Chapter 69 is here, sorry for the delay >< I had lots of stuff to do and, I’ll be honest here, I kind of fell asleep and forgot to post the chapter like a moron…
For the Patrons, Chapter 70 and its preview are now available on Patreon!
Anyway, here is chapter 69, hope you’ll enjoy it!
【”You even went as far as to call yourself by a false name to approach them, you’re not going to tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about at all, are you?”】
The dangerous air around Francis became stronger.
This was the Berlioz mansion, a festive place where Itsuki’s engagement was being celebrated. At a time like this, there was no way Francis wouldn’t consider the risks that came with carelessly spilling someone’s blood and committing the crime of murder. Therefore, chances were that this was mostly a show of force.
Or rather, that’s what Harold wanted to think, but still, Francis had actually pulled out his sword and pointed it towards him. Harold had a dreadful feeling that he’d likely be taken out instantly if he said anything funny.
The truth was that Harold was in a very tight spot. If Francis had been alone, Harold would have been able to deal with him. However, if the second weapon that was pointing at Harold’s back attacked, it would cause a fatal hit.
Even if Harold merely showed that he had the intent to resist, he would be in danger of being erased in one stroke.
It was close to impossible for him to apologize and explain himself if he couldn’t speak docilely, on the other hand, his mouth, which excelled at provoking other people and driving them into a frenzy, left no way for Harold to have a proper discussion. But though discussing things wouldn’t go well no matter how Harold thought about it, it would still likely be safer than to suddenly start a fight with Francis.
Harold carefully chose his next words, not only to calm Francis and whoever was with him down, but also to calm himself down. “Would you mind lowering your weapons first? I can’t talk properly like this.” those were the words he selected.
【”You sure are full of yourselves for cowards who wouldn’t even be threats without their weapons.”】
Like Harold expected, the result was atrocious.
Given that Francis had his rapier pointed at Harold, perhaps it would have been safer to just get down to business. Fortunately, that single sentence did not get past Francis’ tolerance threshold.
【”….. Even in this situation, that mouth of yours still won’t stop with the abuses. As expected, the stories are true, aren’t they?”】
【”You can call them stories or whatever, but at the end of the day, they’re just bullshit rumors. Don’t go thinking you can measure my power with those worthless tales.”】
【”So you’re not denying that you’re Harold?”】
【”I was never okay with taking an alias. Who the hell would call themselves “Lord” if they weren’t forced to do it?”】
If Justus hadn’t entrusted Itsuki with the authority to give orders to Harold, Harold would have firmly refused to take that fake name. He wouldn’t willingly make his own dark history grow.
But if Harold told Francis about that, he would become furious that a bad guy like Harold got friendly with Itsuki. And Harold was afraid that even if he told Francis, he wouldn’t believe him, and would on the contrary get even angrier thinking that Harold brought up Itsuki’s name to make up excuses.
【”…..Well, it’s doesn’t really matter, let’s get back to our talk. What’s your goal? And when you tried to push me to get together with Erica, was it related to that goal?”】
Though Francis pressed that question with a certain confidence, Harold had no such thing as a goal here. That didn’t mean he wasn’t thinking of pushing the matter with Erica, but that was only because Itsuki was pushing Harold even harder. So Harold was the one who was looking for answers, from Itsuki, that is, or rather, from the Sumeragi family.
Why do you keep sticking to me?
Itsuki was persistently trying to make Harold marry Erica, and Tasuku, who approved of that, didn’t want to cut ties off with Harold and would insist that he was in Harold’s debt for the LP farming method and the anti-body medicines. Thanks to those two inventions, the Sumeragi family currently had no problems on the financial side, and on the contrary, they had enough capital to give Harold compensation money.
But in the end, the miasma problem had still not been solved, and though Harold was the one who came up with the LP farming method, it would have been impossible for him to manage it so well and generate so many profits if not for the Sumeragi household’s cooperation.
Then came the worst part, Harold’s bad reputation. Though Itsuki had said that the Sumeragi family, in its current state, could bear with the rumors, it would have still been better for them to just not have to deal with the rumors at all.
As for Harold, not only he did not want to be pressed into getting engaged with Erica, he also didn’t want to go through the pain that would come to him if Justus were to doubt Harold’s relationship with the Sumeragi family and to investigate Harold’s intentions.
Although the talk shifted a bit, in the end, Harold’s answer was still【”That’s not how things are.”】. Well, if he did answer that however, he would very likely be told to stop lying.
