Chapter 56 is here, sorry for the delay, I forgot to pay my internet…. Anyway, this chapter was edited by Pepto, who I’m really thankful for.
And defiring translations has a Patreon, where you may support the translations, if you can.
And I’d like to thank all the current Patrons, as well!
Well, I’ll let you read the chapter in peace now, hope you’ll enjoy it! ><
From the stone fountain at the center of the research center’s garden, clean water was flowing smoothly into a basin.
Without sparing a glance at that flow of water or the garden’s blooming flowers, Harold was sitting on a bench with his hands resting on his knees, contemplating the distant sky. But the reflection of that sky was nowhere to be seen in Harold’s eyes. All he could see was the word “Regret,” with all the heavy feelings that came with it.
(I got way too carried away…)
He couldn’t deny that he jumped the gun at getting a reliable friend in Elu, one of the original story’s characters.
However, his opponent was Justus. The last boss.
He should have been more cautious, but as soon as things took a turn for the better, he acted rashly. I’ve been way too bold, he thought bitterly.
The worst part was that Elu could have become his trump card but had now been marked. With Elu under suspicion, the actions he could accomplish without help had become limited.
Like this, the pace of securing people to strengthen Liner’s group was back to its starting point. It could even become worse than what Harold had initially planned if Justus’ surveillance tightened due to his suspicions. Harold was drowning in raging streams of self-loathing.
As he was stricken with that feeling, a person’s shadow approached behind him. Harold’s eyes were still pointed at the sky, but he was somehow able to sense whose presence it was.
【”May I sit here?”】
【”…Why bother asking when you already know the answer?”】
【”But you didn’t reserve this seat, right?”】
Meeting Harold’s sarcasm head on, Elu sat down next to him. However, there was so much distance between the two that another person could fit in the middle.
As they both kept silent, time quietly ran by.
Isn’t it suspicious for the two of us to be alone in such a deserted place? Although Harold had such a reflection, he immediately thought again “it’s too late for that already.”
It was clear as day that Justus’ words were a threat along the lines of 【”I have my eyes on you.”】
So Justus probably wouldn’t question Harold if he insisted that he was having a more in depth chat with Elu. Even if someone approached them, they would notice since their field of view was wide open. They didn’t need to worry about anyone eavesdropping.
As Harold thought about these things, Elu finally opened his mouth. And his first words were an apology.
【”I’m very sorry. Not only did I fail to get the results you hoped for, but I even gave him a chance to press us.”】
Harold couldn’t answer right away.
Elu did not need to apologize. Rather, at that time, it was thanks to Elu’s followup that there was no fatal error. In the first place, Elu’s job was to handle information, and that didn’t prepare him for the role he had been assigned.
The problem was Elu mistakenly blamed himself. He couldn’t get that feeling out of his mind and he was currently in a state of self-loathing.
【”Don’t think too highly of yourself. I told you I didn’t expect much from you.”】
【”…Right, you did say that.”】
【”Look, It’s your problem if you want to feel responsible for my mistakes, but don’t drag that behind you and let it come back to bite us later. If you’re going to get stuck in that state of mind, you better get rid of that shitty guilt of yours right now.”】
【”Are you trying to cheer me up?”】
【”Do you really think that’s possible?”】
【”Guess not. Oh well, If that’s how it is, then I suppose I’ll just switch my mood.”】
Elu raised both of his arms to the sky and stretched himself. Perhaps it was Harold’s imagination, but Elu’s voice and countenance seemed to become lighter.
He took a deep breath, and then, he continued talking with a somewhat worried face.
【”The issue is that, while I can recover like this, Lifa cannot.”】
【”It seems like she regrets reflexively taking Justus’ invitation.”】
Lifa had misunderstood. The one who allowed her to follow him and convinced her to come along to the research center later on was Harold himself, Lifa was just used and dragged into this.
Normally, from Lifa’s point of view, she would stand to gain more from associating with Justus than Harold. Well, that eventuality would be troublesome so Harold wasn’t going to prevent her from siding with himself.
Unable to comprehend Harold’s facial expressions, Elu seemed confused.
