Dai Densetsu no Yūsha no Densetsu:Volume 1 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 - The Moment To Sunder That Darkness
The light had receded.
Sometime in the middle of the night, covered in darkness, at some facility of Roland.
Along the corridor of that facility was Ryner, running at an unbelievable rapid speed, different from his usual languid behavior.
With wide open eyes, and a vermillion five-point pentacle over the center of his black pupils, he was looking intently at the unfolding magic right before him.
At the other end of the corridor.
There were three guards in the process of launching spells in his direction.
Rather, one of them had already completed his spell.
That guard, who appeared to be the most skilled out of them all, had cast Kuuri, which Ryner dodged.
And that guard was stunned,
“To, to dodge Kuuri at this distance......”
While hearing himself called a monster again, something which he was used to already, Ryner ran.
“It’s your own fault for missing at this distance.”
While he said that, another guard was about to complete his magic inscription.
This time round, it's Kurenai.
But Ryner is many times faster, and had constructed a completely different spell structure.
While running, he promptly finished inscribing the glowing symbols.
In the midst of his opponent’s incantation.
“WHAT I SEEK IS BURNING FIELDS >>> KURE......”
In the midst of that,
“WHAT I SEEK IS WATER MIST >>> MISUMI!”
In the center of Ryner’s magic inscription, water started gathering into a state of high pressure, and it burst forth in the form of a jet stream towards the enemy.
The guard who was about to launch Kurenai could only utter the following.
“What kind of absurdity......”
On saying that, the guard who was about to fire off Kurenai, as well the guard who cast Kuuri, were both caught in the strong jet of water and sent crashing into the wall, consequently passing out.
Though Ryner had already gone easy on them to the point where they would not die from his attack, that force must have broken several of their bones.
Usually, Ryner would have gone even easier on them, but today he simply did not have that kind of luxury.
In order to prevent them from calling for reinforcements, it was necessary to knock them out in one shot.
And that's because this place.
Ryner scanned the surrounding area with just his eyes.
While there wasn't much visible light, he could make out the black rocks that were used to lay the walls of this place, a building which resembled a prison.
This was one out of many buildings which form the intelligence center of Roland.
Though he had probably chosen one of the least guarded places to infiltrate, this was still the heart of the enemy grounds.
If reinforcements were to come, even if it's Ryner, getting killed here was not an impossibility.
That's why he increased the power of his magic, but.
Ryner looked in the direction of the remaining guard,
“...... did I go too far? But, but, I’m already doing my best to hold back. Sorry.”
He said it with an awkward expression.
And he started running towards the last remaining guard.
That sole guard was already making his escape, running in the opposite direction to call for reinforcements but,
“I won’t let you get away ~”
Ryner gradually closed the distance between them.
If someone familiar to him were to see him, they would ask, why are you running so fast, don’t you always move like a turtle?. That was the extent as to how fast he's running.
Knowing he would get caught up soon, the guard had made a small sound and took out a knife from his waist belt. He then turned around and threw it at Ryner.
But Ryner promptly,
He stopped the knife.
“Thanks for that.”
He kept the knife in his own belt.
The guard now had a look of utter despair on his face.
“...... what, what the hell was that...... what the hell is this guy...... why is this monster attacking Class Two Intelligence Center...... damn it!”
And not knowing when to give up, the guard drew a glowing magic symbol to attack his pursuer,
Ryner said as he caught up with him.
He had put his own finger into the magic inscription drawn by the guard, and changed its structure. He recklessly changed it to something that he just thought of, completed the inscription and chanted,
“WHAT I SEEK IS, erm, something like, SMOKE, I guess >>> KEMURI!”
That was what he chanted.
As he did that, a cloud of smoke started forming at the center of that inscription, blinding the guard.
“I, I can’t see anything!?”
The guard said with a frightened voice.
And beside him,
“U, uwah, can’t see a thing.”
Having his own visibility taken away, it was a complete failure.
“This is kinda bad.”
While saying that, he searched for the guard’s presence.
The guard seemed to be running away.
The guard raised his voice, about to call for help.
“Please don’t call for reinforcements.”
Ryner grabbed him from behind, strangled him for a while, and he lost consciousness.
The guard fell to the ground.
And the fight came to a close.
Ryner looked at the surrounding smoke, and attempted to decipher its structure with his Alpha Stigma.
“Ah...... I made this recklessly without thinking much, and it’s surprisingly troublesome to dispel.”
While saying that, his finger started dancing in the air again.
He drew a glowing magic symbol, and constructed the corresponding dispelling magic for the smoke that had completely filled up his surroundings.
“WHAT I SEEK IS...... erm, what shall I call it, it would be nice if it sounds real cool, just now it was a little too mundane...... erm, well, WHAT I SEEK IS ah, DISPERSAL CLOUD >>> KI, KIERO!”
In the end, he’s a person without much artistic sense in liguistics after all.
“...... well, erm, hm. What the heck was that again?”
He heaved out a huge sigh.
Supposedly the stronger the words, with one’s will, that are used for invocation will correspond to a stronger magical power, well then again, that’s the research arena of an academic scholar of magic,
“It's not like I'm some scholar of magic anyway, so that’s fine right?”
Though he said that, there wasn’t anyone around to answer him.
The smoke disappeared as it got sucked in by the magic he created. His surroundings returned to their previous state.
The dark corridor was lit merely by the moonlight streaming in through the window.
He was currently standing in the corridor of the sixth floor of a building belonging to the military, the Class Two Intelligence Center of Roland Empire.
By the way, he originally wanted to infiltrate the Class One Intelligence Center instead, but it was heavily guarded and seemed impossible to penetrate, and that’s why he changed his target to here.
At any rate, that Class One building was filled with those mutated monster guards with liquidified bodies. He remembered a number of those guards who were supposedly dismissed from the mage knight battalion when Sion ascended the throne.
If he had tried infiltrating there, he would die, and that he was certain of, so that’s why he chose this place instead.
In spite of this, that was not to say that the guards here were weak or less watchful.
Ryner looked at the fallen guard at his feet.
Before coming to this floor, Ryner had already steathily, without causing any ruckus of any sort, disposed of fifty such guards and a dozen working personnel, and had finally arrived here.
That was some unbelievable tough work.
All that took him four hours.
With lots of patience, he had to ambush one or two people at a time and knocked them out in succession, taking him a total of four hours.
He had infiltrated this place at eleven, and now, it’s already three in the morning.
“Ah ~ darn, I’m really tired.”
Ryner said wearily.
Well, by the time he reached the fifth floor, it had gradually become more troublesome, and how he cleared the fifth and sixth floor was just like what he did a while ago.
To put it in another way, if he had continued to clear the fifth and sixth floor in the same slow manner, it would probably take until morning.
But now, he could finally move around freely.
Now that everyone had been knocked out, he was free to search around the facility as much as he wished.
Ryner had been looking forward to this outcome.
“...... uwah ~, what I have to do from hereon out might even be more troublesome however......”
Well, now that it’s late into the night, there wasn’t really any time for him to celebrate.
He gathered what little energy he had left, and trudged into one of the rooms on the sixth floor.
Before him lay a mountain of documents. He reached out to take some, and with familiar ease, started flipping through the pages with an incredible speed.
“...... oops, seems like this is the fruit of the idiotic work that the idiotic Sion was making me do every single day......”
At that moment, he started thinking of Sion again.
He remembered how he was made to slog throughout the past year,
“...... the next time I see him, I’ll hit him first. Do you know how much I want to hit you?, that’s what I will say to him......”
While muttering to himself, he continued flipping through the pages.
But it seemed like this room did not have anything he was looking for, and he headed to the neighbouring room.
And he repeated what he did.
After finishing, he went again to the next room.
By the way, before coming here, he had already acquired much of the information he desired.
For the whole of today, he was practically jumping from place to place within Roland.
In the morning, while making small talk with the people in town, he was discovered by his pursuers and he fled, at noon, he assaulted some nobles’ residence, extracted some information on how Roland would be moving from now on, and on top of that made off with their money, and then he was attacked by some of his pursuers who he crushed easily, went into hiding after all that, then after when things cooled down he came out again to gather more information from bars, back-street alleys, and other places self-proclaimed to be rich in information.
And consequently, he had a much more complete grasp of the situation in Roland.
1. The more prominent nobles were politically purged, having cuffs put on their authority and power.
Well, this would definitely please the people. It’s all thanks to the Hero King Sion-sama, they were saying. Sion-sama is the ally of the powerless people.
2. For the past year, in order to deal with all the issues, Roland had amassed substantial power. As a result, the neigbouring countries were viewing Roland as a rising threat. They were supposedly banding together to form a coalition to crush Roland, but before they could do that, Roland had already invaded Nelpha. As expected of the reliable Hero King.
This was also something that Ryner was well aware of. Ryner had contributed to some of this power that Roland had acquired during this past year. Well, though among all areas, the fact that the military had expanded the most was something he didn’t know of, and now that he thought about it, Sion had never involved him much in that area.
That was something he couldn’t really stomach, but thinking with regards to the circumstances, it was something really beyond his control.
3. Even though they were waging war, the people were able to become more prosperous in their lifestyle. If the country’s territory continues to expand in this manner, wouldn’t the people be able to become more prosperous?
