonono! It would be my privilege to accept of course. The beauty and nobility of Emilia-sama’s character goes without saying. And above all, how can I not sing when gazing at the figure that is the esteemed Great Spirit!]
Subaru: [That cat Spirit is what makes it for you? Isn’t he just a plain ol’ cat who likes to take naps and stuff?]
He didn’t really get the subtleties for why he was her deciding factor, but the most important thing was that Liliana was going to accept her duty.
He looked forward to the day where he’d be able to hear her play a new heroic tale, sometime in the future.
Subaru: [So, until that time comes, I guess this is goodbye for a while.]
Liliana: [Indeed. Please, look forward to it! I’m going to sing you the best song ever!]
Liliana patted her Lyulyre case and pledged to undertake that, with a look of confidence etched on her face.
It was a thing of splendor that she could be so forthright towards her goals.
Just as he’d thought their conversation would end neatly there, Liliana looked at him with a flush in her cheeks.
He could feel her excitement coming from the earnest look in her upturned eyes.
Then, after a brief hesitation, she spoke up.
Liliana: [Please let me sing your heroic tale sometime. ――Natsuki Subaru-sama.]
Liliana: [Please forgive me for laughing it off when I first heard it. Rem-san was right. You will become a hero someday.]
Liliana flashed a grin at Subaru, whose breath had caught for the time being. Then she turned her back to him in embarrassment and jogged away. Subaru gazed at her back as she began to exchange her goodbyes with Beatrice, before finally letting his breath out again.
Emilia: [What’s the matter Subaru? Your face is growing suuuuper red.]
Emilia suddenly came over next to him and said that with a glance to his face.
Subaru felt his own cheeks in a panic. His face was still quite flushed, causing him to shake his head in irritation.
Emilia: [Hehe, you’re so peculiar.]
Emilia brought her hand to her lips and let out a small chuckle as Subaru raised his voice unable to control himself.
They were standing side by side, grinning at each other―― These two would be, one day, sung about by the Songstress Liliana.
――At this time today though, they were still just Natsuki Subaru and Emilia.
The Head Maid’s Restless Day Off
Also known as Rem’s Day Off
Original Translation by Remonwater ― Complete
― ―It wasn’t as if Subaru had any special reason for having these realizations.
Subaru: [Weird. The cart that was here up until now is gone…]
Rem: [About that, I put it away while Subaru-kun was gone.]
Subaru: [Oh, okay. Thanks, Rem.]
Subaru: [Weird. I thought I had tools out for tending the lawn, but…]
Rem: [About that, I had some spare time, so I took care of it.]
Subaru: [Is that so? Thanks as always, Rem.]
Subaru: [Weird. I thought I’d give a hand to help set up the tableware because it’s just about that time to eat, but…]
Rem: [About that, don’t worry about it. Subaru-kun could go take a seat.]
Subaru: [Really now. Looks like I won’t be making my appearance on the stage. As expected of Rem.]
Subaru: [Weird. Come to think of it, the writing practice homework that Ram told me to finish is….]
Rem: [About that, I copied Subaru’s handwriting and took care of it.]
Subaru: […I-is that so? Doesn’t that look hmmm, a bit different? Like, I’m thankful, but…]
Subaru: [Rem, I think you should at least have one day to rest completely.]
Everyone gathered at scattered times as Subaru made this suggestion.
They heard this suggestion, and then the five people and the one small cat were astonished. However, the person who was the most surprised of all was the aforementioned blue-haired girl――Rem.
Rem, who had been setting up the table right beside Subaru, who sat in his seat, tilted her head in a lovely manner.
Rem: [A day off for for me? Um…did I perhaps do something careless? Which is why Subaru-kun suggested a…]
Subaru: [No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all. In fact, I’ve never had any complaints at all about your work in the first place, but I also want to point out about how that’s problematic as well.]
Even after hearing Subaru’s explanation, Rem only responded with a face expressive of a question mark. She wasn’t aware at all about how she overworked herself, but on the other hand, her employer and the sinfulness of her surroundings proved it.
Rem somehow becomes pitiful, so Subaru head patted this girl who stood next to her. Lately whenever Subaru did this, Rem would be happy and would unconditionally make an expression that looked unreasonably gentle as she received her head pats.
Roswaal: [In other words, you mean that? Subaru-kun wants to act as the employer for me and wants to determine the maid employment conditions. That’s what you mean.]
The person who clearly understood the situation was this person beside the scene of Subaru petting Rem――the head of the mansion, Roswaal. He had the same type of clown make-up applied to his white face this morning, and broke into a smile with his purple painted lips.
Subaru: [Welll, that’s not really exact. I can’t really say that I object, but that’s close to what I meant.]
Ram: [How rude, Barusu. What a rude thing to say to Roswaal. It’s 100 years too early for a maid to object the master, and it’s 400 years too early for Barusu.]
Subaru: [I don’t need that kind of special treatment, but do you not have something in mind as well?]
Ram, someone who has always been cold towards Subaru, cut into the conversation, perhaps because she was displeased with Subaru giving his opinion to Roswaal like that. Subaru frowns at Ram, Roswaal’s top advocate, and
Subaru: [Rem is working a bit too hard….or rather, Rem is the only one who has to deal with the mansion’s maintenance so much. No matter how you look at it, it’s too much on her.]
Ram: [That’s not true.]
Subaru let out a sigh in response to Ram nonchalantly shaking her head.
Subaru: […Then who made this breakfast?]
Subaru: [Who woke up, immediately did the mansion’s simple cleaning, and immediately let fresh air in?]
Subaru: [Who woke up, helped you change your clothes, and brushed your teeth?]
Subaru: [You’ve continued this conversation the whole time with a composed face, haven’t you!?! Are you a king!?.]
Ram: [I’m not that great.]
Subaru: [I’m not praising you here!!]
The prideful Ram had an arrogant look, which made Subaru feel tired and facepalm. Then a person who hadn’t been in the conversation up until now, sitting to Subaru’s left side, raised her hand.
Emilia: [Hey, may I add in something?]
It was a beautiful girl with soft, silver hair――the girl who said these words with a voice that sounded like a bell. She looked left and right with her blueish purple eyes that looked like as if they had gems in it. This was the person who looked at Subaru――Emilia.
While looking at Subaru, who had his head turned, and Rem, who was thoroughly enjoying her head being pat, she said
Emilia: [I understand that Rem is working reaaally hard, but Subaru and the others are working too, aren’t they? And yet you’re saying that you only want to give Rem a day off?]
Subaru: [Emilia-tan. I’m happy for your consideration, but this is about the amount of work she has to do and its intensity. If you look at it that way, Rem works too hard when compared to people like me or Ram.]
Ram: [You’re upsetting me, Barusu. Whether or you are useless or not, being the half man you are, I’m handling my job easily without fail. Don’t group me with yourself in this matter.]
Subaru: [You’re being given the same workload as this half man, so I don’t wanna hear that come from you! Moreover, what do you do when I’m not there? Did you do the work I was suppose to do now?]
Ram: [That’s a silly question, Barusu. ――Rem did it.]
Subaru: [You may not be aware of this, but not a single good thing has been said as of right now.]
Seeing that it would be a waste of time to continue talking to Ram and that he should have direct talks, Subaru turned towards Roswaal. While giggling from wondering about what was so fun about the situation, Roswaal urged the story to move onto the next part with a gesture of holding out his arm.
Subaru: [If we look back a bit, there are other instances of Rem being treated improperly. For example, the Witchbeasts incident, which was when we prevented the damage without Roswaal.]
The topic Subaru brought up was about the trifling incident that happened just the other day.
Wolgarms, which are Witchbeasts that live in the forest, had attacked the Roswaal mansion and the latest Arlam village. It was an uproar in which victims could be had in an instant, but this incident miraculously ended with only several casualties.On the other hand of the incident, Subaru truly did have a lot of bitter experiences, but he didn’t bring that up.
Roswaal: [Though, you guys should’ve had arrangements to reward your efforts. In Subaru-kun’s case, I think it might be hard to see your actual feelings with just the details of the request you made.]
Subaru: [That’s, um…well, I am grateful for that.]
Subaru gave a side glance to Emilia repeatedly and responded to Roswaal while stammering out his words. Emilia tilted her head in response to Subaru’s look, but she didn’t know about the details about Subaru’s reward.
It would be troubling for Subaru if she knew about how he requested for few various necessary arrangements to be made when he was on the promised date with Emilia. She couldn’t know about this precisely so that it’d seem like he prepared the flower garden and the garland himself.
Subaru: [Let’s stop talking about things regarding my reward. However, if I received a reward for that incident, then that means Rem and Ram should get one too, don’t you think?]
Roswaal: [Are you saying that those two should be treated the same as yourself, a person who should be labeled as a guest, at that time? If that’s so, then I think it’s an unreasonable request.]
Subaru: [Even if I was something other than a guest, there’s no reason in not permitting it, don’t you think? Also showing generosity here would make the times in which they show compassion skyrocket, making their their loyalty MAX level! Wouldn’t it turn out like that, Master?]
Roswaal smiles at the insistent Subaru, and says “Loyalty, huh”, as he looks at Ram.
Subaru looks at Ram, who bowed as if she felt Roswaal’s look. He remembers the truth that there was a maid already with a MAX level of loyalty next to him, and then he realized that he failed to choose the right words for persuasion.
Subaru: [You block me from moving forward to no end, Ram.]
Ram: [Even if Rem’s loyalty and my loyalty towards Roswaal were to sway, it’s pointless, Barusu. Before that, you can tie up that statement in the doubt you had when you aimed to cause internal friction.]
Subaru: [That was when we survived that fight together too. You sure are harsh!]
They should have cooperated well together to some extent at that time. However, without exception, it failed to have an effect on her compassion. In response to Ram, who exhibited a refreshed, opposing behavior, Subaru becomes unsure of what to say next. However,
Roswaal: [But, well, it’s not like we should totally disregard Subaru-kun’s opinion on the situation.]
Roswaal: [Don’t make a gloomy face like that, Ram. I’m not letting go of my viewpoint. It’s just that there’s a reason to Subaru-kun’s point as well. I was close to oversighting that incident, so if I don’t bestow a single reward for you guys who defended against the Witchbeasts before anything happened, I would be called a poor noble.]
Ram: [Roswaal-sama, I would like you to hand over your favorite pen.]
Subaru: [Man, you don’t change your attitude very easily at all!]
In response to Ram frankly indicating what she wanted from him, Roswaal handed over the pen that he had on his chest. Ram accepted the pen respectfully, and softly put it to her chest as she took a step back.
Anyways, this was equivalent of repelling the biggest obstacle. Roswaal was understanding, so Ram’s withdrawal was simple to fix. The next thing to take care of was the main point――the decision would be up to Rem.
Rem, who was being patted on the head endlessly throughout the conversation, blinked with her eyes.
Subaru: [So, well, we’ve obtained the right to be rewarded. It’s an employee victory for us. Alright, you can ask for anything. Ros-chi will take care of all the assets and the authority needed for it!]
Roswaal: [It would be a bit problematic if you set your expectations too high, though.]
Rem was in front of Subaru, and she smiled at him with her blushed face with the kind expression she had in her light blue eyes. He saw the clown let out a wry smile on the side, but anyways, he became aware of it and then decided to ignore it.
Rem: [Thank you, Subaru-kun. But I am happy just by spending time with you and Nee-sama in the mansion. So I don’t need anything more.]
Subaru: [But that would take away the meaning of this whole conversation we’ve been having!]
Or rather, that would mean, in terms of the flow of events, it would be a single person’s victory――Ram’s victory, who received the feather pen.
Rem kindly being unselfish was a virtue, but for her to not ask for luxuries when she should have――that would wrong; it would be wrong for others to let her do this, and it would be wrong for him to not think of it as something lonesome.
Emilia: [Well, can’t we just try what Subaru said in the beginning?]
The person who clapped her hands together and made a suggestion when the conversation started to stagnate was Emilia.
Emilia: [I’ve been doing some reflecting as I listen to the conversation you guys have been having. Although it is her job, I’ve always been relying heavily on Rem too. Since I believe this, it would be natural for Subaru and Ram to think the same as people who work together, huh.]
In response to Emilia, who sought for agreement to her opinion, Subaru made a bright gesture to indicate his agreement.
Emilia: [So, I also agree with giving Rem a reward. However, Rem said she doesn’t need one…so I don’t think it’d be right to do so.]
Subaru: [So, what do you suggest then?]
Emilia: [In the scene of giving rewards, not being able to give anything would bring pain to Roswaal as well, I think. Rem is a good girl, so I don’t mean to restrict her from being rewarded, but properly rewarding her work is also an important role….oh, it’s written in the book.]
Just when he thought that she said something splendid, it seemed that she only talked about second-hand knowledge. Emilia, who stook her tongue out and gave a bashful smile, said “Thus” to Rem, who had a slightly surprised face, and continued speaking.
Emilia: [I want you to be less undemanding. We want to do something for you because you always work hard, although it might be difficult.]
Rem had an amazed look in her eyes as if she was seeing the light. Subaru wasn’t really having much of a change in his heart through reasoning, so Emilia’s persuasion moved him deeply as well.
Ram: [So what does following Barusu’s initial suggestion outline exactly?]
Ram, who was completely calm with the feather pen kept in her breast pocket, threw her question towards Emilia. She accepts the question, raises her finger, and then
Emilia: [That’s easy to explain. Even if we think like this and make requests, Rem would surely say that she is busy and doesn’t have time to think calmly due to her being occupied by her work; all the more reason to give her at least one day to rest. I also think it’d be nice if she could think about her reward too.]
Subaru: [Ahhh, I see.]
Subaru gave honest praise to Emilia’s idea, seeing as she had thought more about it than he expected. It seemed that Ram and Roswaal had the same opinion, as they both had no indication of disagreement with their nodding.
The only question left would be Rem’s take on the proposal.
Rem: […Emilia-sama. I am truly thankful for your concern. I also only feel shame about myself for not being helpful with some parts of the matter. However, giving me a reward and time to rest is too considerate. I only caused trouble during that incident, and if I’m not at the mansion….]
The apologetic Rem, who had her eyes cast down, started to line up her cautionary objections. Simply put, she had no hesitance in her voice, and you could catch a glimpse of her toughness of persisting in her opinion. Thus,
Rem: [Yes. Umm――Subaru-kun, I….]
Subaru: [Let’s take a day off.]
Rem: [Yes. If Subaru-kun says so.]
――It turned out like this.
They were still at the breakfast table, so the preparations for her day off were settled on this day.
Subaru proposed that they spent a whole day off to rest from tomorrow, but as expected, Rem was only firmly refusing it.
Subaru: [And with that, I would like to make a decision about Rem’s portion of work for this one day. Rem is going to rest, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that no deficiencies will appear or that she’ll actually be able to let herself rest. We all have personal experiences with just how hard Rem works and we truly feel it, so this should be a very significant program in which we will commence from now on to honestly have her feel our gratitude.]
Subaru forced Rem to go to her room, separating their locations, and he explained the intents of the project that came out before. The person who took his explanation in and raised her hand was Emilia.
Emilia: [Hey, Subaru, can I say something?]
Subaru: [Go ahead, Emilia-tan. Your modest attitude of raising your hand when you share your opinion is nice. What is it?]
Emilia: [I reeaally am in agreement with Rem’s day off and with what you said….but it might be problematic if you don’t talk the others as well to get their agreement.]
Emilia puts a finger on her lips and glances towards the side.
The people gathered there were all Roswaal’s mansion’s residents, excluding Rem. In other words, there were people other than the employee Subaru and Ram. Master Roswaal was also gathered there.
The person who had a particularly dissatisfied looking face was
Subaru: […How long have you been pouting? You haven’t been joining in on the conversation, so this isn’t just a matter of you not having a cooperative personality. ]
Beatrice: […Why are you doing this while assuming something like that Betty’s cooperation is a given from the beginning in the first place, I suppose? That’s the actual really perplexing matter, in fact.]
The person who said this and glared at Subaru was this petite girl who sat on her chair with her arms crossed. It was this girl who wore a dress and had creamy colored hair, which was in an ojou-sama type of drills hairstyle――this girl was Beatrice.
While it is true that Beatrice did appear at the dinner table when it was time to eat, she would basically persist in abstaining from getting involved with anything in the mansion. Subaru knew that she would have an uncooperative attitude this time too, so he aimed to compel her to hear him out and confronted her. He expected Beatrice to make a face indicative of not being compelled to get involved even after listening, but
Subaru: [Rem habitually and thoroughly takes care of you too, you know. Who do you think washes your underwear and washes the wet futon when you wet the bed?]
Beatrice: [Why are you saying such things so suddenly, I suppose! When has Betty ever behaved in such a unladylike manner, in fact? You need to keep your reckless babbling in check, I suppose!]
Subaru: [It’s pretty suspicious of you to deny it so frantically like that. So you really….]
Beatrice: [Don’t make a face that looks like you’ve come close to the truth, in fact! Betty is telling you It did not happen so it did not happen, I suppose!]
He was just teasing her, but he unintentionally got carried away with the entertainment, seeing how she responded to it. His enjoyment from messing with Beatrice ended quickly, and then he looked at another person’s discontent face.
Ram: [Barusu, if you have an excuse for yourself, then say it quickly.]
It was the face of the person with such a freezing expression that her hostility was being asserted just from her eyes――something that could be done by none other than Ram. There was no other source for her displeasure for this girl who felt like she absolutely had to cooperate with this experiment in every way possible.
Subaru: [I don’t have an excuse to give. It is what I see and it is what I called it, as in it is necessary for all of the mansion’s members to unite and make up for the deficiencies created from making Rem rest.]
Ram: [Even so, dragging even Roswaal-sama into your tomfoolery is going too far, considering how he is busier than Rem as well, being driven away everyday with his hard work]
Subaru: [And so, this is what your personal assistant has to say.]
Subaru went past Ram and called out to Roswaal, who was rocking in his chair. Roswall closed one of his heterochromatic eyes, looking at Subaru with his yellow eye.
Roswaal: [Let’s seeee. As for myself as someone who holds responsibility, being occupied with trivial matters is nooot really something that should be praised. Just like Ram said, even though things may appear this way, I have a pretty busy positiooon.]
Subaru: [I see I see.]
Roswaal: [Weeell. I thought that it’d never be hard to keep a sense of the maids’ circumstances for their labor as a master――and by circumstances I mean making sure that they had an appropriate workload and received appropriate salaries.]
Ram: [Roswaal-sama, that’s…]
Roswaal was relatively eager as a person who could view different perspectives, as opposed to Ram who was obstinate. Surely in his case, he had a great sense to at least genuinely join in on jolly events.
Subaru: [Hey, respect the will of the actual person in question. Didn’t you say that it’d be 100 years too early for a maid to object the master?]
Ram: [Lowly people like Barusu shouldn’t get carried away with finding people’s faults.]
He was reluctant to admit it, but Ram, the person who took his opinion, had an uncommon type of acuteness in judgement. He had a bitter smile in response to her piercing look and nodded at her as if he was thinking, “So you did listen to my general opinion”.
