Translated by mranon
Edited by OnionRings
Volume 2, Chapter 20 【Determination and Resolution】
I returned from Lana Village to Merville. It took quite some time, though.
The horse that was carrying the two had stamina incomparably inferior to Rook, so it had to rest at regular intervals.
The moon, that had been hanging overhead, had set by the time we reached Merville.
Now that I thought about it, I had been on the move since morning. As you would expect, I was feeling slightly fatigued.
The town’s gate was obviously closed. However, it didn’t mean there was no one there at all. In response of my calling out, a face that I was familiar with peeked from over the top of wall――it was Nicholas-san.
「…Ne? Oo, Seiji, eh? What are you doing at this hour? And those guys behind you…」
When I explained upon his enquiry, he was somewhat bewildered. Was Nicholas-san aware of this matter? Although information control was exercised to some extent, Nicholas-san was after all a sentinel. Some information would certainly make way to someone who held a position of controlling entry into the town. As you would expect, a 「…How do you know about that matter?」 returned to me.
「――…I see. So, you happened to be present at the scene, huh?」
I briefly told him what happened at Lana Village, which I headed toward searching for a clue in relation to the invasion of the mansion.
「So, I plan on taking these two to Albert-san.」
When I pointed to the captives, Nicholas-san 「I get it」 nodded.
However, since I was bringing people of unknown origins into the town, I was escorted up to the lord’s mansion.
――After handing the two captives over to the guards deployed at the gate to the mansion, I requested an audience with Albert-san.
By the way, although I would be troubled to explain as to how I won over Kuroko (※ Bradely Ben’s name), Kuroko knew where Marita was being held captive. I had to request their cooperation to rescue Marita… Actually, wouldn’t the one offering cooperation be me?
If you thought about it, had I not been connected with Marita, I would be no more than a mere adventurer. Desiring an audience with the lord would be taken as arrogance. Unexpectedly, however, I was readily granted my request. Probably, their search was at a standstill.
I was led inside the mansion, and was asked to wait in a room.
‘…It can’t be helped, I guess, since I came calling all of a sudden, in the middle of the night.’
As I slumped onto the sofa inside the room, my body sank in.
Probably because I was tired, or probably because of the luxuriously soft furniture… My body seemed to melt.
‘So then, how do I gloss over the matter with Kuroko?’
He was on standby along with rook outside the mansion… still, monsters were not a species that could coexist with humans. However, due to the existence of a skill called monster tame, they could follow a particular human being… was the known detail as of now.
It would be rather easier to explain that I had a special ability (※ Monster Tame) since birth than explaining the fact that I stole a monster from the man in black.
Actually, after Kuroko was at a loss because it couldn’t recognize the asshole, whom I had stolen the skill from using Thief’s Godly Hand; I simply re-tamed it… That was what actually happened.
Still, to have had a change of mind right after the skill was gone… It was so terrible of Kuroko.
I said that in jest… Kuroko himself wasn’t well aware of what happened either.
If the man, who was his master just a moment ago, lost the skill which was the basis of his qualification, something ordinarily impossible, he would naturally be confused.
In my opinion, the asshole was too full of himself. If there were someone else in his place, might I say, it would be impossible for me to tame their monster companion.
‘So, something that would otherwise be impossible to happen happened, and Kuroko who is now my companion will guide us. How do I explain that…?’
In all seriousness, though. What if I stole the skill from the guy who sold tamed monsters to the mount shop? Would the completely reset monsters go back to being wild again? There would probably be no effect on the monsters not present in immediate vicinity… However, it would be difficult to test that.
――Was what I was thinking while sitting. However, my thoughts were soon interrupted by a sleep attack. I knew I couldn’t afford to given the time… Still, I could close my eyes a little.
I woke up to the sound of a knock on the door. The one who entered the room was maid-san.
When I peeked outside the window, the sky could be seen to be getting dimly bright.
I seemed to have fallen asleep for a bit. Thanks to that, my body felt more comfortable.
――I was led to the office by maid-san. I submitted weapons and the like to the guard by the entrance.
…Well, it was reasonable to think of it as reasonable.
Slightly tense, I opened the door.
Why was I tense? Because it was my first time meeting Albert-san. Even when we came here to visit Marita, Albert-san was too busy for us to have a chance to meet him.
However, 「He was pleased to hear that I was able to make friends」 was what Marita told us. He might know my name.