Ryner had been doubtful of that line of thought. He thought that it couldn’t be possible that the people can continue to become more prosperous in times of war.
To build one’s happiness on top of the deaths of others, how can one possibly live with that?
Sion should have been one of the people who was well aware of this, and in the first place, even now Ryner was still doubtful about the necessity of strengthening Roland’s military.
Indeed, in Northern Menoris exists the threat of Gastark Empire, armed with the Heroes' Relics, has started moving southwards and with its overwhelming power conquered the major power of Stohl.
And fearing that power, the three major powers in Central Menoris have started strengthening their military. Everyone has started setting their sights on war. Setting their sights on encroaching the territory of others.
The possibility of such a large scale world war happening right now is one that will set a precedence in history.
But even so, that is a matter still far up in the north. Until then, can’t Sion, rather than using military force to wage wars to subjugate the south, instead resort to talks and diplomacy to bring the other countries together?
Well, normally that would not be possible.
It would not be possible for someone else other than that stupid king.
However, Ryner thought that Sion is one who possesses such an ability.
Without fighting, he would have the ability to stand in opposition to Gastark or other great nations. And furthermore there was still time.
But yet Sion......
“What’s causing you to be so impatient......?”
Ryner was turning over the pages.
Sion was being impatient.
Impatiently moving forward.
Merely doing it all by himself. Without consulting with his best friend, taking on every single burden.
But why’s that so?
Why was there a need to invade an ally now?
The massacre this time was a performance to make other countries submit easily.
Sion not only wanted to conquer Nelpha, but also Runa, Cassla, in fact the whole of Southern Menoris. Well, it’s a possibility that his ambition extends to that of Central and Northern Menoris as well.
But what’s the purpose of all that?
Is it for his own self satisfaction?
After acquiring one thing, he wants to get his hands on something better the next time. Something bigger and much better.
“...... what a fool he is......”
He is not such a person.
Ryner would be the one who is most aware of that.
The first time we met, he was like a weak insect. Very much afraid of hurting others. Very much afraid of hurting his comrades. And he would take on whatever had happened as his own fault.
That’s why he wanted to become a king.
In order to protect people, his comrades, and the commoners.
He definitely did not become king to fulfill his own desires.
During that time.
At the battlefield where the both of them first met.
During that time, both Sion and Ryner were still students.
The battlefield where their comrades were being slaughtered, where Kiefer betrayed Roland, where Ryner went berserk from his Alpha Stigma, he remembered what Sion said then.
This is what he said. Even when he had done nothing wrong, with a sad face, with a self-reproaching face, this is what he said.
"............ it was my fault to have made you my teammate. Tyle, Toni, and Fahl...... it was also my fault that they died. The war that was started...... it’s also because of me not having become king yet......"
He is a person who hates wars.
He hates having lives thrown away unnecessarily.
But still, now, he’s impatiently killing off people.
What’s the reason behind that?
“Why are you...... why in the world is Sion in such a hurry?”
At that moment.
“...... what a coincidence. That is what I’m looking into as well.”
A voice was heard suddenly.
That was also from the room that Ryner was in.
Feeling surprised, Ryner looked up.
In complete darkness.
Inside the room which he thought was empty just a while ago. He could see the figure of a man, with his back facing him, sitting on a desk beside the window, with a stack of documents in his hands.
A desk which he could reach in merely five large strides. That was how close it was but yet, Ryner did not notice his presence all this while.
It was an extreme situation.
An extremely bad situation.
It meant that this guy was a guy of incredible power.
Without Ryner noticing, he had sneaked into the room.
No, wait a minute, could it be that he was here right from the beginning?
Ryner glared at the back of that man and said.
“...... so you have been here all this while?”
The man replied simply.
That voice was one familiar to Ryner, which troubled him.
He knew this man.
He looked intently at the back of the man.
Despite his youth, he had long white hair. And that mature, kind-looking face, and intelligent sounding voice.
Just by these features, he already knew who he was.
As Ryner said that, the man turned around.
With a grinning, calm face. He was slightly taller than Ryner, and wore a Roland military uniform over his slender body.
Even though he looked like twenty-four, or twenty-five years of age, he sprouted complete white hair which is a special trait of his.
Just as he thought.
It was Luke Stokkart.
The subordinate of Milk Callaud, Ryner’s childhood friend.
Even though he was always carrying that frivolous smile, with the face of a teacher at a nursery school or a kindergarden, for him to go unnoticed in this small, cramped room, he was someone whom Ryner could not take lightly.
Ryner’s body tensed up in preparation of an engagement, and said.
“So, you are here, looking into something as well?”
“No way. I’m here waiting for you actually.”
“...... how did you know I would be......”
“Haha. That’s an easy one. With your current strength, there is no way you could have gone to the castle to question Sion-san directly. Well, it might be possible for you to overcome Class One Intelligence Center, but if you were going to escape to another country thereafter, it is necessary for you to avoid running the risk of getting injured. That’s why you won’t attempt to infiltrate that place. Well, you could always acquire that level of information later after escaping to Nelpha...... but in order to do that, you would need to first look into the real situation between Roland and Nelpha, that’s why you’ve decided to come here to take a look before leaving this country...... and as you were wondering where those relevant documents are as you sift through the place......”
At that moment, Luke held out to show him the documents he was holding onto.
“And, here are those documents that I’ve consolidated for you......”
He smiled gently as he said that.
Ryner scowled at that smiling face.
“In other words, you knew all along that I was going to come here?”
“Well, that’s right.”
“...... and you’re here to kill me?”
“Regarding that, well, I’m wondering about it.”
Ryner gave the befuddled-looking Luke a sharp look and said.
“But at the very least, you have filled this room with the traps that you take pride in, haven’t you?”
And he looked around.
That’s how it was. The most troublesome thing about this guy is his extraordinary skill in laying traps.
His strength didn’t lie in his magic, his movements, nor his combat prowess. Well, even though he is notches above that of a normal soldier in all these areas, he was no match for Ryner.
Even though Ryner should have been more than a match for him, he did not feel that victory was already in his grasp.
He had the sinking feeling that all his moves would be read by this guy if he were to fight him.
Feels like I’m dancing in the palms of this fella.
Within Ryner’s sight, he could not see the signs of any traps in the room.
But Luke laughed,
“Ever since you were fighting on the first floor, I have been doing my best, spending two hours to lay all my traps.”
He said that promptly.
As he thought, there were traps present. And it was beyond Ryner’s ability to find them.
A fatal mistake. It was almost as if his defeat had been decided.
Wait, what if this was all a bluff, another specialty of his. Which meant that there was no real physical trap, but the trap was in his words themselves, that is, a bluff to stop Ryner from moving?
Ryner shifted his eyes around, desperately searching for the presence of any traps in the dark room.
As he did that, Luke pointed to a spot near him,
“For example, somewhere to your right, a trap that springs out a knife.”
A ‘ba-ching’ sound was heard behind him.
Ryner, in a flash, looked there.
That was a fatal move.
The sound was made by a rubber band, which Luke had sprung, striking a document shelf.
And Ryner appeared to be distracted by it.
The opening was all that Luke needed to make his move. A knife streaked through the air in a straight line towards his head......
But a smile floated on Ryner’s face,
“I thought something like this would happen.”
He took a step backwards and dodged it.
Luke had a surprised look on his face.
“Ah, you dodged it.”
“Ha. That’s because of the many times I’ve suffered from falling into your traps......”
But that was not the end yet.
This time round, Luke pointed to his left and said.
“Ah, but the trap is there instead.”
“You can’t fool me again......”
At that moment, a ‘go-gan’ sound rang out on his left.
Without thinking, Ryner shouted. It was evident that the sound was not made by a rubber band.
So what was that?
Well, if I turned my head, this time round, I’ll really have Luke’s knife sticking into me.
Now, now, then again, it just won’t do if I don’t know where that ‘go-gan’ sound came from. Because it’s ‘go-gan’ right? It’s not ‘ba-ching’ hello? The ‘go-gan’ sound seemed to be something I can’t take lightly......
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh this is so shitty!”
That tug-of-war struggle inside his mind took place in only an instant, and in the end, unable to bear it anymore, Ryner turned his eyes toward that sound.
As he did that, what he saw was a teddy bear being launched from inside of a bookshelf, falling onto the ground.
And then that was it.
“Huh, what was that all about!”
Ryner yelled, and Luke smiled.
“What do you think? Does it suit your taste?”
“Well, I was referring to the teddy bear of course. Cute, isn’t it?”
“It’s not cute at alllll!”
“Eh, is that so? Well, I bought that as a souvenir for Captain Milk...... after hearing that it was the cutest and how popular it was from the shop assistant at the plushie store......”
“Duh, that’s not the pointtttttttt! Arghhhhhhhhh, so now, what the heck are you after all this while!”
For some reason, Luke did not intend to seriously fight Ryner today.
Nevertheless, with a weary face from dealing with Luke’s bluffs and trickery, he said.
“...... whenever I fight with you, it’s a serious drain on both my heart and mind, and I really hate that.”
“That goes the same for me, you know. You practically surpass in me in every area, and if I made a mistake in my tactics, I’ll be dead. But then again, I don’t make mistakes.”
“Your face certainly doesn’t go well with your dislikable personality.”
“Haha. Because the only person whom I’ll be gentle to is Captain Milk.”