Subaru: [Okay well, let’s talk about everyone’s share of housework then. First let’s do the general division of the meals, laundry, cleaning…]
Beatrice: [Did you not hear what Betty had to say, in fact!? You didn’t hear Betty say It wouldn’t happen, I suppose.]
Subaru: [Damn you are being a pain in the ass. Emilia-tan, please help.]
Emilia: [Umm, “I will not allow this to be put on the family crest!” was the saying, right?]
Beatrice continued to resist in vain, causing Subaru to have an amazed look on her face. He left it up to Emilia to persuade Beatrice. Emilia heard his request, said the set phrase Subaru taught her, and held out her hand.
A gray furball was on top of Emilia’s palm. When the rolled up furball understood that it was his turn to make his appearance, he expanded his body, shook his pink nose, and looked at Beatrice.
It was Emilia’s contracted spirit, having the same use as Beatrice as a type of weapon used for a battle――this was Puck, the cat spirit.
Beatrice: [Oo…Nii-cha. You are cute today as well, in fact…]
Puck: [Thank youuu. So Betty…I understand what you are trying to say, but I understand what Subaru is saying as well. Besides, I feel like it is our duty as spirits to occasionally show tolerance for the children’s sake.]
Beatrice’s blue eyes twitched in response to Puck’s calm manner of speaking.
As one would expect, Beatrice’s pride would probably not allow herself to submit to Puck’s standards and change her current opinion
Beatrice: [Ni―Ni-cha’s point is expected, I suppose. B―but, I….]
Puck: [Betty. Please.]
Beatrice: [If Niii-cha says so, then I guess it can’t be helped, in fact!]
Subaru: [You sure are easy to win over.]
The problem with Beatrice was solved with extreme ease, and so with this the dissenting opinions were resolved.
The next things to talk about were the allotment of the work and dividing people into groups.
Emilia: [How should we divide people up?]
Subaru: [The general work can be handled just like how I said before. If we include Puck, we have 6 people for it, so if we split up in pairs, I think it would work out well. As for the actual dividing…]
Intense looks quickly came about from the two who had dissenting opinions before. He understood what they generally wanted to say, so he nodded.
Subaru: [How about Ram and Ros-chi, Beako and Puck, and me and Emilia-tan?]
Emilia: [Umm, I’m fine with it….but are Puck and Beatrice fine with it too?]
Puck: [Fufufu, Lia is a worry-wart. I am fine with it. I’ll make the best use of this small body’s advantages and pick up coins that fell under the drawers too.]
Subaru: [The opportunities for the application of your advantages are way too narrowed down.]
He didn’t understand why Puck was brimming with confidence, but there was no point estranging him seeing as how he had determination. It was better than having him take care of dinner and mixing all of the cooking with cat fur.
Subaru: [Beako, would you prefer to do the cleaning or the laundry? You choose.]
Beatrice: [Out of those two, I can make use of my magic with the laundry, I suppose.]
Subaru: [OK. Use this as a chance to wash all the soiled underwear you have hidden in your room.]
Beatrice: [You really don’t get it. Betty is TELLING you that does NOT happen, In fact!]
He soothed the enraged Beatrice, and it was decided that Puck and Beatrice would handle the laundry.
The next question was who would be in charge of preparing the meals and who would be in charge of the cleaning, but
Ram: [Roswaal-sama and I will take care of the meals.]
Subaru: [I’m fine with that, but why meals?]
Ram: [Because it wouldn’t be necessary for Roswaal-sama to go through the trouble of going somewhere if it was kitchen work, and there would be no worry about causing trouble through major clumsiness. Worst case scenario, Barusu could even eat vegetable scraps that are left out, right?]
Subaru: [I was born on a year of the rabbit, but I am not a vegetarian.]
Subaru’s point was washed away from Ram’s scornful laughter.
That being said, the person in the mansion without Rem who had the most balanced abilities for housework was Ram. The meals would particularly show its results clearly in its taste. It was not wrong to choose Ram as the person to be in charge of the meals. At the very least, she also had her killer steamed potatoes up her sleeve. Roswaal’s cooking was also a concern, but he didn’t have any tragedies with his meals.
Subaru: [Therefore, Emilia-tan and I will inevitably be appointed to the cleaning. I feel that it will be a painful and difficult battle, but will you believe in me and keep up?]
Emilia: [Yes, I understand. I’ll work reaaally hard so that I don’t hold Subaru back.]
Subaru: [Dang this girl’s courage is cute.]
Emilia took a triumphant pose with her face burned with ambition. Subaru gives a satisfactory nod at his partner’s reliable attitude and ends the division of roles peacefully.
Subaru: [Alright. Then let’s all get to our own share of work. First of all, Puck and Beako, I’ll show you the place with the gathered clothes that need to be washed, so follow me. And…]
Before each of them went into their works with their decided roles, Subaru looked back at the entrance of the dining hall.
He saw a blue haired girl peeping through the gap of the slightly opened door looking towards him.
Subaru: [And about the decision that she would spend her time idly, although she might not be calm.]
Rem: [Yes, I understand that….but umm, I am worried.]
Subaru: [That troublesome workaholic part of yourself is showing, Rem. Today is “Rem Day”. As someone who is a a pro at spending time slothfully, I recommend doing nothing and sleeping on your bed.]
Emilia: [Eh? Why? It would be a waste to spend her time that way, wouldn’t it?]
Subaru: [Being wasteful of time is a day off!]
Subaru responded to Emilia’s butting in while feeling something pierce his chest. Nevertheless, on the other side of the door, Rem had a face that was fairly indicative of not deciding to withdraw back into her room.
Subaru: [Wearing a maid outfit even when it’s been decided that you’d rest is not right in the first place. If you decide to be lazy, the you should first start with your appearance. Quickly change your clothes into something slothful and dive into the bed!]
Rem: [But all I have besides my maid outfit is my nightgown…]
Subaru: [Ah! Come to think of it, you said that before! As if that’s any better! No matter how you look at it, isn’t that too cruel for a girl of your age?]
He certainly never saw Rem or Ram wear anything besides maid clothes. It seemed like the nightgown was neglected, but that would be something you’d only standardly wear when you spend time in your own room.
Subaru: [It’s not alright like this. Eventually, it won’t be okay not being able to choose clothes at your own discretion. Welll, since nothing can be done about it today, wear a maid outfit that would allow you to spend your time rather comfortably. ]
Rem: [Understood. I will change into maid clothes used for a day off.]
Subaru: [Something like that exists!?]
It looked like she had maid outfits gathered around, satisfying their purposes. It seemed that it was a line up of outfits that were used for battle, work, and trips, though there was no reason to put a limit on maid outfits in the first place.
Anyhow, once he dispersed with Rem, who was doing things with painful reluctance, “Rem Day” finally began.
Subaru: [Okay! Well then, everyone attend their given work with their entire spirit! After all, there’d be no point in doing this if we make Rem believe that the mansion can’t function because of her resting!]
In response to Subaru’s yell intending to incur enthusiasm, Emilia pushed her first up accordingly.
Each of the individuals around succeeded Emilia with their voices, and then the rather anxious single day began.
――And there she was, spending her day off with unprecedented nervousness.
Rem: [Is it really fine for me to not help? ….Nee-sama, Subaru-kun.]
Rem, who had returned to her own room, changed into her resting maid clothes just like Subaru instructed and walked around and around in her room anxiously. She simply could not stay still.
To Rem, doing work was an action that was equivalent of ascertaining her raison d’etre. Of course, this didn’t mean that Rem’s fatigue was unbearable, but it was also true that she couldn’t feel at rest on this day off that took place so suddenly.
Rem: [Let’s take a look after all.]
Rem looked like she was calm and being strong with patience, but the truth was that it was unexpectedly too much for her to handle.
She felt anxiety tensing up within her chest, which was a chest bigger than her sister’s, immediately left her room, and started to move around the mansion while taking quick looks around to make sure no one was there.
Rem: [If I’m not mistaken, then Nee-sama and Roswaal-sama were put in charge of the meals…they should be in the kitchen.]
First, she went to peep on the person who was her other half, the person who she could put the most trust in in regards to work――Ram. She had a tendency to be a bit slothful, although she was better than Rem when it came to thoroughness of her work and her sense of responsibility. Or at least, that’s what Rem assessed; she trusted Ram’s own choice to take charge of the cooking.
She trusted her choice, it was just that she was about two times more worried than she usually was. Rem perceived the sweet aroma coming from a certain innermost passage of the kitchen with her sense of smell and got closer to slip into the entrance.
Ram: [Roswaal-sama. I am sorry for having it come to something like this today. I will make sure to reprimand Barusu after this. …Yess, firmly.]
Once Rem peeked inside, she heard Ram’s frightening voice and she stopped moving.
Ram tried her best to not show her emotions to other people, but Rem, someone who accompanied her since birth, could guess what her older sister was feeling from her calm voice.
As a result of the sensor for her older sister that was cultivated through experience over many years, Rem could perceive when Ram was enraged. Even so, she was angry with a type of intensity that she had seldom witnessed in the recent years.
When she took a glance inside, she saw Ram peeling off vegetable skins with fierce vigor. In Ram’s hand, a person who was skillful at using bladed objects, it looked as if all the vegetable’s skin were starting to peel off like magic.
Roswaal: [You don’t have to overreact to that extent. It’s important for you guys to put aside your feelings for work, seeing as how Subaru-kun hasn’t coaxed people with any of his.]
The person watching over Ram comfortably while resting against the kitchen wall was Roswaal.
While looking at Ram’s back, who was working, Roswaal swung around his raised finger. Then the pan that was set on the work table for the fire demon crystal shook, the arising aroma from the steam filled the kitchen, and it flowed towards the corridor as well.
The labor was divided with Ram cutting up the ingredients and Roswaal watching over the pan. Ram’s responsibility was a bit bigger than Roswaal’s, but if you considered their positions, it would allow them to compromise befittingly. Judging from how Ram looked, she was probably full of feelings of wanting to act as an agent for everything and would have Roswaal sit.
Ram: [Roswaal-sama is too easy on Barusu. If that causes a misunderstanding, he’d be a bum. Even today…]
Roswaal: [Then do you think giving Rem a day off was a mistake?]
Ram: [That’s….well, I felt like it’d be fine to let Rem do things the way she wants.]
Roswaal: [She certainly has been becoming more enthusiastic than before lately. However, being in high spirits and being made tense are two different things. I believe that this current trend is better than how it was before.]
Ram kept her mouth shut in response to Roswaal’s words, and Rem held her breath as she listened attentively to the conversation. She was listening to them talk about herself, so Rem became very embarrassed.
She didn’t even peep on them with this intention, so it was as if she was similar to a thief.
Ram: […Let’s go now.]
Ram and Roswaal’s cooperation was steady, since they’ve known each other for a long time. There was nothing like worry about them breaking off relations with each other either. Just when they were about to leave, Rem took her back off of the entrance. However,
Roswaal: [Well, let’s leave it at that I guess.]
She heard Ram’s reply and gently held onto her chest. After that, she peeked into the kitchen to give a last glance. Then, her eyes met Roswaal, who was inside the kitchen.
However, Roswaal just gave a wink towards Rem, overlooking how their eyes met, without saying anything. She took in the consideration from head of the household, and went away from the kitchen as she headed back to the corridor while once again silencing her footsteps. Roswaal may have noticed that Rem was there from the start.
If that was the case, perhaps he brought up the topic to Ram in order to let Rem know about his opinion.
Rem: [Thank you, Roswaal-sama.]
Rem left behind words of gratitude for Roswaal’s nonchalant consideration and headed towards her next stop.
The next individuals she’d check on were Puck and Beatrice, who should be taking care of the laundry.
In some way, these two were the most unexpected in the current division of groups.
Rem: [Normally you’d think that they should be working at the watering place, but….]
The clothes that needed to be washed were collected in the morning and packed towards the large public bath. Whether they were wet or not wasn’t a problem; it was a place that used a great amount of water, and it was customary for individuals in the mansion to use the watering place of the bath-house to do the laundry.
If they followed that custom, then those two should be doing the laundry there.
Rem: [Now that I think about it, I wonder if they’ll know the differences of the specific cloths.]
She suddenly became aware of an uncertain factor and started to feel uneasy.
Maid outfits and Roswaal’s clothing did not have things small accessories like handkerchiefs. As for Emilia’s clothes and the women’s underwear, these were articles of clothing that could not be jumbled together for laundry.
The color change and the amount of damage done to the material would be extremely unpleasant if they were jumbled together.
Rem: [Even when the laundry has at least always been taken care of by either me or Nee-sama…!]
She repents for having forgotten about that. Rem hurries up and runs toward the west wing’s large public path. She hears the sound of water and people talking, which confirmed that those two were there. Next she would pick up the clothes that needed to be washed before they did it recklessly and――
Puck: [Are you sure about this, Betty? If you wash girls’ underwear so recklessly its appearance will mess up. It’s going to become unusable soon, so wash it with care――that’s standard. You’re kinda washing the underwear and the shirts one at a time, but if you don’t take your time with it for these important things….]
Beatrice: [Hmmm, in fact. You’re well-informed as expected, Nii-cha, I suppose. I’ll take note of what you said, in fact.]
Rem was in the dressing room and covering her breath. In front of her eyes, she saw Beatrice putting her hands into the hot water drawn into the bucket washing underclothes. Puck was floating around that scene. He shook his tail and was gazing at the small personal bathtub.
Rem sensed the slight changes of mana and confirmed what Puck was doing as she stood on her tiptoes. It came into her eyes and she held her breath. She saw the clothes being covered with hot water and bubbles, turning round and round in the bathtub. He was most likely making use of his wind and water magic, sometimes dealing with a large amount of clothes at once by spinning them counterclockwise.
Beatrice as well, if you looked at the situation at hand, she wasn’t directly putting her hands into the bucket. The water was moving in front of her held out hands and it looked as if it had gained form. She was washing the underwear in a way that made it seem like she was using her own hands.
This was the squandering of magic that gave an overwhelming feeling of life――magic that could be used precisely because they were both paranormal existences.
What they were doing was extremely advanced, yet they were using their magic superbly for the very plebeian laundry duty. She became even more surprised, but Puck was strangely well informed on the life of humans――that was his bag full of wisdom.
Puck: [If you wash the detergent together with it like that, you’ll be washing it out too much with the cooling water. If you don’t wash it properly, the white material will turn yellow. Having the material in a place with good ventilation and drying it in the shade while avoiding exposing it to the sun would be considerate for the underwear when drying.]
Or rather, he was so informed on the life of humans that it was a bit unpleasant.
He may have learned it for Emilia’s sake, but where he learned it from was truly a mystery.
Rem: [It seems like I don’t have to worry.]
The ignorance part of the factor that she was the most worried about was cleared without a sense of danger. Rem disregarded the incomprehensible parts and was felt relieved from her worries, seeing as how this area was fine as well.
Beatrice: [Nevertheless, doing the laundry is troublesome, in fact. All those humans dirty various things just by living. Dealing with that is troublesome for them, I suppose.]
Puck: [We refresh ourselves after going in and out a bit after all. Or wait, were Betty’s circumstances a little different?]
Beatrice: [….Just a little, in fact. In regards to dirtying, it’s the same as Nii-cha, I suppose.]
Beatrice dropped her tone slightly and then looked into the bucket. Then
Beatrice: [It’s troublesome even when using magic, yet doing things like washing clothing one by one feels like an abnormal thing to do, in fact. Betty is already fed up with this just after doing it for a short while, I suppose.]
Puck: [But the people who do it everyday are Subaru and those girls. We don’t need to do the laundry, but we do understand the importance of food and cleaning. They get tired from having to take care of all of that everyday, I can understand giving a day off every now and then.]
Beatrice: [We――well it’s not like I didn’t think a bit about that too, in fact.]
The genuity of Beatrice’s feelings were more perceivable than the genuity of Puck’s feelings, which you couldn’t see. They were more perceivable because Rem, who already came out of the dressing room, also remembered about how the little girl had a blushed face.
Rem: [Thanks you two for your concern.]
She left the dressing room, headed towards the bath, and then bowed. After that, she went towards the place of the last pair for today’s share of work. It was the pair that Rem was the most worried about. She was worried about if they’d be able to deal with the butting in and interfering. They were the most worrisome pair. Subaru and Emilia should’ve been starting the cleaning of the west wing for today.
Emilia: [Cleaning gives that feeling of covering my face with a cloth after all.]
Subaru: [That’s a phrase you don’t hear nowadays….]
Rem was heading towards the third floor of the west wing when she heard their voices and then quietly held her breath. When she put her back against the wall and peeped through the corridor, she saw Subaru holding cleaning tools in his hand and Emilia wiping the windows.
Emilia had her hair put together in the back, wearing an apron and wearing a white cloth on her head. Rem thought it was lovely how Subaru was stealing side glances at Emilia.
Emilia: [Nevertheless, this place isn’t really that dirty either. It looks like it gets cleaned reaaally well.]
Subaru: [Well that’s because the three buildings get cleaned by turns in the daily special rotations. Moreover, the west wing isn’t used that much in comparison to others. Places like this floor’s dance hall are completely unused.]
Emilia breathed on the window and then wiped it, which made squeaking noises. At the side, Subaru was using the stepladder. He checked the windows and above the door and then shrugged his shoulders with a face indicative of losing his will to continue.
Subaru: [Ahhh, I give up. It’s clean here too! I never thought I’d live to see a day where I’d feel displeased about something being clean!]
Emilia: [You really said it. However, that alone shows how Rem does her work with utmost effort. I might’ve not noticed that at all until I looked around like this.]
Emilia smiles at Subaru, who was at his wits’ end, briefly looks over the passageway and let out a sigh.
Emilia: [Something like this cannot be taken lightly. I wanted to do something for Rem’s sake, yet this was also a learning experience for me. Subaru, thank you.]
Subaru: [Eh? Ah, yeah, right. Just what I aimed for. Using a regular day to teach Emilia-tan about having someone support you and allowing Rem to rest too is like killing two birds with one stone, huh?]
Emilia: [Sorry. I don’t really understand what you are trying to say.]
Rem could also relate with not understanding Subaru when he became embarrassed and would start talking fast. Subaru dropped his shoulders and was dejected in a way that made it seem like he had the same impression of Emilia that Emilia had of him.
Emilia: [However, when I clean the mansion like this, it reminds of the thing that happened a little while back.]
Subaru: [What happened a little while back?]
Emilia: [I also tried to work like Rem just for a little bit, though it caused various misunderstandings…fufu, it’s a nice memory to me now.]
Subaru: [Oo, I see. There’s no way you wore something like a maid outfit. There’s no way, righttt.]
Emilia: [Nope, I wore one, although it was short, unlike Rem and the others’ maid outfits.]
Subaru: [Seriously!? Why was I not there!?]
Emilia: [Eh? You weren’t there obviously because you and I still hadn’t met at that time.]
In response to the bitter Subaru, him biting his lips, Emilia was tilting her head with a look of astonishment on her face.
Emilia was a sinful person for being someone who didn’t notice anything even when Subaru was that easy to understand. On one hand Rem felt sorry for Subaru, and on the other hand she also felt relieved from their lack of progress.
Subaru: [Huh? Come to think of it, today I….one, two, three….]
