Climb was powerless in the face of Evileye’s threats.
If I rendezvoused with Brain — if I informed Tina of the current situation… While Climb pondered, the unusual situation among the members of Blue Rose continued to unfold.
Tia appeared to be muttering something to Lakyus.
“I’ve been making observations for quite a while now, looking for ways to kill Lakyus…Normal methods would be resisted, so a combination of magic and poison would have to be used. That is the only way to do it. Surely not even you could resist the effect of multiple poisons simultaneously, right? Evileye, it’s your turn.”
Confused, grovelling, and saddened. Pain was not the only thing conveyed through Lakyus’ expression, what stood out amongst them all was her inability to understand what was happening at all. Evileye casted a spell at her.
“I get it. [Resist Weakening]… No use. She resisted it.”
(TL’s note: would have went with [Resistance Weakening] but the Engrish in the furigana has spoken)
Gagaran landed yet another hit on Lakyus’ belly, the part of her body that she had minimized her own stature to protect, like a turtle retreating into its shell. Tia took out a new needle and stabbed it into Lakyus without any hesitation.
“[Resist Weakening]…alright. Now then — [Charm Person]. Done. Good job, you two. We did it.”
Gagaran and Tia pulled away from Lakyus.
“Lakyus, quick, heal yourself.”
“Yes, understood. Tia, could you help me pull these out?”
Lakyus spoke as if nothing had happened. The terror of mind control made Climb tremble with fear.
Just as Tia was about to do it, Evileye raised her voice to stop her in her tracks.
“Don’t. If you inflict pain on her now, you’ll be treated as a hostile and the magic may be dispelled. Lakyus, sorry but pull them out yourself. Those shouldn’t have pierced too deeply.”
“Its purpose was only to inject the poison, so the needle itself isn’t too thick…it’s the type that would be rendered ineffective if you were wearing armour.”
“I know, but pulling it out myself will still require a bit of resolve.”
Lakyus bit down on her lower lip and pulled the needle out. She then began to cast healing magic on the hole.
“Gagaran. Open the window and let some air in… What should we do about the blood on the floor?”
“Most of it was absorbed by her dress so not much made it onto the floor. No need to worry about it.”
Renner replied calmly. Everybody other than him was speaking in such a tranquil manner that Climb felt like what he was witnessing was an illusion. It was as if he had been transported to an unfamiliar world.
“Woah. Completely unshaken. I knew from the start that you had guts.”
“I do not think so…” Renner said with a puzzled expression, “I just felt that everyone would not just harm each other for no reason at all…but mind control is really scary though…Climb, what did you think about this?”
“Yes, I had the same thought.”
“So…could you tell us why you did this?”
“What if I told you that I won’t?”
“Are you not the least bit apologetic that you have soiled this room?”
Evileye appeared to be laughing behind her mask.
“Alright, nothing I could say about that. The reason is simple. Compared to the Kingdom or whatever else, we believe our companions’ lives to be far more important. That’s about it.”
“Defending the capital was oni boss’ decision anyways. We were against it deep down from the start.”
“But if we told her that, this dumbass would definitely say, ‘then I will defend it on my own’ or something. So, we decided that our only option was to forcefully take her away, but daylight kidnappings aren’t so easy. Neither did we have confidence in our ability to trick her into leaving too, so, though we must apologize to Your Highness the princess for what we’ve done, we had to exploit this opportunity.”
Tia and Gagaran shrugged in agreement. This must have been a collective decision made by Blue Rose barring Lakyus of course. Brain still had not returned yet, so Tina must be keeping him busy.
“But no matter what, this was far too excessive.”
“Haaaah, that’s what I said as well, but these guys—”
“It would be bad if she got on high alert after rejecting our suggestion…to catch an oni…to catch Lakyus out for sure required her to be completely off her guard. This is me speaking from experience.”
“So there is a whole system around this?”
“Aye. We used five types of poison, didn’t let her wear her gear, used debuff magic, and yet still had to rely on luck to see if we could charm her. That was why we had to go through all of this trouble, if even one of those elements was missing, we would have failed. Now then—” Evileye clapped her hands together, “after Tina comes back, we’ll head back to the inn with [Teleportation], pick up Lakyus’ equipment, and teleport out of this city.”
Evileye looked towards Climb and Renner.
“…Oy, opportunities like this won’t come twice. You know I could take you guys along with me, right? I’ll be frank with you, this country is doomed and the fate that awaits the princess of a doomed nation won’t be a pretty one. This might be your last chance at escaping.”