“Oh really, is that so?”
“Yup, that’s right.”
Looking intently at the contented expression of Luke, Ryner let out a sigh.
It’s really tiring to talk to this guy, he thought. When he looked at the all-knowing face that seemed to be able to see through anything and everything, he felt that whatever his reaction or response was, it would make him look like a fool.
Ryner looked up and looked at Luke.
“So, what business do you have with me? You are here to meet me right?”
“...... yes, that’s right. I’ve come here to meet you, the traitor Ryner Lute-san.”
“Woah. So now I’ve become a traitor of this country?”
“Even though I did nothing traitorous at all?”
Luke shrugged at his query.
“....... you are a traitor if you are judged to be so, regardless of whether you truly are one or not...... it’s something you hear often in this country, isn’t it so?”
And Ryner averted his eyes from Luke and looked at the teddy bear on the ground.
That was supposed to be Milk’s souvenir.
A comrade and a childhood friend, like Ryner, she was raised in a terrible place where human experiments were conducted day in and day out, a place where nothing but torturous training awaited them daily --- 307 Special Facility.
The Roland then was truly terrible. Rather, until recently when Sion ascended the throne, it was a truly terrible country, a world where, a village could be wiped out just on the capriciousness of a noble, let alone being branded a traitor falsefully.
But that was no longer the case.
Ryner looked up again and said.
“Indeed, that used to be the case...... But no longer now, since Sion became king.”
“Yes. This country has changed. It has taken a large step forward. And in days to come, it will continue moving forward.”
That’s right. This country is moving forward. It will continue moving forward. But that,
“...... towards where? Where is it heading to?”
“Towards...... the light.”
“But, what if that is the wrong light?”
“The Hero King will never be wrong.”
“Is that so? Sion can be unexpectedly a dunce sometimes. The other day, when he was working an all-nighter, the sleepy-head ended up at the wrong place while going to the toilet.”
“Ahahaha. Is that for real?”
Of course it’s for real.
And it was just sometime ago. About a month ago. At a time when the landscape of this country had not yet changed.
But now, in just one month, everything had been completely transformed.
But why was that so?
“...... what in the world is Sion trying to accomplish? Is there something he is trying to get his hands on that there is a need to attain such power? Why is he in such a hurry to move northwards?”
There must be a reason. There must be an answer to all those questions.
Whether it was about the world war, or Gastark, or the unrest in the neighbouring countries, et cetera, there must be a reason behind all these.
But yet, why was Sion, who hated bloodshed and would never want to see his comrades die, a person who would be pained even at the death of his enemies, why was he doing this,
“Even if there is a reason...... isn’t he in too much of a hurry?”
At Ryner’s query, Luke looked doubtful.
“That’s why I’m looking into that.”
“...... even you guys don’t get what is going on?”
“Not really, we understand more or less what is currently transpiring. But still, there are a few things we are concerned with. His Majesty has been keeping secrets from us. Well then again, ever since I knew him, Sion-san has always liked to keep things to himself. It’s something that can’t be helped......”
Ryner thought about that.
Luke mentioned --- secrets.
It could be that, he thought.
During that rainy night.
There was something inside Sion, and during that time, his appearance had transformed into something strange.
That must be something that was influencing Sion’s actions. Rather, even for his imprisonment, as well as his fretful actions, there must be a relationship between those and the form he took back then, Ryner thought.
But what the hell was that?
Of course, he wasn’t about to look into all that within this country.
But could Luke have already,
“Are you already on to something?”
Luke promptly shook his head.
“But, currently, my superior...... ahh speaking of that, it’s someone Ryner-san is acquainted with as well. Rahel Miller, having being summoned by Sion-san, is currently being updated on a number of matters.”
“Ah, I see. So Sion is letting him in on the secrets?”
“No idea. It’s not as if I was the one summoned. But still, it doesn’t really matter. Those are Sion-san’s business. There must be a good reason behind them.”
He spoke in a trusting tone.
Because he’s the Hero King, he will definitely not make a mistake.
That’s the tone he used.
“As I said, what if Sion made a mistake?”
But Luke shook his head.
“Didn’t I tell you earlier? The Hero King will never make a mistake.”
“Didn’t I also tell you? He is unexpectedly a dunce at times. He has made mistakes before.”
“He makes no mistakes.”
“He does. The thing is...... he might have been deceived by somebody else altogether.”
Like the thing inside of him.
Or perhaps that somebody could have been the monster who appears and disappears every now and then around him --- Lucile.
He sighed at that thought. That’s right. There was the possibility that Sion had been deceived and someone was making use of him.
As to exactly who it was...... or what it was, he didn’t know, but it could be due to some sort of embroilment with some particular legend, a legend surrounded by Heroes’ Relics, God, Demon, and things like that. There was a possibility that he was used.
Keeping all this to himself, Ryner looked intently at Luke and continued.
“...... you know, he isn’t the kind of person you guys think he is. He is very much a clumsy fella who would try to bear every burden all by himself. He will never make a mistake? Just because he’s the Hero King? Don’t say such a stupid thing. He is a fella who frequently makes mistakes, and then he’ll be regretting it, brooding over it, continuing to put all the blame on himself. Even if he is the Hero King, he is still human. There is no way he won’t make a mis......”
At that moment,
Luke cut in and said.
“I’m very well aware of that.”
“Like I said, I’m very much well aware of that. Even Sion-san does make mistakes...... we do acknowledge that. But despite that, what I meant was, that it doesn’t matter. Even for the summons this time, where Miller-senpai has gone to hear Sion-san out, it’s not like we’re going to completely believe Sion-san’s words. Well......”
Luke stopped mid-sentence, and moved away from Ryner. And once again, he propped himself up onto the desk.
“...... right from the beginning, we have not believed in everything. Regarding this country, or even the Hero King......”
Ryner frowned at Luke’s words.
“So why are you guys working for him?”
At that, Luke shrugged his shoulders as if to say it’s a no-brainer.
“Isn’t it because Sion-san is an excellent king? Anybody could see that it’s no easy task to find a person of such calibre. To be blessed with such an excellent king, it’s the great fortune of Roland.”
Luke interrupted, and continued.
“However, whether Sion-san is an excellent king or not, and whether we can trust Sion-san or not, are two different matters. It’s possible to work under him despite not trusting him. While we constantly question whether the young king is making any mistakes. If he did, it’s up to us to reduce the number of sacrifices along the way. The Hero King’s...... subordinates had the freedom to act. But for that to happen......”
At that moment, Luke held out the documents in his hand.
“We must have accurate information. And it’s not something that is acquired one-sided through only his words. It’s not something that we get from only one source in hindsight. It must be something that is attained from every possible location, a macroscopic way of gathering information......”
At that point, unexpectedly, Luke had a embarrassed look,
“Oops, it seems like I’ve been preaching a lot to you? But, since you are about to embark on a journey...... this is something I feel a young man like you should hear...... that’s why I’ve come here specially to talk to you.”
Ryner gave him a sharp look.
So, this is how things were. This fella doesn’t believe in anything.
And not to mention even for Sion, he’s a person to be doubted.
That’s why they were allowing Ryner to escape.
To get outside of this country.
In order to let him gather information from other countries.
Those were not the only thoughts that Ryner had had while conversing with Luke just now.
“Even if it’s Sion, could it be that he had been deceived and manipulated into doing all that?”
Even this particular train of thought, quite possibly, was something that this fella had led me to, he thought.
He is constantly suspicious of everything in this world.
“...... so what is it that you are trying to make me accomplish?”
Ryner groaned and Luke, once again, shrugged with a befuddled look.
“Nothing. We just want you to live in whichever way you want.”
“Don’t mess with me.”
“I’m not. In truth...... we have some hopes on you...... if Sion-san comes to make a huge, irreversible mistake, we are hoping you can become a force of deterrence. In order to save Sion-san, you are heading out to the world to obtain the necessary power. Excellent. That’s absolutely excellent. Even though we don’t know what is going to happen to you...... if you manage to obtain great power...... such as an army, or a country, a power that is on par with Roland, if at that point in time you still see yourself as Sion-san’s friend...... since a reassuring partner is hard to come by during a time of a great war plaguing the entire continent, isn’t it so?”
Even as Luke asked that, he continued.
“If Sion-san becomes mad and turns into a tyrant, we’ll need someone who can kill him...... well then again, when that happens, or rather before that happens, we will kill him ourselves.”
He said it in such a manner as if they could do that anytime.
But Luke shook his head. Even though Ryner had not said anything, it was if Luke could read his mind and he smiled,
“No, that’s not it. If we lay our hands on Sion-san at this stage, the ones getting killed will be us. Currently, we don’t have any way of dealing with the monster Lucile. Well, then again...... we’ll manage somehow.”
What a thing to say.
It was as if.
The manner in which he talked, it was as if he could really see through everything.
“...... the monster, would be you instead.”
Ryner said with a half-groan.
And Luke smiled again.
“Haha. I was often told that when I was a child. But, aren’t you the same as well?”
“Well, that’s enough I guess. I’ll drop it and various other things among that. I’ve probably talked too much. Then, please have this.”
As he said that, he handed the documents to him.
“These are the documents that will fill you in on the situation between Roland and Nelpha. To be honest, I was lying when I told you I consolidated these, they were from my subordinate, Lear Rinkal, who worked through the night before to assemble all these. It’s all for your sake. He’s an excellent man, and it should be easy to read.”
