Chapter 93 is here! This one’s as long as it is great, and it was edited by fordoom, who did an excellent job! 😀 And sorry for the delay, I’ve been both sick and busy these last few days, damn you, winter!
For the Patrons, chapter 94 and its preview are available here.
Anyway, here is the chapter, enjoy!
It was only a slight change, but those words had made Itsuki’s facial expression stiffen a little. It looked like Erica had her breath taken away, too. The human losses had been held back to a minimum thanks to the antibody drugs made by Harold, and with the LP farming method, the territory had acquired a new source of revenue; but nevertheless, the decay in their exploitation of forestry, which used to be their forte, was still a painful problem for the Sumeragi territory.
Even if their economy had not been affected at all, this was still a source of anxiety, and there was no helping the fact that it was a minus for the whole Sumeragi territory. There was no reason for Itsuki’s interest to not be caught by this.
【”Can you really do it?… That would probably be a foolish question to ask. But how in the world would you go about doing that?”】
That was a reasonable question for Itsuki to ask. But presenting an answer to this would be the same as revealing who was the one pulling the strings behind this case.
In other words, it would clarify that Liner’s end goal was to bring down Justus. But what would really happen if Harold told them about the existence of the last boss, which had been revealed to them only by the final stage of the original story?
Harold had been troubled and scared many times so far about changing the flow of the game’s story, and as he modified it over and over again, he had started thinking like this: What if the story had already reached a point from which it could not be fixed anymore?
In this world, Clara had survived, and with that, Colette had no reason to hate Harold. The same applied to Liner, who was hostile to Harold in the original story because he was his childhood friend’s enemy.
Due to the antibody drugs and the LP farming method, the Sumeragi territory had not fallen into a serious economic crisis, and they no longer needed to marry their daughter Erica to the infamous Harold.
Since he hadn’t lost his subordinates, Cody did not give up on the knight order and still belonged to it, therefore, the Frieri group, which was supposed to be established by him, was instead managed by Harold with Elu’s support.
Harold had also unexpectedly developed a connection with some of the members of the protagonist’s party who were supposed to have nothing to do with his character until the start of the game, such as Lifa, Francis and Hugo.
The Harold Stokes in this world had already become a completely different person from the original Harold stokes, and in this situation where he was close to the eleventh hour, he probably had better make his plans accordingly.
Therefore he spoke up without hesitation.
【”This is the source of the miasma. You’ll be able to stop it if you disable it.”】
As he said so, he took out a hexagon-shaped machine of about ten centimeters (4 inches) in diameter. It was a strange-looking object with a cord and a blinking light on it. When Harold put it on the desk, it made a heavy, solid thud.
While in the middle of a mission to set some of these devices in specific places, Harold figured it might be useful and took one of them for himself. Because he was afraid that Justus would find out, Harold had insisted that he had lost the device and continued asserting his innocence until he stopped being questioned about it. So, in short, he had stolen it.
【”What kind of machine is this?”】
【”Do you know about what they call a dragon pulse?”】
【”I recall it’s like a passage through which the earth’s essence flows…”】
Itsuki answered Harold’s question with some vague information. However, if he already knew that much, then there was no problem. A dragon pulse was something like a power spot.
Incidentally, Colette and Liner, who were facing Harold, exchanged glances and tilted their heads in wonder, seemingly unaware of what a dragon pulse was.
【”That’s right. And by installing this mechanism in the dragon rear, which is the exit of a dragon pulse, one can absorb the earth’s essence, its energy.”】
Harold wasn’t quite sure how the device worked exactly, but a normal person simply could not understand an object that was made by Justus himself. For the time being, he could do nothing but acknowledge the fact that that was how things were.
Besides, this world’s mysterious energy that was called the earth’s essence was even more familiar to Harold than the energy that people used in his original world, so he didn’t even have to twist the truth.
【”So what? I don’t really get it.”】
【”The earth’s essence is like a person’s blood. Liner, what would happen if, for instance, you were to tie a rope very tightly around your upper arm?”】
【”My blood would stop!”】
【”Yeah. Then, if your blood stopped circulating there, it would result in necrosis, and your arm would rot and fall down.”】
Those words made the whole room silent. Almost everyone had guessed the meaning behind Harold’s words.
To clarify the seriousness of the situation even further, Harold continued explaining.
【”When the flowing essence gets interrupted at the dragon rear, a similar phenomenon happens to the earth. The miasma is like blood that’s gone bad; it’s the essence’s impurities.”】
【”The essence’s impurities…”】
【”When they enter someone’s body in large quantities, the impurities get mixed up with the person’s blood, causing an anomaly.”】
That was the setting in the original story. Moreover, considering the fact that the antibody drug was effective in this world, then this theory probably applied here as well.