And when she was coming to accept herself, Subaru suddenly started counting the number of times he raised his voice. He counted on his fingers, muttered a small “That’s not okay”, and gazed outside the window. Then
Emilia: [Subaru, what’s wrong?]
Subaru: [I forgot that I have some important work to do. Ahh, this is a matter of neglecting a duty, huh.]
Emilia: [Some important work to do….is it something that needs things like time and other people’s help?]
Subaru: [Nope, I’ll be fine alone. However, it’s a type of work that cannot be neglected.]
Subaru scratched his cheek and had a face indicative of him regretting his inadequate foresight. Emilia put her fingers on her lips and went into deep thought, scrutinizing Subaru’s response as she let out a nod.
Emilia: [Alright. If that’s the case, then Subaru can go take care of his work. Surely I’ll be fine with this building’s cleaning, even if I’m by myself, after all. It’s almost done too, so.]
Subaru: […Emilia-tan. Will you be fine without me? You won’t feel lonely?]
Emilia: [That really won’t make me feel lonely at all, so don’t worry.]
Subaru: [Why are you denying it with emphasis?]
They had their usual interactions and then Subaru left Emilia’s side, seemingly with traces of regret. Emilia waved goodbye with her small hand and then raised her voice to get psyched as she said “OK!” then
Emilia: [Alright, I also told Subaru some ensuring words, so I have to do my best. I gotta show him a site of doing things as if it was a piece of cake, despite doing it by myself. It’ll make him laugh later.]
Even though Emilia knew about how there was nothing that would make Subaru laugh at her, she took the bucket and house-cloth and went into a difference place of the mansion without minding it. If she was in this mood, then she’d probably have no trouble with her cleaning either. If there was something to worry about, then that would be…
Rem: [I wonder where Subaru-kun went…]
Subaru parted with Emilia and went off to god knows where by himself. The meals, laundry, and cleaning work were all being taken care of when it came to important work that could not be neglected.
While Rem was pondering about where he could be, she remembered about how Subaru was looking outside the window and arrived at the answer.
Rem: [Is it okay for me to be with you, Subaru-kun?]
Subaru was standing at the place where he came out of the mansion’s main gate and looked at Rem with his eyes wide open.
Rem’s words caused him to make an embarrassed look with his face and scratched his head.
Subaru: [I guess Rem really did predict it after all…]
Rem: [No, I also forget about it until just a little while ago. I most likely remembered it at about the same time Subaru-kun did.]
Rem let out a small smile and shook her head at Subaru, who appeared to have reflected on the matter.
In reality, Rem possibly wouldn’t have noticed if Subaru never remembered about it. That showed just about how much she had fixated on her thoughts about her sudden day off.
Rem: [As of today, it’s been 3 days since the last check…today it’s necessary to check if the mountain’s barrier is properly established, so. And the chaos of the Witchbeasts’ incident has finally settled down, so.]
The work that Subaru remembered and Rem had forgotten――it was the confirmation of the barrier.
The reason for yesterday’s uproar with the Witchbeasts was because of them neglecting to control the barrier used for isolating the Witchbeasts that lived on the mountain. Thus, they stuck another new barrio onto the mountain and were checking on it in fixed intervals until it established. Today was the appointed day for that confirmation, and Rem caught Subaru when he decided to head towards the mountain.
Subaru: [I can go to the designated spot of the crystal stone to check things like the brightness and if it’s shining by myself, you know? I’m hiking that much by myself, and yet you’re still worried?]
Rem: [I’m always worried about Subaru-kun, but that’s not all of it. I want to walk with Subaru-kun. Is that not okay?]
Rem’s proposal caused Subaru to look away and pat the tip of his nose with his finger. When Subaru brought his attention to the straightforward Rem looking at him, he let out a sigh as if he was beaten down by her persistence.
Subaru: [You’re hiking even on a day to rest. Rem sure is surprisingly fond of the outdoors.]
Rem: [You said that I could always rely on you whenever I’m with Subaru-kun, after all. That’s what you told me.]
Subaru: [That sure puts me on the spot. It’s fine, let’s go together. No road is long with good company.]
In continuance with Subaru starting to walk, Rem walks while being half a step back.
This distance and speed were the most comfortable for Rem. They weren’t side-by-side, but she wasn’t lagging behind either. However, Subaru would occasionally look back to take a glance at her.
It was as if he was checking if Rem was keeping up properly.
Ever since she took notice of that gesture, this position was Subaru’s special seat to Rem. This time of being here with him was when she could feel the kindness of the black haired boys’ look in his eyes and his warm concern the most.
Subaru: [Hey, Rem. This day was decided by force, but was it a bother?]
Rem: [A bother?]
Subaru: [You looked like you were waiting in front of the gate, but I was just kinda thinking that it didn’t look like you were very calm. Never mind, can’t do anything about it now. It’s just a matter of taking care of things earlier.]
Subaru awkwardly trying to guess Rem’s emotions caused her to look like she was about to burst into laughter. Just like Subaru said, it was too late to worry about it now, so there was no point in breaking the ice with such anxiety. However, she started to feel a slight inclination to be unkind.
Rem: [That’s right. To speak the truth, I was arranging my thoughts when I was doing various work, and then things I wanted to do came into mind, which meant that I was prevented from doing them because of daily work.]
Subaru: [I apologize…for being ignorant.]
Rem: [I also have various work arranged. I‘ve avoided it today, so that might cause me to be hindered by tomorrow’s arrangements and the arrangements after that day as well. It’s also true that I’ve been bothered because of that.]
Subaru: [I’m foolish….Y―your little kindness has been a great….]
Rem gave a side glance at Subaru, who was holding onto his chest and staggering. She stuck her little tongue out with real intent of doing so.
He surprised her, so this was enough revenge for her. Moreover, although she was surprised, she didn’t feel so bad about getting today’s day off.
Rem: [However, I am happy that Subaru-kun worried about me. I was able to find out about what Emilia-sama and Roswaal-sama normally thought about me. I want to express my gratitude for that.]
Incidentally, she was able to find out about Puck’s mysterious brain and Beatrice’s way of using fortitude magic as well. Rem also wanted to try copying that way of washing by turning the clothes round and round in the hot water.
Rem’s response caused Subaru to stop walking. He had his mouth wide open, and after that, he curled his lips upon realizing the fact that he had been teased by her.
Subaru: [It seems like you’d be intimate with me enough to pull a joke on me, and that makes me happy. Good grief.]
Rem: [Sorry. However, you truly did surprise me with something sudden. Besides, if the mansion can function like it did today without myself, then that makes me feel lonesome.]
Subaru: [No. Even if you say that, things like housework especially cannot be done when the potential of war in the mansion becomes concentrated like it did today. Moreover, when I woke up and thought about the amount of work Rem had finished until breakfast, I actually had doubts about if the mansion would function well throughout the day with this potential of war.]
Rem: [No matter how you look at it, that’s over exaggerating things.]
Subaru: [Can you really say that as someone who does the work of about 5 people all by herself? You can properly acknowledge yourself more, you know. I won’t complain if you make a smug face just a few times every now and then.]
Rem could only be happy about Subaru saying that and giving her his acknowledgement.
If she could get Subaru to say things to that extent, it’d also make it worth it for her to put in efforts in her work.
In the mansion, today she also got a lot of words from Emilia and Roswaal that made her happy.
She had nothing but gratitude for Subaru, who was the first person to say something, and she started to feel nothing but feelings of wanting to repay him for his kindness.
Subaru: [Hmm? What’s up? Feel like making a smug face now?]
Rem: [Thank you.]
Subaru: [Why did you just thank me!? Was I not building up for my gratitude for all these times!?]
Subaru gets confused as if he had taken in an unexpected reply as Rem puts her hand on her mouth and smiles.
――She did all this to show that this boy was precious, precisely because he was not aware of it himself.
The next morning, Rem woke up earlier than usual, took more care of her personal appearance than usual, finished the routine tasks feeling brighter than usual, and visited Ram at the usual time.
Rem: […Halfway there.]
She slipped her into the towel blanket, and lifted the body of her habitually complainful sister. She sat behind Ram, whose head was shaking unsteadily, and fixed her hair pink hair with a comb.
Rem: [Nee-sama, here’s the steam towel.]
She handed over the towel steamed with hot water to the yawning Ram. The absent-minded Ram wiped her face hard with it, slowly awakening her consciousness. While she did this, Rem brought out the change of clothes, and she quickly helped Ram take off her nightclothes, changing her clothes into her uniform instead. She was now accustomed to this worker technique.
Ram: […Rem, you’re in a very good mood this morning.]
Ram was completely awake. Rem was humming while dressing her up, which made Ram loosen her pale lips and mutter those words.
Rem: [Am I? ….I guess so. I was able to have a very valuable day off yesterday. It also caused trouble for Nee-sama…]
Ram: […Did you rest thoroughly?]
Ram enquired her about her day with brief words.
In response, Rem thinks about yesterday. She remembered the dinner with Ram and Roswaal’s collaborated meal. She remembered when the clothes were drying when Beatrice slept in the sun, along with Puck who was sent flying by a sudden gust of wind. She remembered Emilia, who broke a vase in the middle of cleaning and then wandered around while looking like she was about to cry. And then she remembered walking with Subaru on the mountain road, along with the words they exchanged.
――Every one of those memories gave Rem an obvious answer to present.
Rem: [Yes, Nee-sama. I had the world’s happiest day off yesterday.]
Ram: [――I see. That’s good then.]
In response to Rem answering with a smile, Ram closed her eyes and then nodded with a satisfied look. It was a facial expression that even Rem couldn’t see readily; it was Ram’s facial expression of feeling at peace from the bottom of her heart.
She quietly turns her eyes towards the window, looking outside with that calm face. Then
Ram: [Barusu makes some useful suggestions too, huh.]
Rem: [Yess. Subaru-kun is amazing. You think so too, right Nee-sama?]
Ram: [An expectation like that has made me reconsider my words.]
Rem’s dishonest sister’s reply made her give a childish pout. A gesture like this was something that Rem only showed in front of Ram, although now it was specially increased with another person.
Ram was finished changing into her clothes. She took a pose in front of the mirror and Rem gave an applause. And from there, when they were leaving the passage with just the two of them, Subaru came along at the exact same time while yawning and walking in the corridor.
They took notice of Subaru and then he stifled his yawning with a smile as he raised his hand.
Subaru: [Good morning you two…Why is Nee-sama glaring at me in the morning?]
Ram: [You don’t know? A woman makes a face like this when she finds a dark grey corpse in the morning.]
Subaru: [I don’t want to think of that as the answer to my question!]
It seemed that the conversation they had in the room was being prolonged. Ram was cold to Subaru from the beginning of this morning. Moreover, while holding a wry smile, Rem made a decision to at least have herself treat Subaru nicely.
Rem: [Subaru-kun, please don’t worry about it. Nee-sama is just a little frank.]
Subaru: [That doesn’t act as a follow up with how I was treated as a dark gray corpse.]
It failed for some reason.
There would occasionally be times when Rem’s attempts to show concern didn’t go well. When this happened, she would tilt her head.
Anyhow, Subaru sighed deeply, put aside the shock from just now, and looked at Rem.
Subaru: [By the way Rem, recapping on yesterday, did you enjoy your rest on your sudden day off?]
Rem: [Thanks to Subaru-kun, yes of course I did.]
Subaru: [Nee-sama, you clicked your tongue right now, didn’t you?]
Subaru glared at Ram’s face from the side as she turned away. Rem was satisfied from having found even greater joy while Ram was feeling jealous about their intimacy.
Subaru: [Well Rem being able to smile while looking like she’s enjoying herself is what matters the most.]
Rem, who had loosened her cheeks, spontaneously takes notice of Subaru, and Subaru also let out a smile while scratching his cheek, looking as if he was embarrassed.
Subaru: [So Rem, you only had yesterday as a day to think about it, but did you think about your reward? There’s no way you’re going to tell me something like you had tons of things to do even while resting from everything on your day off, right?]
Rem: [I won’t say that. But as for my reward, I’ve already received it.]
Subaru: [Eh, seriously? I didn’t hear about this. Ros-chi, that bastard. That’s cold of him.]
Puzzling over the matter, Subaru pouted his lips at the head of the household who wasn’t there. However, it was a simple misunderstanding. It was a terrible false accusation towards Roswaal.
Because after all, Rem’s reward was none other than Subaru’s suggestion itself――something that was enough to accept for her.
――Everyone in the mansion showed concern for Rem and worked together, with no compensation, in order to come up with a solution for the one day off. Everyone made her feel her own worth. There’s no way that there was any reward greater than her coming to understand that reality. Thus,
Rem: [――I’ll do my best with my work today too.]
Rem said that, showing a smile to the two people she cared about――a smile that was more charming than usual.
The Day I Gave Up on Being a Following Star
Original Translation by Xrakix ― Complete
In this world, nations are arranged in a single continuous continent, making up the four countries called the Great Nations.
With their territory in the east, west, south, and north, and while there are various other smaller countries, they are treated as nothing more than vassal states under the protection of one of the Great Nations.
The relative power of the four Great Nations is held in a delicate balance, and except for the newly-emerged nation of Kararagi, this stalemate has not changed significantly in nearly a thousand years.
In the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko in the north, severe cold combines with steep mountains, and for both men and beasts, it is a nation that requires harsh strength. Snow falls throughout the year, and all but a few of its products are made to endure the cold. In exchange, cattle breeding, the veins of magic ore that sleep in the steep mountains, mining and handling magic ore preserve the nation’s strength.
As well, the peak of the sacred mountain Pardochia is taught to be one of the dwellings of the Four Great Spirits, reigned over by the Holy Beast Odglass who holds enormous power.
At the founding of the Holy Kingdom Gusteko, Odglass gave the name “Holy King” and exchanged a contract with a spirit arts user who followed her, and since then has always been involved in choosing the “Holy King” who is the head of the nation.
The “Holy King” who leads the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko is determined, regardless of bloodline or origin, by being chosen by the Holy Beast Odglass from one elected out of the citizens to lead the next generation.
The city-state of Kararagi in the west is, compared to the other three Great Nations, a newly-emerged nation with a short history.
Until roughly four hundred years ago, the western portion of the continent looked like a powder keg of several small nations angrily eyeing each other. There was little difference in national power between any of the small nations, and, each fearing being ganged up on by the others, an unproductive era of being wary of each other continued for a long time.
The one who put a stop to that situation was a common merchant who called himself Hoshin.
Hoshin, of uncertain identity and origin, rose in the world simply through his words and business talent and imagination, and in the end, he beat down the small countries that had antagonized each other with military force, using the magic called economic might. Not belonging to any nation, his devilish tactics nevertheless meant that there were people at the center of every nation with connections to Hoshin.
As a result, many small countries bowed before Hoshin, their position as nations was altered to being cities, and the city-state of Kararagi was born with Hoshin being the representative for all cities.
Since then, Hoshin’s name became a word referring to rising to prominence, and even after Hoshin’s death, many talented people have gathered to walk in the footsteps he left. As well, the city-state of Kararagi was formed into a strong country that the other three Great Nations could not easily meddle with.
The southern Empire of Vollachia holds the oldest history, and with the long-held reasoning of “Wealthy country, strong army”, the nation has continued being led by it’s emperor.
Reigning from the pinnacle, the emperor holds absolute authority, and the government of the empire is all managed by the emperor.
That arrangement hasn’t changed since the founding of the country, and the reason that the empire hasn’t collapsed due to a foolish ruler is the sublime law concerning the change of rulership.
The custom is that while he holds the throne, the emperor produces children in all parts of the country, and those children contend for the position of next emperor. To a candidate for the position of emperor, failure means death, and passing through this gruesome process which concentrates the world’s hatred and ugliness, a single person is chosen as the next emperor.
An attitude of respect towards this national character has filtered down to the citizens as well, and the imperial doctrine of accepting the supremacy of the powerful and a powerful emperor, is widely thought of as the natural state of affairs.
There is some interaction with other countries, but being blessed with fertile lands and a stable climate, the country is basically able to sustain itself from within, and contact with the outside is not looked on favorably. Instead, they continually embrace the ambition to expand their territory, and their ancient conflict with Lugunica has continued without ceasing.
Hence, in the southwest part of the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica, the Barrielle domain was continually exposed to a sense of peril.
???: [If you can believe it, I’ve heard that his Lordship has taken a new wife.]
To the inhabitants of the Barielle domain, it was nothing more than a sarcastic topic exchanged during a break from working in the fields.
In regards to Baron Leip Barielle who managed their domain, the opinion of the local citizens wasn’t that good. Actually, it would be better to say they held a poor opinion of him.
Taxes and local laws that were lacking in consideration for the citizens. Not only was it far from being an approach that would produce friendship, it was difficult to expect people to feel goodwill towards an authority figure who seldom even showed his face.
With that much of a gap formed between the minds of the lord and the citizens, it wasn’t impossible for that to become the seed of a rebellion. In truth, several had been attempted in the last ten years.
However, for a lord that didn’t pay sufficient attention to the good intentions of his citizens, he never failed to be wary of their bad intentions. As a result, the attempts were crushed along with cruel demonstrations, and relations worsened by the day.
Because of that, while the lord’s announcement would normally be celebrated, to the citizens, it was no concern of theirs. With the baron already advanced in years, taking a second wife at his age didn’t arouse their interest.
Doubtless this second wife or whatever would simply make off with most of the fruits of their labor, and prove to be a demon who would leave them only enough supplies to survive on.
The end of lord Liep’s lifespan, and the fall of the heirless house of Barielle.
These were the only hopes of the local citizens as they lived day to day, and their first evaluation of her.
Their first evaluation before seeing the red woman known as Priscilla Barielle.
Priscilla: [Huh. What a dreary place, and such lifeless expressions.]
That was the first thing she said, while looking over the best field in the village and it’s owner.
A voice filled with contempt, and words spoken by one looking down from far above. Many who looked up felt anger that was difficult to endure, but were left speechless the moment they saw her.
Standing there was a red woman.
Her orange hair looked like a reflection of the rays of the sun and was gathered with a barrette, and her more-than-voluptuous body was wrapped in a crimson dress that exposed it generously. Her lightly-colored lips broke into a scarlet smile, and her eyes blazed red as they gazed back at those looking at her.
Even the fan she had chosen to cool herself with was red, so from top to bottom, she was a crimson woman.
From that sort of visual attack, it was clear at a glance that she was someone of high standing, but despite that, everyone still forgot to react.
In addition to the rest, to an extent sufficient to erase the impression given by her outlandish clothing, the red woman was beautiful.
Everyone there, man or woman, couldn’t help but tremble at the beauty before their eyes.
Priscilla: [Why are you staring at me with those pathetic eyes? Is that not disrespectful, you lowly imbeciles?]
However, that feeling, too, was completely overridden by the woman’s ongoing derisive comments. They had been slow to recognize her contempt, and though the people all held anger in their eyes, they hid it inside and lowered their heads.
The red woman’s words were humiliating insults. But, simply by looking at her they could tell that her station in life was completely different from theirs. In other words, there was nothing to be gained by trying to oppose her. Just as they normally did, in the face of unfairness or discontent, they hung down their heads; waiting for the storm to pass was the best plan.