Ryner took the documents from him.
The cover page read,
“Report for Ryner-kun who’s about to embark on a journey”.
That was the title.
“...... sigh. You guys are making fun of me.”
Luke shook his head furiously.
“We are not making fun of you at all. Rather, we are pretty much fearful of you. We were pretty troubled on whether or not to let a person of such power out of the country. But we decided to let you go...... do you know the reason?”
Of course, I do.
“...... the threat that Sion posed is greater than myself, isn’t it? If in the event Sion goes crazy and comes after me, I will be the one to kill him. I’m an insurance against Sion running amok.”
But, Luke shook his head again.
“It’s the reverse, complete reverse. We let you go in order to leave open the possibility of not having Sion-san killed. If assuming that Sion-san was deceived and manipulated by others, and eventually makes a terrible mistake, what we can only do is to kill him. But it’s different for you right? You will hang on till the end. No matter how many sacrifices, how much hurt you’ve incurred, you will still hang on, and try to bring Sion-san back. Because you are his friend...... because you’re his best friend, like what you did on that rainy night...... you still hung on......”
Ryner was left alone in the room.
In his hands were the documents detailing the war status between Roland and Nelpha, which was what Ryner had been looking for.
He flipped the pages and started reading the contents.
So after reading this, what is Luke telling me to do?
He thought for an instant, then shook his head.
It should be after reading this, “what will I do” instead.
That would be something which Luke could not predict, which Sion could not predict.
What in the world can I actually accomplish?
For his sake.
No, that’s not all.
For the sake of the world.
What is it that I can do for the sake of this world?
He recalled the words spoken by a youth, a cursed eye bearer, just before he died a while ago, before Ryner’s eyes.
They were the words of the youth named Lafra.
“Those who have given up on humans, sorrowful God’s eyes bearers...... please save them.”
After saying that, he died.
But just before he died, he was smiling. He was smiling with a saddened face. It was the same as the former Ryner. It was a resigned smile that held unspeakable resentment and sorrow for being born with those cursed eyes.
It was then when Lafra said to Ryner.
“It’s because you are a kind and gentle person.”
He spoke of a foolish thing.
"That’s why...... you will definitely keep the promise. I’m happy to have met you in the end."
Even though he was not really that kind and gentle.
Even though there was no way he could keep that promise.
Lafra still said that.
And then he died.
Ryner thought of trying to keep that promise.
For a person like him who had given up on everything, for once, he would like to try keeping that promise.
In order to do that, he tried working hard, trying to change Roland.
But in the end, this happened.
He couldn’t protect anyone.
With only a mild effort, he couldn’t save anyone.
Lafra, Pueka, Tiir, Kiefer, Milk, Ferris, Tyle, Toni, Fahl, Arua, Sion......
And above all else, he couldn’t save himself.
That had to be because his amount of commitment was not enough.
Since he thought by relying on Sion, with just some amount of effort, everything would work out fine.
To treasure himself more.
To hurt himself more.
To strengthen himself more.
There was a need to take on more responsibility unto himself.
Not the fault of anyone.
Not for the sake of anyone.
What did he actually want to achieve? What did he want to do? It was necessary to think about all this.
“I want to save Sion.”
But that was not all.
“...... people...... everything that’s before me...... I want to save everyone.”
But that was not all.
“Humans, cursed eyes bearers, adults, children, men, women, countries, the world..... anything and everything......”
All of them.
He wanted to save all that he could see.
That was what Ryner thought.
But that was dream talk.
There was probably somebody else who would say the same.
To bring happiness to others.
To prevent others from getting hurt.
Such kind of dream talk.
Of course, Ryner also thought of this as merely dream talk.
He himself had also caused hurt to others before.
Rather, there were already many who had been hurt by him.
But still, he decided to choose a different path from Sion.
Until now, he had been running away, and because of that, it had always led to him losing various things.
But this time around, he wanted to try moving forward without running away.
No matter what he has to lose.
No matter what kind of sadness he has to go through.
He wanted to try believing in himself.
Believing in the him who wanted to save someone.
Believing in the him who wanted to save Sion, the him who wanted to save the world.
This monster. For the sake of the people who believed in this monster which was capable of hurting someone just by being alive.
He wanted to try believing in himself a little more.
At that moment, as he was flipping through the documents that Luke left him, an article he remembered flashed into his mind.
That was something from before Sion ascended the throne.
It was a report that he written during the two years in which, in place of Kiefer, he had spent in prison. It was a report which he had forgotten a long time ago.
The report began like this.
People hate dying.
They hate killing as well.
They don’t like making others cry, or cry themselves.
How would it feel to not be able to choose one’s own life?
What about having one’s family dead?
What about having one’s lover dead?
No one should have wished for all that, but yet why is the world smiling and desiring only such senseless sorrow?
I have never thought of forcefully changing anything. But if I don’t, it will be sorrowful, and neither do I want to lose any more things......
Such bothersome talk......
It’s about time to move on. All this while, I’ve averted my eyes, but if needed, I shall try looking at my own past.
In order to create a world where no one loses anything.
A world in which that child, and Kiefer don’t have to cry, in which Tyle, Toni, and Fahl don’t have to die, in which Sion doesn’t have to brood.
A world in which everyone can laugh and just take afternoon naps.
“...... but, I didn’t do anything.”
He did not do a single thing.
That’s why this was the worst kind of report.
Lafra and Pueka were dead, and Sion was brooding alone, crying.
Before it came to all that, I didn’t do anything.
But, it’s different now.
He would not say that it was too late, but instead work harder.
In order not to continue losing anything that was precious to him.
In order not to make his dear friends, comrades, family, and people precious to him cry anymore.
He stood up.
“...... I shall leave this country.”
There were a lot of things that had to be done.
There were a lot of things that he wanted to do.
That’s why he wanted to leave this country and become stronger, Ryner thought.
Suddenly, at that moment,
“Ah, I see I see.”
Luke, who had supposedly left the room, was peeping in,
“Huuuuuuhhhhhhhhh!? Eh? What? I thought you’ve left already!”
Luke said with an apologetic look,
“No, I’m sorry. I wanted to continue observing you for a while......”
“Don’t fool around with meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!?”
Ryner yelled in his loudest voice today.
Eh? Eh? This is a bad joke right? Just now, didn’t I say something embarassing?
Look, look, I, I talked about saving Sion, saving the worldd nooooooooo, since just thinking about it is enough to kill me with embarrassment I don’t want to think about it woah it’s reeally embarrrrrrrrrrassssiiiiiiingggggggg!
“Well, I never thought Ryner-san is such a fiery and passionate person......”
“Well well, I’m praising you and there’s no need to feel shy about it......”
“Please I beg you, stop that pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!”
“Is it really that embarrassing?”
“...... eh? Of course it is......”
“Then, I shall stop.”
Ryner felt a sense of relief. Moreover, it was great that the person who had heard him was not that bully Sion, nor that willful Ferris, but this man with a gentle disposition, he thought......
But, at that moment.
“Well but, but, I didn’t do anything......, that line moved even me......”
“As I thought, you are a detestable guyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”
Ryner looked like he was about to cry.
After laughing delightfully at that, Luke said,
“Let’s get to the main topic.”
“Yes. There was something I forgot to tell you.”
“Ryner-san intends to break into Nelpha through the Senel border gate right?”
While Ryner did not make any acknowledgement, he had indeed thought of that route.
The Senel border was narrow and was practically unusable for large armies to move through, and most important of all, the Roland troops that were currently invading Nelpha would not be present there.
“There’s an ambush there.”
That was something he expected of course.
“...... is that at the level that even Ferris and I can’t break through?”
Luke tilted his head.
“Well, maybe? But I think it’s gonna be tough. If I were you, I won’t choose that route.”
“So it can’t be done?”
“It can’t be done.”
“...... geez, it’s such a bother. Then which way should I opt for hm?”
Ryner spread an imaginary map in his head.
There were two other paths aside from Senel, but one of them, was probably currently used by Roland to send troops into Nelpha, a pretty troublesome route.
That meant only one choice was left.
Luke spoke before him.
“By the way, Fait as well.”
“Sion is serious eh?”
“Well, I’m not so sure whether it’s under the orders of His Majesty.”
“Then, whose orders is it?”
“Who knows? I haven’t really investigated who has currently undertaken the mission of pursuing you......”
Ryner, with a disgruntled look, said,
“Do your job properly duh.”
“Haha. I’m not really obligated to do so much for you.”
“But, if you can’t even overcome an obstacle of this level......”
He stopped before finishing, but Ryner knew what he wanted to say.
If he could not even overcome an obstacle of this level, he was no longer of any value to Luke.
From now on, he would be pursued by the Hero King of Roland Empire, a major power of southern Menoris.
If he couldn’t even overcome something of this level.
Ryner started weighing his situation.
Well, even if he didn’t use a border gate, he could always choose to use a wilderness path to go over a mountain to enter Nelpha territory.
That would be pretty bothersome though.
It would take him several days more if he took that alternative, compared to using a border gate.
During that time, the pursuit would still continue, and as much as possible, he would like to be in Nelpha sooner.
“Well, whichever the case, regarding the matter of whether or not we can break through a border gate, I will have to verify it with my own eyes before......”
