At the moment Origa’s name was mentioned, the attendants of the meeting looked at each other’s faces.
Among those present here, there’s no one who doesn’t know about Origa, and neither about her firm beliefs.
“Umm… is that a story we can believe in?”
The question Sabnak posed at Imeraria was something shared by all those present.
“Believe… you ask? If you hear the condition Origa-san put forth, you will understand, I believe?” (Imeraria)
She quietly takes out one document and passes it around so that everyone is able to check it.
“This is…” (Vaiya)
With just looking at it for an instant, Vaiya’s voice leaked out.
“The condition she put forth is for Origa-san to be sealed together with Hifumi-sama.” (Imeraria)
“She said that she will willingly come under the sealing magic!?” (Adol)
Imeraria nodded towards Adol crying out in surprise.
It can’t be seen from this place, but even Puuse seems to be surprised to the degree of being unable to voice out any words after hearing about this for the first time.
“I can’t consider that as anything but an act of madness, you know?” (Sabnak)
Imeraria inclined her head to the side asking “Really?” to Sabnak who’s letting out a dry laughter.
“I was able to consent without trouble when I heard about her wish. She has acquired strength with desperate effort just to keep up with the things he does in order to be together with Hifumi-sama. Her wish to stay next to him until the very end is something natural, I think.” (Imeraria)
For some reason Imeraria wore a natural smile.
“I will roughly explain the plan.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria took out yet another document of which she had prepared a copy for everyone. At the beginning of the text is a warning that they have to definitely make sure to dispose of the document once they memorized its content.
“As for Hifumi-sama-sama who has already been summoned to the royal castle; after listening to him about the current state of Vichy, we will occupy him with a request. Vaiya-san.” (Imeraria)
“I will request Hifumi-sama to directly impart his techniques to the knights. Please choose 30 knights, who will receive the training, from among both knight orders. Please remove those knights from all official duties they are in charge of for the time of the training.” (Imeraria)
“As you command. That means to say that those people will eventually fight against Earl Tohno?” (Vaiya)
In that case it would actually turn into the organization of a suicide corps. I plan to join that group as well, but the choice of participants will be hard, Vaiya frowned, but Imeraria’s reply reveals an even larger scale.
“No. What do you think will you be able to accomplish with just 30 people? Those people will be observers, so to speak researchers, for the sake of gathering the necessary information to draw up a trap in order to set up a concrete military operation that lures in Hifumi-sama. Creating a trap, locking him in Puuse-san’s barrier, sealing him with my magic alongside Origa-san… it’s still a reckless plan that’s full of holes, but generally speaking that will be the course of events.” (Imeraria)
Listening to Imeraria’s explanation, all those participating in the meeting are intently staring at the document. All of them intend to memorize all of it on this spot.
“Midas-san. Please assign a continuous monitoring to Hifumi-sama during the time he stays here.” (Imeraria)
“Ha! I will handle it carefully…” (Midas)
“It doesn’t matter at all even if you get noticed. What we have to really hide is the fact of Origa-san cooperating with us and the place of the final trap, only those two. Please put your highest priority on gathering information about that man without minding appearances.” (Imeraria)
“As you command.” (Midas)
Seeing Midas bow his head, Imeraria muttered 「Very well」 and stood up.
“The next meeting will be after Hifumi-sama came to this castle. Everyone, please make sure that it’s possible for you to respond to a summons at any time by avoiding to leave too far from the castle. Then, adjourned.” (Imeraria)
The men leave the room with only Imeraria and Puuse staying behind. Although Sabnak serves as her guard, it appears that he’s going to have preparatory meetings concerning the personnel selection from the knight order. Since the anti-Imeraria faction has been neatly purged inside the castle, there won’t be any problem as long as she stays inside the castle.
“… Now that I think of it, even me having obtained safety within the castle is thanks to Hifumi-sama eradicating the opposing faction, isn’t it?” (Imeraria)
“Queen-sama? Are you all right?” (Puuse)
Due to Puuse calling out to her, Imeraria answers with a bitter smile,
“I’m fine. I just got slightly dizzy by my own selfishness. It’s wrong if I don’t judge everything depending on the gain and losses for my country. Even if it’s something ungrateful as individual, as long as it eventually turns into a benefit for the country…” (Imeraria)
Shaking her head and gathering the documents close at hand Imeraria left her seat.
“I will already retire for today. Otherwise it seems that I will just end up thinking about unnecessary stuff.” (Imeraria)
“Umm… since I observed the people who have brought the elves and beastmen together from close-by, I can relate with your troubles… or intend to do so, queen-sama. A-As I’m tentatively your advisor, please do rely on me!” (Puuse)
Since she knows about Puuse, Imeraria only thought of way to use her. Do I have the right to accept such kind words from her? She wavered, but her tears streamed down without caring about her doubts.
