Chapter 85 is here! Don’t know if it’s late in the USA or early, you tell me ><
This chapter was edited by Fordoom, who did a wonderful job 😀
For the Patrons, chapter 86 and its preview are available over here!
Anyway, I’ll let you read the chapter now, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
From behind, Liner said Harold’s name in blank surprise. He had grown as tall as Colette, and his fearless countenance was now similar to the Liner that Harold knew from the original game.
However, even though his name was called, Harold did not have any room to respond.
The current situation was considerably delicate. He had to make the black robed man in front of him leave as quickly as possible.
He, who had attacked Liner earlier, was not devoid of emotions like Ventus and Lilium, nor was he sent by Justus. He was a member of Frieri.
Back in Bloche village, Harold had asked two things of Elu. One was to station two people to guide Liner towards the fog valley after he reached the town. The other was to prepare a black-robed dummy.
The reason behind his first request went without saying. The second was that, because Colette’s actions did not correspond to his plans, Harold had to make an appearance in front of her. To agitate her, Harold had said that he would not be helping, but had he really not helped, it would have given Colette a bad impression of him.
In order for Harold to openly rescue her and Liner, he absolutely needed a substitute for himself. So, he chose someone from Frieri. Using him, Harold had to allow Ventus and Lilium to withdraw no matter what.
He was worried that, if not for this, Liner and Colette would end up following them all the way to Harrison’s place; and rushing into such a mid-game event from the very beginning of their story would certainly lead the two friends to their defeat. Anyway, if Harold were to just let things proceed as they did in the original story, the treasured sword would eventually get back to Liner.
Moreover, since it would be troublesome if the man from Frieri were to be slandered as a criminal by the authorities and the knight order due to Colette and Liner, Harold had to promptly bring this case to a close, somehow or other. However, he could not slay an innocent person, so it had been decided in a previous meeting that he would defeat him with his bare hands.
That did not mean he would really hit the man, he would just make it look as if he did. Hence, the man put on an act, pretending to be staggering. Since he could not match Harold’s speed, he made it look like he had taken some damage before.
This way, it would not seem too suspicious even if he was easily knocked down by Harold’s bare hands.
The man weakly took a stance with his sword. That put Liner and Colette on alert, but Harold talked to him with an air of composure.
【”How unsightly. I have no need to draw my sword against the likes of you.”】
In reality, that line was rather made to be heard by Colette and Liner. After ascertaining that the two of them had heard him properly, Harold made his move.
This was quite easy for him. He took an extremely fast step forward to cover the distance separating him from the man, and he drove his fist into the other party’s abdomen… Or rather, he pretended to do so.
Thankfully, the man was wearing a robe that was too baggy for one to figure the outline of his body, so it was not possible to visually confirm that Harold’s fist had stopped right before hitting him. All that was left was for the man to bend his body as if taking on the hit’s impact, and to drop his sword while falling down.
As Liner looked at him fall, his face turned stiff.
Harold could understand Liner’s feelings, he had had an extremely difficult face-off against that opponent and yet he had been brought down this easily. Well, that whole display was just an act though.
Leaving Liner alone for the time being, Harold cracked his fingers. Thereupon, a group of men appeared out of nowhere. They were from Frieri.
【”Take that man.”】
Having received Harold’s instructions, they started restraining the fallen man. Harold figured that this would serve to ease Liner and Colette’s worry.
Then, after confirming that the job was done, he finally faced the two friends.
【”Looks like you’ve had a hard time.”】
【”Oh, shut up… But still, you saved us. Thank you!”】
As usual, Liner was too straightforward, the shine in his eyes seemed painful to Harold who moved about for his own self-interests and who was always scheming this and that.
He unintentionally turned his eyes away, and there, was Colette’s face. She had a big smile on her face, an earth-shattering smile. It looked like Harold had not left a bad impression on her, which was nice, but her attitude was troubling. He decided to pretend not to notice.
Then, at just the right timing, his men’s voice reached his ears.
【”The target has been taken, sir.”】
Perhaps because they had lived through some brutal circumstances as mercenaries, their wording was generally rough. However, that did not mean they treated their employer, Harold, with contempt. Given the right amount of money, they would have no complaint about acting in a cheap play like this one, or even about working like utility men in town.
In short, they were workers, tied to Harold by money, in a give and take relationship.
Conversely, that meant that if Harold ever became short of money, his connection with them would break. But at the present, he had enough funds to say that there was no need for him to worry about such things.
【”Transport him to the town and interrogate him.”】
【”Understood. Hurry and carry him, maggots!”】
The three men carried their fallen, restrained comrade, and disappeared towards the town. After watching that scene, Liner came to ask Harold.