Ryner looked up.
“Duh, there’s no one around!”
Not knowing when Luke left, he uttered without thinking.
Once again, Ryner was left alone in the dark room.
But he wasn’t about to believe that.
He had enough of having his embarrassing talk eavesdropped by someone else like what had happened earlier.
He started up to ascertain whether Luke had really left.
He opened the door and looked down the corridor.
But it seemed like Luke was gone this time......
At that moment.
Along the corridor.
From the direction which should be leading to a stairway, Luke’s head popped out,
“There’s no need to see me off, you know?”
“As I thought, you’re still here!”
“Fufufu. Since you are way too trusting of people at times, I thought I shall have you be a little bit more suspicious...... now, can you tell whether I really intend to go back or~?”
With all his heart, Ryner answered the quiz that Luke, who appeared to be having fun, had put forth.
“The hell I care, moron! Go die already! Go die now!”
“Ah haha. You are so cruel. But, I’m really going back now. It’s pointless to stop me......”
Without waiting for him to finish what he was saying, Ryner walked back into the room and shut the door.
Once he did that, he could no longer hear Luke’s voice.
This time round, he heard the sound of Luke’s footsteps walking down the stairs, but whether that was really the case or just a sham, was something Ryner didn’t know, however, he thought that it didn’t really matter anymore, and after letting out a sigh, he took a chair and sat down.
Behaving like a punk, he brought his legs up onto the desk.
When he looked at the clock hanging on the wall of the room, it was already four o’clock in the night.
“No, it should be morning instead......”
With the current season, the sun wasn’t up at such an early hour, and the sky was still dark.
But it won’t be long before daybreak.
When morning comes, they have to start their journey out of the country.
He told Ferris to wait at Asohld dango tea-house, which was just a little further north of the street from this place, at eight in the morning.
Four hours from now.
No, taking into account the time needed to reach that place, Ryner only had an hour left to gather information from within Roland.
One more hour.
He looked outside the window. And gazed out into the night.
From the window which was facing to the west, it was just the right place for him to see the castle sitting in the northwest. He looked at the streets just below the castle to the southwest.
He was gazing at the country that had raised him.
The visible scenery.
He gazed at the nauseating, visible scenery.
And incidentally, he thought
After leaving the country today, I won’t be back for quite a while.
No, it’s possible that I won’t be coming back at all.
The place where Milk, Kiefer, Sion, Ferris, and his friends and comrades were, it was possible that he won’t be coming back at all, he thought.
It was different from before.
It was different from the time when he and Ferris, under the orders of Sion, left to search for the Heroes’ Relics in various countries.
Today, for Ryner, it was farewell to this country.
Though it was not because he felt any saddness in that, for some reason, he had those thoughts.
This place where he was born, where he was bullied, where he was tortured, where he was scorned, where he was treated as a taboo, this kind of country could just disappear for all he cared, but before he knew it, he had found friends and comrades.
But, all that was soon to be destroyed, and in order to restore things, he was going to embark on a journey.
A journey to save his dearest friend.
That was something awesome, he thought.
For someone who had nothing up until now, it was like his life was lit by a radiant light.
He felt that finally there was a meaning to his life.
Ryner looked outside the window with a faint, sad smile.
“...... but still, it feels a little sad to be leaving this place, I guess.”
A lot happened here after all.
Even though most of them might be unpleasant, but it did feel like there were also many good things that happened which could displace all that.
He had never thought that he would ever experience such days. On many occasions, he thought he was going to die and that tomorrow would never come.
It was different now.
It felt sad he could not return to those good old days. He thought of how nice it would be if those happy days could continue. Why was it always the case, that only when precious things were lost, then would he realize it, and feel regretful about it.
If he had to lose them anyway, he would have indulged in them more during those days. During those days, he would have done more.
I would have laughed more, and make others laugh more. I really like you guys. Since I was saved by you guys, I wanted to save you guys as well, even if it’s embarrassing, I would tell you guys these if time could turn back. If I knew we couldn’t go back to the way it was, I would have told you guys properly......
He was thinking of something stupid.
Nevertheless, he could no longer go back to those days.
No matter how much he regretted it, he could not turn time back.
But wouldn’t it be alright if he could change things again tomorrow, he asked himself.
Whenever he thought about the past good times he had, it felt indeed a little.
A little sad.
And he was certain that.
“...... you feel the same way, don’t you? Sion.”
Ryner said as if he was conversing with someone.
But there was no answer.
He gazed through the window. The tall castle, for some reason gave off a different feeling from before, feeling colder, more inhuman, and further away.
It might be a little difficult to reach the castle with his outstretched arms currently. Stretching higher and taller, it probably won’t do if he didn’t give his best.
But, but still.
At that moment, Ryner averted his eyes from the window.
And looked at those documents received from Luke, which were propped on his lap. And turned the pages.
He wanted to use the remaining hour to go through the documents. One way or another, it would be difficult to make his move without confirming the situation in Nelpha.
Since he was still debating on whether to continue on to Nelpha, or to head towards Runa instead.
He flipped the pages. And the next page, the next page, the next page.
With an incredible speed, he scanned the words and input the information into his head.
The situation was worse than he thought.
The women and children were really being massacred.
Even though he knew the reason behind it, but still, Ryner frowned.
And then, Nelpha’s actions became weird. Just right before Nelpha’s king officially expressed his surrender, he was killed and confusion set in.
On top of that, the successor sent ten thousand troops to square off with Roland, while he promptly escaped in the meantime.
That was why currently, without the presence of the king, there was no one in authority who could raise the surrender flag for Nelpha.
In this situation, Roland would have to continue fighting until Nelpha was completely destroyed.
But at that point, a ray of hope appeared.....
“............ huh? What’s this......”
At that moment.
He said with a slight groan.
“......that rascal Luke......”
Finally, Ryner understood what Luke was trying to make him do.
It was the worst.
Luke was making him do something which could be said to be the worst kind of bother that could ever be.
This was what was in the documents.
Although the stupid prince, who killed Nelpha’s king and made his escape thereafter, had sent ten thousand troops to fight Roland, in the end, they did not meet Roland’s army at all.
A new commander had appeared and taken command of the ten thousand troops.
A person who carried the blood of the dead king.
The son of the stupid prince and his commoner mistress, a capable man who was popular among the people, had successfully persuaded the ten thousand soldiers to come under his lead, and had led them west, avoiding the conflict with Roland.
And the name of the man who had saved those ten thousand soldiers was.
Ryner said with a weary voice.
He knew that name well. Just about a year ago, when Sion made a diplomatic visit to Nelpha’s capital, Ryner was also there as well and that was when he had met him. Despite his frailness, he tried to protect his little brother and sister from some stray hoodlums, and as he was getting beaten up, that was when Ryner and Ferris came to his rescue, and that was how they met one another.
That was the discriminated son of the stupid prince and his commoner mistress, but then again, being part of royalty still, he had some amount of influence and had helped Ryner in looking up various things in the library...... well, to say that he knew him well, that was actually the extent of it.
However, he had also put them up and had spent a number of days with the duo.
Toale himself, as well as with his numerous brothers and sisters.
Indeed, he looked like a promising youth with a good head, and always did whatever he could to protect his brothers and sisters while going about his own life.
He was also popular among the people in town, and they cried for him to be the next king rather than that stupid prince.
That fella is really a popular guy.
Thanks to that popularity, he attracted the attention of a strange ‘monster’.
At that moment, Ryner remembered the incident in which a powerful, black ‘demon’ had come to kill Toale.
“...... Miran Froaude.”
Speaking of this, that was the first time he met that man.
With a wave of his ring, he could summon shadow beasts to attack them.
That ring was probably a Hero’s Relic, and on top of that, though Ryner recognized him to be a descendent of the Holy Knight Halford Miran, that man, evidently filled with darkness, hardly looked like a descendent of the Holy Knight.
What he could only see was a demon to the core.
One who could kill people without a change in expression.
And he came to kill Toale.
It seemed like he was working for a tyrant king, and was willing to kill anyone who might hinder them.
“That fella is seriously some kind of murderous devil......”
Ryner said with a groan as he recalled all this.
He remembered his words.
From some place within the dark and deep recesses of his mind, he remembered his words.
“You were asking me, what would be left after killing off all the hindrances...... that was what you asked right? From the bottom of my heart, I would say that after killing off all the hindrances, what’s left would be those of convenience who could serve my purpose. From the perspective of an Alpha Stigma bearer like you, if you kill off all the other human beings, then the world will be easier to live in for all the Alpha Stigma bearers...... That is the truth, isn’t it? People are animals who could only live an existence of aggression. In order to eat, in order to protect their pride, in order to have a better life, in order to protect a loved one......’’
And, in order not to be killed......
To create a place where there are no sacrifices, where everyone can live happily...... that is a pile of bullshit. This kind of world is impossible. The world is not as naive a place as you think.
That was what he said.
People fight in order not to be killed.
That was perhaps a statement striking true. But even so, it doesn’t mean he would accept that.
People can find someone to be of a hindrance at one time, or to be disagreeable, or they may even want someone to disappear, but in the next instant, they can also love the same person whom they hated a while ago.
If that someone were to die unexpectedly, even though they should have found him or her to be a bother, they could become lonely in the end, as a result.