Harold had thought that Itsuki would be delighted to find the solution to a problem he had been facing for years, but that was not the case. Rather, his facial expression looked even grimmer than before.
【”…Harold, is there a way to cure someone whose blood was mixed up with those impurities?”】
【”Yes, and it’s quite simple. If you disable the machine, then the earth’s held back essence will start overflowing. If that someone breaths that in, then his condition will probably improve.”】
Itsuki became excited and showed a broad smile, it was a complete change from his earlier grim face. He was concerned about the lives of his people above all else, that was his top priority, just as one would expect from someone who was from the Sumeragi family. Erica, who was next to Harold, kept on taking deep breaths to calm herself down.
When the device was deactivated in the original story, the accumulated earth essence gushed out, and some light green particles rained down on the Sumeragi territory. The game also showed a depiction of patients, who had been affected by the miasma, suddenly recovering upon inhaling those particles.
Justus intended to make use of that accumulated essence, therefore if the devices that were installed in various places, including the Sumeragi territory, were disrupted, his plans would be put to action with an insufficient amount of energy, and he would get incomplete results. In other words, properly solving the miasma problem here would show effect in the fight against the last boss.
【”If you deactivate the device that’s installed at the dragon rear somewhere on the mountain, then the flow at the dragon pulse will return to normal and the miasma will disappear. The local population will be saved, as well. You hear me? Don’t destroy it, deactivate it.”】
【”We’ll do that for sure. But what happens if we break it?”】
【”The enormous flow of essence that’s been held back will go on a rampage and will blow up the whole area.”】
【”That’s one serious task to take on!!”】
Francis showed an exaggerated reaction, but everyone else shared the same stiff expressions on their faces.
Well, perhaps that was an inevitable reaction given that they were told the whole area would blow up if they failed.
【”Stop shouting. It’s going to be fine as long as the right procedure is used to deactivate it.”】
【”O-oh. Don’t scare us like that…”】
【”And Harold-sama knows that procedure for sure!”】
【”No, I don’t.”】
Liner, who had been feeling relieved, and Colette, whose eyes had been full of expectations, were both frozen stiff on the spot. The atmosphere instantly became heavy.
【”You don’t…? Then, what should we do? Should we ask the one who made the machine?”】
【”How dumb can you possibly be? We can’t exactly ask the one responsible for this situation to deactivate the device for us now, can we?”】
【”That, that makes sense…”】
Harold unintentionally insulted Hugo out of reflex. As for Hugo’s reaction, he shrank back.
Harold had reflexively let his mouth speak even though he had been trying to avoid talking more than necessary. But well, so far, he hadn’t stopped talking at all, so his hopes of keeping his identity concealed were steadily going down.
【”Then we’ll have to look for a solution from scratch. First we’ll examine the structure of that device and…”】
【”That won’t be necessary.”】
【”…What do you mean?”】
Harold took the machine he had put on the desk and he lightly tossed it on his right, towards Lifa who caught it with both of her hands.
【”She’ll disable it.”】
【”Yeah, that’s right. You got a problem with that?”】
With a slightly provocative tone to her voice, Lifa smiled at Itsuki. Needless to say that what she meant was that he shouldn’t judge by appearances and make light of her just because she was small.
In the game’s story, Lifa could manipulate a machine’s system right after touching it for the very first time; she was also familiar with mechanical engineering and electronic engineering given that there were scenes where she quickly built some simple machines of her own. So, although she was overshadowed by Justus because he was simply too much of an oddity, she was still a genius.
Harold had handed her the device on the way here and had gotten her to grasp its structure and the method to deactivate it. She herself had said “I’ll do it”, so everything was likely going to be fine.
【”That’s how it is. As soon as Lifa is done getting prepared, we’ll go disable the device.”】
【”I’ll go with you!”】
【”If you two are going, then I guess I’ll have to come along.”】
Liner, Colette and Hugo immediately showed their will to accompany Harold and Lifa; and Francis followed suit.
【”Well, now that I’ve heard so much, It’s impossible for me to withdraw.”】
【”My royal blood would cry if I didn’t take action to pull my best friend out of his predicament.”】
【”…Thank you. Alright, then I’ll also――”】
Harold and Erica simulataneously interrupted the words of Itsuki who was about to declare that he would participate.
That was only natural. Not to mention the fact that Itsuki had not appeared in this event in the original story, he was also the next head of the Sumeragi family. He could not afford to take the risk of losing his life in the unlikely case of a failure.
It was probably the same thought process that led Erica to stop her brother.
