Chapter 92! The one a lot of you have been waiting for, but I think that applies for the whole arc 😀 By the way, this chapter was edited by fordoom, who once again did a great job!
For the Patrons, chapter 93 and its preview are available here.
【”Say, Harold, aren’t they…”】
【”Their traits correspond to the people that you two have been looking for.”】
【”Well, that was easy…”】
Harold was still silent. What kind of timing was that? He wanted to curse his fate.
Making an appearance here in front of Liner and the others was the worst development he could think of. Was there any way for him to disappear immediately?
Although Harold unintentionally thought of such things, if he did have the time to do that, then perhaps he should have directly escaped without caring about appearances. However, the other party had noticed Harold’s presence before he could do anything.
【”Ah, elder brother. Great timing, I need your…”】
Right after Erica started speaking, she stopped her words as she saw Harold. Apparently, she was the one that Liner and the others were interacting with in front of the residence’s gate. Harold was under the delusion that god or some other supernatural being was out to kill him. However, when he thought about it, this was nothing new considering he had possessed the body of Harold Stokes, who was loved by death flags.
Lured by Erica’s words, Liner and the others turned their heads and looked behind them. After a brief moment of silence, a voice filled with joy spoke up Harold’s name.
The owner of that voice, Liner, ran up to Harold.
Seeing that with a sidelong glance, Harold gave out instructions that only Lifa could hear.
【”Don’t tell them anything regarding how much time I have left to live.”】
Though she appeared to be dissatisfied by the request, Lifa still accepted it, and getting her to do so was probably enough to prevent her from leaking too much information.
Now, the only problems left for Harold to deal with were Erica and Colette, and then all the pieces would fall into place. He had better move with the assumption that Liner had been told about his connection to Colette. It would be very bad if those two were to tell Erica about Harold’s rescue of the Ameller mother and daughter. He had forbidden Colette to speak of that story, but that was eight years prior, and even if not for that, there was a danger that Liner would just spill the beans out of nowhere.
Besides, Hugo had not seen Harold’s face, but he had heard his voice. Above all, Harold’s poisonous mouth, which excelled at provoking people, could not easily be forgotten. So there was a risk that Hugo would see through the fact that Harold and the robed man he had met within the Haibar ruins were in fact the same person. Not to mention that, if he were to tell Liner that Harold was impersonating a thief while dressed in a robe, then things would get complicated once again.
It would be fine if Liner misunderstood things in a good way, however, on the contrary, there was a possibility that he would get a bad intuition, like the ones that would come up in some cheap plays. In which case, Harold’s relationship with Liner would become completely hostile.
In a flash, the Sumeragi residence had turned into Harold’s hell, as if it had been meticulously designed for his own personal suffering.
【”What the hell are you doing here?”】
【”I was still tracking those guys from last time, but I couldn’t cross over the mountain because it’s a restricted area. So I directly came here to get the permission to go through there…”】
While keeping his dismay hidden, Harold first confirmed the actions Liner and the others had taken so far. Their movements were pretty much the same as they were in the original story, except for the fact that, in the game, while they pursued the three robed people, the team’s advance had not come to a standstill due to the restriction on the area where the miasma outbreak had occurred.
But even so, since their advance was not controlled by the game’s system here, it was perfectly possible for them to take a detour around the mountain, however, considering that the detour would take a whole month, Harold could understand why Liner wanted to go through that path somehow or another.
【That doesn’t sound too good. May I listen in as well?”】
【”Hmm, and you are…”】
【”My name is Itsuki. I’m the older brother of Erica over there. Also, just saying, but, I’m the second most important person in this household.”】
【”Then, does that mean you let us go through the mountain?”】
【”Let’s talk first and we’ll decide after. Now then, come with me.”】
As Itsuki prompted them to follow him, Liner and the others were invited to the Sumeragi residence. A total of eight people were present, and including Harold, seven of them were characters of the original story; for a fan of the game, this experience was hard to bear with. But even though Harold felt that way, he had no complaints, both because some of the attention had now strayed from himself, and above all because there was a conversation that he needed to have for the sake of the coming future.
Although Harold was being pierced through by a wistful Gaze that seemed to be coming from Erica, he disregarded that for the time being.
The group was received within a spacious, thirty square meters (322 square feet) Japanese-style room where Harold had first met Erica eight years prior.
