It’s finally! Chapter 101 of death flags is here! The author didn’t do a double release this time and that’s a damn shame but this is still great, this feels like drinking water after fasting all day :'( (Please don’t blame me, I can’t translate chapters that don’t exist unfortunately >< )
By the way, I’d like to clear one thing up ’cause I’ve seen people misunderstanding this a lot of times, notably on the discord… anyway, I often speak of the defiring ‘team’ but I actually work by myself, hence why I called my website after my own username, I just think it sounds cooler to speak of a ‘team’, but there is no one else for now, I dunno, maybe there will be in the future?
Anyway, here is the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!!
After confirming that Vincent had fallen, Harold dropped on one knee, like he had lost all the strength in his legs. The wounds he had received were not very serious, but the battle had lasted for a long time, and it was only natural that his bleeding body was depleted of its strength after he used a combo of over a hundred hits.
Moreover, his mind was exhausted from being continuously exposed to Vincent’s fierce attacks.
But he had won. Even Vincent would not be able to withstand the attack he had just received. It would not even be surprising if he died from it.
The last technique Harold used, “Lightning clash”, was undoubtedly his most powerful special move. But due to its immense power, charging it was a long process, and it was very difficult to use.
Even in the game, it was clear that the skill was not suitable for combat, to the point where it was considered as a sort of joke skill that was always interrupted before it could be fired. The game was set up to be played in parties of four, so it seemed obvious that a skill that would take this long to charge would end up being cancelled by an attack from the enemy.
In this fight, Harold’s use of the skill was a wise decision only because he was in a one-on-one fight, in a situation that would never have happened in the game.
(And it’s thanks to that that I won.) Thought Harold.
As Harold was looking down to the ground and struggling to catch his breath, he suddenly heard something.
He stopped breathing. One thought took over most of his brain (This can’t be happening).
However, at the same time, he was also thinking (This is Vincent so maybe…).
He did not want to believe it, but Harold raised his face to look straight at the reality that was likely taking place.
As he looked in front of him, he let his thoughts escape his mouth.
【”…He’s a monster…”】
His armor was smashed up, and his body was riddled with wounds and dyed with blood. Despite that, Vincent stood up. It felt like he was a ghost, back from the dead.
Probably because he did not have any strength in his arms, he dragged his huge sword on the ground while staggering as he stepped forward. His body made it look like he was on the verge of dying, but oddly, there was a sharp glint in his eyes.
【”Harold… Stokes is… the top priority… elimination… target…”】
【”So you’re just a puppet now? To think you’re supposed to be the leader of the saint knight order; how the mighty have fallen.”】
In the original story, Vincent was deceived by Justus’ words and lost sight of himself, but now, he had completely lost his self-consciousness through some sort of brainwashing. Therefore, his current state was even worse than it was in the game.
When he thought about it, Harold realized that he and Vincent were in the same position. He was a boss character, and the stage was set for him to be brought down by the protagonist. Vincent’s death had not been clearly depicted in the game, but it could be guessed that he died based on Cody’s dialogue with the protagonist.
In other words, Vincent also had death flags on his path. This twist of fate that had made two such people fight to the death would have made Harold laugh if his life was not on the line. And he wondered, was it their destiny to keep fighting here until one of them died?
【”This is such bullshit….”】
This felt horrible. Harold had possessed this body without knowing why, and since then, he had been constantly struggling with his fear of death, every single day.
This world closely resembled his favorite game, and yet it was impossible for him to merely enjoy it. Because, while enjoying himself had helped him slightly reduce the burden on his mind, that was very limited due to the fear and anxiety that came with knowing his future and the future of this world.
However, he felt like Vincent was also quite unfortunate. He was currently in wrecked state, hurt everywhere, but he did not know anything about what was happening or why it was happening.
He had lost his family and hometown, he had to become a mercenary and to dye his hands with blood in order to survive, however, in order to protect his friend; in order to protect everyone he could, he became a knight. Then, by relying not only on his talent but also on his continuous and considerable efforts and his strong and straightforward personality, he was able to ascend to the rank of leader of the saint knight order.
And yet, this was the final result.