Priscilla: [Oh, I see. Long years of resignation have entirely stolen away your backbone, and turned you all timid, then. That means the old man must be quite a noble, then. I see he is quite good at being oppressive.]
???: [Y… you seem to be a noble. What brings you to this village today…?]
As she looked over the downcast faces of the locals with an expression of comprehension, she was resolutely addressed by the field’s owner.
As the owner of the best field and land in the village, even if it wasn’t much of a contest, he was the village representative. No one else here was suited to asking the business of a noble.
Priscilla: [Do not be in such a hurry, commoner. It is expected that you would be surprised when a beauty like myself visits suddenly, but I do what I want however I want, and I will not let anyone rush me. You should be grateful for your unexpected good fortune. Just carry on glancing at my fair form from the corner of your eyes, and forget the passage of time.]
Bringing her face close to the owner’s, the red woman spoke seductively to him close enough that he could feel her breath. At that, the owner backed away, visibly flustered. He could hardly be blamed for that.
Between the owner and the red woman, the difference in age was like a parent and child, but the intense charm she was unleashing was enough to make him forget the difference in years and make a man think of a woman. To call it bewitching would be appropriate.
Priscilla: [Hmm, hmm… Oh, I see.]
After unsettling the owner, the woman looked over the nearby fields as though she owned them.
While that was going on, the locals had their hands full stealing glances at her from the corner of their eyes, just as she’d said. They had no motivation to resume working in the fields and be complained at further, but no one even thought to do so.
To do something different than everyone else, and draw the attention of the red woman, was something they all feared.
Priscilla: [Hmm, yes. First here and here, then I suppose those two over there will do. There is little difference between any of them, so you should see it as your good fortune that they caught my fancy.]
After briefly looking over the nearby fields, the woman nodded with a satisfied expression.
Looking sharply at the owner, she grinned to see him trembling. In spite of that smile being something that made one think of malice, it was too beautiful to look away from.
Priscilla: [You there, commoner. You own the largest field in the village, do you not?]
???: [Um, yes. That’s correct.]
Priscilla: [I can tell from looking at your field. It’s terrible, but the land is extensive, at least. Like an old, rotten tree, you hold ambitions unsuited to the limits of your form, much like a certain lord I might mention.]
The inhabitants there slowly realized that those words, filled with contempt and mockery, were directed at none other than Leip, and their faces went pale at the disrespect.
To the domain’s inhabitants, the lord was one who looked down on them from above. To them who had become completely accepting of that idea, the thought that the red woman held an even higher position than their lord never entered their minds. In truth, that would have been overthinking it.
Priscilla: [Well, your field will do. It is a perfectly good stepping stone to use as a basis for comparison. The owner of the good fortune of having my influence bestowed on him will be someone else. The owner of those four meager fields across the road.]
The woman was pointing at fields that, compared to the land of the large field owner, were withered wastelands. Just like the fields, their owners also looked weakly, and their entire household seemed to be getting by day to day supported by the kindness of the other villagers.
As that villager came forward and gave his names, the red woman’s eyes were colored with a bitterly cruel emotion.
It was largely with feelings of disdain, hatred, and complete viciousness that she looked down on him.
Priscilla: [Well, whatever. When you give water to parched grass, anyone can see the change.]
As the inhabitants stiffened as though shot, the woman looked away in boredom. Then she pointed to the parched field, and quietly said something to the man.
The voice whispered into his ear reached only him, and those around them didn’t know what kind of unreasonable demand she was making of him. They simply felt pity for him as he nodded his head like a doll.
And when she finished whispering, the woman folded her arms with a satisfied expression. Her abundant breasts shook greatly over her folded arms, and the women looked askance at the men as they couldn’t help groaning.
Priscilla: [I forgot to say, I am Priscilla Barielle. The new baroness of all the Barielle lands around here. Let those who are not here know as well. That I am generously forgiving rudeness like that of today, will only happen on this day when ignorance and blindness can be forgiven.]
And the woman departed, leaving words that caused the villagers despair as they returned to themselves.
Afterwards, the locals realized that the person calling herself Priscilla Barielle was the new second wife that Baron Leip Barielle had taken. They didn’t understand why she would have come to see the domain without any escort, but her insolent arrogance brought Leip’s tyranny to mind.
As well, the fact that she was a young woman led them to despair, as it crushed their hope of Leip’s age leading to his removal from his position.
It meant that they would suffer under the same cruel rulership as Leip, long into the future.
All of them held that sort of unease and fear about Priscilla’s visit, and then they forgot that one month later.
…Because, in the field of the man Priscilla had selected, an impossibly abundant harvest appeared.
???: [Not sure what to say; honestly, that was unexpected. To see them get so attached to you, princess.]
The voice was carefree, but a little muffled and thus hard to hear.
The voice being overlapped with the rasping sound of metals brushing against each other, and it being muffled, were from the same cause – the head of the voice’s owner was completely covered by a pitch-black steel helmet, and he had a habit of playing with it’s joints as he spoke.
He was a person with a terribly unusual outfit; you might even call it outlandish.
His head was covered with a black steel helmet, just as was mentioned earlier, but he was protected by it’s strong defense only from his neck upwards. His well-toned body was covered in rough clothing like that of a bandit, and his feet were, oddly enough, wearing boots woven from leather. A shabby cloth hung from his shoulders and covered his neck, and a rough, wide-bladed sword peeked out from behind his back, hanging horizontally.
In every sense it was a collection of weird features, but there was one spot that stood out more than all the rest.
…The helmeted man’s left arm was missing below the shoulder.
The man, who had a particular loss to go along with his outlandish outfit, projected an abnormal presence simply standing there. Even more so standing next to the red woman – Priscilla Barielle.
Priscilla: [And what do you mean by unexpected? Behold my beauty, which exceeds human understanding. Like baby birds long to be fed, It’s entirely natural that the commoners should worship me, Al.]
Al: [It was just something I’d imagined on my own, but still. Here I always thought you were the type who wouldn’t do anything to put more fish in the pond, princess.]
Priscilla: [Then there would be no reason for me to welcome you. Do you not agree?]
Al: [Now that you say it, that’s true. I guess I was mixed up.]
Accepting Priscilla’s words without complaint, the helmeted man – Al – scratched the top of his helmet with his thick right arm. He looked around at his surroundings as though curious, but his expression and mood could not be seen.
For her part, Priscilla had no reaction to her attendant’s attitude. As she continued pressing forward at a steady pace, the people around her spoke up as they noticed her.
???: [Ah, it’s Priscilla-sama!]
???: [It’s the dear concubine princess!]
???: [Long live the Sun Princess!]
As one of them noticed her, many others reacted to their raised voice and came rushing out of their houses. The villagers, all with cheerful faces, unanimously honored and praised Priscilla.
Priscilla: [Mhmm. Very good. You should exert yourselves unfailingly, commoners. As long as you continue to bow before my glory and follow me, I would not be so cruel as to deprive you of my compassion. Be sure not to neglect that in the future.]
Priscilla’s words weren’t said to anyone in particular, so much as to everyone there who cheering for her.
It certainly wasn’t a loud voice, but her voice had the power to penetrate and reach everywhere. At the arrogance of those powerful words, Al couldn’t help but cringe, but,
???: [If it’s for Priscilla-sama!]
???: [Long live the Sun Princess!]
not only did the villagers not take it poorly, they readily accepted her prideful speech.
Al could only shake his head at the discrepancy between his impression of his lady’s character, and the attitude of the locals.
It was only a few days ago that the helmeted man, Al, had been recognized as Priscilla’s knight. Suddenly finding herself needing to choose a knight, Priscilla held a gladiatorial contest to meet that need while prioritizing her own preferences.
The approach of searching for a knight for a baroness, without regard for one’s origins, led to a great number signing up, and it became a truly successful contest. There, Al was judged worthy in Priscilla’s eyes, and was the man who gained the position of knight.
Their relationship was still too new, and the bonds too thin, to call them lord and attendant. During the time he’d been allowed to stay at her side, Al had been observing her carefully, but she was still a mystery to him.
Though she appeared thoughtful, she would immediately put her impulses into action. One might think that she was approachable for the locals, but then one would suddenly see an expression on her face cruel enough to freeze your blood. Even her limbs that seemed so full of femininity had a viciousness that had taken him off guard, stolen his sword, and came within a hair’s breadth of sending his head flying.
As a result, even after spending several days together, his current impression was that he knew nothing about his liege.
Priscilla: [Look here, Al. Why are you just standing there? The commoners are terribly curious about you. Who is that very rare sort of a man standing next to a beautiful maiden like myself, they wonder.]
Al: [So why don’t you explain it to them, princess?]
Priscilla: [Watch how you speak, Al. Even I do not know how many more times I can overlook your boorish behavior because it’s amusing. You should take care not to displease me needlessly.]
Just when his opinion of her had been improving a little, this happens. The good mood that had been showing on her face until a second ago had changed in the briefest of moments into the eyes of one looking at trash.
Al: [Ah, sorry, that was my fault. Now that you mention it, what kind of attendant passes off the trouble of introductions onto their master? Sorry, sorry, forgive me chonmage.]
Priscilla: [Very well. I forgive you. However, I’ll have you tell me later what you mean by chonmage.]
The unexpected phrase seemed to have succeeded, allowing Al to narrowly escape the signs of Priscilla’s displeasure. Holding a hand to his chest in relief after having confirmed that, Al explained his position to the locals – regaling them with the story of how he came to serve Priscilla, full of humor and the occasional exaggeration.
???: [Priscilla-sama is a wonderful person. To me, she’s the goddess that saved me, oh yes, indeed.]
That was the response to Al’s question from the boy who had nervously brewed tea, clearly not familiar with doing so. His peculiar wording might have been an attempt to curry favor.
The location was the Barielle manor’s lounge. Casually seated on a very comfortable sofa, Al was enjoying his break time to the fullest.
Al: [You’re really fond of the princess, so I thought you might say something like that, Schult-chan.]
Suppressing a chuckle at the boy’s response, Al lifted the offered cup of tea. Then, slightly lifting his head, he deftly brought the drink to the gap that formed under his helmet.
Never removing his helm, and never showing his real face was Al’s consistent behavior. Being one-armed on top of not removing his helmet meant that his eating habits were rather impolite. Since it was impossible to lift his helmet with one hand while eating, he necessarily ate in much the same way as he drank the tea.
Al: [Do my manners… does my impoliteness bother you?]
Noticing the boy standing still and looking at him, Al asked that in a low voice while putting down his cup. Schult held his breath slightly at the question.
He was a thin boy. His skin was white, and his peach-colored hair was distinctive. His crimson eyes were not very assertive, and he gave such a delicate impression that some who looked at him mistook him for a girl. He was perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, but his body didn’t look developed enough for that; he appeared only around ten years of age.
The boy who could easily be called a child was wearing a servant’s outfit in black, and imitating a butler. Some people would likely find his appearance more pitiful than amusing. In truth, Al found it somewhat painful to look at Schult trying to stretch beyond his limits.
Al: [I haven’t got any education. Please overlook my lack of knowledge about proper manners. You get it, right?]
Folding his legs rudely on top of the chair, Al deliberately demonstrated his rough behavior. At that, Schult shook his head side to side while watching him.
Schult: [I, too, am uneducated, the same as Al-sama, oh yes, indeed. So, I don’t feel that I’m sufficiently refined to complain about Al-sama’s behavior.]
Al: [Honesty is a virtue, and being straightforward is the privilege of children. I think you’re starting to get the look down, but what you’ve got inside isn’t there yet. How long has it been since you came here, Schult-senpai?]
Schult: [Since I was rescued by Priscilla-sama, it’s been just three months, oh yes, indeed.]
Schult didn’t even respond to the irony of being called senpai. Perhaps it was cruel to expect an orphan who grew up in a farming village to understand.
This boy butler Schult was an orphan that Priscilla brought back from a farm village in the domain.
When Priscilla brought the thin, starved boy back with her, saying things like “If you polish him, he’ll shine,” it seems that the mansion’s master Leip was seriously furious, but apparently Priscilla paid him no mind.
Just like that, Schult, protected by the good fortune of having caught Priscilla’s eye, was guaranteed food, clothing, and shelter, and the boy was remade into a butler.
Al: [It’s hard to say if catching the princess’ eye is good luck or bad luck, though.]
Schult: [I’m very grateful to Priscilla-sama for being kind enough to rescue me, oh yes, indeed. If I’d continued to stay in the village, I’d have been dead and buried by now, after all.]
Al: [That’s a cute picture, yep. Things like that make me feel more and more like I don’t know what the princess is thinking, and make me wonder just what kinda person she is.]
Her attitude seemed like one that would never be charitable, and yet she saved an orphan. On the other hand, she didn’t extend her hand to everyone, and he had no idea what reason she had to take him in.
Was Priscilla actually the goddess that the locals and Schult believed her to be? Or was she a cruel witch that occasionally sent chills down Al’s spine?
Schult: [Witch. A witch, indeed…]
Speaking aloud the word he’d thought of himself, he couldn’t help but smile at the cliche.
The word ‘witch’ that was known as a taboo in this world. Al himself knew all too well how much of a menace was referred to by that word.
Schult: [Al-sama, you…]
As Al was lost in thought, Schult unexpectedly called to him with an unsettled look in his eyes.
The gesture of holding the silver serving tray to his chest was terribly feminine and out of place.
Schult: [It’s correct that you have become Priscilla-sama’s knight, yes, indeed? You protect her. I can trust that you are her ally, can’t I?]
As Schult questioned him seeking reassurance, Al closed his eyes inside his helmet.
As a way of calming the fear in his heart, the boy was looking for powerful words from Al. However,
Al: [When you ask like that, whether I’m her ally or I’m plotting something, of course I’m going to cheerfully reply “Yeah, leave it to me. I’m the princess’ amazing, strongest knight!”. As a question, it’s not really appropriate, ya see. Sorry, please try again.]
He could tell that Schult had been hurt by his response.
Despite that, looking at that expression didn’t cause any regret to stir in Al’s heart.
In betraying the pure look directed at him by the boy, Al didn’t hesitate for a moment. For the sake of his goal, he discards everything else. In a sense, certain sacrifices were necessary for achieving his wish.
Repeating the same mistake again and again, as he had in the past, that alone absolutely could not be allowed, after all.
Priscilla: […What is this? I was wondering where you’d gotten to, and you are holding a gloomy tea party in a place like this?]
In the lounge that had fallen into silence, a beautiful voice that looked down on them from the sky intruded suddenly.
Violently opening the door without knocking, the lady of the mansion pushed inside while swinging the sleeves of her elegant dress. Folding her arms as though trying to lift her abundant chest, she closed one eye, and spoke.
Priscilla: [Schult. Your only role as an attache is to be there when I wish it. Missing that opportunity in a place like this is inexcusable. Spending time with an eccentric like Al is even worse. For someone like you whose only merit is cuteness, if his messiness where to infect you as well, it would simply be too much.]
Al: [Saying that’s his only merit; you speak way more directly than I do, princess.]
Priscilla: [It is a fact, and when I state it it becomes an even stronger truth. What other value does Schult have at this time? Even then, compared to the other worthless commoners, he is at least a little better. It will be necessary to take away even that merit if he continues to betray my expectations, of course.]
Looking over the pair that had been conversing in the lounge, Priscilla sniffed dismissively and derided them. Al couldn’t help but give a prideful wry smile, but Schult’s face went pale.
Schult: [I… I’ll work harder, oh yes, indeed! So… so please… don’t abandon me…]
Priscilla: [Do not cry and cling to me, it is unbecoming. I can adore even your crying face, but relying on that pity from the start is the height of folly. I do not need a common person as my attache. Continue to show me your value.]
After Priscilla cut off his trembling speech, Schult hurriedly wiped his eyes with his sleeve. His eyes were slightly reddened, but Priscilla nodded at him as he earnestly raised his head.
Priscilla: [That will do. If they lack the backbone to change the way they stand, then the likes of you are no better than corpses. Corpses can become fertilizer if they return to the earth, but if they stay atop the earth while being no different from the dead, nothing good comes of it. I will not have you wasting my air. Take every breath as though it were your last.]
Al: [That’s a bit much… If Schult puts that much effort into breathing, he’ll die of stress, y’know?]
Gently reproving Schult as he started breathing with a determined look, Al shrugged his shoulders at Priscilla.
Al: [Princess, you’re dealing with a kid. I think it’d be alright to have a bit more care and compassion.]
Priscilla: [The uncertainty of the world rains down on everyone, adult or child, man or woman. Do hunger and starvation differentiate between the great and small? Does the curse of the plague discriminate based on social standing? All who live are equals. It is not as though we are held in an cage of iron bars, and thus trying to gain peace by letting another determine how you live is simply negligence.]
As Priscilla spoke those stern words, irritation bubbled to the surface of her beautiful face. Al couldn’t help but take it that the irritation was related to the latter part of what she had just said.
Before he could figure out the source of it, though, Priscilla’s expression changed.
Priscilla: [All that live are equal. …Of course, that does not include myself.]
Smile. As she grinned, Priscilla concluded by saying that with the world’s coldest smile.
It was the mantra Al had heard her repeat countless times since he began serving as her knight.
Priscilla: […This world is designed to operate in the way that works best for me.]
That was the basis of Priscilla’s confidence, and the words which most defined her existence.
Words that it would be only natural to laugh at, but somehow they had a magic that couldn’t be laughed off.
Priscilla: [Come now, Schult. It is exactly as I just said. Everything in this world is for my convenience…If so, what would be most convenient for me, as I am thirsty?]
Schult: [Ah… yes. I’ll pour some tea right away, oh yes, indeed!]
Priscilla: [Imbecile. The contents of that teapot have already cooled. And if you are trying to tell me to drink Al’s leftover tea, it goes beyond rudeness into rebellion. I’ll have your head removed.]
Schult: [Please, anything but that! I’ll go brew more right away, oh yes, indeed!]
Cradling the pot in his arms, Schult fled from the lounge.
While listening to the small footsteps fade into the distance, Al smirked at Priscilla and shrugged,
Al: [Princess, you really are mean.]
Priscilla: [A butler who can calmly do the job is fine, but having one who rushes about flustered like a child is amusing as well. If they were looking for a proper waiter, who would go to the trouble of picking up an orphan? I will allow Schult the honor of relieving my boredom now and then.]
Al: [He’s got it rough, too… Just by having the princess’ attention.]
Priscilla: [And what is rough about it? He can speak with me, and is even able to serve me regularly. This much good fortune is an honor that the men of the world would cry tears of blood for, and want so badly they could taste it. There could not be another child as fortunate as that.]
While justifying treating Schult roughly, Priscilla was implying that she sought the same degree of gratitude from Al as well.
Al responded to that greedy look with a noncommittal “Yeah, yeah.”.
Priscilla: [Such a rude man. It seems that you have forgotten that you nearly lost your head at my whim. …Well, fine. So now, Al.]
Al: [What is it, princess?]
Priscilla: […How is your plotting coming along?]
At that chilly voice, Al held is breath and looked at Priscilla.
There was no mistake that she had chased off Schult, and waited until no one else was around to bring up the topic. To have a bomb dropped in the middle of a casual conversation like that was a surprise like being hit by an actual nearby blast.