Within the room, Itsuki sat down on the seat of honor which was positioned behind a wooden desk. On his right were Erica, Harold, Lifa and Francis, and as for Liner, Colette and Hugo, they were sitting on the opposite side. Each of them were given some of the tea that Juno had made, and after gulping down a sip of that to moisten his throat, Itsuki started talking.
【”Well, first of all, let’s start by introducing ourselves. I am Ituski Sumeragi. I am the next head of the Sumeragi household and I’ve been friends with Harold for ten years. “】
Liner and Colette were in admiration. Moreover, from the right, Lifa muttered in shock “This has got to be a lie…”. That was her reaction to the claim that Itsuki was Harold’s friend.
“How is that shocking? What the hell do you take me for?” is what Harold wanted to say as a complaint, but when he thought about it objectively, he realized that her reaction was perfectly natural.
【”… I am Erica, Itsuki’s younger sister.”】
【”Also, she’s engaged to Harold.”】
Itsuki mercilessly threw out the information that Erica wanted to keep concealed. Harold felt a cold air drifting from her direction. And although he wanted to object Itsuki’s words, he did not feel like interjecting in the conversation here due to the excessively heavy pressure that was coming from Erica who was sitting on his left.
Since the atmosphere was becoming worse and worse, Harold pushed himself to do a self-introduction so as to change the subject as fast as possible, even though he had no interest in introducing himself to these people since he believed it wasn’t necessary for him to do so anymore by now.
【”I’m Harold Stokes.”】
That was it. Even if he talked about other things, it would come to no good. To begin with, this was meaningless since he was acquainted to most of the people who were present. They also knew him well enough that they did not voice any dissatisfaction even though he had introduced himself by simply giving his name.
As for Hugo, who was the only one not acquainted to Harold: he had an expression of doubt on his face. That was likely because he remembered that tone of voice. Maybe it was better for Harold not to talk too much.
As Harold was thinking of not opening his mouth again, Lifa promptly proceeded with her self-introduction.
【”I’m Lifa Goodridge. I came here to accompany Harold.”】
【”I don’t really know about the details either. Except for the fact that he made me help to look for you people. “】
Lifa answered Liner’s question while shrugging her shoulders. Harold would be fine as long as she didn’t say too much, but still, he had had no time to make any arrangements with her, so he had no choice other than to believe in her ability to read the mood and adapt to it.
The self-introductions continued, and next was Francis’ turn.
【”I am known as Francis J. Arkwright! I am an authentic prince, with the right to succeed to the crown!”】
【”You’re saying “the right to succeed” and all, but aren’t you the 37th in line for that?”】
【”Did you have to say that?!”】
Itsuki mercilessly threw a retort at Francis’ words. Like with Erica before, he did not fail to slip in some words that he did not have to say, and there was no mistaking that this was a premeditated crime. It wasn’t that he couldn’t read the atmosphere; rather, he read the atmosphere and then did this on purpose. That being said, only he knew the aim behind his actions, if there was any.
【”Well, after all, you wouldn’t succeed to the throne unless at least 37 catastrophes were to happen.”】
(That is actually gonna happen if things stay as they are….)
Harold sighed within his mind. The whole continent was in danger of going down.
But if that were to happen, then the right to succeed to the throne and whatnot would not be relevant anymore so, in the end, Francis still would not take the crown. However, while he was proud of being the prince, he was not really attached to the title, so he probably didn’t mind anyway.
【”Then, you’re next.”】
Itsuki cut off Francis’ objections and turned the room’s attention towards Liner.
【”I am Liner Griffith! I guess I’m Harold’s friend, but he’s also my target, so that’s kind of…”】
【”You’ve picked one hard target to aim for.”】
【”It would probably be impossible for most people to catch up to this guy, no matter how much effort they put in.”】
Itsuki and Francis, who knew of Harold’s unreasonable battle capabilities, gave deep nods while paying no heed to him even though he was right in front of them.
Harold actually wanted to make Liner as strong as himself, but it was unfair to expect that of him. Not to mention his character’s original capabilities, Harold’s current power also included the techniques and the information that had been accumulated by the game’s players.
That advantage was not something that others could catch up to in a day.
Afterwards, as the three men were getting riled up over Harold’s strength, they were kept in check by Erica, and everyone’s attention gathered over Colette.
【”I-I am Colette Ameller. I am Liner’s childhood friend, and, hmm…”】
Colette’s line of sight wandered about. It seemed like she was going to look at Harold, but after her glance reached him, it proceeded towards Erica, who was sitting next to him.
