Chapter 68, don’t know about you guys but I kinda liked it, but maybe that’s because I’ve read the next chapter at the same time, don’t hesitate to tell me and the rest of the community what you think in the comments 😀 Sorry if the edit isn’t on point, I only checked the chapter out once and I’m really tired ><
For the Patreon donors, chapter 69 and its preview are now available on my Patreon page!
Anyway, here is the chapter, hope you’ll enjoy it!
Afterwards, though there was no disaster, the situation became extremely chaotic.
The people who had fainted could not just be ignored, so they were carried in a vacant room. As for the people who were still conscious but shaking in fear, they were taken to another room since they needed to be calmed down. Giving a sidelong glance to that scene, Harold, wanting to put himself in solitary confinement, decided to return to the room which had been assigned to him.
As the main culprit behind the situation, his help would only make things worse. But even if that wasn’t the case, he was hurting from the surrounding people’s glances.
Erica was looking after the fallen men, Francis continued to make passes at her while helping her, and Itsuki was trying to stop him.
Thinking that nothing could be done about this situation, Harold shrugged his shoulders and hurriedly disappeared from that place. Though this was bad for Itsuki, Harold judged that, knowing Francis, things would turn out just fine.
Francis J. Arkwright.
He had emerald green eyes, and loose wavy blond hair. He gave off the impression of being a frivolous womanizer and slightly narcissistic, but overlooking that, Francis was a proper man who always stayed true to his principles. His nickname was Franck.
Although he used a rapier in battle, he was somewhat lacking in attack power. In the game, his physical attack level was lower than Erica’s and Collet’s, and was only a rank above Lifa’s. On the other hand, the magic spells he could use were aplenty, he could even use healing magic, but it wasn’t that easy to invoke for him as he didn’t have that much MP.
Despite those lacking characteristics, he was still a jack of all trades. He looked exactly like a prince, and not without reason as he was actually a prince of the kingdom, and the 37th in line to inherit the throne.
Be that as it may, he himself did not expect much from that position and wasn’t waiting for his turn on the throne to come, he didn’t even want to become king. For the time being, he seemed to have no dissatisfaction with his present condition as he could live freely as he wished just by having the title of a prince.
Of course, he was one of the original story’s characters.
He was extremely fond of beautiful women and would at times let go of his honor and start hitting on them, but if one closed his eyes on that, Franck wasn’t that bad of a guy. In the game, he wasn’t really able to really seduce any women anyway as he was recognized as a prince who stood above the nation and was travelling together with Liner who was driven by righteousness.
Therefore, based on how he was portrayed in the game’s lore, it was not surprising at all that he suddenly started making passes at Erica. What was surprising however was his statement about not aiming for other women anymore.
If Francis stopped being a playboy, it would be like if Harold stopped being cynical. In other words, it would be inconceivable.
Perhaps he had been a little too charmed by Erica. He did recognize her as a beautiful woman in the game, but looking at how passionate he was right now, it was obvious that he was even more taken with her than in the original story.
And Harold had a hard time figuring out the cause of that.
(Oh right, Erica’s becoming even more beautiful than she was in the game, isn’t she?)
That’s the only thing Harold could come up with, having no reliable way of finding out the reason behind Francis’ enthusiasm.
Well, it should be fine, thought Harold as he stretched himself, refreshing his mood.
Looking outside his window, the weather was still as good as it was the day before. Despite the various happenings from the previous day, Harold’s sleep seemed to have gone fine since his body was in a good condition.
Today’s breakfast’s going to be delicious, while having these kinds of carefree thoughts, Harold remembered the sketch of the residence’s layout, which had been placed in his room, and he headed towards the dining hall of the mansion.
The breakfast appeared to be laid out in a smorgasbord style, but of course, it wasn’t just a self-service buffet. It was a buffet with an air of high society to it, where people could actually order their food and have the chef make it on the spot.
Harold had ordered a chop steak for he deemed meat was a must in these occasions. And as he looked for a vacant seat with said steak in his hand…
Harold’s eyes met with Francis’, who had already chanced upon a seat. Francis reacted to that, which caught Itsuki’s attention. As for Harold, he clicked his tongue by reflex.
Harold tried to ignore the duo as he felt that this was going to be troublesome, but unfortunately, one of them called out to him.
【”Hold on. I’d like to have a little talk.”】
【”If it’s about Erica, ask her elder brother.”】
【”No, I want to talk with you.”】
【”Exactly. So you should just sit down for now.”】
Itsuki went behind Harold before he even noticed, held his shoulders with a solid grip, and made him sit down by force.
Having had his refreshed mood ruined like so, Harold wanted to let out a sigh.