Climb couldn’t help but look towards Renner.
Wasn’t this exactly what he had hoped for?
If it was teleportation, they could escape even if the city was surrounded. Plus, what Evileye had said was the truth. Whatever fate awaited Renner would not be kind at all, nor was there any other way he could foresee this situation playing out. After all, their enemy was a nation of undead that trampled over the innocent.
“I wish to ask a question. Where will you be heading to?”
“Well, first things first, we have to leave this country. About that…we’ll probably be heading Northeast, I think? If we kept moving in that direction, there is a country that fell into ruin long ago. The capital there — we’ll be heading to the ruins cleansed by fire. Since that place is quite a ways away, we will have to teleport multiple times. Mmmm, in any case it’s a faraway land, one that none of you have heard of.”
“Is that so…”
Renner slightly lowered her head. Was she hesitating? Not long after, she lifted her head as if she had made a resolute decision.
“Thank you, but I cannot go.”
“Is that so…”
Evileye did not continue speaking.
Panicked feelings began to arise in Climb’s heart. If that was her decision, then Renner’s fate was set in stone. That was all he could think of.
True loyalty. Was it not what the members of Blue Rose had demonstrated? Should he take Renner to safety, regardless of whether he had to resort to violence or not?
To escape the frustration welling up within him, he looked towards Renner whose smile told him that she understood him completely. This was the expression that graced Climb every time she was about to lay down the truth.
“Climb. As royalty, I must fulfill my duties even if it costs me my life.”
He felt as though he had just been punched.
While Renner’s existence as a person was important to him, of equal value was her status as his royal liege.
In these situations, having to attend to one’s royal duties wasn’t a good thing at all. Yet, Renner, as royalty, as one who cared for her own people, was still willing to stay true to her royal status till the end.
Compared to him, someone whose thoughts were solely on survival, how magnanimous was she?
Climb made his resolve.
His responsibility in the end, will be to let Renner live for as long as possible, even if only for a second more. He will die at the hands of the Sorcerous Kingdom’s army, serving as Renner’s shield till the very end.
At the same time Climb steeled himself, he heard Evileye quietly say, “how rowdy.” Knocks came ringing from the door as it opened, stood outside were Brain and Tina, holding filled trays.
“We found and brought some desserts over.”
“Because the guy next to us had a bone to pick with me, it took a while, were we able to make it— What? What the hell happened here?”
Although the windows were open, Brain was still able to pick up on the faint smell of blood that lingered. He shifted his center of mass downwards as he carefully looked around the room.
“…lady over there. There’s blood on your clothes — did someone suspicious show up?”
“Don’t mind it. Just ask Her Highness about it after we leave.”
Gagaran interrupted Lakyus to say. Perhaps he still felt uneasy, Brain shot a glance at Renner. One could sense the question ‘is everything alright?’ from his eyes alone. If Renner had responded in the negative, he would have probably unsheathed his sword.
“Everything is fine. There is nothing to be on guard for.”
Brain’s gaze turned to Climb.
Climb replied in the same manner as Renner.
“…is that so? That’s good to hear then.”
“Ah, right. Brain Unglaus, I have a question for you. Want to get away from this place?”
Upon hearing Evileye’s question, Brain began to survey the room once more.
“What are those two planning to do?” Brain answered with his own question as his gaze swung towards Climb and Renner. His lips curved into a smile after Evileye shook her head. “Is that so. If that’s the case — no, no matter what, I would not have chosen to run away — there is no point in it anyway… Honestly… I said back then that I’d choose the path of least resistance, now it looks like that was right on the spot.”
“…Really? I thought you’d respond this way, guess I was right.”
The members of Blue Rose gathered around Evileye and suddenly vanished as if they had already bid farewell. All that was left behind of them was the smell of blood and black tea.
This was supposed to be their final farewell, yet it ended so abruptly. But, considering the pain those two must feel when they have no choice but to separate, perhaps there was no better alternative to this farewell.
However, those were Climb’s thoughts, not Renner’s.
She must have been dealt a mental blow, so how should he comfort her? Climb stole a glance at Renner and saw that she was listless. The gentle smile that usually hung on her face was nowhere to be seen, it was like she had put on a mask.
It must have had an extreme impact on her.
Climb stood beside Renner.