That’s why, undoubtedly, there was only one of the aforementioned reasons that fit the needs of having to kill off a hindrance.
If everyone were to kill one another, in the end, oneself will become a hindrance and have to be killed.
It was obvious that the path he was seeking was wrong.
And the result was already showing.
Indeed, as a military man from the great nation of Stohl up north, his words might seem fitting...... but Stohl should have already been annihilated by Gastark.
He wondered what had happened to him after all that, but well,
“I’m pretty sure no one would miss him, so let me just forget about him.”
Ryner smiled and returned his former thoughts.
In any case, Toale, who was targetted by Froaude, is a capable man.
And finally, just as the people had wished, a opportunity had arisen for Toale to ascend the throne.
“But...... what bad timing it is.”
Toale was probably born unlucky, Ryner thought.
With regards of Toale’s situation, Ryner had no clue, but as to what Toale was thinking about, it was a different story.
"Since we’re surrendering, would you forgive the ten thousand soldiers and the people?"
That would probably be his proposal. But this would be rejected.
Because Nelpha’s king is still that stupid prince, and not you.
The Roland now would not just stop at this. In the future, it had plans to invade Runa, Cassla and other neighbouring countries.
They could not afford to show any mercy just because of Toale’s proposal, in order to make Nelpha an example for the rest.
Roland is going to use its might to crush Nelpha thoroughly, and it’s not up to you to stop them.
If you really want to put forth a surrender, you had to take the head of your stupid prince father. And become the official king of Nelpha, only then will anyone start listening to you.
But that was going to be something reckless.
Toale had only ten thousand troops under his command.
In comparison, the stupid prince had sixty-eight thousand soldiers protecting him.
That’s nearly seven times.
It wasn’t a battle Toale could win.
But still, he had no choice but to win. If he could not win over the hearts of the seventy thousand soldiers and have the stupid prince’s head delivered to him, Nelpha’s people would be doomed.
“...... so this is where I shall come in to help?”
With a bitter face, Ryner looked in the direction where Luke had left.
“...... that sly fox.”
Given his capabilities in gathering intelligence, Luke must have been aware that Ryner was acquainted with Toale.
He probably predicted that Ryner would go give Toale a hand after reading these documents.
He remembered his earlier words.
"If you manage to obtain great power...... and so on and so forth."
"Such as an army...... and so on and so forth."
"A power that is on par with Roland...... and so on and so forth."
"If at that point in time you still see yourself as Sion-san’s friend...... and so on and so forth."
He could only hear Luke telling him to go help Toale from all those words.
“Geez. He was out to use me right from the beginning.”
Ryner said with a fed-up voice.
However, as things were going, he had to go help him. If he didn’t, lots of people would die. That was something Ryner did not want.
No, even if Ryner didn’t go help him, Roland would, through some secret maneuvers, dispatch some reinforcements to help Toale with killing that stupid prince.
That was the most advantageous method to Roland.
And once Toale had served his purpose.
Toale would be killed.
After executing the stupid prince, his capable son, and Nelpha’s royalty, they would announce it to the neighbouring counties.
Did you see the fate of Nelpha, who dare oppose Roland?
If you want to surrender, now’s the time.
If you do it now, we will spare the royal family and the nobles, and allow them to keep their status.
But, if you don’t surrender now......
“We’ll destroy you...... to that effect?”
At that moment, Ryner flipped close the documents from Luke.
After withdrawing his legs from the desk, he folded his arms.
And he looked at the ceiling.
“...... I’m beat.”
For some reason, just as he was about to leave the country, the number of things he had to do just kept piling up.
In other words, if he didn’t hurry, the homework would seem to continue accumulating.
If he tarried around any longer, Nelpha’s soldiers and people would be killed off in the meantime.
A little more bothersome than that would be if Toale’s head were to fly next.
But what should he do next after rescuing Toale?
After linking up with Toale and mobilizing his troops, he would somehow immobilize that stupid prince. It was clear up till that part.
But, what’s next?
Taking Toale along and finding a way out somehow? Would Roland overlook that?
No, it might turn out that he would need to take command of Nelpha’s troops and battle it out with Roland’s army in order to protect Toale......?
Ryner scowled at the ceiling while turning things over in his head.
Normally, that would not have been the case.
At the very least, Sion, the current Sion would not come to such a conclusion.
If all they needed was the single life of Toale, there was no necessity to incur unneeded loss of lives.
That was balance. A giant balance which human lives rode on.
Kill less to save more.
To save ten thousand lives, it’s ok to kill a thousand.
That has to be what people call a king.
Carrying the fate of a country, the lives of many people while moving forward, that has to be what a king is.
“But...... will I be capable of such a thing?”
Rather, is it okay to do such a thing?
He asked himself.
In order to protect the peace of many, and kill off all the cursed eye bearers.
In order to protect the peace of many, Sion had become a sacrifice while weeping.
Can I forgive all this?
He thought otherwise.
He thought that there had to be another way.
A world where no one loses anything.
A world where no one cries.
Could such a world exist?
Of course, if he were to say such a thing, he might be laughed at. No, in actual fact, Froaude had already laughed at him.
A country without any sacrifices where everyone living in it can laugh happily.
He laughed that off as bullshit. He told him that it’s better to stop overlooking the painful experiences in reality and to stop dreaming of such naivety......
At that thought, Ryner’s face twisted in pain.
“I already have plenty of those painful experiences......”
But still, even if others were to give up on such a dream, I would still think that way.
If Sion was crying and giving up, I would still......
Even though he said that, it was still an unpleasant bother to square off with Roland’s army.
At that thought, Ryner recalled the name of the commander of Roland’s army in Nelpha from the documents Luke gave him.
The current commanding officer of Roland’s army was Field Marshal Claugh Klom.
That red-hair muscle-brain.
But Ryner was well aware of that.
The first time when he met him, the only time when they exchanged blows, he became well aware of how bothersome his strength could pose.
Crimson Finger Claugh Klom.
That name was equivalent to that of a death god on a battlefield.
“...... a~h, am I supposed to fight that monster on the battlefield? Seriously?”
Ryner said in an unpleasant tone.
On top of that, this time round, he was not just putting his own life on the line.
He might be possibly shouldering the lives of both the soldiers of Roland under Claugh’s command, as well as the troops of Nelpha under Toale’s command.
Could he actually fight such an opponent while taking care to minimize the number of casualties at the same time?
At that thought, he recalled even more of what the documents contained. Luke was actually kind enough to have included Claugh’s profile within the documents.
The death god of battlefields.
A demon who has never lost on a battlefield.
With an overwhelming fighting prowess, and a talent in deploying troops.
Against such an opponent,
“What can I do?”
Somehow, he felt like running away.
“Ah geez, I just keep getting into such bothersome stuff.”
But, was it actually God’s grace that his opponent wasn’t Luke? He thought.
If it were Luke marshaling the army, the Ryner now, might not be a match for him.
If such a person, who possesses a level-head beyond ordinary, were to take command of the troops, with the current state of Ryner now, it wasn’t even funny to begin with.
Of course, Ryner had actually studied battle tactics and strategies for use in battlefields before, if he had to be honest with himself, it was a one-man battling...... in other words, the training was targeted to build him into a one-man army.
“So as to speak, well, it would be highly suspicious if I could actually beat that guy from those kind of training......”
He said with a weak voice, and then,
“...... but if I actually encounter him on the battlefield, I can’t let myself be killed either...... then, is that the only way? I must suddenly acquire the ability to surpass him in thinking, that’s the only way right? That kind of development? Uwah, that’s impossible right?”
He was already overwhelmed with despair.
The excessive bothers of life made him want to sigh out.
At that moment, Ryner glanced at the needles of the clock and realized that it was already past five.
While thinking all those weird thoughts and making considerations, without knowing, he had already spent more than an hour.
Even though it was time for the morning sun to rise soon, due to the seemingly bad weather, the sky outside was still dark. That was why the time had passed without him realizing it.
“It’s time to move.”
He hurriedly stood up. Left the room, and climbed down the stairs. As he stepped out of the building, he looked up at the dark sky which was overcast with clouds, and thought that it did seem like it was going to rain today.
“...... geez, and it was such a long-awaited morning for us to embark on our journey. A bad omen eh.”
As he said that, without really thinking much into it despite what he just said, he started off running.
Along the way, he thought of taking a detour to a library, and borrow some books on battle tactics and strategies, but in the end gave up on that thought. Since he knew not when he would be able to return those books after leaving the country, and more importantly, he did not want to find out what Ferris was going to do to him for being late because of that detour.
And then, in order not to be late and have Ferris waiting, he increased his pace.
The time now shifts back to a while ago.
It was already time to set off if she didn’t want to arrive late at the designated place to link up with Ryner.
“Darn. Looks like I might be late.”
Ferris was running along the merchant street.
She was carrying two knapsacks and a large pouch.
By the way, the knapsack on her left contained her clothes. It contained the cute clothes with the dango logo, which were bought from the previously mentioned apparel shop.
Currently, she was wearing the same type of clothes as well.
It was much more comfortable than her usual armor, and her feet felt lighter. Except that the sword hanging from her waist seemed a little out of place......
However, strangely, whatever she wore seemed to suit her beautifully.
And the knapsack on her right, as one would expect, contains Ryner’s new clothes bought from the same apparel shop.
