Chapter 105 is here! As usual, feel free to show your support to the author on twitter.
Sorry for the delay, there have been a sort of revolution going on in my country so I’ve been pretty busy as a Uni student.
This chapter’s pretty chill, but I loved it, hope you will too 😀
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
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”That sword, can you lend it to me?”
Cody had made that request despite being aware that the sword absorbed the user’s magic power and could cut down his lifespan. While Harold had his doubts about what the sword’s real powers were, he had not doubts that it was dangerous enough to be referred to as a demon or devil sword. He naturally couldn’t simply hand it over.
Although he used it as little as possible due to the risks, this weapon was still his lifeline in some situations. More importantly, lending this sword to Cody without knowing what he intended to do with it would be worrying in more ways than one.
Due to all of these reasons, Harold had intended to refuse the request.
But that was before he heard there was a certain man who could potentially be saved by the sword.
Three days had passed since Vincent’s depart.
Harold was currently in the middle of a rural town. This was where the man that Cody had mentioned was residing.
Harold had previously claimed that he was too busy and that there was something he had to do in haste, and yet here he was. The words he had spoken back then now seemed pretty half-hearted, but the reason he ended up coming here was that there was a chance he could reap some benefits. The path that passed from this town to his original destination was not much of a detour, and Frieri would take action by themselves the second he would contact them anyway.
So stopping by here to make use of an opportunity was not a loss.
(…To think I’m calling this an opportunity, I’ve sure come a long way.)
Harold felt disgusted from thinking of this matter that way when the life of a human being could be in play.
However, the last stage of the original story was gradually coming closer. In other words, the day of the original Harold’s death was approaching. If he had to be honest, the care he had for his surroundings was about to attain its limits.
No matter how much he tried to gloss over his thoughts, his own life was still important to him. So, though he felt bad about it, he wanted to be a bit selfish now.
【”…Especially now that I’ve come this far.”】
Harold unintentionally said so out loud, though under his breath.
For the last eight years, he had done many things just to survive. He had saved some people in the process, but Harold himself had no such noble goals in his mind.
He was an ordinary person in all aspects. While his body and abilities were out of norm, it was a mistake to assume that he was a hero. If he had that sort of ideology, he would not be able to move swiftly when presented with a conflict or a dilemma.
The ones who were going to save the world were Liner and his party, not anyone else. It was fine for Harold to cooperate from the shadows while giving priority to his own safety.
That was the perfect position for him.
【”You came far from what?”】
【”…I wasn’t talking to you. Instead of putting your nose where it doesn’t belong, tell me where is the man who was brainwashed by Justus.”】
Harold changed the subject while ignoring the question of Cody, who had heard his mutter thanks to his sharp hearing.
Or perhaps it was more correct to say that Harold got back to the main topic. But if he had to be more accurate, the fact that the man had been brainwashed was not a certainty, it had yet to be confirmed.
【”We’re almost there. It’s right by the corner.”】
The place Harold was guided to was a rented house, the kind that could be found anywhere.
The exterior drywall had been patched up multiple times, and the poorly maintained windows were almost opaque, which made the whole house seem shabby.
Cody knocked on the front door. There was no knocker, so he used his bare hands instead. The sound of his fist hitting the door repeatedly was strange. It sounded like it was coming straight out of a horror movie, though Harold felt like he was being rude for thinking that way.
The door opened along with the sound of a childish voice, followed by the appearance of a little girl of around ten years old.
For a child her age, her cheeks were a little bit thin and her limbs were too slender, to the point where they looked like wooden branches sticking out of her dress. From the looks of it, her health was in a concerning state.
【”Sarah, it’s been a while. Do you remember me?”】
【”Y-yes… You are mister Cody, right?”】
【”That’s right, I’m your papa’s friend. And the guy with the scary face over here is my friend.”】
Although Harold wanted to object to being introduced as “the guy with the scary face”, he couldn’t deny that his face did make him seem like he was in a bad mood, and according to the game’s settings, his current height was at 1m81 (6′). He definitely looked scary to the girl called Sarah.
Moreover, because of the difficulties he had with his mouth, Harold had to silently content himself with this introduction. The girl was already nervous, he did not want to make her even more afraid.
【”Is your mother here?”】
【”She’s at work now…”】
【”That so? Then, when do you think she’ll be back?”】
【”…..I don’t know. She always comes late at night.”】
For some reason, the exchange between Cody and Sarah made Harold recall his own childhood.
Both of his parents had a job, and since he was their only child, Kazuki used to be a so-called latchkey kid. Whenever he returned home after he was done playing with his friends or when his school day was over, he always ended up staying there by himself. There was a deserted atmosphere to his house, especially in winter.
However, there were hardly any days where his parents did not eventually come back home later in the day, and he was free to do whatever he wanted until they came back, so he did not feel particularly lonely.
Thinking about it now, the reason he could feel that way back then was that his parents had never failed to give him all their love. As he thought about this, a powerful feeling of wanting to see his parents’ faces arose in Harold’s heart.