“Princess, I can imagine the shock you must be going through right now, but…”
He could not finish his sentence. It was more accurate to say that he did not want to finish that sentence. While he wanted to say that he would stay with her till the end, how could he ever compare to that Adamantite-ranked adventurer, who was both a noblewoman and Renner’s friend. Still, he had to comfort the princess somehow, so he racked his brain.
Maybe his intentions were conveyed well enough, because Renner’s expression suddenly changed. It was back to her normal, gentle smile.
“I’m fine~, Climb…Nevermind that, Brain-san has important matters to attend to does he not?”
“Ahhh… Then, Your Highness, Climb. The timing is about right, it’s time for me to say goodbye. I apologize but I will have to leave now.”
What was this sudden development?
Climb could not understand what Brain was thinking, so he asked a question.
“Where are you going?”
“Hmmm? I plan to challenge the Sorcerer King in single combat. Mmm, I’d most likely lose, but I should be able at the very least cut down one of his subordinates.”
Brain took off the sword he kept by his waist side, threw it towards Climb, and said, “I’m returning this.”
“Wha!? What are you talking about!? The only one fit to wield this sword is the one who inherited Stronoff-sama’s will! Brain-san!”
“Oy oy, I told you back then didn’t I? I am not inheriting his will. First of all, this is one of the national treasures right? It’s not befitting someone as lowly as me. Princess-san, sorry, but please do return this to His Majesty.”
“—Climb, Brain-san has already made his decision.”
“As expected of princess-san, you’re a good woman. That said, I don’t really understand women anyway. Mmmm, how do I put this.” Brain stood upright. “This is probably my last farewell. Princess, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Climb— back then, I was lucky to have met you and Sebas-san. It resuscitated me…and I am grateful for that.”
Brain turned his back on them and began to march forward.
“You and Gazef, it was my honour to have met the both of you.”
As those words fell, Brain’s silhouette disappeared behind the other side of the door.
“…How did it end up this way…Sorcerer King…if only you didn’t exist…”
Everything around Climb was being destroyed. Everything other than what was most important to him had been taken away and even that might not be long for this world. Her time was running out.
“Climb, I want to hand this sword off to father-sama first.”
The depressive mood had gotten a hold on him and those words managed to pull him back. Indeed, until that moment came, he had sworn to give his all to her — to save the woman who had saved him, to serve the person most important to him.
“…say, that, this, umm.” The sounds coming out of Renner’s mouth did not match the atmosphere of the room just then at all. “Can I hold the sword for a moment?”
“Eh? Okay, yes!”
After he handed over the sword, Renner drew it out.
“It is quite heavy.”
Renner handed the sheath to Climb. The blade of the Razor Edge was honed and could cut through armour like paper. Before Climb could say “it’s dangerous,” Renner began to wave the sword around in the air.
Climb was a little shocked. Indeed, because of the weight, her movements were wobbly, causing the tip of the blade to nick the floorboard. That was purely because she did not have enough strength to wield it, because her training still shone through her stance and movements. He could feel the sharpness of the blade from afar. If a man without experience were to swing this sword around, he would not have been able to make the sword gleam the way it did in her hands.
“Uuugh — Hmmm. I’m not too suited for this.”
“N-no, not at all. I believe that if you trained more, you should be able to win against me in a duel.”
“You jest. Plus, it is unlikely that I will ever hold a sword again.”
Renner sheathed the sword after Climb passed it to her and handed it back to Climb.
“Now then, let us head to father-sama’s side, but before then—” Renner looked at herself.
“I need to make some preparations.”
Brain Unglaus walked through the empty streets of the capital. Usually these streets would be bustling with life, yet today not another soul could be seen. Everyone was hiding in their homes out of fear for the Sorcerer King, but Brain knew that would not bring them salvation.
Brain was around Renner for long enough to know that the Sorcerer King had no reason to not destroy the capital.
However, if someone were to ask him “how can we be saved?” he would not know how to respond.
If everybody coordinated and ran from the capital in all directions, surely some of them would make it out alive. That was the only answer he had.
Brain looked towards the buildings along the street, every door and window was shut tight. They must have been nailed shut from the inside so there was no easy way in.
Now…behind those doors there must be a few suicides or even entire families dead…
It was impossible for that to not be the case.
Rumours had already conveyed the terror inflicted by the Sorcerer King’s army.
He thought about how this situation could be turned around if God was willing. If every citizen in the capital could rise up for vengeance — though it would be useless, it would probably give the enemy a good scare. But for that to happen, someone had to unite the people under one banner.
