Chapter~ So I was really busy last week with real life stuff, and since this is just a side hobby, I decided to not put the cart before the horse and focused on real life stuff. As for this week……well, let’s just say that Classroom of the Elite is a really good light novel series okay? (Side note: I’ve been listening to Goodbye Declaration for the last 4 hours now, I can’t unhear it, and that’s fine, probably)
Kato -> Katou
Kudo -> Kudou
First, I decided to tell the story from our side.
Two months ago, what happened at Fort Tillia? At that place, what did we do? ……Though, Katou-san and Rose, who are here, weren’t at the fort at that time. The only one who could talk about the situation in detail was me.
During the narration, Iino seemed to want to open her mouth many times, but for the time being, she listened to our side of the story until the end.
Next, it was Iino’s turn.
Iino’s success in going to the depths of the sea of trees, and rescuing the other transferees……didn’t interest me, so I got her to cut it short, and listened to her about after she arrived at Fort Tillia.
“I see. Iino stopped by Seratta huh”
I gave Iino’s story a nod to show I was listening, but then I tilted my head.
“……Then, you caught up with us pretty quickly didn’t you”
Iino returned to Fort Tillia, forty days after heading to the depths of the sea of trees.
Since we’ve left Fort Tillia, it’s been close to exactly two months, so Iino caught up to us in just twenty days.
Moreover, that was after stopping by Seratta, then going to Fort Ebenus, and passing the information to the expedition force’s leader. Although it wasn’t a hurried journey for us, that was still an extraordinary speed.
“Up until I left the sea of trees, I was with everyone who was rescued plus the Imperial Knights, but after that I was alone. To get to Seratta, took two days since it were my legs”
“So you ran……”
……Even if it were a fast horse running, it should take four days though.
“It took another two days from Seratta to Fort Ebenus”
“As expected of [Idaten]”
Leaving for the sea of trees from Fort Tillia and returning from it, is usually something that takes about a week on foot.
With the remaining students accompanying her, Iino too, should’ve taken that much time.
So, subtracting 20 days from when she left Fort Tillia, it would be about two weeks. Even if we account for the time it took us to reach the Kittles Mountains, we should have still been here for ten days, so there should have been quite a bit of a margin.
I couldn’t help but be amazed.
“So, when Iino was at Seratta, a man named Louis told you that I was one of the people who attacked Fort Tillia?”
A man who leads the Margrave McLaughlin’s army. Louis-Bard.
It seemed that he was the cause of this incident.
Or perhaps, given his position, rather than the cause being the man himself, it may be the person standing behind him.
Katou-san, who had been listening to our conversation, tilted her head.
“What Iino-san heard, about Margrave McLaughlin’s personality……is completely different from what we have heard”
“What. You mean to say that I’m lying?”
Iino turned her stare towards Katou-san.
“That isn’t what I said”
“Then, it’s Louis-san? I only talked with Louis-san for a short time, but I’m sure that he’s a sincere person”
“Don’t snap at her, Iino”
I, interrupted the conversation between the two.
“We too, have heard about him一一Silane isn’t the type to speak lies. We don’t know who’s right. People would, when seen by different people, be looked at differently after all”
As for me, I want to believe in Silane’s words, but Iino went as far as to say all that. Perhaps, the man named Louis was a good person with a strong sense of justice, and this may be a situation born from a mere misunderstanding. Maybe that was why, this situation had become such a mess.
Or, maybe he was a despicable con man who deceived Iino.
I don’t know.
But, that wasn’t a big problem.
The problem is simply the fact that he……that’s to say, the Margrave McLaughlin behind him, thinks that I’m one of the ones who were behind the attack on Fort Tillia.
How, did it come to that?
The leader of the Alliance Knights, who should know the truth of the situation, should have been brought to the Imperial Capital to be held responsible for the fall of Fort Tillia.
The one who detained her, was Margrave McLaughlin.
The circumstances of the fall of Fort Tillia, as well as about Juumonji and Kudou, I know that Margrave McLaughlin received an explanation about those from Leader-san.
Assuming so, Margrave McLaughlin didn’t believe what she said huh.
Even so, that was nothing strange. Margraves of the McLaughlin house, and the five northern countries, including Akel, have historically been at odds, and above all, my ability to lead monsters, is something unacceptable in this world.
In fact,since it was the other monster user, Kudou, that attacked the fort, some suspicion is inevitable.