If he hadn’t been simulating a flow of events like that ahead of time, he’d probably have been caught off-guard.
Al: [It’s not really anything so grand as plotting. For now it’s just purely getting a good look at things. So you’d noticed that I was quietly sniffing around, then?]
Priscilla: [My eyes and ears and all of myself are not only more beautiful than the ordinary people, they are more capable as well. Not only that, but this is my domain and my garden. If I wish to listen for the footsteps of a mouse or the wingbeats of a bug, they will reach me.]
Al: [If you go treating everything like it’s yours, your husband Grandpa Leip will cry.]
Priscilla: [If I make an old man like that cry, or wither away, it matters little. I don’t care in the least.]
It was a relationship where one didn’t expect the couple to love each other dearly, but for it to be this harsh was regrettable. However, now was not the time to be worried about the future of the local dysfunctional couple.
Al: [If yer upset with me crawling around, then what’ll ya do? Am I gonna get beaten with a whip, then?]
There was no reason for the punishment to be that light, but being thought of as rebellious was problematic, too. In the worst case, he would have to consider the option of using his trump card against Priscilla, but…
Priscilla: [Upset? I’m not going to throw a tantrum over you simply wandering around the house. Really, at the point that I invited a brigand like yourself inside, this sort of trifle was expected.]
However, that wariness was show to be off the mark by Priscilla’s unexpected reply.
Al: […Yer… really ok with that?]
Priscilla: [For a man to sniff, and desperately follow my lingering scent is the natural way of things. I’m not so inconsiderate as to blame a man for following his nature and being swayed by my charm. Also…]
As Al stood bewildered, Priscilla glanced sidelong at him with enough seductiveness to leave him senseless.
Priscilla: [People in uncertain positions like yours can’t survive without trying to find a safe harbor. If I were to blame you for looking to the left and right to be certain of things, it would be as foolish as telling a bird not to fly.]
Priscilla: [A mercenary swordsman who I have known only a few days. To believe that he has already given me his loyalty with all his heart… to believe that would be the foolishness of a dreamer. It would be a tremendous show of unreason.]
As Priscilla ended her annoyed speech, Al softly let go of the wariness that had been controlling his body.
At the very least, there were no lies in what she had just said. Since she’d thought about it enough to come to that conclusion.
Al: […Here I was so sure you’d say ‘Comparing myself with others is disrespectful. All the lot of you need to do is look at me and have your vision stolen away by my glory.’]
Priscilla: [None fear turning the eyes of others away from themselves more than those with no belief in themselves. I have every confidence that I am the greatest in the world. Hence, that sort of anxiety has no hold on me.]
Pulling a folding fan from her cleavage, and opening it with a snap, she continued “Also”,
Priscilla: [There is no doubt that I am the most beautiful gem in the world, but that one is superior is only understood properly when there are other jewels to be compared to. In order to grasp how wonderful I am, it’s necessary to compare me to the ordinary masses. Your walking about, too, in the end is nothing other than a roundabout compliment that confirms my greatness. What do you think, is that not a masterpiece?]
Al: […Yeah, that’s a masterpiece.]
Despite concealing her mouth with the opened fan, Priscilla couldn’t completely conceal her smile. As she spoke of her own unbridled arrogance, Al paused a moment, and agreed.
Priscilla didn’t point out that faint hesitation. She understood that it would be meaningless to do so.
And Al was shaken, to the extent that he didn’t grasp Priscilla’s understanding.
It was a shock. One that made him feel as though he had been struck in the head.
The girl standing before his eyes, barely of age herself, looked like something other than what she had before.
What on earth did she resemble…?
Schult: [Priscilla-sama! My apologies for taking so long, oh yes, indeed! I’ve brewed more tea!]
Priscilla: [Too slow!!]
Before he could find the answer he was thinking deeply about, Schult opened the door and came flying into the room.
Priscilla’s angry voice greeted him, and Schult fearfully set out the tea with unsteady hands. Priscilla sat down on the empty sofa next to him, brazenly crossed her white legs and waited.
And while gazing at his terribly unguarded mistress and the red-faced boy butler, Al sank again into deep thought.
Al grimaced in an unseen scowl at the smell wafting through his helmet.
This was the second time he had come in to the study, and it evoked the same emotions as before.
The bad air of a room with insufficient ventilation, and the unique smell of antique books. He thought that he’d become used to the combination, but when the smell of cologne used by someone trying to hide their body odor was mingled with the incompletely-hidden smell of the master of that room, it was another story.
As a result, the study had an air that people hesitated to enter without need.
???: [You’re late.]
With his enthusiasm already whittled away by the foul smell that greeted him, Al was further disheartened by that joyless voice. He’d been reluctant to move his feet this direction from the start, and now his motivation had fallen below zero. If the one he was meeting was one that would forgive rudeness, he’d have long ago escaped through the door behind him.
However, the person before his eyes was not so lenient as to forgive such an action as humorous.
???: [You’re late.]
The repeated rebuke, entirely unchanged from earlier. The hoarse voice conveyed contempt and insult, and sought a commensurate response from the disheartened Al.
Not content simply with blaming him, it would not be satisfied without crushing his will. Such a heartless man.
???: [You’re l…]
Al: [I’m terribly sorry. What with the mansion being so vast, when I’m summoned suddenly, I end up checking here and there all over the place. Were you saying something just now?]
Deliberately speaking over top of the third rebuke, he was rewarded with an ‘tsk’ full of undisguised ill humor.
Somewhat more relaxed after that reaction, Al once again looked squarely at the master of the study.
He was an old man seated at an ebony desk, with the room’s bookshelves to his left and right. He’d been told his age was close to seventy, but his energetic body held the youth of someone in their fifties. His expression, and his ambition-filled eyes, lent themselves to that impression, and his unbowed back and honed build also made him look like quite an individual.
In opposition to that appearance, however, his harsh, self-centered, arrogant personality was a fatal flaw.
The old man’s name was Leip Barielle. The lord of the Barielle Barony, and master of the Barielle manor who had taken the Red Woman, Priscilla, as a wife. In formal terms, as the companion of the one that Al had offered his sword to, this was someone that he should respect.
In truth, Al didn’t think of him as the least bit worthy of that respect.
Leip: [It seems you are accompanying ‘that woman’, wandering about the domain daily.]
Al: [Why do you say ‘that’…?]
Leip: […tsk. ‘That woman’ means ‘that woman’. My wife, Priscilla, of course!]
Al: [Indeed. Oh, I just wanted to be sure. My mother taught me that when they stop calling each other by name, it’s proof that the love of a couple is growing cold.]
As Liep grew irate, Al gave an appropriate answer, while sticking out his tongue on the inside.
Leip: [I hear you’re a gladiator, but do you have any memory of your parents?]
Al: [Hey, it’s not like all of the gladiators in Vollachia are thrown into the arena right after they’re born. There’s actually a lot more thrown in there that got into debt after growing up, or who were criminals. Well, the end result is that you end up getting cut apart by someone your age who fought their way up from the bottom.]
Leip: [Hmmf. It seems like just the sort of scenery the savages in the empire would like. I can just imagine their poor taste.]
It was a rare occurrence, but Al found himself agreeing with the prejudice that Leip spat out.
His days as a gladiator were something that, honestly, he didn’t like to recall.
Fighting with his life on the line in the battles held seemingly every day, competing for glory or testing his strength didn’t agree with Al’s nature. Having barely escaped with his life, he was now able to spend his days like this, in relaxation.
Leip: [Well, enough about you for now. It’s about Priscilla. What do you think about how ‘that woman’ is wandering about the domain every day, doing as she pleases?]
Al: [She’s quite an inquisitive one, is what I think. She’s a little different from the image… ah, the way I thought someone connected to a lord would spend their time, yes. She does seem to get a great reception from the locals, though.]
Leip: [A great reception, is it? Hmmf, they’re simply curious about her. It just happened that ‘that woman’s whim and sudden idea brought bounty to a field. Just with that, the peasants are treating ‘that woman’ like the god-dragon. I understand it well enough, but there are limits to that sort of nonsense!]
As he slammed his fist into the desk, Leip was grinding his teeth in anger.
It was likely her popularity with the locals that had set off his mood. Al, who was accompanying Priscilla day after day and travelling around the domain, could imagine that much. Setting aside the matter of Priscilla, Leip’s reputation in the various villages was poor; to the extent it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it rock-bottom.
‘He couldn’t have been called me here to listen to him whine, could he?’, thought Al in disbelief.
Al: [Not that I’m trying to stand up for the princess, but the incident with the field might not have been a spur-of-the-moment thing. No matter which village we head to, the princess always produces the same result. Everywhere, no matter the condition of the soil. Well, I agree it’s hard to believe she has that kind of discernment.]
Leip: [It’s foolishness to think it’s discernment. What ‘that woman’ brings is something more repulsive. If not for that, why do you think she’s rumored to be ‘The Bloody Bride’?]
Al had shrugged his shoulders, but when he heard the alias that Leip mentioned, he stopped moving.
At that reaction, Leip showed the ugly smile of one who has finally gained what he sought.
“The Bloody Bride” was a derogatory name that followed Priscilla, who now went by the Barielle family name.
Priscilla was a maiden of not yet twenty years of age, but though she was now Leip’s wife, it wasn’t her first marriage. It was her eighth.
Also, of the seven in the past, every one of those marriages had failed. The cause was the death of her companion – in other words, Priscilla had piled up the experience of being separated from seven husbands by death.
Her companions’ deaths, in war, from illness, or by accident, were not from a single cause, and while Priscilla had been suspected of involvement in all their deaths, nothing had come of those suspicions as she made her way to where she was today.
As a result, her existence was famous, amongst those who knew of her, as the “Bloody Bride” who brings ill fortune. The reason that men continued to seek for her despite this, was that Priscilla was beautiful enough to make them forget the rumors of bad luck. That, too, was ironic.
However, Al didn’t think that Leip fit into that pattern.
One reason was that he was an old man who’s lust had long since dried up, but more than anything was that Leip was not crazed and blinded by Priscilla’s charm. That was clear from the way he avoided her, and his bearing just now.
In other words, the old man had some other goal in marrying Priscilla.
And that reason was…
Leip: [If she wasn’t a candidate for the upcoming Royal Selection, who would take in a trickster-woman like that? She thinks she can get away with anything just because she’s got a nice face. That event where she made you her knight was more of the same, wasn’t it.]
Al: […I must say, you’re speaking quite bluntly. Don’t you worry that I might pass this on to the princess, and sour your relations?]
Not only speaking crudely, Leip revealed his crude motives without hesitation.
The Royal Selection – the great event that was rocking the Kingdom of Lugnica. In place of the royal family that had been wiped out by illness, the dragon that would choose the new king had brought about the trial that would open the way to the future. Leip was the man entrusted with the care of the prophecy plates where the future of the kingdom was written, so he held information about the Royal Selection even before the royal family was sick.
And striking quickly, taking Priscilla (who was eligible to be a royal candidate) as his wife, he intended to grasp power over the entire country by placing her on the throne.
It was an obvious plot, and a conclusion that anyone who knew Leip could come to. But, to hear the man himself speak so openly of it. Did he not imagine the possibility that Al, in a show of loyalty, might draw his sword for Priscilla here?
Looking at Al as he sat shocked, Leip let an ugly smile twist his mouth.
Leip: [You wouldn’t do anything so foolish, I hope? Nothing befits a mercenary more than ruthlessly seeking his own benefit. You who were raised as a gladiator would never throw your life away for a cheap emotion like indignation.]
Al: […You understand that quite well.]
Moving the hand that had been touching his sword hilt, he feigned non-hostility.
Al: [However, in that case, what is it you wish? Frankly sir, I think what you’re doing is impressive, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do to help with it.]
Leip: [Oh, that’s not true. Originally, someone working for me was supposed to be in your position. In truth, at that assembly of crude individuals, all of the top four except you were under my control.]
Al: [Oh my, a fixed race.]
Leip: [And that, too, came to nothing due to that woman’s whim. I need to keep ‘that woman’ surrounded with people who see things my way. I’m sure you understand why.]
If Priscilla’s impulsiveness couldn’t be accounted for, then at the least, in order to correct her course, she needed to be surrounded with those who could be predicted. It was the natural way of things. In that case,
Al: [What about the servant, Schult? That kid is another one that the princess collected, isn’t he?]
Leip: [I’ve already given that brat the same talk I’m giving you. Luxury that one could never have as an orphan; the promise of that bought him to my side without a second thought. In the end, ‘that woman’ can’t read people any better than that.]
He recalled Schult speaking proudly of working for Priscilla. Having said that, he didn’t think much of it. Putting oneself first was the instinct of living things. If loyalty was a result of being treated well, then it was natural that one’s feelings would lean more towards one that treated oneself better. Al was no exception to that.
Al: [I understand what it is you want of me, sir. With that, I’d be pleased if we could talk about how I’ll be treated and how I am to act in the future.]
Leip: […Hehe. That’s right, that’ll do fine. Not to worry, I won’t make you regret it. Of course, the same goes for Priscilla. For the sake of my own wishes as well, that woman needs to remain healthy. ‘That woman’, the brat, and you too, all the lot of you need to do is receive happiness under my leadership, after all!]
As Al accepted his suggestion, Leip let out a good-humored, throaty laugh.
At that loud laughter, Al whispered “Sorry, princess” to the mistress he had decided to betray.
…Even at that emotional moment, the phantom of Priscilla in the back of his mind was grinning victoriously.
A knight calling himself Gilian Endymion visited the Barielle domain.
A handsome man, with a fearless countenance and a dignified look. His shining blond hair sparkled in the sun, and although he was slender, the gorgeousness of his well-toned body was different from Al’s rough form. His well-tailored knight uniform brought out the young man’s charm, and even an untrained eye could tell that the treasured sword hanging from his waist was not the work of an amateur.
From top to bottom, a true and superior knight – that was the impression given by the young man called Gilian.
Leip: [He’s the third son of the Endymion household. As his two older brothers as assisting his father with administering their domain, he, who has a talent for the sword, left on a journey to gather martial fame as a knight. Today, I have imposed on him to spend the time with us.]
Saying this, standing beside the handsome young man and introducing him, was Liep Barielle himself.
And obviously, the old man would not be introducing the guest to Al or Schult. Directly in front of Leip, gazing unconcernedly at Gilian, was the Baroness, Priscilla.
Priscilla: [I understand what you have said about the commoner, but I do not understand your intention in introducing that sort of man to me. I am sure you haven’t lost your senses to the point where, as would be appropriate for one like yourself with few years remaining, you intend to give me another man.]
Leip: [Don’t be foolish. Who would let go of a beautiful wife like you? Think of today as being about his hope, and just a little bit of my thoughtfulness.]
Priscilla: [To be thoughtful, that’s so unlike you.]
From the way Priscilla sniffed, it was clear she had no intention of believing Leip’s request. Although Leip maintained his composure on the outside, one could almost see that he was biting his lip on the inside.
However, before Leip exploded, Gilian slowly came forward.
Gilian: [My humble apologies for this sudden visit, and for rudely imposing on you.]
It was an elegant gesture, and the kind of low, smooth voice that made women swoon. Gilian knelt before Priscilla.
Gilian: [However, ever since I heard the rumors of Priscilla-sama at the Barielle domain, I have been looking forward to the day that I could meet you. Truly, I feel that you are the incarnation of beauty from above.]
Priscilla: [Oho. You do know how to speak properly, then. My beauty is indeed not of this world. And despite that, the contradiction of having come down to this world – truly, I am a sinful woman.]
As Gilian continued to string together flowery words, Priscilla, in high spirits, glanced towards Al. Standing behind her and fulfilling the duty of an attendant, he shrugged his shoulders instead of giving a wry smile.
Priscilla: [Very well. I will allow you to touch my skin, and offer a knight’s respect. Understand well that this is happiness beyond your expectations.]
Gilian: [Yes. My humble gratitude.]
Speaking harshly, Priscilla lightly extended her hand. Gilian took the white fingers as though handling a fragile thing, and performed a knight’s greeting by kissing the back of her hand.
And if that had been the end of it, it would have been like nothing more than a scene from a fairy tale.
Priscilla: [And so, old man. The man you brought has passed my first inspection, but what are you looking for after this? You said something about thoughtfulness.]
Leip: [It’s a simple thing. Day by day, I’m busy with official work, and cannot accompany you as you travel about the domain. To have you going here and there alone has always bothered me.]
Priscilla: [Although he’s little more than a jester, Al is there, and if I brought you along you would simply be in the way. I have no intention of babysitting you. There was really no need for this.]
In response to Leip choosing his words carefully, Priscilla refused to show him any mercy.
A vein stood out on Leip’s forehead, long since abandoned by his hair. But, despite that, the old man managed to keep a smile on his face.
Leip: [Don’t say that. It’s just that today, I wanted to give you a nice-looking young man for what I make you endure day by day. He’s a gentleman to the ladies as well. I’m sure you’ll find him interesting.]
Gilian: [You may be hoping too much of me, but I’ll do my best to live up to it. Priscilla-sama, if it’s acceptable to you, please allow me the honor.]
In place of Leip, who was nearing the limits of his self-control, Gilian himself took up the request.
Leip was one thing, but in Gilian’s case, there was nothing unnatural about his sincere attitude. Thinking deeply, Priscilla tilted her head from side to side, and glanced at Al.
Priscilla: [Well, why not. Rather than always looking at a clunky iron helmet, it might not be bad to spend the time looking at the face of a man who is not hard on the eyes. Consideration is a virtue, indeed.]
Leip: […Yes, do that. Sir Gilian, please take care of my wife.]
Gilian: [Yes! Even if it costs my life.]
It was a slightly overdone, theatrical way to say it, but Priscilla enjoyed it all the more for that.
Gilian had brought his personal ground dragon – an outstanding, famed steed with a blue hide. The excellent ground dragon, which most likely had a pedigree, further pleased Priscilla’s eye for beauty.
Guiding his ground dragon expertly, and straddling the dragon together with Priscilla at her insistence, Gilian flashed his white teeth and gallantly rode away from the front of the mansion.
Leip: [They’ve finally left. Damn her for making me go through that song and dance. She’s a detestable woman.]
And, watching the pair leave, Leip spat that while letting his shoulders relax. Al let out a small laugh at the speed of the change, and then he looked towards the direction that Priscilla had disappeared to.
Al: [Gilian Endymion, huh. So he’s another of your pawns, then?]
Leip: [Of course. However, the amount of effort I’ve put into that one is different than the others. Deliberately depending on the distant Endymion household, I’ve spent a long time preparing him. Compared to the fighting tournament where they don’t ask where you’re from as long as you have skill, the labor I’ve put into hiding my connection with him is quite different.]
Al: [You always go all-out in your plotting. On that point, I honestly admire you, sir.]
Leip: [Hmf. With the way you’re involved in this, you’re no different. …Follow me. We’ll speak about the reason I introduced Gilian and ‘that woman’, and our plan for what will come.]
Pointing with his chin, Leip returned towards the mansion, swaying the sleeves of his robe.
While following him, Al suddenly stopped and turned back towards the direction where Priscilla had disappeared.
Of course, she was nowhere to be seen.
Discussion of intrigue was always done in the study.