In the beginning, the shop assistant had made some suitable selections for her, except for one piece, which was actually an underwear that only a pervert would wear, that alone was chosen by Ferris.
At that time, the female shop assistant said,
“Ohh, that must be a present for your boyfriend! The two of you must be very close~”
Ferris then replied,
"Nope, it’s the complete opposite in fact. This is something I’m giving him to shame him."
"Uwah, so you guys go for this kind of ‘play’!?"
"...... ‘play’? What are you talking about?"
"No, no, it’s nothing. I see. Miss, for you to go on such level of offense, my most humble self feels absolutely touched. Then, what about this? I think this will look pretty good."
"Hoh. Then let’s have that as well."
"How about this as well?"
"Then, that one as well."
In the end, the knapsack was filled with those pervy wear.
Perhaps, Ryner was really going to travel half-naked most of the time.
Half-naked, with pince-nez glasses.
She started imagining the look of despair on Ryner’s face.
“...... Fufufu. I’m looking forward to it.”
She laughed expressionlessly while running.
Well, actually she did buy a few pieces of normal clothing for Ryner, which was stowed into the large pouch, but that was a secret. She would make him go half-naked, and only reveal those to him at the very end when he started crying.
In any case.
With an incredible speed, she passed through the merchant street, and the residence area, and got onto the highway.
However, she got off the highway immediately.
Even though this path would lead straight to the rendezvous location, Asohld dango tea-house, she couldn’t take that direct path.
Both yesterday and today, as she was going around the town, she saw groups of pursuers who were going round searching for Ryner.
Even though Ferris was not on the wanted list yet, which was why she had nobody coming after her, things might have changed by now.
Even if this wasn’t so, if she was tailed, they would be able to get hold of Ryner’s location, and this could become a bother.
That’s why she got off the highway, and verified whether there was anybody following behind her.
“......mm. It seems okay.”
On saying that, she started relaxing her pace a little.
From now on, she would be heading towards the meeting place without using the unobstructed highway, but before that.
“...... I’m pretty sure it’s around this area.”
Last night, she found Iris taking a stroll on the streets, and gave her some orders.
Tomorrow, Ferris would be embarking on a journey.
After Ferris and Ryner had gotten out of the country, once things cool down, Iris was supposed to bring Arua and Kuku along and follow behind them.
And tomorrow, before Ferris leaves, she is to prepare eight knapsacks of dango and pass them to her at somewhere a little off the highway leading northwards.
She was at that place where she’s going to receive her dango,
“...... it should be around this area.”
She halted as she said that.
She looked around her surroundings.
It was different from the orderly highway, and even though it was just a small distance away from the main path, it looked as if this was already a complete wilderness area.
The area had a dense growth of wild grass that was even taller than Ferris, and it was an area which was difficult to walk through.
That’s why she intended to head to the rendezvous point through these grass to avoid discovery by any pursuers.
“...... I can’t seem to find Iris among all these thick grass.”
She scanned her surroundings.
And searched for Iris’s presence.
“Iris, are you here?”
She called out, but as she thought,
There was no reply.
“...... hm. She hasn’t arrived yet?”
She pushed through the grass and moved further up.
“Iris, are you here?”
Then, from among the grass,
Iris called out.
Ferris turned her head in that direction.
And saw her sister. Iris was there within the grass.
With blond hair resembling that of Ferris, and fair smooth skin. While she had a childish face, her features were unbelievably perfect. She was wearing a dress with lots of frills, and on her back was a small red backpack, her usual outfit.
Iris was covered in blood, and hanging upside down with her feet grabbed.
Both her hands and feet were bounded as well.
“...... nee-sama, don’t come!”
Iris cried out with a face that looked like she was about to cry.
Ferris saw the man who was grabbing her feet.
With long flowing, pitch-black hair, and cold deep blue eyes.
And the man bore a dark smile resembling that of a devil.
That man was familiar to Ferris.
If I remember correctly, he is called Froaude......
But, why is he here.
Why did Iris have those eyes.
What in the world......
“...... bastard, what the hell did you do to Iris, ehhhhhhhhhhh!”
She drew her sword. And advanced towards Froaude with an unbelievable speed.
It was a speed that could not be followed by the naked eye.
One could say that it’s god speed.
There was no normal human being who would be able to stop her sword.
However, Froaude just carried a dark smile.
“...... you drew a sword in a frenzy...... A foolish thing to do. You should know very well that you can’t beat me alone.”
And he waved his hand. His right hand which was adorned with a black ring.
And he murmured softly.
“...... let there, be darkness.”
In an flash.
The shadow of Froaude on the ground expanded and became distorted.
And out came shadow beasts, flying out from the shadow.
Black-colored monsters that looked like wolves.
One of them flew towards Ferris.
She swung her sword at it.
But she didn’t cut it down.
The wolf, with its sharp teeth, bit on her sword and stopped it.
Froaude shrugged his shoulders.
“Oops, seems like you’ve gotten weaker since the time we met? The you from before would have been able to readily cut down one or two of those Kagerou (Shadow Wolves)...... or is it that you have become flustered from this?”
As he said that, he raised his left hand.
The left hand that was grabbing Iris.
Iris was crying. Since young, she had hardly shown any tears and was perpetually smiling, showing expressions which Ferris was sometimes envious of, that very sister of hers was sniffing and sobbing right now.
Ferris withdrew her sword once, took a step backwards, and swung. Her swing was sharper and faster than before.
The two wolves were sliced apart and disappeared.
But the next bunch of shadows had already appeared. Three of those wolves were circling Iris and Froaude.
Ferris stared at them and concentrated.
If she let her guard down, she would be killed.
This fella. The shadows created by this fella were abnormally strong.
The first time when she fought this guy, she couldn’t touch him at all. At that time, Ryner was with her, and after finding his weakness they managed to drive him off, now, could she rescue Iris from his hands all by herself?
It would be difficult, she thought.
But it was not impossible, she felt.
Since that time, her skills had gone up a another notch.
Furthermore, she was aware that the shadows were conjured using that black ring he was wearing.
In the space after she cut down all the shadows, she shall slice off that finger where the ring was adorned.
At that moment, she looked at the bloody form of Iris. Her forehead was cut, shoulders too, legs too...... and more seriously, there was blood dripping from her back..
She understood just by looking at that. Froaude was toying with Iris while she tried to escape. Her back must be ridden with bite wounds from the shadow wolves.
Iris shook in fear. Ferris had never seen her sister with such an expression.
Her sister. Someone whom she has cherished dearly since young,
This was not the end.
She shall sever that arm with the ring.
She adopted a low sword stance. She steeled her nerves, and brought forth the highest amount of concentration towards the tip of her sword.
At that moment, Iris yelled.
“Don’t! Nee-sama, don’t!”
“You have to get out of here. This guy is incredibly strong beyond what we’ve ever se......”
Ferris interrupted her mid-sentence and said.
“...... I’ve seen it before. That’s why there is no need to worry. I’m coming to rescue you in a second.”
Froaude laughed again.
“What beautiful sisterly love...... is that what I should say? But all that is a foolish struggle.”
Ferris did not answer. She focused all her strength towards the tip, one single point, of her sword.
“…... as I thought, you alone don’t pose much of a threat to me. You drew your sword in a frenzy, and chose to fight a battle in which you have no chance of winning...... Ryner-san wouldn’t do such a thing right?”
She did not answer. A chance of winning does exist. This guy is making light of me, if he thinks I’m the same as before, I shall let him taste pain.
In a flash, I will cut off that arm and wipe that smirk off your face.
And her preparations were complete.
At that moment, Froaude said.
“Now, withdraw your sword and stand down. I don’t really enjoy wasting unnecessary time on such trivialities......”
And at that moment.
“Then, I shall put an end to your time here.”
Ferris’s body launched forward.
And that was at a speed many times faster than before.
The shadow wolves reacted and closed in on her, but she started cutting them down immediately.
On top of that, another two of them attacked her simultaneously, one of which she dodged, and the other she cut down and continued advancing forward.
The one she had dodged was once again coming after her from behind, but she ignored that.
It was fine as long as it couldn’t catch up.
Advancing more swiftly, swinging more sharply.
And without getting caught by the enemy’s attacks, taking aim at Froaude’s arm......
Delivering the sword blow to his arm.
In an instant.
That muffled cry came from Ferris instead.
The sword never reached Froaude.
A giant black snake appeared from the shadow below Froaude and bit into her right leg.
With razor sharp teeth, it was biting deep into her thigh.
Because of that sudden intense pain, the movement of her sword became dull.
At the same time, from behind her, the wolf bit into her left arm.
Her face twisted in agony, unable to make a sound from the agonizing pain.
But still, even so, she didn’t stop.
With her sword arm still free, and her left leg which was unhindered, she took a stride forward, and slashed at Froaude......
That man who was wearing a thin, evil smile before all this was slightly taken aback,
“...... you nearly got me. If you continue to move in that state though, your limbs might get torn off.”
But Ferris did not mind. She only glared at the man in front of her,
“...... I’ll kill you.”
“But, you can’t do it.”
He shook his ring. As he did that, another snake came out of the shadow and bit her left leg.
Iris cried out.
But, she could not respond to that. Another shadow wolf flew out of the shadow and bit into her remaining free right arm.