Or, it could simply be that there was a miscommunication, there’s a chance of that as well.
In any case, from what I’ve heard, taking Silane to Akel was, in the end, the correct choice for me.
Regardless of how great the power of the Margrave McLaughlin is, he can’t reach out to another country. Doing something forceful would result in war, and the Templar Knights1 would move to crush him……that’s something I heard in the past.
“If you have nothing to be ashamed of, then you should surrender yourself to the Empire”
That’s why, what Iino was insisting, was something completely unthinkable for me.
“Putting aside the matter about Louis-san for the time being……You said that you fought the criminal who attacked Fort Tillia right? If we assume that that’s was true, then I think that you did the right thing”
“……The right thing?”
When I returned the question back to her while frowning, Iino nodded.
“But, if that’s the truth, then shouldn’t you go back to the Empire, and cooperate with our investigation? That way, you could prove your innocence couldn’t you. On the other hand, if what you said earlier was a lie, then I couldn’t just let you go unchecked. Either way, Majima should get a fair trial”
I mumbled, and looked at Iino’s face.
Somehow, I felt as if I’d grasped the principles for the actions she took.
“In short, securing suspects, is Iino’s job. The judgement from that moment onwards, is left to another suitable person”
I guess that that wasn’t an overstep of irresponsibility.
No detective can imitate a judge. Catching the suspect, interrogating them, and sorting the evidence. Iino understood that that was all she could do, and in actuality, she was just trying to manipulate us.
If there was a problem, there was only one.
“But, the guarantee that it would be done fairly, where is it?”
“This isn’t Japan. There’s no guarantee that a fair judgement will be made. Am I wrong?”
For Iino, this might have been something taken for granted.
In response to my question, she stammered.
“That’s……that’s probably the case, though”
Without a rebuttal, she simply let her gaze fall.
Strangely, what came up in my heart when I looked at her, was a slight disappointment.
‘Was Iino Yuna merely just someone who didn’t think after all?’
When I wondered that.
“I got it”
Contrary to my expectations, Iino immediately lifted her face.
A sharp look, shot through my eyes head on.
“Then, until a proper and fair judgement is made, I will stay with you, and protect you. That’s fine for me”
Her tone was completely serious.
“Until then, I won’t allow anyone to touch you no matter who they are. I promise”
“……Do you understand what you’re saying?”
“Don’t make light of me. No matter who it is, is what I said. No matter, is no matter you know”
Iino, said that clearly.
There was no reward for that task. And yet, she seemed to have no hesitation.
From what I could see, Iino’s attitude, didn’t seem to contain any lies.
Of course, this is just what she’s saying right now.
Even if she’s serious here, she might get intimidated when the time comes.
However, Iino was, in reality, a person who tried to save Katou-san without hesitation in that urgent situation. ‘Because it’s advantageous because it’s disadvantageous,’ I know that she’s not the type to think such things in her head.
And also, one more thing……
I, glanced at Katou-san.
Earlier, Katou-san used an imitation flash magic stone to take away Iino’s vision, and then stabbed a knife into her thigh.
In response to that, Iino didn’t fight back.
On the contrary, she didn’t even reflexively shake Katou-san off, and just fell into the river below the cliff just like that.
If she was roughly shaken around by [Idaten], who was famous even within the Colony, that alone, might have broken Katou-san’s body as if it were a matchstick. Because she knew that, Iino didn’t fight back even when she was attacked.
If a person’s true nature is revealed in how they respond on the spur of the moment, then at the very least, Iino’s resolve isn’t fake.
In short, for me to judge Iino’s words as mere lip service here, wouldn’t be fair.
That’s also what Katou-san was saying earlier.
Iino said that for example, ‘even if she hadn’t been treated as a hero in this world, she would’ve probably acted the same way as she was now.’
Perhaps, if Iino wasn’t able to be pushed back by Katou-san’s quick wittedness, even if I’d gotten beaten to a pulp, we might have exchanged the same words with Iino in this way.
If I were to have told her that I couldn’t trust the Empire then, then she might have taken responsibility, and stayed with me until the end.
Iino Yuna is an unthinking, extremely annoying nuisance to me……However, she isn’t simply a flippant person.2
At the very least, she has something that could be called conviction.
I don’t have the qualifications to denounce her.