【”Is it that surprising? Anyone would be worried when getting in their friend’s way.”】
【”…I don’t recall making friends with that girl.”】
【”Maybe, but you sure don’t have many friends.”】
Said Elu while looking at Harold with a surprised look. And Harold couldn’t really argue with that.
When speaking of friends, the first person to come to his mind was Itsuki. Though Harold hadn’t seen much of him lately, their friendship was still going. They had been friends for nearly eight years.
(TLN: Itsuki = Erica’s big brother)
However, Harold couldn’t come up with anyone else.
Strictly speaking, Liner, who he fought in the competition five years ago, wasn’t really his friend. The same went for Robinson, Sid, and Elen, who were Harold’s classmates in the Knight Order. He hadn’t seen them since his dismissal.
And although Harold was mentally older than Zen, the servant at the Stokes residence, their physical ages were too disparate, so they never achieved a great sense of comradeship. As for Erica, she and Harold were like cats and dogs.
In conclusion, Harold’s only friend was Itsuki. Thinking back upon his situation again, his interpersonal relationships were frail, and his friends few. But that was only natural since Harold’s mouth would spit insults whenever he initiated contact with someone or anyone else approached him.
As Harold was finding excuses for himself, his mouth let out the words of a sore loser.
【”Things like friends are a waste of time.”】
【”But that depends from one person to another, doesn’t it? And in Lifa’s case, friendship seems to be important.”】
Harold was no stranger to that feeling, even though it was a mystery why she would recognize him as a friend after the ridicule he put her through on their journey here. Nevertheless, if Harold casually went to comfort her, his unrestrained words would only add fuel to the fire.
But judging from Elu’s words, Lifa was feeling considerably down, so Harold wanted to at least indirectly tell her not to worry.
However, now was not the time.
【”Hmph, who cares?”】
The truth was that he did care, but there was something he wanted to speak of with Elu so he forcibly changed the topic. He had better tell Elu now while there was still little worry of someone eavesdropping.
【” Leaving that aside, bastard, I’ll tell you about the job I’ve granted you.”】
Sensing the change in atmosphere, Elu adjusted himself.
There were two things that Harold wanted Elu to do. But before that, he had to explain to Elu about the group that he made, under the radar, by recruiting people throughout his missions.
【”You’ll get the power to make use of the organization that I’ve started.”】
【”It’s a mercenary group called『Frieri』.”】
In the game, Frieri was a mercenary group started by Cody, after he resigned from the knight order, by recruiting fallen mercenaries. That organization did basically everything, be it escort missions, war, monster subjugation or even looking for various things.
However, due to Harold’s many actions, Cody didn’t leave the knight order. On the contrary, he got promoted further than he ever was in the original story.
Based on the game, there were events that were supposed to be cleared by cooperating with Frieri, but a major premise of that happening was Cody’s resignation from the knight order. Without that, Frieri wouldn’t come to exist. In short, Harold was afraid that this would interfere with the progress of the original story.
Fortunately, Tasuku left a portion of the revenue generated by LP farming in Harold’s name, so there were no financial troubles with the early expenses.
【”I’ll get to make use of them? I’ve never commanded a battle before.”】
【”That will be handled by the men on site. I’m giving you the authority to decide whether Frieri should take action or not. And you may also mobilize them.”】
【”…Are you seriously going to give that kind of authority to a newcomer like me?”】
Harold wanted to tell him that he knew where he was coming from. This position was Hardly fitting for Elu.
However, Harold could see that Elu had it in him to eventually make it. He was someone who could use a plethora of information to get a correct, extensive, and profound understanding of a situation. Even though it would be difficult for him to handle battle command and tactics, he could demonstrate his abilities when it came to managing an organization.
Above all, Harold’s group was short-handed and just didn’t have anyone better than Elu to take command of Frieri. And if Harold couldn’t make friends with Elu then he would have to leave the role to one of the other mercenaries he had gathered. But he suspected that bunch would overdo it either way.