――In the office, there were four people present beside me.
Firstly, sitting behind the work desk――with blonde hair, blue eyes, and gentle countenance, was a man in his prime. His body was donned in an outfit made of white fabric embroidered with golden thread. With his elbows resting on the work desk, his hands were knit together. That he appeared somewhat emaciated was probably not just my imagination.
He was about 40 years old. That person was Albert-san… wasn’t he?
His eyes resembled Marita’s. I knew it; this man was truly Marita’s father… that notion was dispelled in 0.1 second as my line of sight caught the remaining three.
The face of the one sitting on the sofa by the window wasn’t visible. The two left were a male knight in silver armour and a female elf.
Oo, an elf. I read in a book in the library that elves didn’t ordinarily step outside the forests, yet an elf was here? What was she doing here? Her white as porcelain limbs sneaking through the hem of her chartreuse green robe, her well arranged facial features, her gold dust like silky hair and her pointed ears were all proofs that she was none other than en elf.
Enchanted by her appearance, when I moved over to her jade eyes that were examining me… our eyes met.
「He is… okay, I guess.」
A voice that sounded like rolling bells resounded inside the office. It was the female elf who said that. What the heck did she mean…?
Leaving my questioning look behind, Albert-san opened his mouth next.
「Are you Seiji-kun? I’m obliged to you for my daughter.」
「That, I’m truly sorry for that incident…」
「No… it’s fine. Except for you and your friend, everyone else was asleep like a log. By the way, you seem to have captured two men… can I have a detailed account?」
Thereafter, I told him about the sequence of events that led me to Lana Village. I then told him everything I heard from Eleanor-san. I also told him about the possibility of hostages being used as a shield to threaten Login-san. ‘How do I tell him about Kuroko?’
「The orphanage where Phylia grew up…? But why would Logins… Aa, even if it’s you saying this, it can’t be, can it?」
The expression of Albert-san, who had learnt of the development, darkened.
「Erm… did I do something I wasn’t supposed to?」
‘Will the rescue mission, which they planned on carrying out in utmost secrecy, be now hindered…?’ Contrary to what I was thinking, utterly surprising words left Albert-san’s mouth.
「That can’t be. Nevertheless… I intend to accept their demands.」
「Wha… what!? After waiting arduously long… 」
「If I do, the likelihood of Marita returning safely will be high. It’s deplorable… I know that.」
As to what he meant… I knew. If they launched a surprise attack or a siege in order to rescue, the possibility of them harming Marita would be high.
‘Isn’t that why it’s necessary for us to cooperate?’ was what I thought… However, wasn’t that a father’s concern for his daughter? The cases of kidnapping for ransom whereby parents would pay the sum without informing the police were surprisingly many. I remember reading that somewhere. Being a bachelor, I might not be able to empathize; however, a parent’s feelings would remain the same regardless of which world it was.
Compared to them, Bal was honestly cute. The next time I met him, I would show him more love.
「Ever since I lost my wife, I devoted myself to the development of commerce… I tried to make this country great. Just like I promised her back then… but――I don’t want to lose my daughter as well.」
Although I didn’t know as to how Phylia-san died… the force behind Albert-san’s words indicated me not to ask. Even if I asked, I wouldn’t get an answer.
――Right there, the one who entered the fray was none other than the male sitting on the sofa.
「How can you still say that? At this point, the signing ceremony cannot be suspended.」
The man, whose voice was fraught with a hint of anger, was a big man who could be called a giant.
Ruffled auburn hair, coupled with sideburns, covered his face. In the middle, what looked like a lion’s mane rounded up his already intense features. In contrast to his face, the clothes he was wearing seemed to be quite expensive.
「…Are you not expected to be quiet here? Continuing with the story, Seiji-kun returned home afterwards――」
「What? You care more about this lad’s story?」
E? what’s with this person. How can he be so unreserved with Albert-san? Unreserved with the lord?
I looked at the face of the man, who had cut into the conversation, and focused――Eh… No way…
「Lad, you’re an adventurer, aren’t you…? You seem quite promising. So, why don’t you work under me*? Ne?」 (Translator’s note: Spoken in the accent of an elderly)
The big man turned toward me and sneered.
「Me? My name is Hardin… Hardin Duo Ballad—the King of Lechelle Kingdom.」
――After silence ensued for several blinks, the male knight who had been quiet all this time spoke.