【”Think about your standpoint. “】
【”Shouldn’t you take shelter in case of an emergency, elder brother?”】
【”The people of the Sumeragi family can’t not involve themselves with this serious matter.”】
【”Then, I’ll go. You don’t mind, right? Harold-sama.”】
【”Don’t ask me. Decide that for yourself.”】
【”You heard him. Please restrain yourself, elder brother.”】
The conversation continued as Harold and Erica kept firing one argument after another towards Itsuki before he could utter any objection. Although Erica and Harold’s affinity was supposed to be bad, when their intents matched, they worked surprisingly well together.
When thinking about it calmly, it wouldn’t be good for Erica to come along in such an expedition, but although Harold believed that, he still felt it would be quite convenient if she did come.
Afterwards, Harold, Erica and Itsuki kept arguing with each other, but by the end of the two-to-one battle, Itsuki was the one who finally gave in.
However, once it had been decided who would be going to deactivate the device, Francis suddenly asked a question.
【”By the way, Harold. Where did you get that device and the method to solve the miasma problem?”】
As Harold expected, he was going to have to answer to that question. Everyone’s eyes naturally gathered on him.
Believing that this was a good timing to lay out the truth anyway, he spoke up.
【”Because I’m familiar with the one responsible for what this device did.”】
【”Justus Freund. He was the one pulling the strings behind the miasma outbreak.”】
【”What?! Wasn’t Dr. Freund the one who protected you?!”】
【”On the surface, yeah. Fact is that he was just taking his chance to put me under his control and use me.”】
【”…Can you explain the situation?”】
【”Humph. If you want to know that badly, then I’ll tell you.”】
Now then, where should I start? Harold pondered. If I’m going to start from the beginning, then I guess I should talk about that thing first.
Erica was sweating badly. The reason for that was that both Harold and Colette were present right in front of her.
There would have been no problem if only one or the other was here. She would have been happy to unexpectedly meet Colette once again, and a sudden visit from Harold would make her heart leap from joy, although she would not show that on her face.
However, since both of those events happened at the same time, she couldn’t be all that delighted.
Her relation to Harold had been lasting for eight whole years during which it was solidified through lies and misunderstandings.
Harold had lied to Erica and had wrongly guessed that she believed he had killed Colette and her mother.
Although she knew that Harold was lying, Erica was pretending to be deceived by him out of respect for his intentions.
Also, Colette was aiming directly at the lies which were making Harold and Erica’s relation look bad on the surface, because she did not understand the delicate nature of their connection.
Erica believed she was the one who understood the situation better than anyone else. Therefore, she could not act rashly. There were some secrets that simply needed to be kept between each of the three parties, and this situation was basically a three-way deadlock.
Thus, she was reluctant to expose the fact that Colette was her friend.
Colette had done nothing wrong. Erica was the one who had suggested that the two of them should become friends once they met again, and she was actually glad that Colette still remembered that promise from five years prior.
However, why did that have to happen with this timing?
Erica couldn’t deny Colette’s words, so she properly acknowledged her as her friend. It was impossible for her to make herself cold-hearted enough to feign ignorance in these circumstances.
She was feeling a completely new type of pain in her stomach. Her mind and her body did not seem like they would last for long this time around.
However, as the discussion went forward, there was less and less room to worry about these matters.
She was abruptly informed of the method to cure the patients who were affected by the miasma, and to even solve the miasma problem entirely. The Sumeragi family had been seeking that information with open arms.
More importantly, Harold was going to personally talk about his past. Though, knowing Harold, it was unlikely for him to confess the entire truth, she still wanted to know what he was thinking, even if only a little.
【”First of all, do you recall the Beltis forest battle from five years ago?”】
Harold began talking disinterestedly. For Erica, that battle was where it all began; she could not possibly forget it.
【”That was a conflict where the imperial army launched an assault due to which both the knight order and the stellar tribe suffered many casualties. If I remember right, that was when you were suspected of being a spy of the Empire.”】
Francis was the one who answered.
It seemed like he knew the outline of the story since it had made quite a stir at the time. However, that information was just made to manipulate the public opinion.
【”That’s not correct. Harold had gotten information about the Imperial army’s invasion before it happened, and he went to the Beltis forest to prevent that from happening.”】
【”That doesn’t matter.”】
【”Yes, it does. You got that serious injury because of that.”】
【”It was just a scratch.”】
【”An air hole was opened through your shoulder with a magic spell, the wound was so severe that you stayed unconscious for a week, so I wouldn’t call it a scratch.”】
【”W-were you all right in the end…?”】(Colette)
【”I’m here right now so of course I was all right. I’ll continue my story now. “】
Itsuki knew that Harold would get irritated when too much information about him was exposed.