Then suddenly, a plan came up to Harold’s head. Perhaps he could distance himself from the Sumeragis by using Francis. Moreover, if things went well, it could lead to Francis becoming stronger… maybe.
If Harold pretended that he was indeed planning something and proposed to go away from Itsuki and Erica if Francis could win against him in a bout, he would be able to avoid the development where the current situation would turn bloody.
Then, if Harold fought halfheartedly and lost, he could use that as an excuse to separate himself from the Sumeragi family and Francis would tell Itsuki and Erica to open their eyes about Harold. Many other people’s words had failed to agitate Itsuki, but if the source of those words was his friend Francis’ genuine worry, Itsuki wouldn’t be able to coldly brush them off. That’s the kind of person Itsuki was.
This would break off the engagement with Erica, break Harold’s ties to the Sumeragi family, and strengthen Francis. Though that last part had a lot of unpredictable variables to it, it would still be plenty enough if the first two parts happened.
【”My aim, huh? What will you do with that information?”】
【”I’ll make my decision. If you’re going to harm her, then I won’t let you.”】
【”And you think you can do that? You think you can stop me?”】
【”What could you possibly do in this situation? Look, if you don’t stop running that mouth of yours I’ll――”】
【”You’ll kill me, right? I know that’s not gonna happen. You don’t have enough evidence to kill me, and right now, I’m staying at the mansion as Itsuki’s friend. If you kill me here, you’ll be nothing more than some common murderer. You’ll put the Arkwright name to shame and you’ll paint mud on the face of both the Berlioz family and even Itsuki. And your friendship with him is not one you’re willing to risk so as to get rid of a danger that might not even exist. You’re just making a fool of yourself, nothing more.”】
The rapier that was pointing at Harold was shaking. As Harold expected, Francis wasn’t seriously thinking of killing him.
As the saying went, “dead men tell no tales”, if Francis had killing Harold in mind, and if he murdered Harold and then concealed the matter, he wouldn’t necessarily be unable to get away with it. Especially since he belonged to the Arkwright household, he should have had the power to do this.
However, Francis’ pride would probably not allow that, and he would surely like to avoid hurting his friendship with Itsuki. Therefore, he probably did this merely to threaten Harold and make him confess.
【”You bastard have… No, both of you bastards have made a mistake. If you didn’t want to kill me but capture me if I happened to resist, you shouldn’t have brought your swords close to my vital points. Especially since I’m empty handed and the ways I can fight you off are therefore limited. If I resist and you counterattack, you’ll be forced to end my life, or at the very least, to seriously injure me. So let me see you try pulling your sword away even the tiniest bit to avoid that outcome. At that very instant, I’ll kill you both.”】
That was what Harold made up on the spot.
The weapons were pointed at Harold’s neck and heart. Although thinking about it normally, aiming at a the vital points when restraining someone would be good to limit their actions, it was fine for Harold as long as he made it feel as if it were a fatal mistake.
As Harold thought of such things, his mouth did not stop talking.
【”Why is your face looking so awful? Where did all the energy from earlier just go? Look, Francis J. Arkwright, if you think killing me will keep Itsuki and the others safe, then go ahead, kill me. Sure, you’ll lose Itsuki’s trust as a result, but that’s only natural. Just keep in mind that once its lost, it won’t be all that easy to get it back.”】
Francis’ face was drenched in sweat. And it was no amount that would be secreted in a mild climate, in other words, it was cold sweat. It seemed like Harold had managed to push Francis to a corner psychologically.
Perhaps this was an effect of Francis being unconsciously overpowered.
【”…You’re even greater than the rumors say, Harold. You took the advantage from me using nothing more than words.”】
【”If that’s what you think, then you’re really helplessly stupid. You never had the advantage from the very start, moron.”】
Though Harold made a show of declaring that, it was as far from the truth as it could be. No matter how he thought about it, Francis was the one who held the advantage.
Harold was merely using his natural arrogance to try giving the impression that he had the upper hand, and then, within the time where Francis would hesitate, Harold had to decide on his approach.
【”But still, I….!”】
As a result from his hesitation, Francis’ face looked slightly down and his eyes looked away from Harold for a mere second. Using that opening, Harold could likely knock down the person behind him and hold down Francis.
However, Harold did not do so and offered a proposal instead.
【”That being the case, I’ll give your foolish self a chance. I’ll let you duel me, with a witness. If you win, you’ll get to have me do what you want me to.”】
【”What if I lose?”】
【”Naturally, I’ll have you listen to whatever I tell you.”】
【”….. All right.”】
Francis answered so after thinking about something, and he put his rapier back into its sheath. Then, the sense of oppression coming from Harold’s back disappeared. Apparently, he had succeeded at completely avoiding the danger of being killed in this place.