「Your majesty, please refrain from openly saying such a thing. The identity of this boy is still――」
「Didn’t Ilii say he is okay?」
‘wait a minute. This big man here is the king…?! Doesn’t that mean he’s the elder brother of Albert-san? Then, why don’t they… resemble? What the heck is happening here?’
「Still, to say such a thing out of blue…」
「Umu. When you’ve made your mind, come knock on the door of the Royal Capital. So… you don’t plan on changing your mind even though this lad here put in his all? Albert」
「Let’s draw the lines, then… You move along whichever one you want to; I will move along whichever one I want to―― Kane! Ilii! Follow me…you, too, lad.」
「Brother! Won’t you even consider?!」
「…You, reconsider as to how foolish your decision is.」
When Albert-san tried to argue those words――The door to the office banged. I, who was swallowed by the king’s air, left the room in tandem… However, I was finding it difficult to grasp the not so good situation.
「Erm, may I… ask something? Why were you, the king, here?」
「Have you heard about the treaty with the Western Archipelago States? Albert and I were scheduled to board a ship from Pascam in order to attend the signing ceremony.」
It was then that they received the report of the event, so he returned together with Albert-san and examined the correspondence. While walking down the corridor, I *fumufumu* nodded. However, there was something more I wanted to ask.
「Earlier, what did this elf lady say…」
Upon my query, it was instead the referred elf who spun her words. So, this person was Ilii. Then, Kane would be that knight.
「As you may have already surmised, I’m an elf. It’s not widely known, but elves have the power to read the mind, Albeit to only a small extent, of others… Rather, read the air of others.」
‘…eh? Wha- w- w- w- what did she just say?’
「Although it would be difficult to put it into words, what I felt in your case… was like gazing at a clear river. Calm yet strong. But there was also a trace of a child’s innocence somewhere, so it had a hint of fragility… that’s what I felt.」
‘Lameeeeeeee! Utterly embarrassing. And even if it’s something deep down one’s mind, don’t peep! But I can’t say that!’
‘Gunuu… Huh? In other words, won’t they be able to check whether someone is a suspicious character or not from the outset?’
「That was that. This man here is the Captain of the Royal Guard Knights, Kane. Ilii is the Royal Court Magician. I personally invited both of them, that’s how capable they are.」
Upon his saying so, I wanted to peep at their complete status… The question, however, took precedence for now.
「What do you intend to do from this point on?」
「It’s obvious. We will be able to trace the whereabouts of the criminals by making the two the lad captured confess. Albert may have only let out an ‘aa’, but I won’t meekly stay still. This treaty may certainly have been that fellow’s initiative, but it now is momentous in deepening the bond between the countries.」
Muu, even if we were to submit, there was no guarantee that Marita would return safely. Since Albert-san decided not to act, wouldn’t it be better for me to… offer my cooperation to the king?
With the guidance of Kuroko, it wasn’t even necessary to make those two confess. The rescue force could immediately――
「But if we somehow failed in rescuing Marita safely…」
The king, upon hearing my words, halted and turned around.
「…Let me say this beforehand because there seems to be a difference in opinion. Lad, what in your opinion takes priority?」
「That… Marita returns safely.」
「I’m glad. But… my opinion differs. I of course want to help a much as I can… but in comparison――the treaty takes priority.」
「If you cannot come to terms with it, your work here is done. You may leave, lad.」
In other words… the king would eradicate the enemies――even if he had to use Marita as a shield? And he would then proceed to sign the treaty with the west…
How… could he? Wasn’t marita the king’s niece?
I was shaking visibly. Then, I blurted something considerably discourteous out.
「What if… the king’s own family were in the same situation…?」
「――I would still do the same. That’s where I differ from Albert. And, what would you do?」
Although it might be an inappropriate question, it came about out of my values.
「To be able to abandon a friend for the greater good… I’m not that much of an adult yet. Besides, the quest I received from the guild requires me to protect Marita.」
I would act as my values dictated.
Even though I made such a crisp remark, the king with a somewhat smiling expression *gashari* laid his hand on my head and *guriguri* stroked it.
「Young blood, huh… It’s not a bad thing, though. Do as you like. It will be better if you come with us. Actually, you should come with us to know if it really is something you cannot come to terms with. However… if what you said turns out to be nothing more than empty words, I will have to take back what I said about you being promising.」
The king said this and resumed his stride. I was momentarily hesitant whether to follow him or not. I was rooted on the spot. When I thought Marita could be rescued safely if we cooperated, was it merely superficial?