【”So, what the hell do you want to ask?”】
【”Let’s start by introducing ourselves. I am Francis J. Arkwright. “】
【”I’m Lord Strouse.”】
【”You knew about me from before, right? How come?”】
【”I only knew your name. But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever personally met you.”】
【”Well, I guess that’s right. Because I don’t remember you either.”】
Francis was staring fixedly at Harold, closely observing him. Without caring about that, Harold kept carrying one mouthful of his steak after another from his plate to his mouth.
As he chewed on it, the juices started to overflow. The meat disappeared in his mouth with the juice, as if it was melting, and he hardly needed to put any strength in his jaw. The taste permeated both the meat and the fat.
He didn’t need to express in words how delicious it was. He just silently ate the rare steak that was oozing blood.
【”….. This looks horrifying, it’s as if you were eating an actual person.”】
【”Well, there is no denying that. But even though your mouth is dyed with blood, I think it actually looks good on you rather than messy.”】
【”If you took some red wine instead, it would look even better.”】
【”In short, it’s the red of the blood that looks good on me, right? Alright, then If you bastards don’t mind, I’ll just use your blood instead of the meat’s.”】
【”【”No thank you.”】”】
The two answered in harmony. Despite the fuss they made about Erica, they seemed to be pretty good friends.
However, even for Harold who was familiar with the game, Itsuki and Francis being friends was a back story he hadn’t heard of. It was a connection that probably didn’t even exist in fan-fictions.
【”Francis, you’re supposed to be Itsuki’s friend, right? How come you didn’t even know his younger sister?”】
【”I knew he had a younger sister but I wasn’t told she was that beautiful. Why didn’t you tell me about her?”】
【”Because it was obvious that things would turn out like this if I did that. How could I possibly use my precious younger sister as bait for a lustful demon like you?”】
That was a perfectly good reason. As Francis’ friend, Itsuki had to know about his connections with women whether he liked it or not. So, given his sister complex, there was no way for Itsuki to properly introduce Erica to Francis.
Apparently, Ituski had not invited Francis to the celebration so that he could bring Erica, but Francis still heard of the party from somewhere and just happened to come by.
【”Well, that’s alright. From now on, the romance between Erica and I will-“】
【”Will not start, ever.”】
【”….By the way, Lord”】
Itsuki’s overbearing cut-in forced a sudden change in the topic of the conversation, but Harold decided to just roll with it.
【”About yesterday’s incident, I heard from Itsuki that you were shielding Erica, but, wasn’t that overkill?”】
【”I barely grazed them with some blood thirst, those small fries can only blame themselves for not even being able to deal with something of that level.”】
【”How many brave men out there you think would be able to keep calm after receiving a blood thirst like that one at close proximity?”】
【”Even Franck and I would have a tough time with it.”】
【”I thought I was stabbed from behind and died.”】
【”You should have felt something similar from the eyes of those women you had your way with, probably without their consent.”】
【”That joke’s in poor taste…”】
Franc showed a stiff smile. Then Harold directly asked him.
【”Yesterday you said some bullshit about devoting your heart to Erica or whatever. Were you actually serious about that?”】
【”Of course I was serious. It’s not unreasonable for you to doubt me since you know my past, but right now, I intend to terminate all the relations I have with any other woman.”】
As he said so, his eyes were frank and there was even some seriousness to his voice. Harold could not help but feel a sense of incongruity since he knew the Francis from the game, but perhaps this was one of the effects of the world starting to change its course from the game’s story.
If that was the case, then it would be fine to say that Harold was the culprit.
Originally, Harold thought Erica should stick with Liner simply because he was the protagonist and Erica was a member of his party. However, there was no clear depiction of a love affair between the two in the game, and really, the problem wasn’t who Erica’s companion was going to be.
What mattered wasn’t the identity of Erica’s lover, but how was Erica going to get separated from Harold and break her engagement with him. In short, Harold thought【”It should be fine if she sticks with Francis instead of Liner, right?”】and he judged that he didn’t really need to worry about this change.
Well, he didn’t know whether Erica would accept Francis or not though.
【”If you have nothing left to do here, how about you go wag your tail in front of Erica? That way, I can eat without having to look at your face.”】
Harold pointed his chin at Erica, who had just entered the dinning hall.
Just like the previous day, Erica was being courted by many men. Though Harold didn’t remember their faces because there too many of them, if any of these people were part of the men who suffered from Harold’s blood thirst the day before, then they were incredibly incorrigible. It was either that or maybe Erica had committed a sin behind the scenes.
【”Wait hold on Lord, that’s not what we agreed on.”】
【”What you asked me to do was get rid of the “beasts that look like no more than insects”. Does this man fit those criteria?”】
Itsuki was at a loss for words. Indeed, he could not give that appellation to his friend.
Which was exactly why Harold had asked that question.