Harold understood the meaning of the look she had given him. She did not intend to speak of past events, that was likely the intent she wanted to convey when her eyes met his. She was very bad at keeping secrets and it was obvious that she was hiding something, but even so, Harold could be relieved that she was taking his intentions into consideration.
The problem however was the meaningful glance Colette had directed towards Erica. It did not seem like this was their first meeting. The moment Harold thought that, he heard something that he could not possibly ignore.
【”I-I’m also Erica-sama’s friend…”】
Colette timidly said so. Needless to say that Harold’s eyes had turned into dots.
He turned his face towards Erica, who was sitting on his left, while he held down the urge to interrogate her about what was going on. Her facial expression was a mix of awkwardness and resignation.
It was surprising of her to display such a face, but it showed that, for some reason, Erica was not pleased by Colette’s words.
However, that was no the important part. For Harold, it was already a big problem that Erica and Colette already knew each other from before.
When had that happened? Where? Why? He did not have a clue, and the worst of expectations had crossed his mind. Perhaps Erica knew of the past he shared with Colette. But even though Harold had such doubts, he quickly put a stop to that thought, as he assessed that it was overly simplistic.
(There is no way that’s true… probably… I think…)
Although he could not confirm this, he believed the current situation would not have come to be if Erica was aware of his past deeds. Also, this was paradoxical logic, but considering her personality, it was safe to think that she was just hiding her hatred of Harold.
Moreover, in view of the look Colette had given Harold earlier, she would probably not expose his secret easily. If he reacted rashly here, that could backfire on him. So he took a small, yet deep breath and regained his calm.
【”…Long time no see, Colette-sama.”】
【”Oh, no need to add “sama” to my name! “Colette” alone is just fine!”】
【”How about Colette-san?”】
【”Y-yes! Please use that!”】
The expression Erica had on her face just seconds before disappeared as if it had never been there, and her usual, fascinating, soft smile returned. The speed of that change was as fast as one would expect from her.
Nevertheless, in proportion to her claim that she was Erica’s friend, Colette seemed quite nervous. While this may not have been their first meeting, the fact that they were still worrying over honorifics just went to show that they weren’t that close to each other.
With that said, Harold did not understand how they had ended up becoming friends. Their relationship was a mystery.
【”Guess I’ll go last. I’m Hugo Grafton. I’m an adventurer. As for why I’m with Liner and Colette… Well, things just worked out that way.”】
【”If you’re an adventurer, then you are aware of the dangers you’ll face if you enter a restricted area, correct?”】
【”Of course… But well, actually, I can’t really claim that I am.”】
Maybe because he recalled his mistake in the Haibar ruins, Hugo embarrassedly scratched his head. Harold did not overlook the fact that, at that moment, Hugo stole a glance at him.
Perhaps he had already realized that Harold was the robed man from that time. The pending problems waiting for Harold were increasing faster and faster. To top that off, his mind was exhausted, and for some reason, he felt like even his stomach was hurting.
Currently, Harold’s only comfort was the tea made by Juno.
【”Mhm, I guess you have your reasons. By the way, Harold. “】
【”Why were you looking for Liner and the others? It seems like you already know them, do you happen know what their situation actually is, too?”】
Itsuki’s keen insight was surprising in many ways, but in this particular case, most people would likely have figured things out by connecting the dots. The timing of the encounter was too good for it to be an accident, so Itsuki’s thoughts were reasonable.
【”Yeah, I do know.”】
Harold intended to disclose all the information he possibly could. From here, he was going to tell them the solution to the miasma problem, to make them assemble as a party like in the original story, and to let them know that Justus Freund was the root of all evil.
He had to do that to get them ready to fight with everything they had in the all-out war that was going to come months from here.
His choice was likely going to affect the flow of the original story in a big way, and Harold was terrified by the fact that he might influence the fate of the whole world.
Still, he stepped forward, convinced that he had to take this step for the sake of surviving.
【”And I’ll also show you people the most efficient solution to deal with that later. But say, Itsuki.”】
【”What is it?”】
【”About the miasma outbreak in your territory, what would you do if I tell you there is a way to put an end it for good?】
Translator’s note: Poor Harold, lately it’s just one death flag after the other >< Next Chapter is a long one, we’ll be getting both Harold and Erica’s POVs, be sure to check it out 😀 Personally, I’m really glad the author gathered everyone, I was afraid he’d just keep adding party members ><
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Anyway, hopefully everyone got their dose of Erica for now, I hope you’ll have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you next week 😀