【”Say, Harold, who are those people?”】
【”Is that what you meant when you said you needed to make preparations, Harold-sama?”】
【”Yeah. But in the end, it was all for nothing.”】
【”Uuuh, I’m sorry…”】
Although Colette offered words of apology to Harold, Liner did not understand what she meant and simply tilted his head in doubt.
For the time being, there was nothing left to do in this place, so they returned to the road they had originally came from and headed for the nearby town. They had not particularly planned it beforehand, but Liner and Colette spontaneously followed after Harold. While being fed up of Liner who kept asking again and again about the secret of his strength, Harold warned him not to tell others about his presence in this occasion or about the people working for him; meanwhile, those same people had carried the robed man to some abandoned and deserted ruins, where Harold later joined them.
Liner tried to follow him there, but Harold told him he would give him information afterwards, under the condition that Liner would temporarily step back. Then, out of the reach of any outsider’s eyes, he instructed the four people working for him, including the man who was restrained earlier, to join with Elu, and he dismissed them.
For now, believing he had managed to put things on the right course, Harold took a rest. It was due to a miscalculation on his part that he had been forced to offer his help in that scene, but when considering the distant future, there was some value in giving a good impression to Liner and Colette.
For now, the both of them were supposed to once again chase after Ventus and Lilium to get back the treasured sword. That being the case, they were going to need to know where to go, and the current situation was great for Harold, as he could point out the way for them in a natural fashion. This way, he would be able to smoothly guide Colette and Liner.
With that intention in mind, and having spent enough time, he headed towards the inn where he had kept the two of them waiting.
After Harold knocked on the door of the room that was assigned to them, Liner’s face came out from inside.
【”I’ve been waiting, Harold!”】
He approached like a faithful dog that had been waiting for his master and captured Harold, pulling him inside the room by his arm. His eyes seemed to be begging Harold to hurry and share his information.
【”Calm the hell down! What are you? A child?”】
With his palm, Harold forcefully pushed back Liner’s excessively close face. Colette then pulled him back by grabbing the nape of his neck.
【”I, I am sorry for that, Harold-sama】
While letting out a sigh of shock and amazement, Harold let himself fall on a chair that came with the inn’s room.
【”What do you want to ask?”】
【”Do you know where the guys who stole the sword escaped to?”】
【”From the information I have, it seems like they’re escaping towards the southwest. Their destination might be Lorenz. “】
To be more accurate, they were going ever further from there, to Solesphere, where the whole trio would meet up to then take a boat to the royal capital. However, Harold wanted things to follow the original story and did not need to tell the truth.
Upon being informed of the destination of the people who stole his sword, Liner was once again in high spirits despite having fallen into a dangerous situation just a short while before. That power of will was admirable.
【”Alright! Knowing that, then…”】
【”You’re not about to say that you’re going to chase after them right away, are you?”】
However, that excitement was immediately frozen by Colette. Colette acted as a limiter on the recklessness of Liner, who would easily get caught up in the spur of the moment. These kinds of exchanges were also a common sight in the game.
It seemed like the pessimistic Colette who lacked energy had now returned to her normal condition. With her muscles-for-brains battle style, and, in contrast, her personality that allowed her to calmly assess things; she could be said to be quite a good fit for Liner.
As for Liner himself, he was overwhelmed by the power of his childhood friend.
【”I’m not, but…”】
【”No buts about it.”】
As Harold was having such inconsequential thoughts, Liner was argued down by Colette. In the end, they rested their bodies properly, and they were going to chase after the thieves only after getting prepared.
It seemed like without a doubt that Colette was going to tag along. For Harold, that meant that standing out personally like he did was all worthwhile.
【”By the way, Harold-sama. Excuse me, but, what happened to the person you caught earlier?”】
As Colette asked that, her attitude was completely different than the one she had directed at Liner. She had asked her question quite nervously.
Harold could not possibly tell her about how the man had been released etc., so he deceived her.
【”He was appropriately dealt with. But well, he was a dead lead.”】
【”A dead lead?”】
【”That man was not a comrade of the Trinity group. At most, he was just collaborating with them.”】
【”What does that change?”】
【”He doesn’t have any information on the people who stole the sword. So we’re not going to be able to reach trinity’s base, or at least, not through his aid.”】
While avoiding to speak of the specifics, he appealed to the fact that the man was almost unrelated to the case.
Liner was dissatisfied, but, in the end, he comprehended Harold’s words. Perhaps it was just Harold’s imagination, but it felt like this Liner was a little more understanding than the one in the game, or maybe this was due to the influence of Harold’s own actions. Well, Liner having the ears to actually listen to Harold could not be a disadvantage.