In the original story, he lost a lot of his subordinates, and his dream and pride, the saint knight order, was destroyed. This had weakened his heart, and the one responsible for all of that, Justus, made use of Vincent’s weakness to make him point his sword at Liner and his party. In the end, he was defeated and killed by his close childhood friend, Cody.
And now, he had been brainwashed and turned into nothing more than a puppet that could only faithfully execute Justus’ orders. Moreover, the result of fulfilling those orders would be a massive disaster that was going to swallow the whole continent, taking with it all of the people that Vincent was trying to protect.
If Vincent was not considered unfortunate, then there was no such thing as misfortune. In any case, his life was full of hardships.
【”…Are you seriously satisfied with such a life?”】
Asked Harold, before he was aware of it. Even though he knew that it was useless to speak to Vincent in the state he currently was in, Harold still could not help himself from speaking the feelings that were twisting and turning in his mind.
【”Being unable to accomplish one’s own goals, and being used for someone else’s plans…”】
That unreasonable reality was enraging.
【”Such a shitty existence is worthless. Can you really call a life that you can’t live for yourself a “life” ?”】
At the same time, he still craved for life. There was no way he would accept to die as a mere tool for a story.
【”Is your current pathetic state really the so called ideal justice that you were targeting, Vincent?”】
Naturally, Vincent did not give an answer, but Harold was not really expecting any.
He merely wanted to speak. He was rebuking his own self, selfishly pitying Vincent for being like him, and resenting the fate that surrounded them both.
Thrusting his sword to the ground in order to use it as a cane, Harold managed to stand up. His strength was almost at its limit.
The moment when he mistakenly thought he had won, Harold had lost his tension, which was likely what allowed his weariness and fatigue to surge. He barely managed to lift up his sword, but he had no confidence that he could fight properly in his state. Vincent also had suffered some heavy damage, but given how he was able to disregard his own injuries, Harold’s chances of success were low.
Still, for the sake of his own survival, Harold had no other choice than to keep a grip on his sword.
(I’m in a pretty bad spot, aren’t I?) While thinking that in a corner of his mind like it was someone else’s problem, Harold shouted powerfully.
【”You bloody idiot, you’re letting someone else manipulate you! Your will is yours to control!”】
Immediately after Harold screamed that, a change occurred in Vincent.
He stopped his slow walk and dropped his large sword.
Harold unintentionally voiced out his dubiousness. He noticed the tone he used sounded pretty bad, like he was some small time yakuza or hoodlum, but that was the result of his bewilderment as he was faced with this sudden turn of events that he did not understand.
Harold hesitated about whether to exploit this opportunity for a quick attack or to just observe the situation, but in the end, he picked the latter choice.
If he failed his attack, that would spell his defeat; the pressure from knowing that was keeping his feet from moving.
【”I need to… I… Harold…!”】
Then, Harold noticed something. Compared to earlier, Vincent’s strange way of speaking was becoming more normal.
What was the meaning of that change? Harold found a thread of hope in the conclusion that he immediately reached.
(Could it be that he’s getting rid of his brainwashing?)
Although had no real proof of this, Harold still felt like the robotic aspect of Vincent’s voice was fading and making way for a hint of humanity.
If Vincent really was getting rid of his brainwashing, then what was the reason? Was it due to the damage he received from being attacked? Was it because of Harold’s actions? Or was it simply due to the passing of time?
However, none of that mattered. The important part was that there was a chance for Vincent to turn back to normal. If he could do that, then there would be no need for he and Harold to kill each other here.
In a sense, that train of thought was due to Harold being soft. At the end of the day, the personality inside him was that of a college student who had been living peacefully in Japan until eight years ago.
After possessing the body of Harold, whose path was full of death flags, he had experienced many battles against monsters and humans alike. And the whole time, he had been living his life while being careful not to make any mistakes that would lead to him killing someone or being killed. In other words, he had never killed a human being so far.
There would be no coming back after stepping over that line, it was a clear boundary. Hence why he had been continuously hesitating to cross it, both consciously and unconsciously.
That was the reason he chose no to attack Vincent right now, but to shout at him instead.
【”Wake up already! Is this farce really the end you want?!”】
In response to Harold’s words, Vincent held his own head and let out a painful groan.
Harold was certainly driven by the selfish thought that it would be best for himself if the fight stopped. However, right now, the words he was shouting also came from the bottom of his heart.