“一一There seems to be a misunderstanding, so let me tell you something”
I, tossed a few words to Iino, who was staring at me.
“I didn’t fight Juumonji and Kudou at Fort Tillia, because I thought it was the right thing or anything. I fought, because there were people I wanted to protect”
At Fort Tillia, there were Silane and Kei with whom I deepened my relationships with, and my friend Mikihiko.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have any righteous indignation against the loss of life, but like Iino now, I didn’t fight for that reason alone.
My arms are far too weak for that.
In the first place, it’s difficult to protect even those that I want to protect.
That’s why, if it’s necessary in order to protect Lily and the others, I’m willing to do anything.
As a result, if this world’s justice were to turn against Lily and the others, I will also become evil. Exactly as Silane said, I wouldn’t have any regrets even if I were to turn into [something] that’s neither a human nor a monster.
That, is the path I’ve chosen.
Ever since the time I decided to be with Lily and the others, I’ve been prepared.
‘If I had overwhelming power like Iino, perhaps, there might’ve been another path,’ it isn’t as if I hadn’t thought that.
I don’t believe that the path I’ve chosen is the right one.
I mean, wouldn’t you agree?
Important things, as well as those that aren’t, if you can say that you’ll protect everything with a smile, then there’s nothing better.
That’s a perfect answer, just as if it were a gem.
All other answers, are made to seem like stones, it’s an unattainable ideal.
And in a way, the girl named Iino Yuna in front of me, embodied that ideal.
“Aah, that makes sense. So……?”
As I realized a single thing, I smiled bitterly.
Since a while ago, I’ve been subconsciously annoyed at Iino for some reason. Why is it, that I’ve been unable to control my emotions?
Feeling somewhat refreshed, I let out a few words to Iino.
“Apparently, I hate you”
This, was envy.
By nature, it was only natural to feel even more annoyed because someone you didn’t like had hurt someone you cared about.
“What’s with that!”
Iino, who had a dumbfounded face, immediately bit back at me indignantly.
“So, you’re saying that you can’t stand coming back to the Empire with me!?”
“No. That’s that and this is this, it’s another problem”
I shook my head.
Like and hate, I’m not stupid enough to make a decision based on that.
Certainly, Iino may act in a way that we wouldn’t be unjustly despised.
However, even if it’s [Idaten], there’s no way to 100% guarantee our safety. To me, there was no reason to dare to take the risk of stepping into such a dangerous place.
Besides, although Iino has a decent sense of justice, rather, because of that, whether she would protect the monsters, Lily and the others, as well, was doubtful.
In conclusion, her proposal is rejected.
Sorry, but Iino will have to return to the Empire alone and empty handed.
“Rather, shouldn’t you be worrying about yourself?”
I reached for my clothes, which were spread on some river stones. I left them near the fire, so they were getting dry to some extent.
Looking up at me as I stood up and grabbed my clothes, Iino gave out an impatient voice.
“Wai, please wait. Where do you think you’re going!?”
“Nowhere and anywhere, because Lily’s about to arrive here at any moment”
As I passed my arms through the sleeves of my clothes, I replied.
Katou-san quickly followed my lead and raised herself up, and Rose handed her her clothes. Only Iino remained seated, her face becoming pale.
“By any chance, you’re not going to leave me her right?”
“What will we do, Katou-san?
When I turned towards the water, Katou-san, who had just poked her head out of her collar with a puha, blinked her eyes in surprise.
“That’s right huh. If you do your best, then you could make your way down the mountain within a week no? Even with your upper body alone, you can at least fight off monsters yes?”
“You want me to crawl!?”
Katou-san tilted her head to the aghast Iino.
“But, Iino-san. You will attack us when you recover yes?”
Iino averted her eyes. It seems that she’d hit the bull’s-eye.
Seeing her like that, Katou-san spoke with an amazed voice.
“Since Iino-san is like that, even Majima-senpai, couldn’t ask Lily-san to cast recovery magic on you, is that not rather natural?”
A bitter expression appeared on Iino’s strong-willed looking face.
However, she seemed to realize that there wasn’t anything she could do. Eventually, Iino’s shoulders slumped.
“I-, I get it. I promise not to catch you”
“I cannot trust you”
“N, no wayy……!”
Katou-san replied instantly.
Iino looked like a strangled chicken, pakupaku opening and closing her mouth.
