Well, here is chapter 50 of my death flags show no sign of ending, I’ll try to get you the next as fast as possible, it’s not edited yet so be indulgent. And I know it’s not perfect, but when translating this fast I got to make a few concessions (two chapters in two days is quite a lot for me). With that being said, enjoy!
―― Five years ago.
It was the year 933 of the Loiza calendar, in the Amagir kingdom.
A few hours prior, Harold had been sentenced to decapitation, and was currently locked against his will inside the jail in the tribunal’s underground area.
Meanwhile, Cody was standing in Vincent’s office.
【”Why the hell would Harold need to be executed?!”】
Cody pressed Vincent for answers with an uncharacteristically bitter expression.
But Vincent’s expression looked equally bitter, like he had just swallowed a bug.
【”Except for myself, everyone agreed with this judgement, including the commander, Mister Cox. They haven’t even checked the facts yet, this punishment is just too heavy…”】
There certainly were some oddities surrounding Harold, and he was suspected of being a spy, so this was not completely baseless.
Even so, the tribunal had jumped over too many steps, it would be hard for anyone to say that justice had been served.
【”…..What you’re saying is that someone put the squeeze on the judges?”】
【”I’m afraid so. We’ll have to find who that is if we want to the cancel the execution.”】
Although Vincent had his thoughts concerning Harold, he did not think he committed a crime deserving of being killed.
Hence why he gave Cody a rough report on the circumstances.
His suspicions towards Harold might not have been completely dispelled, but he still was against the execution.
【”So the deadline is in a week…”】
There was too little time. Asking Cody to look for the one pulling the strings in such a short period was like asking him to find a needle in a haystack.
Besides, knowing who the puppet master was wouldn’t necessarily equate stopping him.
However, not doing anything would have mean letting Harold die.
So any plan was a good plan, no matter how impossible it seemed.
And so, Cody and his friends started actively taking action, trying to find solutions, but the situation took a turn for the worst the very next day.
After his execution was decided, some bad rumors concerning Harold started spreading within the knight order. These rumors traveled to the streets in no time.
Through word of mouth, the contents of the deliberations had been maliciously twisted, with no regard for the facts.
This was what convinced Cody that someone was trying to kill Harold.
With the spread of the rumor, the execution would no longer seem so out of place.
After the rumors reach that stage, Harold’s bad reputation naturally landed in the ears of a certain girl.
【”I deeply apologize for my repeated unplanned visits.”】
The girl bowing down and politely apologizing to Cody was Erica, Harold’s fiancée.
This was not her first time paying Cody a visit.
Her motives were clear. She wanted to know where the truth stopped and the lies started in those malicious rumors with no known source to speak of. She wanted to know if Harold had truly been sentenced to death.
But the reality was that Cody himself hadn’t quite grasped the situation yet, so there weren’t many things he could tell her anyway.
Harold was sentenced to decapitation, that he knew for a fact, but Erica was his fiancée and was still a child.
Cody was extremely troubled over whether he should tell her or not.
In the meantime, since she was a guest, he led Erica to the same guest room as the day before. Upon entering inside, her female attendant took position in a corner of the room without uttering a word.
Sitting face to face with Erica, Cody immediately cut to the chase.
【”How can I help you today… Is not what you want to hear, right?”】
【”Yes. I’d like you to tell me about sir Harold’s situation and the tribunal’s decision.”】
【”…Frankly speaking, his situation is very bad. Knowing that, do you still want me to tell you?”】
【”Yes, if you please.”】
Erica answered without a tinge of hesitation.
She had already assumed the worst. That was amazing for a girl her age.
【”First of all, it’s no lie that the he was sentenced to decapitation. If nothing’s done, in six days, Harold will be executed .”】
Upon hearing this, Erica closed her eyes to settled her mind and lightly breathed in and out.
The next moment, she was looking calmly at Cody again.
【”…”If nothing is done”, you said, does that mean there is something we can do about it?”】
The girl had kept her calm and read through the real meaning hidden behind Cody’s words.
As expected of Harold’s fiancée, she’s quite straightforward, he thought.
【”Sorry for raising your expectations but I can’t definitively make that claim. It’s a very bad gamble.”】
【”It doesn’t matter as long as there is even just a glimmer of hope of saving sir Harold.”】
Erica did not understand the desperate circumstances but that did not mean she hadn’t accepted them.
Even after taking in all the facts, she did not waver and only thought about saving Harold.
Cody checked the surroundings to make sure that nobody was listening in.
It should be alright to tell her, he thought.
【”Normally, it would be impossible to overturn the tribunal’s decision. But this trial was far from normal.”】
Cody told Erica the details of the matter without concealing anything.
He told her about how the judgement was too rushed. About how Harold’s words and actions had been completely ignored, while the option of executing him had been very much pushed forward.
Listening to all this, the faces of Erica and her attendant gradually became stiff.
【”…This is the situation Harold has been put in. There is definitely someone who’s trying to kill Harold.”】
【”Who is it?”】
【”Sorry to say but…”】
Cody shook his head left and right with desperation in his eyes.
He was ashamed to admit it, but he really had no idea who it was.
【”We gotta search for that person using the time we have left. But even if we do find that person, there is no guarantee that it will save Harold.”】
If Cody had to be frank, he felt like they were already in a state of checkmate.
It was close to impossible to turn the tide at this point.
But perhaps because she was not aware of that that, Erica did not give in to sorrow and despair.