That was because Harold, or rather, Kazuki Hirasawa, sincerely wanted the man called Vincent Van Westervoort to survive. He may have been just a game’s character back in Kazuki’s world, but the Vincent that he was facing here and now was a real human being, made of flesh and blood.
Harold was not close to him. He had barely even had any actual conversations with him. He merely one-sidedly knew Vincent’s personality and circumstances due to the game.
But it was precisely because of that that he knew that Vincent deserved better than to die here. He wanted to save him if there was any way to do it.
That was the manifestation of Harold’s kind and soft side.
【”Hurry the hell up and come back, Vincent!”】
【”…Ah, aaah… Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”】
Vincent’s very loud scream resounded inside the cave. Then, he fell to his knees like he was about to collapse.
He stopped moving and stayed in that position.
Harold tried to call out to him but got no response.
(Was the brainwashing wiped away or did he just pass out?) As Harold wondered that, he carefully approached Vincent while staying cautious in order to be able to react if he was suddenly attacked.
And the moment the distance between the two of them became lower than two meters (6 feet), Vincent made a move.
Harold took some distance right away.
As for Vincent, after starting to move again, he did not pay any attention to Harold and took something out instead. It was a transparent, cylindrical container with a sky-blue liquid inside.
Seeing that, Harold immediately became pale.
(The astral potion!)
This was the potion that Harold had taken in the original story. It was a dreadful item that could grant strength to its user only to ultimately kill him due to being too potent for the body to handle.
But now, it had been given to Vincent instead of Harold.
Harold had thought that, by simply not taking the potion, he would be able to avoid dying like Harold Stokes did in the game. However, what was going to happen if Vincent drank the potion in the current situation? The temporary power up would likely allow him to kill Harold before he himself would die as well.
The worst development possible had just crossed Harold’s mind. No matter what, he had to stop Vincent from using that item.
As he thought of that, Harold knew that he had to step forward immediately, but his body did not move. That was because he had jumped backwards when he widened the distance between him and Vincent, and his center of gravity was pulling him behind in consequence.
Redirecting his center of gravity, crossing the distance between himself and Vincent, and then destroying the astral potion; all of that would only take Harold a few seconds. However, those few seconds felt hopelessly far away to him.
Because Harold knew that he did not have enough time.
The only thing Harold could do now was scream at Vincent. Although it was useless, he extended his right hand forward, but he was not close enough to grab anything.
Right now, all he could do was watch.
Vincent raised his face to look up above him, he opened his mouth to drink the astral potion, and then, the sound of the container breaking echoed within the cave.
Itsuki was busy tidying up the paperwork in his room. Once he worked enough to be able to take a pause, he breathed out while stretching his stiff back.
【”Haa… I guess I’ll take a little break.”】
【”Then, I’ll go make tea.”】
【”Thanks, please do.”】
Silvie, who had been sitting beside him, left the room to prepare some tea. Before coming here, Silvie was used to black tea only, but nowadays she had been actively making green tea.
The sight of her becoming accustomed to the Sumeragis’ culture so quickly made Itsuki’s heart spontaneously warm up.
【”Becoming married is so much better than I thought.”】
Suddenly muttered Itsuki. Although this statement was not very persuasive coming from him who had gotten married less than half a year ago, he still had the conviction that he and his wife would love each other all the same in the future…. or rather, that they would love each other even more.
Regardless of that, there was a certain thought that was still occupying his mind.
【”If only Erica and Harold could also just get together already…”】
They were both very obstinate people, especially Harold, who was perhaps the world’s most obstinate person. Although they could both be somewhat shaken by Itsuki’s methods, it was extremely difficult to make them compromise.
Be it in the past or now, Harold was always one to carry on through the path that he chose for himself. Perhaps this made it sound like he had a very firm will, but those who knew him well could not help but be worried knowing that Harold had picked a lonely road on which he would not rely on anyone.
【”Harold relied on my family only a single time… No, I guess it was twice?”】
The first time, he came to ask for support so that he could ambush the Sarian empire soldiers who had come to attack the Bertis forest due to Justus’ schemes. However, Harold’s actual request was a very simple one, all he asked them was to prepare a uniform of the Sarian empire for him, and apart from that one thing, the Sumeragis weren’t able to support him publicly.