Though Harold was relieved, Francis murmured something he didn’t expect.
【”There sure seems to be more to Harold than what the rumors say about him. I’m willing to admit it, Itsuki.”】
【”Does this mean that you completely trust him now or do you still have your doubts?”】
That voice came from behind Harold. For the time being, Harold didn’t think of anything and threw a kick at whatever was behind him while turning around.
If a martial artist was present, he would likely have given high praise to that beautiful, decisive, and flowing movement.
While looking down on Itsuki, who was crawling on the ground and holding his left leg’s thigh, Harold questioned him with a voice that was many times colder than when he addressed Francis.
【”L-Last night, Franck came to my room and asked me『Say, isn’t Lord actually Harold stokes?』so I told him『What if he is?』and then…..”】
While in agony, Itsuki put together an explanation.
First of all, during the previous day’s uproar, one of Francis’ servants had recognized Harold’s identity and reported it to Francis. Apparently, that servant had seen Harold in the royal capital before.
From there, Francis went to Itsuki to confirm the information. Itsuki quickly confirmed that Lord was in fact Harold, then Francis tried to persuade Itsuki to rethink his connection to Harold but the discussion went nowhere.
And so, seeing that the conversation wasn’t making any progress, Itsuki suggested this.
“You should check out for yourself what kind of person Harold is”.
And that was the cause of this whole incident. For now, it was at least clear that everything was Itsuki’s fault.
It was doubtful whether Itsuki was serious about wanting to hide Harold’s true identity. Or rather, he most likely wasn’t serious about it at all.
Well, I’ll think about his punishment later. With that thought, Harold looked back at Francis again and asked him.
【”So, what kind of bullshit did Itsuki tell you? And why did you approve of me just now?”】
【”『By nature, Harold’s not the villain that the bad rumors portray him as. It’s just that he’s easily misunderstood, because he’s strict with people, and even stricter with himself.』that’s what he said. I thought that if that was it, then you probably wouldn’t have been called “knight killer” and the like and yet….”】
Francis smiled in self-derision.
【”You are strong. If we fought one hundred times, you’d probably beat me every single time. So when I looked away earlier, it would have been easy for you to take control over the whole situation.”】
【”Did you create that opening on purpose? You’re really making light of me.”】
【”I could say the same about you, right? Besides, I actually put my life on the line there.”】
So did I damn it, Harold complained in his mind.
However, that feeling was blown off as Francis started speaking something unthinkable.
【”Even in this situation, you tried to arrange things so that’d we’d stay on an equal standing, despite that being only troublesome and bringing no advantage to you whatsoever.”】
【”And that’s why you approved of me?”】
【”Yeah, that’s right. And, also… my behavior just now was completely insane. If you want me to be punished for this, then I’ll resign myself to it.”】
This was no joke. If it came to this, there was a risk that the flag, which led Francis to join Liner’s party, would disappear. The time when the game’s story started was coming soon, Francis couldn’t be allowed to be confined in prison.
Therefore Harold immediately denied Francis’ words.
【”I have no interest in dealing with your case. It would be a waste of time to draw out my sword every time there is some fussy insect to erase.”】
【”….Thank you for your kindness. However, I’m very sorry but…… With this alone, I still cannot completely trust you.”】
That was only natural. Rather, Harold would have been confused had he gained Francis’ confidence from that chain of interactions only.
Francis speaking his mind clearly like this was actually a good thing as it made things easy to understand for Harold.
【”Therefore, I’d like to ask you something really unreasonable. Harold, may I still have that duel with you?”】
Begged Francis as he bowed down from his waist. Though Francis didn’t have Harold’s feelings in mind when he made that request, it was actually exactly what Harold was hoping for.
【”What is it?”】
【”You’ll be the witness.”】
【”…… Well, guess it can’t be helped.”】
【”Thank you, thank you very much.”】
【”I don’t need your gratitude. I’ll be all good once you pathetically crawl to the ground upon realizing the difference there is between you and me.”】
Leaving Francis with that line, Harold left the room to go prepare himself.
And thus, even though it wasn’t in the way he was aiming for, Harold was going to have a duel with Francis.
Translator’s notes: Chapter 70 and its preview are now available on patreon! Also, I’d like to thank all the new Patrons for supporting me, SNT2, Roberto C, Binn K, Brain C, Robert D, Rangga Q! If you’d like to support my translations, as well as get access to the chapters and their previews days earlier, please support my Patreon!