Chapter 91 is here! And I think a lot of you will be quite pleased by the coming turn of events 😀 By the way, this chapter was edited by fordoom, who did an excellent job, as always!
For the Patrons, chapter 92 and its preview are available here.
That was a bitter decision for Harold. While the Sumeragi territory was not a direct threat to his life, it still had flags as devastating as the ones raised by working under Justus. Because that place held a bomb of a critical threat level, called Erica.
Furthermore, considering that Justus had a complete grasp on Lifa’s actions, he would likely find out that Harold was accompanying her. In short, he was undoubtedly going to discover Harold’s connection to the Sumeragi family.
The reason Harold was heading towards the Sumeragi territory despite being aware of all the above was solely because, if he had let Lifa take care of herself, chances were that she would have been killed. Harold could not tell what kind of changes would occur to the original story if that were to happen.
Also, judging from Liner’s and the others’ progress, there were likely several months left before the game’s final battle. But from here on, as Liner’s group would become more active, things were going to reach a point where Harold would not know how to deal with Justus anymore. Harold’s goals so far had been to obstruct Justus’ moves while planning things from behind the scenes, and he had assessed that he would be able to escape before there would be any grounds to prove his actions. But was taking that risk really the right choice?
The honest truth was that Harold had long figured that he would end up being suspected. He did not feel anything that would suggest that from Justus’ behavior, but if he looked at his own behavior objectively, he was evidently quite suspicious. Justus would not overlook that.
Plus Harold had carelessly led Justus to surveil Lifa’s actions. In other words, he was just paying for his own, numerous mistakes.
However, even so, Justus still kept Harold around, probably because he had no conclusive evidence against him yet, or because he believed that he could still be of some use to him. If so, then Harold just had to keep himself prepared for the worst and to do what he could while not exposing himself too much.
At present, Lifa was the last piece necessary to bring down Justus. If Harold made her join the protagonist’s party, then at the very least, his own work would be done. After that, he would just collect the remaining treasured objects while pulling some strings and giving Frieri the instructions they would need so that things would progress smoothly.
If Justus wanted to suspect him, then so be it. There was hardly enough time left for those suspicions to lead him anywhere anyway.
As long as Harold survived until the last battle, and as long as he carried out his essential role till the very last moment, then Justus’ evil deeds would be brought to light. Even if he did end up being chased by Justus, Harold would not mind staying on the run for a few months.
So, Justus’ suspicions did not really matter to Harold. As long as Lifa did not change her mind, her life would be in danger unless Harold or Liner was nearby. Moreover, Harold knew that it would be no use talking to her.
So, if words were useless, the only way left was to show her the way through actions, by putting together a team like the one in the original story.
That was why he had taken Lifa and had come all the way to the Sumeragi territory with her. The most he had been able to do to deal with Justus regarding this matter was to use an obvious lie. “It would be too troublesome to kill her, so I’m taking her back to her village”; he just scribbled that on some piece of paper and sent it to him.
Harold was probably going to be questioned and drowned in sarcasm anyway no matter what he wrote, but he would just have to say that he does not fancy killing a kid who was just asking questions out of curiosity, and then, even someone like Justus would find himself with fewer ways to be on the offensive regarding the whole matter. In case Harold was asked why he had taken Lifa through the Sumeragi territory, he would just have to say that he happened to meet an acquaintance there. It was possible to pass through the Sumeragi territory to go from the royal capital towards Lifa’s native place, the Weiss village, so while this was suspicious, it wasn’t unreasonable.
【”Ooh, so this is the Sumeragi territory. What a peculiar townscape.”】(Lifa)
It had been a while since Harold had last entered the Sumeragi territory. As for Lifa, having entered the residential area, she was restlessly looking around the vicinity with curious eyes.
lifa’s current appearance reminded Harold of her first visit to the royal capital, at the time when she was sightseeing the capital’s main street.
【”What? Is it your first time here? It’s pretty close to your village though.”】
【”I didn’t have anything in particular to do here before. Besides, I’ve secluded myself at home for a long time to focus on my research.”】
Saying that, Lifa lightly shrugged her shoulders.
Certainly, in this world, even when a town was in the vicinity of another and when it wasn’t far at all, there were still some dangers, such as being attacked by monsters on the way. Nobody would bother to visit another town or village without a clear purpose. Well, still, the main reason was probably Lifa’s shut-in lifestyle.