【”I’ll establish the organization’s course of action and give out the essential instructions. Your role will be to handle the other, smaller instructions, and to mobilize Frieri when I’m in a position where I can’t make a move myself.”】
【”That’s quite easy to say, but really, it’s a big responsibility, isn’t it?”】
Good grief, said Elu as he let out a sigh.
That’s the only reaction he showed while speaking of a “big responsibility.” And yet, he murmured to himself【”Could this be a show of trust…?”】, but the truth was that he made this mutter audible on purpose.
Since it didn’t seem necessary for Harold to give any importance to this, he naturally just disregarded Elu.
【”By the way, how many people are there in Frieri?”】
【”There are 14 people, but that’s not enough. You must make use of your clan’s information network and scout some capable people.”】
【”That’s fine, but what about the money? Without a reasonable amount, It’s going to be hard to entice mercenaries. “】
【”If you’re talking about the small change you’ll need to hire mercenaries, just name the price and I’ll pay.”】
Harold was being serious, his capital had increased to a significant sum. If Harold didn’t have to worry about death flags and the future collapse of the world, he could retire right away and live a full, comfortable life.
Well, if he hadn’t possessed Harold’s body in the first place, then it would have been complicated for him to develop the LP farming method and rebuild the Sumeragi family.
【”How generous. Where on earth did you get that kind of money?”】
【”You don’t need to know.”】
【”Too bad. Well, I get the gist of the situation, now I’d like to see that Frieri group with my own eyes to get a sense of it but…”】
Elu cut himself off with a worried groan. His line of sight was turned towards the research center’s buildings.
To be more precise, he was probably looking at the reception room where he had been with Justus just before. That alone was enough for Harold to understand that Elu felt badly about his slip of the tongue.
There was no doubt Justus had marked Elu as a suspicious individual in the earlier meeting. And was it really possible for someone as careful as Justus to let a person of interest like Elu roam around freely?
This was no place for optimism. Getting carried away could only end badly. From here, Elu had to assume Justus was always watching his every action.
【”If you have a method to slip through that guy’s surveillance, we can go right now.”】
【” Let’s hold off on that. Well, I mean, I did think of a method, but considering the current conditions, I have a request.”】
【”I’d like to get in touch with Frieri by myself. So I want you to give me something to prove that I was sent by you.”】
【”What’s your motive?”】
【”It’s to deceive Justus’ eyes.”】
Harold figured Elu was saying that moving alone would be less conspicuous.
Certainly, Elu would stand out if he was seen together with Harold, and it would make it seem like Harold was plotting something. Especially now.
【” So please inform the people from Frieri that I will be arriving by myself. I will keep my appearance, age, and gender completely hidden, since I don’t want to give out too much information in the interest of concealing Giffelt’s nature. “】
【”Don’t you want to spread the name of Giffelt?”】
【”That’s just useful for gathering information and gaining some prestige. Being recognized as Giffelt on personal business carries a high risk.”】
【”Well, that’s fine with me, as long as things go smoothly.”】
Harold understood Elu’s concern and had no reason to refuse. So long as they weren’t unreasonable, Harold wanted to avoid refusing Elu’s requests as much as possible, since he would be troubled if their arrangement broke down. Elu seemed to think he had become a subordinate, but the fact of the matter was that Harold thought of him as a comrade
However, in the game’s story, Elu had introduced himself as Giffelt to Liner and the others; perhaps it was somehow beneficial to his family. Maybe he knew that he could reach the star memory with Liner’s help.
Though Harold believed that was due to the stretched, distorted logic of the game’s system.
【”Thanks. Also, one more thing.”】
Elu’s words roused Harold from his deep thoughts.
Now was not the time to think about this.
【”You’re not done yet? Don’t you have any shame?”】
【”I’m not going to ask for anything big. I’d like you to give me a few hours of your time tomorrow.”】
It certainly wasn’t anything big.
Harold didn’t have any missions scheduled for the next day, or even for a while after that, so he basically had too much free time and didn’t mind giving it away. Harold believed that relaxing in his time off would drastically increase his risk of dying.
【”It better not be for something stupid.”】
【”Of course not, it’s for something very important. For our future.”】
Elu showed a smile of deep significance. But Harold failed to notice the meaning behind it.