But ever since that injury had happened, part of Itsuki was desperate to do everything to stop Harold from being reckless and acting rashly. He had tasted the same fear as Erica when Harold’s life was put on the line due to that battle.
Thereafter, he became willing to act cranky so as to dissuade Harold from being careless. However, that was unfortunately not very effective.
【”In that battle, I defeated a major general of the imperial army, and I put in some great efforts to capture him. As a result of that, I was arrested under suspicions of being a spy of the imperial army. Two weeks later, it was decided that I would be executed.”】
【”That’s ridiculous! You were the one who stopped the battle!”】(Liner)
Indeed, the work that Harold displayed in that battle was well worthy of praise, it would not have been strange for him to get a medal for that. If not for Harold, that battle might have grown into an internal strife between the knight order and the stellar tribe due to the imperial army’s schemes.
He had been dressed with the imperial army’s uniform so as to notify the knight order early on about who the real enemy was, but even if that fact had been kept hidden to bring him down, it would still have been impossible to punish him.
But even so, it did happen, and Harold was finally going to tell the truth about that.
【”The one who drove the Sarian Empire into launching an attack was a man named Harrison, but he was actually being manipulated by Justus.”】
【”…… In short, he’s the one who’s truly responsible for that battle….”】
Erica’s voice was slightly trembling out of shock and anger.
On the other hand, Harold kept speaking emotionlessly.
【”Yeah, that’s right. In addition, Justus manipulated the people of the tribunal so that they would sentence me to execution, and once I was incarcerated in a dungeon, he judged that the time was ripe and appeared before me. Then he told me that sitting there waiting for my death was no good and he asked me to come with him.”】
What a crafty threat, thought Erica. He was the one who cornered him into that predicament and yet he was also the one who offered him his help. That was the epitome of viciousness.
Looking at Itsuki and Liner, they seemed to be getting angry at Justus, as for Colette and Hugo; they looked like they were feeling compassionate towards Harold who had been treated too unfairly.
【”Although it was annoying to work with him, it was a good opportunity to find out his real intentions. One of the things I learned in that process was the information I just gave you.”】
【”…But why is Dr.Freund doing such things?”】
【”It seems like he’s planning something that requires him to capture the upper echelons of the country. Both the Beltis forest’s battle and the energy he’s absorbing from the dragon pulse are probably related to that as well. I don’t want to try to guess the real intentions of a man who’s so mad that he captured people from the stellar tribe to practice human experimentation.”】
【”Human experimentation? Don’t tell me he caused that whole battle for that!?”】
【”The chaos gave him the perfect occasion to kidnap people.”】
【”Shit! Harold, are the people he kidnapped safe?!”】
【”…He only managed to take two people away. But I wouldn’t say they’re safe.”】
Francis punched the desk as his facial expression became distorted. If he did not do that, he likely would have been at a loss about where to let out his anger.
Hugo also murmured something, saying only “Don’t tell me they were…”, but he then closed his mouth. Judging from his words, he might have thought of something at that moment.
A mournful atmosphere dominated over the room. Even Juno, who had been casting her eyes down while sitting on a chair in a corner, tightly grasped her hands on her knees. The only one whose mood did not change was Harold.
【”And then, there is you, Liner.”】
【”Harrison was the one who ordered the theft of that sword of yours. And, naturally, Justus was behind that, too.”】
【”What the hell…. Then, the reason you almost died, the reason mom and dad got hurt, the reason those innocent people were injured, the reason the Sumeragis’ people suffered, the reason for everything that happened were Justus’ actions?!”】
【”As far as I know, yes.”】
【”He’s gonna pay! I’m gonna beat the hell out of him!”】
Liner spoke up in high spirits. That feeling was also shared by Erica, and perhaps by everyone in the room.
When examined carefully, the sources of their anger were probably more or less different from one individual to another. However, there was one thing they all shared in common: it was the blaze of anger they lit up against Justus for daring to hurt Harold so much. This was the first time Erica ever felt emotions that were this negative.
【”If you think you can do it, go ahead and try. But that’s not gonna happen unless you fix the miasma problem first.”】
Everyone’s voices got mixed up as they replied in a disorderly fashion with “yes”, “Of course!”, “let”s go” and more, but every one of their answers was a strong, affirmative response.
No need to say that Erica’s voice was included in that as well.
Translator’s note: Finally, he spilled the beans… sort of, but it’s enough for me >< Next chapter, Harold’s favorite part of the story will be back: the onsen >< So do look forward to it 😀
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Anyway, I hope you’ll have an excellent day, and I’ll see you next week! 😀