(Will I be able to survive until the game’s ending and return to my world?)
For now, he had yet to figure out a way to go back.
After his consciousness went to another place for a short while, Harold refocused his mind.
It looked like Cody had gone inside the house while Harold had been lost in his thoughts.
As Sarah was still afraid of him, Harold wondered if this was really okay. From his perspective as a man from the modern days, he felt like this scene should have been reported to the authorities.
【”You want to get it done right away?”】
【”No, that’d be too much. We have to explain things to his wife first and get her permission.”】
Although Harold could agree with this reasoning, this also basically meant he and Cody would have to wait inside this house until Sarah’s mother returned.
(No matter the circumstances, aren’t we going to be a bother if we just stay here?)
This felt wrong to Harold, but for the time being, he was still lured in by Cody and ended up entering.
And as he expected, the inside of this house felt desolate.
【”Sister, who is this?”】
【”They’re papa’s friends, Mihai.”】
When they passed by the living room, a boy of around four or five years old appeared.
Mihai had the same brown eyes as his older sister Sarah, and just like her, he was far too skinny. From this and the state of the house, it was easy to infer that this family’s economic situation was very difficult.
When Harold thought about it, their father, Finnegan, had been the pillar of the family, but he had lost his mind and retired from the knight order. Since his symptoms had yet to subside, he was confined to his bed, and there was no way he could work. Thus, the only one left to take care of the two children and their bedridden father would be his wife.
(This is even worse than how Clara’s situation used to be….)
The mother worked until late at night, day after day, and judging from the two siblings’ conditions, all that work was still not enough to feed them properly. As things stood, even the mother probably couldn’t get a single decent meal.
Looking at poverty straight in the face was a bitter experience.
【”Their father… Finnegan, where is he?”】
To occupy his mind with something else, Harold decided to take a look at Finnegan to check on his current state.
Although he was speaking to Cody, the answer to his question came from another direction.
【”Papa’s room is this way.”】
Mihai approached up to Harold’s feet and then pulled the cuff of his coat. Perhaps this was because Mihai was naturally friendly, or maybe because he had dropped all his wariness after hearing that these people were his father’s friends. Either way, Harold did not expect this response when he asked where Finnegan was staying.
Sarah let a small “Ah” escape her mouth. She likely thought Mihai had done something rude. Well, his hand certainly couldn’t be said to be the cleanest. If he had done this to Harold’s father, Hayden, then at worst he would have been executed on the spot.
【”Take me there.”】
Well, Harold had no intention to do such a thing, so he openly let Mihai take him along. That being the case, the house was so small there wasn’t really a need for a guide. After going out of the living room, they took a narrow passage that couldn’t quite be called a corridor, and from there, it did not even take ten seconds to reach Finnegan’s room.
At first, Mihai tried knocking on the door, but since there was no response, he just silently opened it.
The room was dimly lit: a weak sunlight that came from the cloudy sky was making its way through a single window, shedding light on a bed where someone was currently lying down. That was likely FInnegan.
【”Papa, your friends are here.”】
Mihai called out to his father, while standing by his bedside.
However, there was no reaction from Finnegan. He was gazing at the ceiling with hollow eyes, doing nothing except for blinking every so often. Even so, Mihai kept calling out to him while shaking him with both hands. This scene pierced Harold’s heart deeper than the sight of the siblings’ poor conditions.
It looked like the kid was about to cry.
Unable to bear watching Mihai call out to his father, Harold gently stroked his head with his hand. Mihai looked up at Harold with a face that showed incomprehension towards the situation.
The kid’s pure eyes reminded Harold of his younger half-brother, Huey.
Suddenly, a thought crossed Harold’s mind.
(Could it be that Huey will share the same fate?)
Assuming that Justus was going to be defeated, that wouldn’t change the fact that the Stokes family have been putting the people of their territory under a reign of tyranny. Based on the original story, this past tyranny was going to bring the Stokes family to its knees and to make them lose their status as aristocrats.
If that happened, then what would become of Huey and his mother, Dorothy? In the past, after the business of Dorothy’s family failed, they had sold their noble title and had become commoners. As a former noble, Dorothy had been used as a bargaining chip and had become a concubine so that her family could get its peerage back through the Stokes family’s help, but from what Harold had heard, they apparently were nobles only in name now, and the territory they had obtained was actually insignificant.
Considering all that, it was hard to imagine that the mother and son would live a comfortable life. Harold had made arrangements so that the Sumeragi family would intervene in the management of the Stokes territory, but they were only going to focus on the territory as a whole in order to prevent any administrative disorder from arising. They would not be of help when it came to the living standards of individuals.
But that did not mean there was any deep meaning to what Harold was about to do here. It was not like he was trying to make up for his sins or anything. In the first place, Huey and Mihai were completely different people.
It was just that someone who was within his hand’s reach was going through a deplorable fate, so it was only natural for him to want to help, wasn’t it?