It was a small village, but the buildings were beautiful and the inn possessed several clean, wide rooms, too. Nobles and wealthy merchants seem to stop by with the hot springs as their goal. Even the meals are served after getting properly cooked with fresh vegetables and meat of monsters that are hunted by adventurers specialised on that.
“Let’s stay for around two nights. I’m pleased with the hot springs here.” (Hifumi)
A few days after departing Fokalore, they entered a village said to be famous for its hot springs and made a stopover for a bit. Hifumi, who enjoyed the hot springs right after finding an inn, was in a good mood in front of the abundant amount of dishes that were prepared by the inn after Origa specified their wishes.
Hifumi, who doesn’t drink any alcohol, just focussed on eating with Origa as conversation partner, but during these few days they were happily enjoying eating three meals per day together while sitting across or next to each other.
“The group that came attacking yesterday night had relatively big numbers, but they only consisted of fellows unable to accomplish anything, didn’t they?” (Hifumi)
“They probably tried to cover up their lacking skills with numbers. Though you can’t call that anything but foolish. Because of that I remembered. I have to get the inn to wash off the blood spurts on your clothes, dear.” (Origa)
“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine with me. I will hand them over later.” (Hifumi)
While fully savouring the meat that used plenty of spices characteristic of a high-class inn and delicious vegetables without anyone interrupting the couple’s conversation, each of them started topics such as Pruflas having once again created a flop weapon or Horant’s reinforced soldiers being unusable. They enjoyed their time care-freely while keeping the conversation going by throwing in suitable replies.
“I wonder how many days it will take until we reach the royal capital?” (Hifumi)
“If we go at this pace, it should be around ten days?” (Origa)
I never want to arrive there though, Origa wishes, but there are things she has to do. The agreement with Imeraria was completely filling Origa’s mind. This summons is likely the first step towards that, she was easily able to guess.
“Is that how it is?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who fell on the bed after returning to their room, hesitated whether he should go once more to the hot springs during the night.
“Concerning the royal capital; should we go shopping before heading to the castle? Should we also buy your equipment… no, clothes by visiting old man Thorn’s shop after a long while?” (Hifumi)
Origa gasped due to the unexpected suggestion and its content.
Hifumi laughs at Origa who stiffens while holding her clothes to turn them in for the laundry.
“Why are you stiffening up like that? If you actually don’t want to…” (Hifumi)
“I-I-I w-will go! By all means! Please!” (Origa)
Tossing her clothes away, she leaps on top of Hifumi.
While clinging to Hifumi who caught her without evading her, she felt loneliness within the feeling she considered happiness.
In reality she knows that he’s not someone to say something like that. Though she wished for it, she could not hope for it. While not knowing whether that’s a good thing, she, who is delighted while averting her eyes, felt as if it’s something very narrow-minded and filthy, but for Origa she couldn’t allow herself to have her heart moved no matter what happens.
I blew up in a bad way, she felt.
I use the excuse that it’s for the sake of Hifumi, but in fact, I just don’t hesitate in fulfilling my own desires anymore. Even the promise with Imeraria had the meaning of fulfilling Hifumi’s aspirations, but I don’t have any intentions to keep lying to myself and others that a large part of it is to accommodate my own wants.
Bathing him in several kisses, Origa honestly voices out her feelings to Hifumi.
“Thank you, dear. I will be with you until the very end…” (Origa)
The former slum inhabitants live inside the forest, at a place that seemed to have originally been the settlement of some beastman tribe. Considering the possibility of having to move even further, they live in simple tents, but for the beastmen and elves that’s nothing major.
Once Gengu and Malfas reached the settlement while being led by Helen’s group, the beastmen welcomed them and the elves turned pale or became surprised about Puuse not being with them.
Since it won’t properly connect to the full story even if they confirm pieces here and there, Reni decided to hold a dinner party while at the same time having a conference with several people including Helen, Zanga, Gengu and Malfas.
When the dinner mostly finished inside the dreary tent, they started the conference with Reni as chairwoman.
“Then, please give us your report first, Gengu-san.” (Reni)
“Okay. We somehow managed to reach a city where the humans live together with Puuse and the others, but that place was actually a city which is reigned by Hifumi-san as feudal lord…” (Gengu)
While mixing in details about the life and food in the human city, he explained about them moving to the capital of a country called Orsongrande, about them even going to another country to chase after Hifumi, about Viine meeting Hifumi and choosing to stay by his side, about Puuse getting the job of being the princess’ advisor, and her intention to learn about humans in a human country for a while.
He still hasn’t mentioned the relationship between Malfas and Hifumi. That’s something the person himself should talk about Gengu believed.
Understanding that she doesn’t need to worry about Puuse, Zanga breathed out deeply.
“I see… well, since it’s Puuse, she will probably come back once she reached some break point. Putting that aside, I think that the issue probably lies on the side of that tiger club, right? After all he came back while having such expression. Something happened, no?” (Zanga)
Receiving the looks of everyone present, Malfas got nervous and his hairs stood on end.