I didn’t take such a development into consideration.
From the perspective of Albert-san, who was willing to accept their demands, I might have done something absolutely unnecessary.
「――Don’t mind him. Even if you didn’t come, Hardin-sama would forcibly attend the signing ceremony.」
When I raised my face upon words that seemed to have seen through my mind, eyes like jade jewels were directed at me. Ilii the elf’s eyes.
「Then, will Marita really be abandoned? …can my mind really not be read?」
「I don’t think Hardin-sama’s suggestion was that wrong, but Albert-sama strongly opposed it. Well then――」
Saying up to that point, Ilii quickly went away.
It would not be futile if I just followed him… would it?
At any rate, now that it had turned out like this, I had to move… Also, since I talked so big just now…
――To be honest, there was just one way I could think of.
Asking a certain someone for help. However, if I did that, I would have no place to live in this country.
‘…I don’t care. Didn’t I say I just wanted to save Marita?’
――I put the lord’s mansion off and returned to feeder pops’ for a while.
The sun had already risen. The interior was filled with the usual aroma.
‘Aah… it’s healing.’ After brutal encounters in succession, this usual view permeated deep into my heart.
Since I had decided to leave with Rook afterward, I had better order highly nutritious food. Who knew… it might end up being my last meal here.
Ou, Seiji? I didn’t know anything about your quest, but Lim seemed worried when you didn’t come back.
When Dario-san said so, I caught Lim coming downstairs from the corner of my eyes.
「…I’m glad you safely woke up.」
Saying so, I assumed the posture of hugging Lim. The soft sensation I felt on my cheeks was surely my imagination.
It was a relief that Lim was a beastkin, not an elf. Correction, that she wasn’t able to read minds.
I, who deemed it indispensable to report the current status to Lim, recounted everything from A to Z, including what I intended to do thereafter, while shoving the breakfast down to my stomach.
「I… want to go, too.」
「Sorry, but I can’t take you with me this time.」
「Because I’m weak…? I guess.」
「Even though I earnestly intend to work hard to become strong… I can never catch up with Seiji.」
Watching Lim, the ears of whom had drooped and the eyes of whom had tears welled up; I was stricken with guilt. My strength was all about plunders. For lim, who diligently trained, to self deprecate like that was truly unjustified. As for her sentiment of wanting to save Marita… It was no less than mine.
Rather, if I over-play my skills to Lim, it would serve to drive her feelings further.
「No… nothing. I’ll talk to you when I have returned safely… Probably…」
「…Okay, I understand…」
――I wrapped my conversation with Lim up. Content with my last breakfast, I left Merville.
If possible, I had better end it before the king took action.
The direction Kuroko indicated was south.
The direction was coincidentally the same. Only, I planned on continuing further down the south first――
――In a relatively sparse area inside a forest, void of any signs of life, I was waiting for a certain someone.
As you would expect, the pace of the flying mount was brisk.
The black spot in the sky gradually enlarged. The person I was waiting for jumped down.
Although I was afraid I would be killed the moment we met, it ended up as being nothing more than a needless fear.
So as not to offend that person, I conveyed necessary details as briefly as possible and came straight to what I wanted that person to do.
「I did tell you… I would do any one thing you wanted, but are you really fine with that?」
「Yeah, an enemy’s enemy is a friend… Actually, it’s a little different―― It’s more like tossing anyone considered as an enemy into a vortex of disaster.」
「Did you just… call me a disaster?」
「It practically was for me back then… Sorry. Stop, please.」
「…I don’t care, really. Rather, wouldn’t it be troublesome for you if it came to light that you have a connection with me?」
「What happened in the past is in the past… uowaaaaa」
「What were you doing?」
「Nothing, really. Hahaha. Can you please talk to this fellow~ it still seems too early for me.」
「What…? That person wanted to get on your shoulder――umu…haahaa, interesting.」
「Oi, Kuroko… Don’t you be like that.」
「No, no. I was a little curious as to what would your wish be… but this is really interesting.」
「Thanks. By the way, you have been calling me ‘you’ for a while now… have you forgotten that we introduced ourselves.」
「Seiji… Agatsuma, was it?」
「I’m glad you remember. Well then, thanks again――Alba-san.」
Author’s note: Next time――『Ties, Cutting』