【”In that case, we need to start moving immediately. Sir Cody, who were the people who held the discussions in the tribunal?”】
【”Huh? Well, if I’m not mistaken there were six members of the tribunal, adding to that was the commander of the knight order, the vice-commander, and the commanding officer of the expeditionary units. Among them, only the vice-commander opposed the execution.”】
It was protocol to gather an odd number of members for the deliberations, during which they would have multiple discussion before proceeding to a vote.
Nine people was the maximum number of members per discussion.
This why a sentence being decided upon after only two weeks for such a serious deliberation was abnormal.
【”And what is your standpoint, sir Cod?”】
【”To be honest, it’s in my principles to bet on the winning horse. But this time only I’m ready to help the losing side.”】
Cody smiled wryly in embarrassment.
Seeing that, Erica displayed a light smile.
Does she have some more faith in me now? He wondered.
【”Well then, would you please hand me a list of those who approved the execution? If you could give me their names, the position they occupy, and their backgrounds, that would more than suffice.”】
【”I can prepare that but….”】
【”Then please do. Yuno, go prepare the boat for boarding. I’ll catch up afterwards.”】
Erica gave her instructions without hesitation.
Her attendant bowed to her and hurriedly left.
As for Cody, he told Erika to【”Please wait a moment.”】and went back to his room.
Inside, there was a pile of documents among which was a list of the people who participated in the deliberations.
He went back to the guest room and handed it to Erica.
【”There you go. So, what are you planning to do?”】
【”….I’m ashamed to say it but I don’t have the power to change the situation. I’ll deliver this list to my father and I’ll have him appeal for a withdrawal of the judgement and a retrial.”】
The current head of the Sumeragi family was Tasuku Sumeragi.
Even among the people of the Royal capital, there were many who knew the name.
His influence was not to be compared to that of an average noble.
If the Sumeragi family raised its voice loud enough, other nobles would follow suit.
As for whether that would enough to overturn the judgement, the answer was no.
【”Also, in parallel to that, we’ll do a background check on the members of the deliberations. We have no other choice than to investigate and find out all we can about who they had contact with before the verdict was given. The time will not be enough to trace back to the source of the rumors…”】
【”Leave that part to me. Some stories are only caught by the citizens’ own information network. Even though I might not look the part, I have quite a bit of influence with the town’s people.”】
Usually, during his daily patrols, when he skipped on his work for his so-called breaks, Cody would stop by various shops to get some favors.
Thanks to that, though he was never spoken well of, Cody had vast connections with the citizens of the royal capital when compared to the other knights.
【”The vice-commander Vincent will investigate the Commander. We can leave it to him, he can do it.”】
Cody trusted that Vincent would somehow manage to find the information as long as they asked.
Having likely perceived Cody’s trust towards Vincent, Erica nodded in agreement.
【”Alright, so, Vincent will be responsible for the commander, and I’ll investigate the troops’ commanding officer and the source of the bad rumors.”】
【”The Sumeragi household will put its whole into investigating and persuading the remaining members of the deliberations.”】
At last, they had established each other’s roles.
Though they had included Vincent who was not present, Cody deemed it would no problem to get his approval afterwards.
In any case, the ‘Rescue Harold Alliance’ had just been formed.
And they weren’t likely to get any sleep for the coming week.
【”Well then, I must get going. You have my sincere gratitude for your cooperation, sir Cody.”】
【”Ah, hold on.”】
Unable to control his impetuous mood, Cody called Erica to a halt.
Perhaps he was about to put his nose where it did not belong, but he wanted to do this no matter what.
【”Look, I know asking you to not stress yourself out is a big ask, but I’ll do it anyway. Even if all this doesn’t work out, I can still break into the tribunal during the final deliberations and save him, so don’t stress yourself out. If you leave some yourself headroom, and calmly think things through, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture better.”】
【”Breaking into the tribunal, you say? If you do such a thing, won’t you be removed from the knight order, sir Cody?”】
【”If that happens, please hire me at the Sumeragi household. I am fairly confident in my sword skills so I’ll be quite useful.”】
【”Hehe, is that so? If that time does come, I’ll discuss it with my father.”】
Saying so, Erica showed a smile that could enchant anyone regardless of age or gender.
Cody might just have managed to relax Erica’s tension ever so slightly.
When she was told about Harold’s situation, only her face was calm, her hands were tightened to the point of turning white.
She felt utterly despaired and afraid of losing Harold.
Her shoulders were faintly shaking, as well.
It felt like she was going to madly rush head on with her eyes closed to shake off her fear.
However, to save Harold, she had to stay calm.
The escape routes were too narrow and unreliable.
Rushing ahead would not cut it.
【”Please hold on to this feeling.”】
【”Yes. Thank you, sir Cody.”】
With a relaxed bow, Erica withdrew from the guest room. This time, she had left for good.
【”…She’s a strong kid.”】
Cody spontaneously said those words out loud, even though he was left by himself in the room.
What he saw in the girl was not an external kind of strength like the ability to fight, rather, it was an internal type of strength, the strength of a solid heart, the type that stuck to the soul.
One could only wonder how much care she had for Harold, and yet she tried to keep calm even when a person that dear to her had fallen in such an awful predicament.
Or perhaps it was precisely because he was in such a predicament that she could bring herself to stay calm.
Cody could did not quite know what was going through her mind.
What he did know was that he was absolutely going to free Harold, for both his sake and Erica’s.
These thoughts were lighting a fire in Cody’s heart.
It felt to him like there was a voice resounding in his mind, telling him to confront the cruel reality without backing away.
And if that meant he would be banned from the knight order, then it was all the better.
【”Welp, helping kids who try their best is what adults are here for, right?”】
Is that what being a parent feels like? Suddenly having these sorts of reflections, Cody felt goosebumps.