A tearing sound was heard, and blood started spurting out.
At that instant, she almost lost consciousness from the intense pain.
Her sword seemed about to fall to the ground.
But she shook her head, and was determined to endure the pain. If she passed out here, she wouldn’t be able to save Iris.
She raised her arm.
To cut off Froaude’s head......
With slow movements, she raised her sword arm.
And Iris began,
“...... please don’t...... it’s enough! It’s enough so please stop moving Nee-sama!”
But Ferris only smiled faintly at her. I’ll be fine, so don’t make such a worried face, she seemed to say. When have you ever seen Nee-sama lose to anyone before? Never, isn’t it? It’s going to be alright this time round as well, so just wait there, she wanted to say.
But, no sound came from her. Her strength started ebbing away from her, from the arm that was attempting to raise her sword......
Iris was crying. With tears flowing, she screamed in a shaking voice.
“Please, please stop. If you continue to move...... your arm...... Nee-sama’s arm would be to......”
Her arm, would be torn into pieces.
She knew that of course. But, she still tried to raise her arm. Somehow, she had to save Iris......
But, at that moment, Froaude hoisted Iris up,
“Do you really want to save her so much? Then, I shall first......”
At that moment, he started waving the hand with the ring.
“...... let there......”
He intended to kill her.
He intended to kill Iris.
In order to stop him, Ferris tried lifting her arm. Gripping her sword, lifting her arm. But, she failed. Her arm did not move.
What should I do?
What can I do?
But there was nothing she could do.
Someone save us.
She yelled from her heart.
Please, someone save us.
While she was wishing for that, an unbelievable thing happened.
It was if her prayers were answered.
From the edge of her sight, she could see a lone man running on the highway.
That was a man she knew well.
Always having a sleepy look.
Languidly passing everyday, but at times, this sort of thing does happen.
At the time when she wished for.
At the time when she wished to be rescued, for some reason, he appeared near her, and towards here......
“...... Ry, Ryner.”
She tried saying.
Calling out his name.
Calling out the name of her partner.
Before she could do that, Froaude had already covered her mouth with his hand.
“...... oops...... I can’t allow that. I’ve gone out of the way, doing my best, to secure Ryner-san’s weakness, if we let him see us in this situation, it might become problematic. He, unlike you, might be troublesome to deal with......”
Despite her attempts, Ferris could not move her mouth against the force exerted from that delicate hand.
“...... that’s right. Even if both of you are here, I’m still confident of my victory. But yet, if he interferes, he could turn things around. Even though his strength should be at the same level as yours, but if you join forces with him, there is a chance that I could be defeated. Inexplicable right? If he uses you, a clear advantageous situation to turn things around could be created. It’s like as if he is cloaked in some strange magic...... is it because he is the man known as The Greatest Magician of Roland?”
But she didn’t hear anything he said.
She could only gaze after Ryner’s figure.
The figure of Ryner that was getting further and further away.
Idiot, why didn’t you turn around, Ferris thought. I’m right here, why didn’t you turn around and look this way, she thought.
But Ryner seemed to be running with a furor that he’d never had, and had not noticed any of the ongoings close by.
And she was well aware of why he was running so furiously. In order not to be late for the rendezvous. In order not to let Ferris wait, that was why he was running so furiously.
She gazed at that.
That was the only thing she could do.
After Ryner disappeared into the distance, Froaude removed his hand.
“...... for a moment, you saw a foolish dream, didn’t you? Thinking that there might still be a way out of this.”
He said in a delightful voice.
Ferris lifted her head and glared at Froaude.
“....... I’ll definitely kill you later.”
“...... Ryner will come. After seeing...... after seeing the state we are in, he won’t keep quiet about it.”
“He’s already long gone.”
“Even so, he’ll come. You...... you’re going to be killed......”
At those words, Froaude, with a jubilant smile, said.
“Ooh. That’s scary. But he won’t be able to kill me. Because you...... you will become a hindrance to him......”
He waved his hand again and continued.
“In order to avoid wounding you, the magician shall fall. Don’t take away my precious things, he’ll shout out, and become incapable of using his magic. He is indeed someone with an intelligent and lucid mind, and can be an unusually tough opponent to fight...... but still, he is trash who should not be a source of distress to my master.”
He lifted his hand with the black ring.
“...... when friends are captured, his heart wavers. When friends are wounded, he becomes unable to advance forward. When friends are killed...... he weeps. That weakness is the problem, isn’t it? Weak. Too weak. That level of trash...... my master......”
And he said.
“He is not worthy of being the friend of Hero King Sion Astal.”
To those words.
Ferris, for an instant, did not comprehend them at all.
Her mind went blank from the incomprehension.
What did this guy just say?
“...... don’t tell me...... don’t tell me that Sion...... Sion is your......”
Froaude answered promptly.
“...... this is also on his orders.”
And he waved his hand.
He drew an arc with the black ring.
As he did that, darkness.
At Froaude’s feet, the darkness expanded again and ten beasts appeared.
She twisted her body, her limbs seemingly about to be torn apart, after enduring the intense pain from that,
Please save us.
Somone, please save us, she yelled.
But he did not stop.
The scene before her became increasingly dreadful.
“What is this......”
She was confused.
Unable to think of anything else, she was in a state of confusion.
“What the hell is happening here?”
Iris dying. Being killed. And the orders were from Sion.
What the hell is this.
I don’t get it. What should I do?
What can I do?
She felt a strong sense of loneliness.
The world...... she felt that the world was a terrible place.
It was the same as that day.
That day from two weeks ago.
Ryner went missing all of a sudden, and Sion became weird.
It was a different world from what she knew before, as if it had undergone a complete transformation.
Unsettling, fearful, shivering everyday.
But all that should have ended.
It should already have ended.
Because she found him.
Because she found what she was looking for.
In that prison.
Her light --- that sleepy-headed languid-looking light, she should already have found that.
“Why...... why didn’t you come save me! Ryner! I’m right here! Come quickly!”
She screamed with desperation, attempting to send her calls to the already distant Ryner.
“Come save us, Ryner!!”
What was reflected in her eyes was not light, but darkness.
His thin devilish red lips, parted widely.
In that instant.
Ferris gave off a throat-tearing shriek.
Somewhat north of that location, at the place known as Asohld dango tea-house.
Ryner was waiting alone.
As it was still early, the shop was still closed. If it were the dango god Ferris, she might have gotten the shop to open, but as for him, he couldn’t do anything about it.
“...... no place to sit.”
Speaking in a moronic voice, he turned his head around.
The time now should be eight-thirty.
Somehow, he managed to reach the place five minutes before the appointed time, a~h, now she won’t be able to complain about anything, was what he thought, but now it was already way past thirty minutes from the appointed time.
“...... that gal, hurry up and get here......”
He gave a knock to his tired waist. Then stretched himself, and bent himself all the way backwards.
That was all he did.
There was nothing else to do.
It seemed like Ferris still had not arrived yet.
“...... did I make a mistake with the time?”
He recalled his conversation with Ferris the morning before, and verified that the appointed time was indeed eight.
Then, why isn’t she here yet?
Don’t tell me something had.....
At that moment.
Drops of water fell onto his face.
He looked up into the sky and the sky was already completely dark.
Drops of water just kept falling.
“...... woah, this is the worst.”
Ryner frantically tried to take shelter at the edge of the eaves of the shop.
“...... geez, spare me please...... we are going to embark on a journey hereon. At the very least, give us a pleasant weather when we set off eh?”
Even though he said that, his wishes were unanswered and the rain just got increasingly heavier.
Ryner sighed softly and looked in the direction of the highway again.
The ground was wet from the falling rain.
Ryner continued looking in that direction.
The rain looked like it was going get even heavier. It might be quite tiresome to leave the country today. After Ferris arrives, he plans to find a place to put up at until the rain stops before moving out again.
While pondering, he absentmindedly gazed at the scenery before him, which had its visibility distance gradually reduced due to the rain.
Ferris should be here by now, but yet there was no sign of her.
Lightning flashed across the sky.
The rain got even heavier.
He looked at the sky, is this for real, he thought, letting out another sigh.
To walk through this rain would be tough.
He looked at the highway again. In the direction of Roland’s capital.
With his sight set in the direction where Ferris should be coming from, he said.
“...... she’ll be kind of pitiful if she’s totally drenched.”
The sky flashed again, followed by a thundering boom.
It was if the sky was mad about something.
And at that moment.
He seemed to hear a voice from afar.
Because of the rain, it was pretty much obscured.
He could hear it this time.
His name was been called.
“...... finally the princess has arrived?”
As he said that, he looked at the highway. But, there was no Ferris.
But still, once again.
“...... Ryner-tteba!” 
He was called.
But that voice, instead of coming from the south, was coming from the north.
Ryner turned around.
Standing there, was not Ferris --- but another girl.
In the heavy downpour.
Was the smiling face of a girl.
Even though she was smiling, for some reason, she looked like she was about to cry at the same time.
Looking at that girl, Ryner, with a surprised voice, said.
Kiefer came running towards here.
And embraced Ryner tightly.
Translator's Notes and References
- Outstretched Arms: A figurative form of speech, meaning Ryner doesn’t have the power to reach Sion yet.
- tteba: A particle which in this context, indicates emotional closeness.
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