If one were to guess, perhaps it was something that Leip was fixated on.
Breathing through his mouth due to the foul smell he wasn’t used to, Al idly thought about that.
Leip: [Even in my office, the walls may have ears; this study alone is safe. It’s the room that our Barielle family has prepared for holding secret discussions in for generations, after all.]
The change in his expression should have been hidden by his helmet, but Leip shrewdly picked up on Al’s thoughts and responded to them. Having come here, the old man’s mind had been sharpened.
This was in no small part due to the fact that the starting date of the Royal Selection, the stage where his wishes would play out, was fast approaching.
Al: [Over at the capital, things are probably getting fairly serious now, I’d guess.]
Leip: [By this point, the royal castle is in an uproar. They must have long since known perfectly well that the king and his bloodline couldn’t be saved. Ignoring the problem, and continuing to put off worrying about the continued existence of the kingdom has resulted in this. That incompetent lot; they understand nothing!]
Getting worked up as he spoke, veins began to stand out on Leip’s forehead. Leip, who was nearly indignant enough to burst a blood vessel, had revealed the prophecy about this matter just a few days ago.
Talk of the death of the king had spread through the town, and the higher nobles were beginning preparations for the Royal Selection. In truth, all of their initial movements were more than a step or two behind Leip.
Al: [Making pawns of those you used to hate; haven’t you come to enjoy that?]
Leip: [I used to think that I would. Instead, looking back at how I was treated by those incompetents, I’ve simply become more displeased. The Sage Council, indeed. Why, it’s nothing more than a club for doddering old men chosen for nothing more than the standing of their house and their age. The head incompetent Miklotov, the insufferable idiot Bordeaux, I’d like nothing more than to toss them out and let mabeasts feast on their entrails.]
Al: [My, you are angry.]
Even if he’d turned the conversation that way himself, it was rather boring to listen to someone else’s inner hatred.
While giving a noncommittal reply, Al looked toward Schult, who was cowering in a corner of the room. The boy didn’t appear to know the reason he was here, his face was pale, and he had been keeping his head low.
Leip: [That’s enough for now about the dunces in the capital. It’s a waste of time. More importantly, at last it’s time for the long-awaited Royal Selection. I need to talk to you about that.]
Al: [You’ve already made the announcement that the princess is a candidate, haven’t you?]
Leip: [Obviously. Firstly, it’s necessary to let them know that what was written on the dragon stone is true. To prove that a candidate can cause an emblem of Lugnica to shine, you see. Originally, I’d hoped to have Priscilla take to role of making it shine, and declaring her to be the first participant in the Royal Selection, but…]
Leip stopped speaking for a moment, with a bitter expression.
Leip: [At the place they announced the prophecy, one of the upper-class nobles made the emblem shine. My single miscalculation was that there was a candidate already there.]
Al: [Heh. That’s quite a lucky guy. So who was it?]
Leip: [Duchess Karsten… Crusch Karsten. A mere woman, shamelessly carrying the position her father ceded to her. A savage madwoman with the sword, famous as well for being an eccentric followed by a bizarre retainer. What was the emblem thinking, choosing her? …Of course, the moment Priscilla has been chosen, there’s no point worrying about that.]
In response to a heartfelt sigh, Al couldn’t help but agree and give a wry smile.
Candidates for the Royal Selection were able to make the gemstone of an emblem, handed down in the Kingdom of Lugnica, sparkle. Finding the five who fulfill that condition, and having them compete for the throne, was the content of the Royal Selection.
It was just that much about the selection criteria for those candidates was still unclear. At the moment, things they had in common, their bloodline, even their blessings didn’t seem to explain it.
Al: [By the way, sir, how’d you find out the princess is a candidate?]
Leip: […I have no obligation to tell you about that. I may have spoken a little too much, but don’t go poking your nose into things. All you need to do is follow my instructions.]
Al: […As you say.]
As Leip moved to cut off the conversation, Al meekly stood down.
When Al showed that he would quietly do as he was told, Leip let out a long breath through his nose. Then the old man clicked his tongue at Schult, in the corner of the room.
Leip: [How long do you intend to do that? I’ve gone to the trouble of making time to speak to you. If you have time to sit there cowering, show me that you intend to contribute at least a little.]
Schult: [Y, yes… My apologies…]
Leip sat behind the ebony desk in the back of the room, and Schult stood directly ahead of him. Seeing that some books taken from the shelves were piled up on the floor, Al plopped himself down on top of them.
Leip: [I don’t intend to needlessly drag out this discussion. Let’s get to the point. …It’s about Gilian; I intend to have him act as Priscilla’s knight.]
Al: [Wait, wait, hold on a minute there. If you do that, what happens to me?]
Raising his hand at Leip’s statement, Al inquired that while calling for a pause.
Al: [It’s because that I’m treated as the princess’ knight that I’m being allowed to stay at the mansion.]
Leip: [Don’t be concerned. I won’t be stooping to having you thrown out. I don’t let go of valuable pawns, and it would be troublesome to have you silenced, as well. It won’t be as the knight, but I’ll make up some position for you at the mansion. There’s no need to worry about it.]
Al: [I’m not that worried about that point, but what meaning is there in going that far to replace her knight? Of course, it’s probably important that he’s one of your pawns, sir.]
Leip: [That’s a simple matter. The people love picturing a master and servant with a knightly knight as the servant. Since things have turned out such that someone who is not of the royal family will be taking the throne, the support of the citizens will not be unconditional as it has been up to this point. The simple, foolish citizens need an easy-to-understand image they can get worked up about.]
At Leip’s fervent words, Al raised his eyebrows in unusual interest.
In other words, it was a public relations strategy. Preparing an eye-catching knight and princess, he altered their ease of acceptance from the moment they were first seen. Since the candidates would be contesting between themselves in the Royal Selection, it would turn into something with an influence that could not be ignored. It might be called excessive attention to detail by some, but…
Al: [I honestly respect your willingness to doing anything that will even slightly improve your chance to win.]
Leip: [I’m not sure I like the way you put that, but whatever. As the people’s image of a knight, there should be no complaints with Gilian. Priscilla, too, if we’re only talking about her looks, is easy to recognize as one that draws the eye to a rather disgusting extent. My advance preparations are rock solid.]
Al: [Ah, there’s just one little problem.]
It would be raining on the parade of an old man as he was gloating, but Al held some doubts about the strategy he was so proud of. While being subjected to a displeased glare, Al fiddled with the fittings of his helm.
Al: [Will the princess go back on her own decision, then? At an event she opened herself, I was chosen as her knight at her own direction. I’m not sure she’d change her mind on that.]
Leip: [What, is that all? Don’t worry over such little things.]
Dismissing Al’s concern with a sniff, Leip continued while tapping on the desk with his finger.
Leip: [A knight who’s easy on the eyes, and an eccentric man in a steel helmet. There’s no question about which one a woman would pick. Or are you confident that women would prefer you over Gilian?]
Al: [Yeah, I guess not. In a flirting contest, I’d lose every time. Not just that, even in a swordfight, I might not be able to beat him.]
Leip: [Then there you have it.]
Nodding in satisfaction at Al’s pathetic answer, Leip leaned back, making the chair creak.
With that, he more or less understood the old man’s plans. Indeed, he felt it was all something he could nod and agree with. It was just that…
Schult: [Ah, umm…]
Unlike Al, who could see the rationality of it, there was Schult, who had been keeping quiet, but now timidly raised his hand.
Leip: [What. Do you intend to cast aspersions on my thoughts as well?]
Schult: [No, not at all! I, uh, well… well, about Priscilla-sama…]
While cowering beneath Leip’s harsh glare, Schult gulped and continued.
Schult: [You won’t do anything cruel to Priscilla-sama, indeed? In order to make Priscilla-sama the queen, sir…. In order to do that, you’ve thought of many things, yes?]
Leip: […Is that all. Don’t bother me with your nonsense. I’ve stated my goal countless times. Since Priscilla is necessary for it, why would I harm her?]
Leip tsk’ed at Schult’s childish worry, and spat back that reply.
Leip: [Preparing the path for that woman to arrive at the throne is my role. Indeed, even if she were to decline the Royal Selection, I would force her to participate. Think of yourselves as having the same duty.]
Al: [Well, with the princess’ personality, there’s no way she’d turn down the Royal Selection.]
She’d never back down from a fight, and indeed, never hesitated to boast that everything in this world belonged to her. If a country would become legitimately hers, she’d do it as though there were no other choice.
Without knowing it, as he imagined Priscilla’s mad dash for the throne, Al smiled.
Schult: [Is that so, indeed. Th… That’s good, oh yes, indeed…]
Schult, too, held a hand to his chest in relief at Leip’s reply. Even though he’d switched sides for Leip for the payment, he still hadn’t forgotten his gratitude to Priscilla for taking him in. Priscilla would take the throne, and he would be rewarded. To him, it was the best possible outcome.
However, the relief the two of them felt
Leip: [She’s a difficult girl to control, but once I use a curse to turn her into a puppet, she’ll do as I wish. With a doll on the throne, the country has all but fallen into my hands.]
was shattered by Leip’s next words, as he explained the final step of his plan.
Unable to breathe, Schult let out a hoarse voice.
The old man let a vicious smile twist his face, and shrugged at Schult’s reaction.
Leip: [What, could you not hear me? That girl’s troublesome willfulness is in the way. I was able to overlook it before the start of the Royal Selection, but now that the importance of every single action is increasing, I can’t let it be. Once her debut at the royal castle is finished, I’ll take away her will and make her my puppet.]
Al: […Is that really something you can do so easily?]
Leip: [I’m sure it’s beyond imagining for the two of you. In this world, there are many demands for unimaginable dark deeds. I long ago made connections with a handy fellow who acts as an intermediary for a ‘shaman’.]
Rather than being the stuff of dreams, Leip’s plot was a realistic one. Through cursing her by a shaman, he’d take away Priscilla’s will. This, too, was likely realistically possible.
Schult: Tha…that’s not what you said, oh no, indeed!]
Unlike Al, who was able to calmly accept the facts, Schult’s voice cracked as he spoke out.
Schult: [Sir, you’d do nothing to Priscilla-sama, that’s what you said, indeed!]
Leip: [I never said I wouldn’t do anything. I said I wouldn’t harm her. If that woman isn’t uninjured, she can’t hope to take the throne. Hence, I’ll do nothing to take away her health. What’s the problem?]
Schult: [If Priscilla-sama stops being Priscilla-sama… then what point…]
As Schult spoke in a trembling voice, Leip leveled a displeased glare at him. The cruel color that began to show in his eyes was proof that he was beginning to weigh the usefulness of the boy in front of him against his displeasure.
Leip: [Quit trying to look innocent, boy. You’ve already been drawn in by the reward, and betrayed that woman. You’re no longer in a position to be concerned about her welfare. Or is that it? Have you fallen for her charms? To be overcome by the seduction of a whore, completely shameful for a boy… Well, then.]
Leering disgustingly, Leip stood and leaned over the desk, bringing his face close to Schult’s.
Leip: [If you want to have your way with her, I’ll allow it after she’s taken the throne. I don’t know what you see in that clump of flab, but you’re drooling over her, aren’t you?]
Unsurpassed disrespect of women and humiliation of Priscilla.
Schult’s face went bright red at that statement, and his delicate arms reached for Leip.
However, Leip avoided him with ease, and instead struck him in the chest with a short tube that was on top of the desk. With a cry of pain, Schult tumbled on the floor of the study.
Leip: [To raise your hand against me, the master of the mansion; this is the problem with all the ill-mannered wild dogs these days.]
Leip, who had just mercilessly struck a child, looked down at Schultz as he writhed on the floor.
Leip’s movement just now had a sharpness unexpected from someone nearing seventy. A long-held, unfulfilled ambition was capable of filling a body with vitality to this extent.
Leip: [Now you will burn to death. Your innards will char, and you’ll blow smoke from every hole in your body. I’ll accept the sight of your miserable condition as recompense for your disgrace.]
Pointing the tip of the short tube in his hand at Schult, Leip put the punishment into action with the look of one crushing an insect.
The intensifying mana made the air in the study shimmer, the manifested destruction overtook the young body, the being known as Schult changed to dust in the inferno…,
Leip: […What’s the meaning of this?]
Al: [The ball suddenly came my way, so yeah.]
The moment before Schult would have been burnt to ashes, Al’s sword was unleashed, aiming for the short tube. Instantly dodging the sword swinging up from below, Leip’s face twisted in annoyance.
Leip: [What reason is there for you to protect that child? All you need to do is watch quietly. You understood that was the position you agreed to, did you not!?]
Al: [If you get that angry, you really are going to bust a vein, sir. Yeah, actually, I’m not sure either why I did that, though…]
In the face of Leip’s rage, Al joked as he spoke his honest thoughts.
Even he didn’t understand why he’d moved to protect Schult. Thinking about it rationally, it would have been best to use what Leip was saying to his own advantage.
Despite that, Al had now protected Schult after his objection to Leip, and had turned the old man hostile.
Why, what for, he didn’t know.
Schult: [Al-sama, you…]
From behind Al, who was playing the fool, Schult looked towards him as he groaned.
Al: [Schult-chan, if it hurts, it’s alright to cry, ya know? I’ll keep it a secret.]
Schult: [Al-sama… you like Priscilla-sama too, right…?]
Ignoring Al’s teasing, Schult spoke as though he’d had to wring the words out of himself.
And the moment he heard those words, a shock passed through Al’s entire body.
Letting out a long, long sigh, Al understood.
Al: [Ah, man, I’m so dumb. …How did I miss something so simple?]
With that realization, he was able to explain all of his confusion up to now.
Leip: [You’ve realized your judgement was clouded? If so, move out of…]
Al: [I get it. I finally get it. I was being stupid. I shoulda seen it right away.]
Tilting his head to the side, Al shrugged while kept his one-handed grip on his sword.
Al: [There’s no way I could happily plot together with an old geezer who can’t see how sexy and cute the princess is!]
Immediately after his curse, Leip pulled out one of the desk drawers with his left hand and threw it at Al. Hacking that apart with his sword as it approached, Al kicked the books at his feet towards Leip and shouted.
Al: [Schult! Get outta the room right now! I’ll handle the rest!]
Schult: [Ahh… gh, understood, indeed!]
Grimacing in pain, Schult ran with great effort to the door, and left the room without looking back. That was a good choice. However, Leip mocked that choice.
Leip: [How completely foolish the pair of you are! Why do you think I only called the two of you to the study? All the other servants in the mansion are my supporters. There’s no question what will happen to the boy now that he’s left the room!]
Al: [Very prudent of ya. But, ya never know, right? If I were to take you hostage…]
Leip: [Surely you don’t think you can restrain me so easily, youngling. In my younger days, I was nothing to scoff at on the battlefield. My war record is no less than that of Bordeaux himself!]
The fighting spirit emanating from Leip as he roared was proof that this wasn’t a bluff.
The short tube the old man held was a ‘metia’. It’s effect was most likely raising the power of the user’s magic – a simple effect, but because of that, there was no countermeasure.
Comparing that to his own fighting strength, Al quickly judged that he was at a disadvantage. In other words,
Al: [The conditions are met. …No need to hesitate in playing my trump card.]
Leip: [You idiot…]
Al: [I won’t deny that. It’s nothing personal. Your luck was bad. …Nah,]
Halting his words there, Al continued with the echo of a cynical smile in his voice.
Al: […Your stars were bad.]
Right after he finished speaking, Leip threw away all pretenses and raised the short tube, unleashing his magic.
Conveyed from Leip’s palm, the mana passing through the tube gained overwhelming power. The strength of the magic emerging from the end of the ‘metia’ had swollen to over five times it’s normal level.
That magic landed a direct hit on the torso of the iron helmet that had been speaking nonsense, bending his body backwards and exploding in the center of it. The shelves were covered with the awful stench of a human body being burned by the intense heat, and the flesh, blood, and organs that had been blown apart.
The bodiless helmet and sword clattered to the floor, and Leip looked over the terrible scene with an air of boredom.
Leip: [What sort of trump card was that? What nonsense. Honestly, all of it, nonsense.]
Cutting across the blood-soaked study, Leip began to leave the room. There was only a tiny chance, but if the boy that ran away managed to meet up with Priscilla, it would mean trouble. He needed to find him right away, and finish him.
Thinking that, he extended his hand towards the study’s door knob.
Al: […Your stars were bad.]
Leip was speechless for a moment, then looked behind him.
When he did, he saw a man standing there with his back to Leip. He was a one-armed man wearing a steel helmet, and gripping a sword in his hand…
Al: [Huh? Where’d…]
With no interest in listening to the fool’s voice, Leip cast his magic through the short tube and burned him to death once more.
The unleashed flames scorched the man, and the speechless steel helmet once again shattered.
The floor of the study was once more stained with disaster, and Leip backed away, unable to grasp the meaning of the situation.
Leip: [Wha… what was that? What just happened…]
Realizing that he was shaking, Leip took a deep breath. His forehead was covered with cold sweat. While roughly wiping it away with his sleeve, the old man looked up and tried to make sense of it.
Al: […Your stars were bad.]
Once again, the man’s voice was heard.
Al: […Your stars were bad.]
He heard it. That voice struck his ears again.
Al: [Huh? Where’d you go?]
Before his eyes, the man who had lost sight of his enemy looked left and right. Then the man turned about, and when he noticed the man seated behind him, he quickly readied his sword again. However,
Al: [Oh, hey. You’ve run out of steam. From the way it looks… I’m the attacker now. Ah, I see. You’re pretty unlucky, too.]
Speaking as though with sympathy, the man squatted in front of the disheartened old man.
The drooling old man didn’t so much as look up at the man’s face.
Al: [You were so energetic until just a second ago, but you’ve started looking your age all of a sudden. I don’t know how many times we’ve done this, but ya haven’t given up after a few dozen, have ya? Well, there’s no way to know, o’course.]
Leip: […ll me.]
The voice was like a whisper, and the helmeted man tilted his head.
So that the man would hear it, the old man shakily raised his head.
Leip: [Please… kill me.]
As though it might be his only salvation, the old man earnestly sought it.
At that appeal, the man’s shoulders dropped as though he had recalled something unfortunate.
Al: [That’s too bad. Just because someone can’t grasp sexy cuteness, people can’t come to understand each other, after all.]
Standing, the helmeted man lightly shouldered his sword, aiming for the old man’s neck.
Then, the blade swung in a deadly arc, and the old man’s head sprayed blood as it flew through the air.
At last, the old man’s nightmare…
Al: […Your stars were bad.]
did not end.
Leip’s hair was in complete disarray, and his eyes were sunken, as Al brought him out of the study.
Speaking deliriously and drooling, the old man had entirely lost his mind.
Al: [Still, even I feel kinda bad about this, what’s up with that?]
As he dragged the old man’s heavy body along, Al was mildly repulsed at what he’d done.
Rendering him powerless without killing him, and while it could be said that, taking the long view, rendering him powerless truly was the best option, exactly how did this differ from Leip’s own plot, in terms of cruelty?
Al: [Well, the sense of guilt is different between a crappy old guy and a young beauty. When you look at it that way, it feels better.]