“It’s the truth! I won’t catch you! I’m not lying I swear!”
“Even if you say that. I mean, Majima-senpai does not believe in Iino-san either yes?”
“Agu, th, that’s……a, at least take me to the start of the mountain path please! Because if I make it that far, I can go back with the horse I left behind”
Katou-san’s reply was a bit mean, probably because she didn’t have the same good sentiments for Iino as I did.
I smiled a little, and turned back to see the signs of Lily’s approach.
“Taking you back to the start, how long do you believe it will take to return back?”
“H, how many days will it take?”
“From when we entered the mountain path, it has been over ten days. On the way though, we often stopped for the sake of repairing the road, but even if we do not need to do so on the way back, I believe that it will take at least three days”
“Th, that much……?”
“I mean, Iino-san, why do you not know how long it would take? You, came this far on your own feet yes?”
“I, caught up with you guys half a day after I entered the mountain path so……”
While listening to the two’s conversation, I waited for Lily.
Noticing that I was a little restless, I smiled wryly.
Even if I knew she was safe, I couldn’t settle down without seeing her face directly.
Still a bit more huh. It should be any moment now…… .
“Mana. Do you have a moment?”
“What is it, Rose-san?”
“I apologize for interrupting your conversation. I have something to inquire of Iino-san……”
When I was about to say something, Rose stopped me.
The narrow riverbank where we had been sitting. On the other side, squeezing through the bushes, the figure of a girl appeared.
When I called her name, her pretty face, suddenly lit up with a smile.
Lily took a quick look at my body from top to bottom, and exhaled as if relieved.
Then, she opened her mouth in response to my call.
Within the affection, was a voice filled with girlish yearning.
Even though we were only apart for a short time, relief slowly spread in my heart.
Probably, in me, there’s a part that doesn’t want to be separated from her for even a moment.
When that suddenly appeared on my face for a moment, I once again realized that I was helplessly in love, feeling ticklish.
My precious, dear Lily.
一一From her eye socket, a rugged lump of iron shot out.
A sword mercilessly pierced the girl from the back of her head.
Penetrating through her eyeball, the sharp edge pointed towards me.
I stopped thinking.
I couldn’t understand the scene in front of me.
What, in the world happened……?
With a small cry, Lily, whose mimicked brain was destroyed, wobbled.
The sword was pulled out.
Without understanding what happened, I watched as her body collapsed.
The mimicry immediately began again. However, Lily sustained heavy damage from her mimicked central nervous system, and temporarily went unconscious, unable to get up. She probably didn’t even know what happened to her own body.
I didn’t know either.
But, if I were to only describe the scene reflected in front of me with words一一it, was that it was a disaster in the shape of a boy.
“I’ve finally got you back. Miho nee-chan”
With an innocent voice that didn’t sound like that of an assailant, the boy laughed.
He was a boy who was left with some sort of a mischievous childishness.
His figure, wearing a cloak over tattered clothes, looked like that of a vagrant at first glance.
However, if you were to look closely, his tattered clothes were the uniform of the school we used to go to, and the sword in his hand was adorned with several jewels inlaid with gems, the liquid dripping from its cutting edge to the ground, was the body fluid that clung on as a result of hurting Lily.
And, his pair of eyes contained an aberrant shine.
If you were to meet him at night, everyone would avert their eyes from him. It was that kind of a dangerous light.
He waited for Lily’s mimicry to finish, and waved the hand that wasn’t holding the sword.
What emerged from the cuff of his frayed uniform, was a chain that rang with a jarajara.
The ring-shaped parts that made up the chain were of a blue close to black. It was finely ornamented, it was clear that it was a magic tool.
The wriggling chain, bound the unconscious Lily.
When the boy pulled back his wrist, the chain carried Lily’s body to him.
“From now on, I’ll protect you properly”
The boy politely held the unconscious Lily as if he were handling a fragile object.
“It couldn’t be……”
Seeing the boy’s figure, Katou-san uttered so in a blurred voice.
“Wh, why, are you in this place!?”
Looking terribly upset, Iino shouted.
That, was the name of the childhood friend of Miho Mizushima, who Lily was mimicking.
The poor boy who couldn’t protect the girl he saw as precious, bared his fangs at us.
- Was it called the Temple Knights before? I can’t remember…
- The term used here is (お調子者), which seems to mean something like a liar, or a person who doesn’t take things seriously.