As for the second time…. The Sumeragi family had yet to fulfill that request.
Itsuki took out a sealed envelope that was locked in his desk drawer. It was given to him by his father, and it contained a letter that Harold had written.
Although he had already read it so many times that he could recite it from memory? Itsuki took the letter out of the envelope and opened it.
Inside, Harold had written down a method to produce a medicine which worked against the miasma that had spread in the Sumeragi territory, he had also offered a ground-breaking industrial technique that he called LP farming, and he proposed to cancel the engagement that had been made by exploiting the family’s weakness.
Moreover, believing that the Stokes family would eventually decline, he wanted the Sumeragi family to take action in order to make it so that the lives of the people of the Stokes territory would not be affected at that time. Truthfully, Itsuki did no want the Stokes family to decline, but back when Harold was eight years old, he believed that that future was already set in stone. And that had likely not changed now.
【”…What does the world look like from Harold’s perspective?”】
He had the power to understand a situation, to think ahead of it, and to then make use of that information to get things done and pave the way for the future he wanted. (There is no matching him on these points) Thought Itsuki.
Moreover, it was no exaggeration to say that, when he held a sword, he was the strongest fighter on the whole continent.
Heart, technique, physique, strength, ingenuity and resourcefulness. Itsuki’s friend possessed all of these qualities, with each of them being at a very high level. He was a remarkable man, and at this point, it would not be strange if he left his name in history.
【”He’s only made very few requests of me so far, but if anything ever happens, I will lend him my power no matter what-…”】
At that moment, Itsuki suddenly cut off his own words. But that was not because his determination had wavered.
However, as he recalled the contents of the letter, he felt like something was amiss. Would Harold really make an easy to understand and straightforward request such as asking to save the people of his territory?
Itsuki did not notice back when he received the letter, but now, he knew the man called Harold Stokes well, and he could say with confidence that Harold would not make that simple of a request.
And, assuming that Stokes family was going to decline, then the territory would likely stay unchanged and simply be assigned to other aristocrats. Even without the Sumeragi family’s involvement, it was unlikely that the lives of the territory’s people would be significantly worsened, rather, it was possible that their conditions would actually improve upon being released from the clutches of the Stokes family.
(He said he wanted the Sumeragi family to manage the territory once it comes to that… If that’s the case, then it seems to me like cancelling the engagement was a pretty bad move on his part, unless he isn’t interested in being personally involved at all with the territory after the decline of the Stokes family… But if that’s the case, does that mean that he doesn’t want us to just manage it and that he actually thinks it’s necessary for the next feudal lord of the Stokes territory to be of the Sumeragi family?)
Itsuki’s thoughts kept circulating hectically in his mind as he tried to read through the true meaning of the words Harold had written. However, all of the answers that he came up with did no really fit.
【”What’s the matter?”】
Seeing Itsuki lost in his thoughts, Sylvie, who had returned after making some tea, called out to him.
Itsuki received the cup of tea after thanking her, and then, at the risk of changing the mood, he unfolded Harold’s letter on his desk so that Silvie could see it, too.
【”Nothing, I was just rereading this letter that I received from Harold in the past, and there is something that feels a little out of place in what he wrote.”】
【”Out of place?”】
Silvie looked over the letter as Itsuki urged her to do so. But her thoughts on it could be expressed in a single sentence.
【”…Sorry, I don’t understand what’s strange about it.”】
Itsuki expected as much. But this did not mean that Sylvie’s judgement was particularly bad, even he had barely managed to notice that something was a little out of place, and that was because he knew of Harold’s tendency to twist words and meanings.
It was absurd to expect Sylvie to notice this given that she had hardly ever come in contact with Harold.
【”Don’t worry about it. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding things.”】
【”But, Itsuki, you’re anxious… aren’t you?”】
【”Haha… I can’t hide anything from you, Sylvie.”】
【”I can tell from the look in your eyes. You’re clearly confident that there is something out of place there.”】
Indeed. Itsuki felt like there had to be more to this letter.
At the same time, he had a presentiment that made him feel indescribably impatient. It was a baseless uneasiness, but he felt like if he failed to grasp Harold’s meaning as soon as he could, it would be too late to intervene.