【”So, you said we have things to do here but you didn’t say what. I need some explanations.”】
【”First, we’re going to look for some people.”】
Indeed, the current mission was to find Liner, Colette and Hugo and to set Lifa up with their group.
As for the pretext to get her there, it would probably be enough to just say he wants her to collaborate with Liner and the others. While their team was currently trying to get back the treasured sword, they were also working on solving accidents and other anomalies in various places, giving full play to their soft-hearted natures.
As one would expect from a man who was aiming to become the leader of the knight order in the future, Liner, who was in nearby town, was going to come to the Sumeragi territory upon hearing of the mysterious miasma problem that was occurring there.
This was why Harold had not entirely solved the miasma problem before. Because it was at this point in the original story that Erica had become a part of the protagonist’s party.
For the time being, the ideal choice was to just tell Lifa to join Liner’s team without Harold having to show up personally. As a last resort, Harold was also willing to stand before Liner himself, to avoid any unnecessary trouble.
【”They’re three people, one with red hair, one with golden hair, and one with blue hair. First we’re gonna check if they’re in the Sumeragis’ streets.”】
The group stood out a lot due to the weapons they were carrying and their colorful hair. If they had already visited this town, many people would remember.
That would not be strange since they were supposed to soon arrive to the Sumeragi territory, or at least, that was the case based on the calculations Harold had made from Elu’s latest regular report. Hence, his first move was to start searching for the team.
However, even so, he was thinking that it would be better to increase the frequency of Elu’s reports even more. There were no phones or emails in this world, so naturally, when communicating with someone far away; it was inevitable for the responses to come with a delay.
That delay was one of the reasons why Harold had not been aware of Lifa’s absence from the Weiss village before.
As Harold was losing himself in his own thoughts, Lifa called out to him.
【”Wouldn’t you incidentally also be looking for a black and white haired pair of people?”】
【”…What the hell are you talking about?”】
Unable to understand the intent behind Lifa’s question, Harold’s voice sounded dubious.
However, Lifa did not care about that, she directly raised her right arm and pointed it behind Harold.
【”Well, I’m telling you that because――”】
Before Lifa could finish her words, two hands were put on both of Harold’s shoulders. Then, voices, that Harold did not want to hear, came from both sides of his head.
【”I think the people she’s referring to…”】
【”Are the two of us.”】
Both of the voices were ridiculously refreshing.
However, when Harold heard them, his heart was far from being refreshed; in fact, they made him so concerned that cold sweat was coming out of his body. He slowly looked back behind him, despite knowing that the sight waiting for him was one that he did not want to see.
【”It’s been a while, Harold.”】
【”But going out with any woman other than Erica is absolutely not okay.”】
【”And he’s doing that in the middle of the Sumeragi territory, too.”】
One of them was Itsuki, who had an overpowering smile on his face; trademark of the Sumeragi siblings. The other one was Francis, who was exaggeratedly shaking his head in disapproval.
These two were a bad combination. They were condemning Harold as if he was a cheating husband caught in the act by an eye-witness, however, rather than that, there was something else Harold had to ask about.
【”….Why the hell are you here, Francis?”】
【”I’m just paying a visit to a friend’s house.”】
【”He has unfortunately already met Erica last time, plus he doesn’t seem like he’s going to do anything bad, so it should be alright.”】
【”Well, I mean, it feels like some horrible watchdog would leap at me out of nowhere if I did do something bad, so, yeah.”】
【”If that’s what you wish for, how about I tear your throat out and eat it right now?”】
【”Hey, stop aiming your blood-thirst at me. Seriously, you’re awful at making jokes.”】
“I am not joking with you” Harold instinctively wanted to say.
Colette had not followed Liner, Hugo had not been in the Cadiz ruins, and Lifa had investigated Harold himself; and now, Francis, who was normally supposed to become the hero’s team’s companion in the latter half of the original story, had appeared considerably in advance.
Why was there such a difference between their actions in the game and in this world? At present, Liner was the only one whose actions were normal. ‘He’s not the protagonist just for show.’ but while Harold was thinking that, there was something else he was worried about; because, as things were, Erica was also likely going to bring him some trouble.
(No, but if I think about it, isn’t this more convenient for me?)
Harold calmed himself down to some extent and put his brain to work. The consequences of Francis’ actions were the opposite of the others’, for Harold believed that not only was this not going to prevent Francis from becoming part of the hero’s team, but it was also going to make him join the team earlier than he initially would have.