Being hit on his back by Gengu and urged with 「Explain yourself what happened」, he begins to speak bit by bit.
“T-The one who… a-attacked my village and killed everyone… was Hifumi…” (Malfas)
His younger sister Riedel, who was sitting next to him, and the beargirl Olra, who has been serving as her guardian, stiffen with a surprised expression.
Glancing at the state of the two, Malfas talked about the incident with Hifumi, about how he was the enemy he met at his settlement, how he wasn’t able to compete with him at all, about him running away and about him returning while having Gengu attend on him.
“I see…” (Zanga)
“So, what do you plan to do?” (Zanga)
Malfas faltered due to Zanga’s question.
He naturally points his gaze at his younger sister.
“… With the two of us… no, it’s three now, I guess?” (Malfas)
Zanga told Malfas, Riedel and Olra to have a talk at another location with the three of them.
“Even if you decide for Riedel and Olra to stay behind, you won’t need to worry. I will be in good health for a long time yet to come. And the others will take good care of them as well.” (Zanga)
Just as he was about to leave the conference venue, Malfas suddenly turned around to Reni.
“What’s wrong?” (Reni)
“Umm… this settlement, what do you plan to do from now on? I’d like to hear about that first.” (Malfas)
“Mmh~… I plan to decide only after hearing everyone’s opinion.” (Reni)
She took out a parchment from her pocket with a rustling sound.
Miscellaneous matters such as the future proceedings Reni thought of and what she wants to eat for dinner were scribbled all over the parchment.
“I understood the power of the demons from the battle in Swordland. I was thinking of deciding what to do after the hearing Gengu-san’s story just now, you know? … I’m thinking whether we should run away to Hifumi-san’s place.” (Reni)
“… You serious?” (Helen)
“I am.” (Reni)
Listening to the exchange between Reni and Helen, Malfas was about to say something, but in the end he didn’t voice it out and left the tent while leading Riedel by the hand. Olra bows to Reni and leaves as well.
“… Well, the talk about going to the place of the person that is his enemy, you can’t expect him to get on board with that, can you?” (Helen)
Helen sighed, casually tossed a fruit as dessert into her mouth and returned her look to Reni.
“So, are you really saying that in earnest?” (Helen)
“Of course.” (Reni)
After licking her fingers that got wet from the fruit juice, she briskly wipes them with a cloth.
“To be honest, if you look at the combat prowess and magic of the demons, even if we run around to escape or somewhat fight to protect everyone, it will be fine for a short time, but I think it will be difficult to do so for an extended period. Zanga-san.” (Reni)
“What’s up?” (Zanga)
“I want you to be frank… can the elves win in a fight of magic vs. magic against the demons, if you had the same number of people?” (Reni)
“That’s impossible.” (Zanga)
Reni agreed to Zanga’s immediate reply with a 「After all, huh?」.
“It’s to the degree that even our honourable ancestors had quite the troubles resulting in many sacrifices until they finally were able to isolate them. It we encounter them directly from the front, it will get slightly harsh.” (Zanga)
There are a lot of hot-blooded fellows among the beastmen and a part of the elves that are loudly insisting on a counter-attack against the demons, but their numbers don’t amount to more than one third of everyone.
The core members, who started out with Reni, basically agreed with her opinion of running away. In their eyes the difference in ability between the demon’s regular army and themselves, who are only a mish-mash gathering, was more than clear.
Besides, in Reni’s eyes, there are some parts she can’t yield on.
“Since that’s how it is, I don’t want to produce casualties by fighting them, though having said that, always running from place to place will be hard as well. If it were only the beastmen, it would be easy to accomplish, but wouldn’t that be harsh on the stamina of the humans or elves?” (Reni)
As for Reni, she was convinced that she’s prepared to even split the group in two at this point.
If there are some who want to fight the demons no matter what, she’d like to let them do that even if they separated from those that don’t wish for that. Reni doesn’t want to drag the people, who came along with her while believing in her, into danger.
“Let’s ask everyone tomorrow. Whether they will go together with us to Hifumi-san’s place or whether they will stay here and fight the demons. Once their opinions become clear, we will bid farewell, I suppose.” (Reni)
Only for an instant Helen felt as if that was a cold opinion of pushing them away, but they are not able to force them.
“Malfas-kun might stay behind. Gengu-san, what do you think?”
“… I will follow you, Reni-san ~ssu! Pwease dun’ abandon me at such place, okay?” (Gengu)
When everyone raised small chuckles due to Gengu playing the fool, Malfas quietly returned to the tent.
“That was fast, wasn’t it? … Did you decide?” (Reni)
Malfast nodded after being called out by Reni.
“Please take care of my younger sister.” (Malfas)
“I see… leave her to us. So, what are you yourself planning to do?” (Zanga)
Once Zanga guaranteed taking care of his younger sister while powerfully hitting her own chest, Malfas bowed his head.
“I will go to the demons. I will enter the demon army and defeat Hifumi together with them.” (Malfas)