【”I’m going to step out for a little while. As for you, Cody, you’re free to play the babysitter.”】
【”Did we make him angry…?”】
Asked Sarah to Cody, confused as she watched the back of Harold as he went outside. Although she was getting flustered, while muttering to herself that maybe this was because Mihai had been rude, the truth was that Harold was probably not even angry at all.
Well, even Cody had to admit that, in the eyes of the people who did not know him, Harold always looked like he was in a bad mood.
【”It’s fine, it’s fine, he may not look like it but Harold is a good guy.”】
Sarah’s face looked like she had just heard something unbelievable. Cody, on the contrary, felt like Harold getting angry at this child was an unimaginable scenario. To begin with, while Harold did have a sharp tongue, that did not mean he had a bad temper… In fact, it was quite hard to get him angry as far as Cody could tell.
【”Yeah, you really don’t have to worry so much.”】
Cody made his words as clear as possible. That was because he had a rough idea as to why Harold had left his seat. It was in order to do something that Cody had naturally also thought of doing without having to be reminded, and that he would normally have done himself.
In his heart, Cody felt sorry not doing it, but he felt like this was a good opportunity to change Sarah’s image of Harold. So he came to the conclusion that his role here was to support Harold’s actions with words rather than to personally intervene.
Of course, he was aware that he was basically wiping his hands off the matter and leaving it to someone else, but his answer to such a claim would be: “So what?”. That was the kind of man Cody Luzial was.
An hour after that, while Cody was getting friendlier with the pair of siblings, Harold came back.
He was holding a big paper bag with both hands.
Inside the bag was a large amount of food, just like Cody had predicted. However, what he had not expected was that Harold had brought raw ingredients instead of already cooked food.
【”Wait, you’re going to cook?”】
【”I thought you’d buy something that was already ready so that they could eat directly.”】
【”You want me to abruptly feed that kind of food to malnourished people? You’re one hell of a hare-brained fool.”】
【”…I didn’t think things through, it’s my bad..”】
Although Cody backed his words with a grandiose, exaggerated bow, Harold completely ignored him. He probably felt like it would be too troublesome to respond.
However, now that Cody thought about it, the already cooked food that was sold inside the shops certainly did combine many heavy flavors. A healthy person would not pay attention to that, but for the stomachs of these small children whose meals were normally quite lacking, eating the kind of food that was sold outside too suddenly could create too big of a stimulus.
Especially since Mihai was still four years old. They had to be careful about what they fed him.
(As expected, single men like me are no good when it comes to these things… Wait, Harold is single too, isn’t he?)
In the end, the only difference at play was that one of them considered his actions and the other did not. Well, Harold did technically have a fiancée, so Cody figured that counted for something.
While Cody was wallowing in self-pity, Harold took off his coat and rolled the sleeves of his white shirt up to his elbows. Then, he used his magic to ignite the firewood inside the kitchen’s stove. The performance was welcomed with Sarah and Mihai’s cheers of surprise.
While casually putting a pot of water above the stove so that it would boil, Harold also placed some vegetables inside a wooden bucket and started washing them. He appeared to be quite skilled.
Aside from his cynicism, Harold was already a flawless man, and now he apparently also knew how to cook.
【”Anything I can do to help?”】
【”Can you cook?”】
【”…Can you make a guess just this once and not make me spell it out?”】
Harold’s words were terribly direct. But Cody did not have anything to say for himself in response.
While they were having this conversation, Harold had peeled the vegetables, and he was now cutting them up to adequate sizes.
At that moment, Sarah found the resolve to call out to him.
【”P-please allow me to help… I know how to cut vegetables so…”】
【”I have no need for your help.”】
【”Go clean up your brother instead. And make sure to use this.”】
As he said so, Harold took a bar of soap out of the paper bag. Since it was an expensive item fancied by aristocrats, the soap was packaged in its own wooden box.
Sarah was young but she was still a girl; she probably wished to take care of her personal grooming. Cody did not know if Harold had thought that far, but that would explain why he had gone out of his way to buy this soap.
【”T-this is a very precious item….!”】
【”It was only worth some loose change. While you’re at it, clean yourself up, too. I don’t want your dirty hands all over my handmade food.”】
Although that was typically the kind of thing Harold would say, his words showed that he did spare some thoughts for the worries Sarah had as a girl. After all, was there such a thing as a girl who’d want to show herself looking dirty?
Perhaps because she had seen through Harold’s words as well, Sarah bowed deeply with a “Thank you very much!” and then took Mihai to the bathroom.
After watching all of this unfold, Cody spoke to Harold, who was still standing in the kitchen.
【”You popular men sure have your ways.”】
【”Look, there is no way in hell I’m going to feed a man who’s doing less work than livestock. You better go chop some wood if you don’t want to find poison in your plate.”】
Although Harold had once again replied very harshly, Cody rushed outside without any complaints or hesitation and grabbed an ax.