He feared that if he were to hurriedly send Francis back to his own territory, then it would bring about yet another uncertain variable to his plans. So he figured that perhaps it would be a more sound choice to induce Francis to join the protagonist’s party right here.
If the number of companions increased earlier, then so would the speed of the group’s progress, and they would become more proficient at using different formations in battle, even though that depended solely on the player’s preferences in the game. Although some worrisome plot points that were not in the original story were developing, for Harold, who had fallen into a predicament that he had to solve as soon as possible, telling Francis to join the Hero’s team was the obvious choice.
Lifa spoke up while pulling on the hem of her skirt.
【”Who are these people?”】
【”This one is a man who’s abnormally attached to his younger sister, and this one is a skirt-chaser who wouldn’t utter a complaint even if you were to stab him.”】
【”Would you please stop those spiteful introductions?!”】
All the glances from the surrounding people focused on the noisy group.
Within the Sumeragi territory, where kimonos were the norm, Harold’s, Lifa’s, and Francis’ appearances stood out. Furthermore, as the next head of the family, Itsuki was highly popular among the people of the territory, so even if the group had not been making a racket, it was only natural for them to gather attention.
【”We’re standing out a little too much. How about we move this talk to my house?”】
【”Not gonna happen. I have no time to keep you company.”】
【”What, you’ve got something else to do?”】
【”I’m looking for some people. They’re three, one with red hair, one with blue hair, and one with golden hair.”】
【”And you’re in hurry? Because if so, you should ask the family head to search them for you.”】
When Itsuki proposed that, Harold wondered: would this method be more efficient?
Searching through the wide streets of the Sumeragi territory with only two people was certainly going to be hard; moreover, Harold was in a hurry, so he did want to accept the proposal. The problem was that Erica was in the Sumeragi residence.
If Harold thought about it, Lifa hardly had any information that he didn’t want Erica to know about.
The only information she had was about how Harold was reducing his life span to gain strength and that therefore his days were numbered ―― but there would be no problem as long as he warned Lifa not to tell others about that alone. He could inform her that the story about him not having much longer to live was a lie to begin with, but that would certainly be troublesome considering Lifa’s character and Harold’s own mischievous mouth.
If not for those circumstances, he’d have immediately said the truth; however, fact was that even if he tried to earnestly apologize, he might actually end up hurling abuses at her and somehow breaking off all ties with her, therefore destroying all the efforts he had put out so far. Harold would likely end up being slapped by both Erica and Lifa for that lie afterwards, but when he put himself in their shoes, then that punishment suddenly seemed pretty light.
【”So, what will you do, Harold?”】
【”…Alright. I’ll have you put in some hard work for once.”】
【”Then, I’ll guide you there.”】
Following Itsuki’s lead, the group went towards the Sumeragis’ residence. They walked on foot for a while, and after going to the place where their carriage was parked and taking it to the highway, they spent one more hour on the road.
Now, the vivid colors of the Sumeragi residence and its pink cherry blossoms were visible.
When she got down from the carriage, Lifa was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the sight in front of her, which she had never seen before. Harold also had his nostalgia stimulated by the nature and the streets of the Sumeragi territory, even though he was actually Japanese inside, which was no the case for Lifa, who seemed to be taking notice of many things.
However, Harold naturally couldn’t let her be befuddled forever so he lightly poked her head.
【”Hey, it hurts!”】
【”Ah, wait for me!”】
Itsuki and Francis were in the lead, and Harold and Lifa were right behind them. Then, when they came close to the residence’s gate, they heard some noisy voices.
【”What’s going on?”】
Itsuki tilted his head in wonder.
When Harold turned his feet towards the voices that were not stopping, he saw some people speaking up in front of the gate. Looking at them, Lifa muttered something.
【”Red, golden and blue…”】
Harold cast his eyes down while silently keeping the temple on his forehead in check.
There was no mistaking the three people who were standing before the gate of the Sumeragi family’s residence. They were Liner, Colette, and Hugo.
Translator’s note: Next chapter, without spoiling too much, let’s just say we’ll get what a lot of you have been waiting for, so do look forward to it! Also, the author is back to life and is posting chapters again, I told you guys he was just on a break, you should always believe in him 😀
If you’d like to read chapter 92 right away, to always be one chapter ahead, and to get access to exclusive content as well as previews, please consider pledging on Defiring translation’s Patreon page!
Anyway, I hope this chapter got you ready for this new “arc” of sorts, and I wish you all a fantastic week 😀