If it were the princess, she could probably achieve it, but she did not seem like she wanted to make such a move.
If it was not me here, but him instead, would things have turned out differently…? Perhaps.
He knew very well that they did not have any chance at victory in a battle, Brain saw it in his eyes when he led the army of 400,000 away. Yet he could not look past the 0.01% — no, the 0.000001% or even 0.0000000001% chance that they could win.
Zanac may have led them on a suicidal mission, but it wasn’t for a pipedream. He had just acted according to their best bet in that scenario
—just like what Brain was about to do.
Brain laughed in his lonesome and felt something.
Has the air…changed?
Nothing had changed in actuality, the capital still smelled the way it always did, but there was a noticeable difference. This was something a warrior could come to understand after experiencing multiple near-death battles. It was somewhat different from a pungent smell, it was a sort of psychological smell.
It was the same smell he smelled back when he and Climb looked towards E-Rantel’s night sky.
The smell of loss and defeat.
Has the Sorcerer King’s army finally made their move?
That was the only reason he could think of for such a sudden change.
An opportunity had come.
If Brain were to not use any tricks when approaching the Sorcerer King, the probability that he could make it to his side was really low. No, that was an understatement — it would be correct to say that he did not have a chance at all.
However, there was a chance that he could accomplish his goal in the midst of the chaos of battle. Of course, that depended on the security situation of the enemy’s camp. Still, to trample over a city as big as the capital would require breaks in formation and subsequently, lowered guards.
Brain stopped walking to mull over his next moves and saw the buttresses turn white.
It was as though white paint had been poured over it.
Wails could be heard from afar.
This was the start of the siege. The wails had come from the temporary shelters built for refugees from other cities near the buttresses. The enemy’s target had to be the castle, so there probably won’t be any refugees running towards Brain — towards the castle.
What should I do? Would it be better to abandon the initial plan once the siege began?
His initial plan was to get out of the capital first and wait for the moment the enemy’s army entered the capital. He was planning to slip past the army in the chaos of the siege to get closer to the Sorcerer King.
However, if the enemy had already made their way into the capital, it would be better for him to hide himself for now, wait for the army to pass over, and then go out of the city walls.
But if he did that, there was a high chance that the Sorcerer King might choose to leave his encampment.He had to first figure out where he was so he wouldn’t waste time running towards nothing.
Perhaps he could hide near the castle and wait till the Sorcerer King led his army inward to strike.
Well, in any case—
All of these plans rely on me hiding myself.
That said, he would not have to perfectly mask his presence like a rogue or assassin. He should be fine as long as he hid out of the enemy’s sight.
While he considered where to best hide himself, the city gates began to crumble. The white shrapnel being splintered off the gates reflected light in such a brilliant and beautiful way that Brain could not help but stop and admire this sight, even in this situation.
Was that…some kind of skill? But if he thought about it, he was about to make an enemy out of the Sorcerer King, one who could summon all sorts of deplorable beings. Nothing should be out of the ordinary for him at this point.
A tiny dot stepped over the collapsed gates. It only appeared tiny because it was so far away, adjusted for perspective it must be a giant compared to the average human.
Even though it had stepped over the threshold, no soldiers were rushing over to stop it. There could only be one reason why.
They were already dead.
Brain’s entire body began to shudder.
That had to be a super monster or something.
The being’s figure slowly began to increase in size, its stride slow and steady.
Brain’s expression became contorted.
This was a being with overwhelming physical strength, so its speed should be on par. To advance through an empty street shouldn’t take it too much time, so why was it wasting so much time—
Ahhh, indeed. They had already breached the capital’s defences, so the ensuing massacre should be easy for them. They could take as much time as they want!
It was then not strange for the enemy to be at ease.
However — Brain squinted and looked towards his slowly approaching yet still far away opponent.
This was the street where he was picked up, forcefully pulled along by Gazef.
This was the street he ran down with Climb to raid the Eight Finger’s facility, where he met Sebas.
This was the street he led the children destined to become the next warrior captains down.
This road was now being stomped upon carelessly by a monster. The road Brain had walked down with everyone he held dear was being stomped on.
Brain changed his mind. He no longer gave a damn about the Sorcerer King. Right here, right now, this monster in front of him—
—he swore to make it pay.
Q: Where are we at?
A: As of this part: page 478/568