The honest truth was that Liner being this friendly was a surprise to Harold. Judging from Liner’s personality, Harold did figure he would not be disliked as much as his character was in the original story, but still, due to the harsh words he had spoken during the tournament’s contest, he thought Liner would at least have a little bit of a grudge against him.
Still, even if not for that, for a meeting after an interval of five years, Liner was being far more friendly than expected. Harold had no complaints about that, but he wondered, why did he leave such an excellent impression on Liner, Itsuki and all those other guys?
He was perplexed as that had happened again and again.
【”With this, our talk is over.”】
Saying so, Harold stood up and tried to get out of the room, but a question was thrown at his back along the way.
【”Harold, what are you going to do after this?”】
【”I’ve no need to tell you that.”】
【”Don’t be like that. Could it be that… You said their name was Trinity, right? If you intend to pursue them, then let’s go together!”】
Was he being invited by the protagonist right now?
Harold had never considered the idea of joining them before, but regardless, he could not predict how the future events would change if he were to join the hero’s party. He would not necessarily fall into a fatal situation because of it, but rather than doing that, proceeding in accordance to the original story was a more reliable solution to get to the key points that would lead to stopping Justus.
But above all, his relation to Erica was disastrously awful, and she was absolutely indispensable to the hero’s party. He did not want to bring to the party any discord that did not exist in the game.
So, his reply to this was “No”.
【”Don’t make me laugh. I have other things to do.”】
【”I see… Still, it would be reassuring to be together with you.”】
Liner seemed terribly disappointed, but not in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that the one, who was currently in his presence, was the one responsible for the theft of his sword. Despite the possibility of that fact coming to light, Harold had no choice but to act together with Liner.
Still, at great pains, he had obtained the opportunity to talk face to face to Liner. He felt like it would be a shame if he had just parted from him right now.
Besides, like what had happened this time, some other unexpected development could occur in the future as well, so Harold decided to indirectly give some warnings to Liner.
However, it could be suspicious if he was too direct with that or if he brought up the subject out of context. So, he needed to convey the important matter, and yet do it in a way where it wouldn’t be suspicious in the flow of the conversation… After thinking for a short while, Harold slowly opened his mouth.
【”Look, you’re still too weak. And you’re still very far from reaching me.”】
Liner got stirred up from the sudden harsh words. However, he lost his fire immediately after, and turned his head away with a sour expression on his face.
【”Well, compared to you, I’m certainly weaker…”】
【”Our status are different, so that’s only natural.”】
Even Harold found his manner of speaking to be horrid, but what the word “status” was referring to was the game’s balance. It was a fact that there was a big difference in combat and movement capacities between Harold and Liner, as, in the game, Harold was set up to cross swords all by himself with Liner who was supposed to have a party of four in the fight.
Well, Harold could not declare that this was surely the case either, as it depended on Liner’s efforts and way of fighting. This was because, although this world did look like a game, it could hardly be said to be exactly the same as a game.
【”Therefore, engrave this into your mind: you must not overestimate your strength.”】
【”What do you mean?”】
【”It’s foolish for a weakling to fight with his power alone. When your power is not sufficient, then you have to group up with others. That is the fate of the weak.”】
In better terms, he was telling Liner not to slack off in making companions. If Liner were to act alone again like he did this time, it would be bad for Harold’s heart.
Though Colette was going to become a companion in Liner’s party from now on, what made Harold anxious was whether Liner would be able to add more members thereafter. That was why he wanted Liner not to forget his weaknesses, to gather some companions that complemented him, and to cooperate with them in battle.
If he did not do so, then in the future, some difficulties that he would not be able to overcome would be awaiting him.
However, perhaps Harold had said too much as Liner was slightly dejected.
Harold had expected a more rebellious reaction, but it seemed like his words had struck deeper than he had thought. Perhaps Liner was keenly aware of his lack of strength without having to be told about it.
【”…However, the one thing you must never neglect is trying to become stronger. That’s all the more true if you believe you’re weak.”】
At those words, Liner’s head, which had been hanging in shame, promptly rose up again. After Liner took on that blow, Harold next turned his eyes towards Colette. Despite receiving Harold’s look, Colette returned his glance and nodded strongly, without getting flustered. Perhaps she had gotten ahold of this lesson for herself in the previous night’s matter.
With the current Colette by his side, Liner would surely be quite encouraged.
【”Well then, time to leave.”】
There was nothing more to be said.
Having concluded that, Harold left the room, this time for good.
Translator’s note: Next time, we’ll finally follow Harold again, and honestly, I missed this, it has been too long since his last death flag! Sometimes, I feel like the author forgets what kinds of flags are supposed to be raising ><
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