While quickly imagining up something to justify himself, Al carried on towards the mansion’s entry hall. With no one to depend on, Schult could only flee to the outside of the mansion, but,
At the entry hall, as Al approached the great staircase that connected the first and second floors, a voice called to him from below. Looking, he saw many of the mansion’s servants, and Schult standing before the door. In addition, beside him was…
Priscilla: [It seems you have been causing quite a ruckus while I was away.]
Having returned with her knight in tow, Priscilla arrogantly stated that with her hand on her hip. Looking up at Al on the upper floor, she sniffed and pouted.
Priscilla: [Come now, Al. How long do you intend to be looking down at me, is that not rude? Come down right now, and explain exactly what happened while I was away.]
Al: [Ah, gotcha. I’d come down if I could.]
Priscilla: [Your reply seems to convey no intention to move at all.]
As Al joked around at the top of the great stairway, Priscilla winked at him and forgave his insolence. However, an infuriated man interrupted that exchange between master and follower.
Gilian: [Please wait, Priscilla-sama! That helmeted man, does it not appear that he has done something to Leip-sama?]
Priscilla: [Hmm? Ooh. Now that I take a closer look, it is that old bag of bones that Al is dragging around. What is this, then? Did the old man there finally despair over his own idiocy, and hang himself?]
Priscilla’s response to what Gilian had pointed out was indiscreet. Gilian was aghast, but Al smiled wryly at her attitude while lifting up Leip.
Al: [Nah, he ain’t dead. Well, his body isn’t dead. But somehow his spirit just suddenly died.]
Priscilla: [Sudden death, is it? Well, he is that age, after all. It is something that happens to old trees.]
Gilian: [You can’t mean to allow him to pass it off with that kind of explanation!]
Priscilla was trying to look like she would accept it, but Gilian protested fiercely. He stepped in front of Priscilla, drew the knight’s sword at his side, and pointed it towards Al on the upper floor.
Gilian: [You are fellow with a truly suspicious appearance, but having heard that you were Priscilla-sama’s retainer, I have overlooked it until now. However, it seems now that you were a villain that should not have been overlooked. You’ve treated Leip-sama barbarously.]
Al: [Like I said, he ain’t dead.]
Gilian: [Nevertheless! I will not allow you to direct your poisoned fangs against Priscilla-sama. From now on, I will take on the role of protecting Priscilla-sama!]
The vociferous Gilian was a knight of justice, and he looked the part. On the other hand, due to his own looks and the half-dead Leip, Al looked like an outright villain.
The hall was full of servants holding their breath and observing the situation. Having said that, likely the only one that was truly concerned for Al was Schult. The other servants were all Leip’s supporters, so even if he did manage to make it past Gilian, the outlook after that was fairly grim.
The conditions for his trump card were not met, either. ‘Well now, how will this turn out’, worried Al.
Gilian: [It would seem you have grasped your disadvantage. Then stand your ground as I cut you down. I don’t know what sort of vile plan you had, but I will protect Priscilla-sama’s safety from this point on. May her days be full of unchanging serenity, and the path she follows blessed!]
Gilian, all fired up, began to step forward, intending to charge at Al with his sword without further delay.
But, just before he could take that first explosive step,
Priscilla: [Unchanging days of serenity, is it? …How dull.]
Priscilla spoke in a terribly bored voice.
And with the “Crimson Sword” she drew from behind her, she struck down Gilian with a single swing.
Crying out in shock at the unexpected cut, Gilian fell down on the steps with a serious wound on his back. Rolling his body face-up with her foot, Priscilla brought the point of her sword to the nose of the panting handsome man.
Priscilla: [Here I was wondering what kind of sweet talk you would use to sway me, but you prove to be a boring man not only along the way but when in the spotlight as well. On top of that, you will give me unchanging days of serenity, you say? Here we see the epitome of a commoner’s thinking.]
Gilian: [What do…you…]
Priscilla: [What value does the same thing as yesterday hold? An unchanging thing is simply tiresome. Always show me something new. If you are unable to do that, then at the very least, become a corpse, rot away, become dung, and disappear from my view. Fool.]
To the man who was fond of himself, Priscilla mercilessly sent a shower of cruel words.
What the red woman in front of his eyes was saying, surely Gilian understood less than half of. And before that changed, his chance to reach understanding was forever taken away.
Gilian’s body, lying fallen on the stairs, suddenly spouted flames. For the handsome man called Gilian Endymion, the burning heat of the flames spreading from his wound would allow no escape from their fiery embrace.
With his throat seared, Gilian was unable to even scream as he burned.
Al: [Princess, maybe it’d be better to put out the fire before the mansion catches on fire?]
Priscilla: [Idiot. It is a flame born of my Yang sword. Obviously, it will ignite only that which I have chosen.]
Her logic was incomprehensible, but Gilian’s flames did not spread to the rug on the steps. Having confirmed that it somehow seemed to be true, Al was amazed by Priscilla’s unconventionality, despite himself.
Incidentally, sometime during that, the crimson sword she had been holding had once again disappeared from view.
Al: [Well, it’d be pretty dumb to be surprised by the princess’ magic tricks after all this. More importantly, what are you gonna do about all this, including the burning guy?]
Priscilla: [No matter how many times one smells it, the odor of a burning person is displeasing. You lot, clean it up at once.]
At Priscilla’s instruction, the servants moved without hesitation, rapidly cleaning up Gilian’s entirely charred remains. Observing this, Al came to a conclusion. That was…
Al: [Well, princess, you saw through the old guy’s plans long ago, then?]
Priscilla: [From the beginning, he made no secret of his intention to use me and seize power in the nation. Given that, it was trivial to imagine how he would proceed. Before one feels annoyance at the insect buzzing around one’s ear, it is only natural to take away the insect’s wings and legs.]
Al: [You’re too much. He was out of his league.]
He couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of the old man’s long-held ambition being treated as the antics of a clown and dancing in the palm of her hand.
It goes without saying that she held the hearts of the people, and even in the mansion, there were none who were truly his allies. His sole ally that hadn’t been seized by Priscilla had now been burnt to a crisp.
When you think of it that way, perhaps he was happier losing his sanity while still holding his ambitions.
Al: [By the way, if you had your revenge planned out in that much detail, why didn’t you say anything to us? We put on a weird little act because of that.]
Priscilla: [You have no talent for that sort of thing, I can tell at a glance. Schult is the same. You both get visibly flustered every time you look at me. You have no idea how hard it is not to laugh.]
Schult: [Ah, um…P, Priscilla-sama…]
As Al and Priscilla carried on their friendly chat, with Leip tossed onto the steps, Schult arrived below them. When Priscilla folded her arms to emphasize her chest, Schult faltered, uncertain where to direct his gaze.
Perhaps he intended to apologize for having once joined a side that intended to betray Priscilla. However, to do that, failing to choose the right words could lead to calling down her wrath.
If it goes poorly, I’ll have to back him up, is what Al was thinking while feeling a bit concerned, but…
Schult: [I’m glad you’re unharmed, oh yes, indeed. …I…I was worried…]
Looking at Schult, whose face was messy with tears, Al was amazed by his own foolishness.
How much nonsensical common sense had he tried to force on the heart of a child barely ten years old, and then gauge the situation based on that?
Hadn’t he just seen a pitiful old man decide what this and that was without trying to actually see it for itself, and suffer a lonely fall without anyone to come to his aid?
Priscilla: [Schult, you are just so adorable. Very well, I give you permission to get my dress dirty.]
Priscilla pulled the sobbing Schult into her embrace, then, with a pleased expression, wiped his face clean with her dress. Then, with the dizzy young man still sandwiched between her breasts, she turned towards Al.
Al: [Well, isn’t that an enviable position.]
Priscilla: [It is an obvious thing to say, but you were wise to choose me. My compliments.]
Al: [If it’s a choice between an old guy and a sexy-cute girl, you chose the girl. Anyone would do that. I do that, too.]
Priscilla: [Your forthrightness does not displease me. Well now…]
Priscilla looked down at Leip, who lay blank-eyed on the ground, and snorted softly.
Priscilla: [How very, hmm, pitiful it is that my husband of convenience has lost his ability to rule his domain. In this state, the future of the Barielle domain is endangered. Since it has come to this, it seems unavoidable that I take on all authority as the representative of the household. Is it not so?]
Al: [Carrying on the will of your beloved husband, and doing your best in the unfamiliar role of steward, like a good wife. The blind actions of a beautiful girl; it’s a scenario that invites tears, ain’t it? I think I might cry.]
Priscilla: [How very droll of you.]
Al: [You too, princess.]
The well-matched master and servant laughed together, and looked satisfied that, for the moment, the affairs of the house were in order.
And that left Schult, still caught wide-eyed between Priscilla’s breasts. Taking the boy’s head with both hands, Priscilla mussed up his hair, and spoke.
Priscilla: [Well now, whatever is the matter, Schult? You should laugh. I, your favorite person, am in a good mood. You do understand what an attendant should do in that case, yes?]
Schult: [Y..yes. I understand, oh yes, indeed!]
At Priscilla’s directive, he straightened his back, dutifully got his breathing under control, and laughed loudly.
Forcing his face to smile with his hands on his cheeks, and using a voice so loud that it was cracking.
Schult: [Hahahahaha, oh yes, indeed!]
Priscilla: [That will do. With that finished, you do know what I will wish for next, yes?]
Schult: [For me to go brew fresh tea, oh yes, indeed!]
Drawing a fan from her cleavage and opening it with a snap, Priscilla descended the stairs. Al followed her, and Schult walked with them, still laughing.
Priscilla: [I’m terribly pleased. This will do. After all…]
Listening to the voice of the laughing girl, Al realized why he had chosen her.
It was nothing, really. A simple matter. Nothing more than that he had, once again, been captured by this girl’s charms.
Priscilla: […This world is designed to operate in the way that works best for me.]
Emilia in Wonderland
Original Translation by Eminent ― Complete
[And then at the end he said, ‘It’s your heart’!] Subaru said with a toothy grin and a snap of his fingers.
[Woa, that’s amazing!] Emilia exclaimed, laughing as she clapped her hands.
The two of them were chatting in the courtyard of Roswaal Manor in the shade of a tree, basking in the breeze and getting hyped up by stories from Subaru’s home world.
As Subaru told stories while making gestures, being very skillful with the way he delivered them, Emilia got sucked into the worlds of the stories without noticing it. She was honestly impressed by his ability to change his voice and act as both men and women.
[But you really know a lot of stories, don’t you? And they are all ones I haven’t heard of. I’m reaaally impressed.]
[I’m also thankful for my memory and the fact that I was born on Earth. I guess impressing Emilia-tan a little was the mission assigned to me by Andersen.]
[It’s the name of the spaceship I lived on and the famous author of fairytales who lived there.]
Subaru winked at Emilia, who was tilting her head, but it seemed like she didn’t really get it, so she gave a vague smile and pretended to get it since it was probably something she didn’t need to understand.
Two weeks had passed since Subaru solved the witchbeast incident after moving into Roswaal Manor. His wounds from the incident now healed, he was back to working as a servant, and he sometimes made time to talk about various things with Emilia during his breaks.
Emilia, who was exhausted from her unfamiliar studies, was grateful for Subaru’s consideration. And on top of that, his stories were interesting as well, so she couldn’t be blamed for asking for more and more.
[Alright then…now that the story is over, I don’t really want to, but I have to get back to work. How about you, Emilia-tan?] Subaru asked Emilia as he stood up, dusting off his butt.
Emilia leaned against the tree, her silver hair swaying in the wind, and pondered for a while. [I’ll stay here for a while longer,] she ultimately decided.
[Alright. See you later. I might get my head chopped off if Ram finds me here.]
After Subaru jokingly said that, Emilia watched as he headed back towards the manor and yawned. [Hmmmm.]
Last night, she couldn’t find a good place to stop, so she’d stayed up all night reading. That was why she instantly started to feel drowsy like this while enjoying the gentle breeze by herself.
[Maybe I should have gone back with Subaru…] Emilia whispered in a faint voice while slumped over.
She closed her eyes thinking that she shouldn’t do it, and then a pleasant drowsiness slowly came over her.
And like that, Emilia’s consciousness…
[Oh my, no, no! I won’t make it if I don’t hurry up!]
Emilia, who was on the verge of falling asleep, was seemingly jolted awake by that sudden voice. [Huh, what?]
[I’m in trouble! It’s a grave deal! I don’t know why, but I need to hurry up!]
Emilia looked around and spotted the source of that voice, then widened her eyes in surprise. As she leaned against the tree, a grey cat walking on two legs—someone she was used to seeing; a kitten spirit who was her family—ran past her.
[Puck? Why have you materialized…oh, wait!]
For some reason, Puck, who was normally palm-sized, was now the size of a human infant. He could essentially change his size at his will, but he rarely did so.
Emilia hurriedly stood up at his easy-going impatient voice, thinking something might have happened. But Puck didn’t even pay attention to her, and…
[I’m going to choose the bottomless hole now!] Puck ran and went around Emilia, his footsteps making adorable sounds, to the back of the tree. And then… [Haiya!]
She heard an energetic voice and felt Puck’s presence moving away.
[Hey! Puck, why are you ignoring me? Sheesh.]
Emilia also hurriedly moved behind the tree after getting shocked by her family’s unusual behavior. But then, Puck was nowhere to be seen, and instead there was a gaping hole in the ground. She wondered if this was where Puck jumped in after shouting.
[Why is there a hole here? …Could it be that Subaru has hidden treasure here…?] She decided who the culprit was based on her bias and then hesitantly looked into the hole.
The dark hole was so deep that she couldn’t see the bottom, and when she started feeling like she was going to be sucked into it, she gasped.
[Pu-Puuuck! Can you hear me? If you can hear me then please answer me!] she shouted into the hole, but her voice echoed in vain.
Not knowing what to do, she turned back to call someone from the manor for now. And then…
[—It would affect how the story proceeds, so anyway, dooown youuu goo.]
The moment Emilia’s body got pulled from behind, she thought she heard yet another voice. She was startled when she felt her shoulder get pulled, but that surprise was soon replaced by the shock of her body falling.
[Wait, no! I’m going to get flattened!]
While falling into the hole headfirst, Emilia was horrified at the thought of going splat. She immediately kicked the wall and fixed her perception of up and down, then grabbed the hem of her skirt that was being pushed upwards by the wind and immediately started thinking of countermeasures—but before she could think of any, she got stopped by something soft.
Emilia, feeling like she had been enveloped by a bundle of paper, struggled with it, and then crawled out.
She brushed the things that clung to her clothes and hair off and realized that they were dried leaves. It seemed like the dead leaves that had accumulated at the bottom of the hole had protected her from the impact of the fall.
[Haaa… I was so surprised.]
Emilia was relieved, but it didn’t last long, and she looked around restlessly.
It looks like the inside of a hollowed-out tree, so am I inside a tree that’s hundreds of years old? But then again, I fell into a hole in the ground.
As she frowned at her doubt, Emilia caught sight of a kitten that was peeking at the passageway at the far end of this space. Puck jumped on the spot when Emilia spoke.
[Oh my, I will be late if I don’t hurry up. I’m in trouble,] he said audaciously after glancing repeatedly at his wrist, which had nothing on it.
[You don’t have anything there! Stop playing weird pranks, I’m mad at you. Stop right there.]
As Emilia kicked back the dead leaves and started running, Puck started running away from her in a hurry. She was surprised at how fast he could run, and even though it wasn’t the right situation for it, she was impressed and thought he was amazing.
Puck, who was running as fast as he could, disappeared from her sight into the corridor that seemingly had no end. Even so, Emilia ran hard, somehow managing to get through the passage, and jumped into a bright room.
[Umm… What is this place? And where’s Puck?]
Emilia silently gasped for breath and was stunned by the scenery that had changed again. It was a cute room filled with brightly colored things. It had flowers she hadn’t seen before on the table, above the fireplace, and on the windowsill.
[I wonder if it’s someone’s room… What if they get angry at me if I enter without permission?]
Although Emilia was in a mysterious situation, she had realistic worries. She searched around the room for Puck and its owner. However, she couldn’t look around for long due to the room being on the smaller side, causing her to quickly slump her shoulders since she couldn’t find Puck. That wasn’t the only reason she did that, either.
[There is a door that looks like it might lead outside, but my body is too big to fit through.]
Even Emilia couldn’t hide her shock at that. She wasn’t aware that she was much bigger than others. It was true that the girls in the manor, Rem, Ram, and Beatrice were smaller than Emilia and were cute, but…
[No, no. Even Beatrice can’t walk through a door of this size. So, the person who made this must have been really careless.]
Emilia, who was on the verge of feeling depressed, snapped out of it with a sudden flash of thought and looked around to see if there was anything else. The only thing she found was a key and a strange medicine bottle.
The key is probably the key to that poorly constructed door.
And the bottle containing the medicine had a label on it which said, ‘To Emily, with love.’
She recalled that the only person who referred to her that way was one of Roswaal’s relatives and a much younger friend of hers she had briefly become acquainted with.
I don’t know why a gift from her is in this room, but there’s no way Annerose would do anything bad to me. Emilia believed that much right away.
[I’ll take this.]
So, Emilia gulped down the potion without doubting it. After drinking it all, she noticed her carelessness. [What if it was a type of medicine meant to be applied on the body?] But the change that occurred immediately denied her concern.
[Oh, wah, whah.]
The size of the room kept changing every passing second. The table that had only reached her waist quickly became large enough for her to look up at. The windowsill and the vase were also miles away.
[No…this is, my body has become smaller.]
Emilia immediately noticed the cause of the change and widened her eyes at the world that had become large. And then she touched her body here and there and was relieved that her clothes had shrunk too.
[People would think that I’m weird if I walk around naked. But I can get through that door now.]
I knew all along that Annerose is amazing.
Emilia completely forgot about solving that little mystery and clenched her fist in triumph. Then she enthusiastically put her hand on the door.
[Ah,] she said in disappointment when she realized that the door was locked. She had left the key on the table, so she couldn’t reach it now.
[There’s no point in being disappointed. Alright, I will do my best to climb it.]
It was by Emilia’s virtue that she didn’t get discouraged, but she looked brave and reckless at the same time when she rolled up her sleeves to challenge the table leg. Suddenly, her amethyst eyes caught sight of something placed next to it. There was a white plate with a pastry placed gently on top of it. There was also a letter leaning gently against the plate’s edge, and when she lifted it up, she saw: ‘For the time you get into trouble due to my lady’s gift. Insurance.’ written on it.
Emilia could only think of one person that wrote in such a distinctive manner.
[Oh my, my? Did the clumsy person forget the key?]
As Emilia was thinking about what to do after picking up the pastry, she looked up when she heard a voice coming from above. The one looking down at her from the table was Puck, wagging his long tail with a key in his hand.
Puck looked down at her with his big, round eyes with a smile that looked strangely human-like.
[You aren’t good at all. It’s basic to save before you choose between things, you know. Life isn’t a sweet thing. Like that pastry!]
[Sorry. I don’t understand what you are saying. And I don’t think you said anything witty,]
Emilia responded to Puck, who had a smug look on his face, with her usual tone.
But she felt like she was having a conversation with Subaru and tilted her head.
Puck is acting like Subaru today.