【”I guess this isn’t a conversation to have in front of him…. But still, does this mean I have Itsuki’s permission?”】
【”Yeah, sure, knock yourself out.”】
【”No, like hell you do! If Lord doesn’t do anything, then I will!”】
As soon as he said that, Itsuki charged to the barrier of people surrounding Erica. As one would expect, upon the intervention of the celebration’s host, those starving beasts turned into domestic animals whose fangs were missing.
The smile pressure attack, which was the Sumeragi siblings’ specialty, had made its appearance on Itsuki’s face. Harold had tasted it several times before, but he still felt it was extremely intense.
【”This mood isn’t right to profess my love.”】
【”I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the right mood yesterday either.”】
When Francis made his advances, there were fallen men scattered around like corpses and other men who were rolling around on the ground in the perimeter. That mood was absolutely not right.
Besides, Harold was right next to Erica at the time.
【”Really? I think it was like a passionate scene, where the hero opens up his heart to a lady after finishing his fight on the battlefield while protecting her to the end.”】
【”…… I guess it’s fine if that’s how the scene went in your twisted mind. But, you see, I don’t care.”】
【”Gee, that’s one cold opinion. Well, even if I attempted something right now, I’d only end up getting mixed up in the chaos anyway. But, putting that aside.”】
A kind of cold expression, that didn’t match the frivolous personality he showed so far, appeared on Francis’ face as he spoke his next words.
【”Lord, I still have something I’d like to talk to you about. Would you give me some of your time after this?”】
【”What a hassle.”】
【”Please don’t say that. Well,, I’d like you to just come by my room if you feel like it later.”】
Leaving theses words with Harold, Francis left his seat.
Having somehow ended up receiving an invitation from Francis, Harold kept racking his brains about why Francis would go as far as to invite him to his room.
Thinking about it normally, he probably wanted to ask about Erica. Harold didn’t know if he could be of any use, but perhaps he could satisfy Francis by making full use of the knowledge from the character settings he roughly remembered to tell him about Erica’s bust-waist-hip measurements.
But Erica doesn’t necessarily have the same figure in this world as she did in the game, while thinking that, Harold finished his breakfast, caught one of the residence’s servants and asked him about the room where Francis was staying.
He then proceeded to Francis’ room and knocked on the door.
【”This is Lord. Open up quickly if you’re there.”】
When Harold called out to Francis, the door opened up almost immediately.
Upon looking at Harold’s face, Francis let out a surprised voice.
【”You really came?”】
【”Are you telling me to go back?”】
【”That’s not it. I was just surprised because I didn’t expect you to come.”】
That was a pretty cruel remark since he was the one who invited Harold. If this exchange happened between a couple, the other party would probably think Francis was having an affair.
【”For the time being, please go inside. Allow me to entertain you.”】
As he was urged to do so, Harold stepped into the room. The room wasn’t much different from the one assigned to Harold. There were probably many similar guest rooms in the mansion.
Francis was a prince so if he requested for a higher class room, it would probably be provided to him without a single complaint, and yet he didn’t.
【”But still, you really came.”】
【”Is that all you can say?”】
【”No, I’m just wondering if you’re making light of me. If that’s the case, then it’s really vexing.”】
【”….What do you mean?”】
【”This is what I mean.”】
As Harold asked about Francis’ real intention which he was unable to infer, a rapier was pointed at his throat. And it was at a distance that could not even be measured in millimeters as there was just a paper thin gap left between his throat and the weapon.
He was caught completely unprepared. And unlike Aurelian’s surprise attack, it was done extremely naturally, Harold was so surprised that he could not even voice out a sound.
And then, when Harold came back to his senses, he noticed a presence behind him. Another weapon was pointed at his back.
【”Looks like you’re not even carrying any weapons. That’s so careless of you. Are you completely dumb or are you just that confident in yourself?”】
【”….Is this what “entertain” means in your empty head?”】
【”Yeah, that’s right. Like I said earlier, red looks good on you. So I thought I’d dye you in red. With your own blood.”】
(What’s the meaning of this…..)
While feeling terrified from that mouth that wouldn’t stop with its sarcasms even at a time like this, Harold was scavenging his mind looking for a clue to understand and resolve the situation.
Harold knew Francis, and he knew that he wasn’t a man who would act without a reason. Then, why did he want to kill Harold? The only thing Harold and Francis shared in common was their connection with Itsuki and Erica.
Assuming that was the cause, then the choices of answers could be easily narrowed down.
Did Francis do this to obtain Erica’s heart, considering Harold to be his rival in love? Did he deem that Harold was not worthy of being Itsuki’s friend? If that was it, then he wouldn’t be taking such hard measures. Therefore, there was only one answer left.
【”Tell me, what was your aim when you approached Itsuki and Erica? Harold Stokes.”】
Francis appeared to be one of the people who knew Harold’s face and identity.