【”But is what is said on the letter true? Is sir Harold’s family really going to fall….?”】
【”Yes, it seems like Harold calculated that this was going to happen when he wrote the letter eight years ago.”】
Harold’s calculations were so precise that they sometimes made Itsuki wonder if he could see the future. Since he said the territory was going to fall, then that meant it would fall, or something along the same lines at least….
【”Wait, ‘fall’…? That’s right, normally, that’s what you’d… Why did Harold specifically use the word ‘decline’….?”】
The word that Sylvie employed was “fall”. This word was used to describe something that used to be flourishing only to then decay and eventually perish. Its implication was almost the same as that of the word “decline”.
However, the word fall was much more common. That was likely why Sylvie had spontaneously used it.
Harold was naturally aware of that. And yet, he still went out of his way to use the word “decline” instead, why was that?
Fall and decline. Although both words had almost the same meaning, there was one definite difference between them.
One implied that something had already fallen to ruin, the other implied that it was in the process of falling to ruin. Although it was only a slight difference, there was a difference between saying that the family was declining and saying that it had completed its decline.
And normally, in the way it was placed in this letter, the use of the word fall would have been more adequate.
However, if the word decline was actually used with its correct meaning, then didn’t that mean that Harold wanted the Sumeragi family to take action during the decline of the Stokes family and not after their fall?
【”Still, how should we go about that? If this is about supporting them economically, then we could do so to some extent by using the LP farming method…..”】
That was Harold’s request. He wanted something that he was going to need in a future that he had seen coming eight years ahead of time.
As he lost himself in his thoughts again, the gears in Itsuki’s mind started turning.
【”The future he predicted, or rather, the present…. was it a crisis in the Stokes family?…. No, maybe it was the fact that he was going to be under the threat of an enemy at this point in time… Could it be that he saw all this coming back then?”】
Then, Itsuki finally reached an answer. It was absurd, but when he thought about it, it wasn’t really impossible.
Saying that Harold had predicted the present eight years ago would put the word ‘abnormality’ hard at work, but as far as Itsuki was concerned, that word and Harold had been going hand in hand for a long time. And he could absolutely believe that Harold had played with words in the letter on purpose eight years ago so that nobody would understand its meaning until the right moment. The reason Itsuki could think that way was that he happened to have known Harold for years, and, for better or for worse, Harold was a walking and talking mass of abnormality.
Or rather, Harold might have built his relationship with Itsuki specifically for the purpose of making him think that way at this precise moment.
Still, that was fine with Itsuki, he was willing to do what Harold needed him to do. Because, no matter what kind of ulterior motives Harold had, he was Itsuki’s irreplaceable friend. Maybe Itsuki was overthinking things and would end up looking stupid later on, but that was still a thousand times better than not doing anything and to then regret in the future.
【”Is something wrong, Itsuki?”】
【”Sylvie, there is a little something that I have to do.”】
【”…I see. It’s very important to you, isn’t it?”】
【”Yes, that’s right. But if I fail, it might bring some trouble to both you and your family.”】
【”If it ever comes to that, I won’t mind. I am your wife, and we’ve sworn to walk together, no matter what lies ahead.”】
As she said that, a soft smile appeared on Sylvie’s face. Seeing her like that, Itsuki wanted to tell her a thousand words, but he kept them to himself and only said one thing.
“It’s my pleasure.” Said Sylvie with a nod. They did not need to say anything else, this short exchange was enough for both of them to understand each other perfectly well.
Translator’s note: I think you might be overestimating Harold just a little bit Itsuki… Also, this one was pretty hard to translate ’cause of the whole decline/fall thing, so I did my best to get the meaning through, do tell me if anything is not clear, I’ll try to fix that.
Also, here is the annoying part but hey, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need it, trust me >< Please do consider supporting me on my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/defiring I’ll work on death flags chapters when they come out, but I’m also working on Tsuyokute new saga and Almadianos Eiyuuden. I also, I have a discord server, so if you want to ask anything I can answer you there (there is a also a chat on the side of the website but I don’t really use it).
Anyway, I hope you’ll have a great day/evening/night, and I’ll see you in… who knows at this point? ><