[Leaving that aside, stop playing around and give me the key. And if we don’t get back to the manor soon, then everyone will get worried.]
Puck: [You should worry about yourself rather than worrying about yourself. When you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you, you know…]
Emilia didn’t like Puck’s attitude, as he seemed full of himself, so she ordered her lesser spirits and blew him away with a blast of wind. Getting swept up by it, Puck collided with the window and dropped the key, which Emilia caught by sliding across the floor. She then unlocked the door right away.
[Alright, Puck. Stop messing around, we’re going back. Hurry up and get into your crystal… Puck?]
Emilia could only think of one person that wrote in such a distinctive manner.
[Oh my, my? Did the clumsy person forget the key?]
As Emilia was thinking about what to do after picking up the pastry, she looked up when she heard a voice coming from above. The one looking down at her from the table was Puck, wagging his long tail with a key in his hand.
Puck looked down at her with his big, round eyes with a smile that looked strangely human-like. [You aren’t good at all. It’s basic to save before you choose between things, you know. Life isn’t a sweet thing. Like that pastry!]
[Sorry. I don’t understand what you are saying. And I don’t think you said anything witty,] Emilia responded to Puck, who had a smug look on his face, with her usual tone.
But she felt like she was having a conversation with Subaru and tilted her head.
Puck is acting like Subaru today.
[Leaving that aside, stop playing around and give me the key. And if we don’t get back to the manor soon, then everyone will get worried.]
[You should worry about yourself rather than worrying about yourself. When you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you, you know…]
Emilia didn’t like Puck’s attitude, as he seemed full of himself, so she ordered her lesser spirits and blew him away with a blast of wind. Getting swept up by it, Puck collided with the window and dropped the key, which Emilia caught by sliding across the floor. She then unlocked the door right away.
[Alright, Puck. Stop messing around, we’re going back. Hurry up and get into your crystal… Puck?]
Emilia looked back while talking to him as if she was scolding a child, but her face turned gloomy when she realized that Puck wasn’t by the window anymore. It seemed like he had gone into hiding again.
[Geez. You are causing me a lot of trouble today.]
Emilia angrily stepped out of the door. She was welcomed by a meadow and a large forest that could be seen beyond that. Though surprised by the scenery that she had never seen before, she started walking towards the forest, nonetheless. But…
[No matter how much I walk, I can’t get near the forest at all…]
The forest was right in front of her eyes, but no matter how hard she walked, the distance between her and the forest didn’t seem to shrink. The distance she could walk was smaller now that her body had shrunk.
[I’m getting hungry too…oh, wait.]
Emilia, who looked worried, remembered that she had wrapped up the pastry and brought it with her. The thing she took out stimulated her appetite with its sweet aroma and instantly made her its prisoner.
[I’ll be having this, Mister Clind.]
She thanked the young man who wrote the letter who also served as Annerose’s butler. The pastry was fluffy, as if it was freshly baked, and she couldn’t help but squirm at the taste that danced on her tongue. She reluctantly ate it all in one bite.
When Emilia looked around after enjoying the sweetness, she noticed that the scenery had changed—she realized that her body had gotten bigger and returned to its former size. She finally understood what ‘For the time you get into trouble due to my lady’s gift. Insurance’ meant.
That convinced her that Clind was amazing.
[Just as I thought, Mister Clind is really amazing…and the forest is right around the corner thanks to it!]
The forest was within her reach as soon as she got bigger. The forest was still big even after she had grown bigger, but she was feeling far less intimidated than before.
Emilia clenched her fist triumphantly and looked at the forest.
[Alright, my adventure starts from here.]
She said a line that could’ve been the last line of dialogue in an anime, then ran towards the forest.
—Obviously, her adventure didn’t end there.
It didn’t end, but her feet had stopped. It happened when she was walking in the dimly lit forest with the help of the light provided by the lesser spirits.
[Stop right there. I don’t want someone like you to move ahead, I suppose.]
Once again, a voice came from above and Emilia looked around, searching for the source. Then she spotted a figure lying on a branch and involuntarily covered her mouth with her hand.
The one lying on the branch glaring at Emilia with sleepy eyes was Beatrice. The girl shook her fancy dress and vertical rolls, then puffed out smoke using the pipe in her mouth and sneered. [Quite the undisciplined girl you are, to come to Betty’s place with dirty feet. Betty wants to see your parents’ faces, I suppose.]
[Hmph. It’s too late for you now even if you’ve noticed who you are up against and who you’ve been rude to. Well, if you are willing to repent then Betty may forgive…]
[You shouldn’t be smoking a pipe since you are little! You shouldn’t be doing that until you become an adult! Subaru said that it stops people from growing!]
Emilia hit Beatrice with her rational opinion after she had witnessed the young girl smoke. Beatrice got surprised and dropped the pipe from her mouth. And then glared angrily at her. [Wha-What an insult, I suppose! You must be out of your mind to be treating Betty like a child! Betty is a respectable lady! A pipe is a lady’s and a grown-up’s privilege!]
[It’s kind of childish to be obsessed with being like an adult…]
[Grrrr! I suppose!]
Beatrice, whose face had turned completely red and was stomping on the branch, was having a temper tantrum.
But as a sensible adult, Emilia couldn’t overlook Beatrice’s misconduct. In addition to that, Emilia was in a position where she was going to ascend to the country’s throne.
I will never back off.
[—Oh, you two. That’s enough. Or else the flowers of the forest will get frightened.]
A mysterious person suddenly intervened as they were about to continue their argument. It was a black-haired man who had put his hand in front of Emilia and was looking up at Beatrice on the branch.
And though it was obvious, Emilia recognized him from behind.
[No, that’s not right, lady. I’m not Subaru, I’m Cheshirebaru!]
Cheshirebaru turned back and gave a thumbs up while flashing his teeth. No matter how you looked at him, he was Subaru. But if you looked carefully, then you’d notice that his head had cat ears on it. He had ears where they were normally supposed to be, too, so it looked like he had four ears. It was kind of creepy.
[Argh…someone Betty doesn’t like has appeared, I suppose.]
[If that’s what you think, then back off from here, Beako. This Cheshirebaru appears in unexpected places and at unexpected moments. I can stare at your life from good morning to good morning, you know?]
[Being watched all day is too uncomfortable! Argh, don’t think that you’ve won, I supposeee!]
[I supposeeee, I supposeee] Her sharp parting remarks echoed as she dexterously flew above the branches and disappeared.
After seeing that, Cheshirebaru looked back at Emilia and said, [Once again, I’ve bullied a worthless loli. I want to know what defeat feels like.]
[I wasn’t done scolding Beatrice yet. And those ears, you are all teasing me, aren’t you? I’m going to get angry.]
[An angry face is cute too…ouh, ouh, you’ll rip them off if you pull that hard!]
Emilia turned her anger on Cheshirebaru and pulled his cat ears, but the thing she thought was a fake was warm and properly attached to his head.
Cheshirebaru squatted down with teary eyes in front of the surprised Emilia. [I don’t know what you’re mad about, but if you keep getting angry like that then everyone will be scared of you. You need to enjoy being invincible and use the strongest weapon a girl has: her smile.]
[I don’t know what you are saying but…yeah. You’re right.]
Emilia was told that others would get scared if she kept getting angry, which made her feel despondent and lower her posture.
At the sight of Emilia feeling down, Cheshirebaru looked up and scowled. [Alright. You need to party and have fun when you are feeling down. I’ll invite you to a tea party!]
[A tea party?]
[Yeah. A lively, noisy, and crazy tea party deep in the woods!]
After Emilia got invited by Cheshirebaru with a somewhat unsettling invitation, he led her out of the forest. After walking for a while, she saw an open space and a small house in the forest. The house that blended into the forest had a huge table in the garden so that many people could sit together and enjoy themselves.
And at the table were the tea party guests—
[…Oh, it’s you, Cheshirebaru. So you came.]
[So now there won’t just be two men. I’m glad that it won’t feel like a funeral anymore…]
An extremely gloomy-looking pair…more like two gloomy-looking Subarus were sitting there. That surreal sight caught Emilia off guard, making her forget about the gloominess.
[Th-Three Subaru’s? Cheshirebaru, what’s happening?]
[I don’t know what you’re talking about. The ones over there are Hatter Subaru and March Subaru. The first one’s wearing a hat and the other has hare ears. It’s easy to distinguish between them, right?]
Prompted by Cheshirebaru’s explanation, Emilia checked, and the two who had their heads down each had their own quirks: a hat and hare ears. And everything got confusing when the Subaru with cat ears joined them. Leaving Emilia, whose eyes were spinning, Cheshirebaru sat on a seat as if it was only the natural thing to do and shrugged his shoulders at the two Subarus who had dead fish eyes.
[Hey, come on,] said Cheshirebaru. [Don’t be so gloomy. Nobody coming after we send out invitations is nothing new for us.]
[But isn’t it normal for people to hope that today might be different?] Hatter Subaru replied. [Maybe the signals were bad, and they couldn’t call us and inform us about them being late.]
[Well, it began yesterday and a whole night has passed,] March Subaru added. [But even if someone comes, I, March Subaru, am a nice guy who’d say that he wasn’t made to wait long.]
[Don’t do that, I might fall for you,] said Cheshirebaru.
[Fall for you, fall for you,] parroted Hatter Subaru.
[My era might come. A new tide for me,] replied March Subaru.
The three Subarus, who had lifted their heads up, started exchanging some nonsense with each other at a rapid speed. The funeral atmosphere disappeared immediately, and a strange, disorganized, noisy mood replaced it.
He was right. This is a lively, noisy, and crazy tea party.
[Oh yeah! For you two who are sad, shabby, and helpless, I’ve properly invited a guest for you today. You can applaud me for my fine play.]
[Who’s the guest?] Hatter Subaru asked. [I’m sure you’ll hype us up only to bring Beako, who’s doing nothing in the forest, right? I know quite well how useless you truly are.]
[Well, even having Beako is better than having no one,] March Subaru added. [Alright then, let’s put a lot of sugar into just Beako’s tea and bet on how long she’ll be able to endure it! I’ll go with five minutes!]
[That’s tempting, but that’s not it. It’s not Beako today, but a different girl. And she’s super pretty. A walking oasis I found in the forest that can heal our dried-up hearts—her name is Emilia-tan!]
Just as the excitement had reached its peak, Cheshirebaru pointed towards the forest. Their eyes shining with expectation, Hatter Subaru and March Subaru looked in that direction. But…
[[[—There’s no one there!!]]] the three of them shouted.
Emilia, who had feared getting involved, had run away from there a long time ago.
[I’m reaaally tired…]
Emilia thought that she was used to talking with Subaru, but it was no surprise that dealing with three Subarus was still a tad too much for her. She felt bad about it, but she had given up on the tea party quickly and exited the forest alone. Fortunately, it was only a short walk from the venue of Subarus’ Mad Tea Party to the exit of the forest, and when she bathed in the sunlight for the first time in several hours, her body and mind felt refreshed.
[And there’s a much more reassuring landmark than before.]
The thing that Emilia headed for without hesitation after exiting the forest was a tall building in front of her—as far as she knew, it was identical to the royal castle she’d seen in the royal capital, Lugunica.
It’s a castle. So someone reliable must be in there.
Emilia was no longer thinking about how she fell into a hole and how odd it was for there to be a castle here anymore. All she had on her mind was a desire to do something she couldn’t quite put her finger on and a motherly instinct to spank Puck.
[I’ve arrived. Alright, I need to talk to someone…]
Emilia reached the castle and looked around, searching for people, without noticing how strange it was for the castle to be surrounded by a garden of blooming flowers. And then…
[The trial! The trial is going to begin!]
She bumped into a cat who was crossing the flowerbed, shouting loudly. Puck, who had been missing since he hit the window, had appeared. And just like that, he ran into the castle without noticing her.
[You did it again, Puck! And a trial…geez, this is no time to be playing around!]
Emilia puffed her cheeks at Puck for ignoring her, then entered the castle as well. The white light that spread out in front of her made her shield her eyes as soon as she went inside. She timidly removed her hand from her face, and the sight in front of her eyes was…
[So is this…the court?]
It was a huge place. The ceiling was so high that it couldn’t be seen, and it was surrounded by grandstands. The seats were all filled with the audience and the surroundings were dominated by a noisy buzz.
[—Off with her head.]
At the far end of the court was a pink-haired girl who passed down a cruel verdict.
She was dressed as a maid as usual, but the hair ornament on her head had been replaced with a crown—it was Ram.
Ram looked down at the witness stand with a cool face. And in front of her gaze was Beatrice, who had been tied up and thrown on the ground for some reason, screaming with a red face.
[B-Betty demands a retrial, in fact! This is tyranny of the state, I suppose! Betty has been framed!]
[Off with her head.]
[Is that all you can say, I suppose!? Gimme a break!]
Though Beatrice pleaded that she had been wrongly convicted, Ram didn’t listen and was determined to execute her. A blue-haired girl was gently snuggled up next to Ram.
The younger sister, Rem, touched her elder sister’s shoulder and said, [Hey, Sister. Maybe you should hear Miss Beatrice out a little…and if it’s just about the pastry, then Rem will bake it again.]
[What about Ram’s feelings of looking forward to the pastry Rem baked but it got snatched away from Ram. There will be no end to this humiliation until the culprit’s head is publicly displayed and her skull is made into a cup.]
[What a treacherous thing to do just for a pastry!] Beatrice screamed. [You Oni! Devil! The Demon King of the Sixth Heaven!]
The more abuses she hurled, the more her crimes accumulated. Lèse-majesté got added on top of it all, and the court’s atmosphere made it seem like everyone had accepted that she’d be executed.
Startled by the tension in the air, Emilia called out to wait. [Wait! I think that’s really cruel no matter what!]
[Oh, so you are going to protect Betty, are you? You really are ignorant of your social standing, child, for you to be defying Queen Ram. Ha-ha-ha.]
It was Puck who responded to Emilia’s plea as if she were just some lightweight.
Puck, a gavel in hand that made it seem like he was overseeing the trial, ordered Emilia to stand in the witness stand.
[I don’t know what is being talked about, but Beatrice is not that much of a bad girl. It’s too much to behead her. And what has happened to you, Ram?]
[How dare this girl talk to Ram in such a familiar manner. But if what you are saying is true, then who else could have eaten Ram’s pastry?]
[Betty doesn’t know who ate it…but Betty can smell a faint aroma of sweets coming from this girl, I suppose. Betty can sense such things.]
Beatrice, laying all tied up on the floor, sold Emilia, standing in the witness stand in her defense, out. And in reality, Emilia was aware that she had eaten a pastry. She wanted to plead that it was the one that Clind had made, but she instantly felt a hostile shift in the court’s atmosphere.
[Wait, wait! I feel like I’m getting a reaaally bad vibe here!]
[…Well, if this girl really is the culprit, then she would have just watched Miss Beatrice get beheaded,] said Rem. [But she came forward, which means that…her conscience couldn’t take it?]
[Aren’t you going to look at it like I’m not the culprit!?]
Emilia turned pale, thinking that she would be presumed guilty at this rate. But once again, it was the gentle younger sister who stood by her ruthless elder sister’s side who extended a helping hand to the miserable defendant.
[Sister, Sister. There’s no way she could be the culprit no matter what…]
[Is that so. If Rem says so, then it may be right.]
Ram seemed like she was ready to admit that she had been out of line with Rem’s intervention. Emilia calmed her heart somehow, thinking that she had gotten out of trouble. And then…
[That’s right!] Cheshirebaru exclaimed. [Saying that Emilia-tan is the culprit is a false accusation no matter what!]
[Cute is justice!] shouted Hatter Subaru. [Pretty girls are a treasure! Emilia-tan is my waifu!]
[Let’s scare Beako to tears while we’re at it!] March Subaru added. [We need to push her to the brink of despair!]
A series of noisy voices came from the grandstands and everyone’s gaze turned in that direction. As expected, the ones being noisy were the three consecutive stars: cat ear, hare ear, and hat Subaru. It seemed like the tea party had ended.
[Subarus, are you acquainted with the lady here?] Ram said to the three Subarus, who were next to each other.
The three of them flashed their teeth and spoke:
[Yeah, we know her!] said Cheshirebaru.
[We had a tea party together!] said Hatter Subaru.
[I’d say we have a deep relationship!] said March Subaru.
[I see,] Rem said, nodding in satisfaction after hearing the three Subarus’ replies. She then gazed at Emilia and smiled in an enchanting, adoring manner. [Let’s behead her.]
[Alright. Off with her head.]
[Wait! Wait a second! Hey, isn’t this strange!? What happened all of a sudden!?]
Emilia panicked and pleaded, but neither Queen Ram nor Minister Rem had any intention of listening. The door to the court opened with a loud bang, and in came a large group of Pucks—dressed as soldiers, a lot of Pucks came rushing in. To her left, right, and every such direction, were Pucks.
Emilia felt happiness and fear at the same time as she was surrounded by Pucks dressed in armor, or as gardeners, or in a weird card outfit.
[Why did it turn out like this?] Cheshirebaru wondered. [Someone please get to the bottom of this. That’s our only wish.]
[Gosh, Subaru, you idiooot!]
[[[Tee-hee,]]] the three Subarus giggled.
Emilia helplessly got engulfed by a group of Pucks charging into her while watching the three Subarus stick out their tongues.
[—Emilia-tan, earth to Emilia-tan.]
Emilia’s consciousness was awakened by the sensation of someone shaking her shoulder and calling her name.
Her long eyelashes quivered, then she opened her eyes and blinked a couple of times. She then looked up and realized that a familiar face was right in front of her.
[Yeah, it’s me. I was shocked, you know. You weren’t in the room when I went there to call you. I didn’t expect you to take a nap just like that. You must have been tired.]
Subaru smiled for a split second, and then Emilia snapped out of her stupor. She hastily looked around and confirmed that it was the courtyard of Roswaal Manor, then sighed.
[Hmm? What happened? Did you have a scary dream by any chance? Alright, if that’s the case, then you can come jump into my chest. I’ll cleverly cradle you in my arms for as long as you need.]
[Sorry, I don’t get what you are talking about.]
Subaru, who had his arms spread out, dropped his shoulders, and Emilia tilted her head as she looked at him.
I think I was dreaming, but I can’t remember what I was dreaming about. But I feel like it was a really noisy dream. So noisy that I’m relieved that I was able to return.
[Anyway, I’m glad I found you. It’s almost time for dinner, so let’s head back. I’ll keep the fact that you skipped your afternoon studies a secret between us.]
[Well… Sure, thank you. I’ll be careful next time.]
Emilia stood up with the help of Subaru’s hand, then brushed the grass off and straightened her back. And while doing so, she felt like there was something she needed to tell him.
[Yeah, what is it?]
Emilia pondered for a while after looking at Subaru’s face after he’d turned towards her. And then… [If you hold a tea party, I’ll participate even if no one comes.]
[Why did you make such a sad assumption about a hypothetical situation!?]
Emilia burst into laughter after looking at the screaming Subaru.
If she was asked why, then all she could say was:
—I felt like I saw Subaru feeling lonely in Wonderland.
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 The text uses ＴＵＥＥＥ slang for 強い Tsuyoi
 French for insulting the monarch or ruler, considered to be treason.