Chapter 109 is here! Thank you, Fordoom, for editing this one!
The raw for chapter 110 is out too, and I’ll be getting right on it.
If you’d like to support the translations, and get some chapters ahead, please consider donating on my Patreon page.
Anyway, here’s chapter 109, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Eight years had passed since Harold Stokes was replaced by Kazuki Hirasawa.
This whole time, he had been tormented by his mouth that always relayed cynical abuses instead of his own words. But he could not deny that he had become accustomed to it to a certain point in these last eight years.
How could he not get used to it? If he kept thinking about how his words would make a person hate him or how it would hurt that person, he wouldn’t ever be able to open his mouth.
Besides, even though the abuses he hurled at everyone made him look like a questionable individual, those words were not backed up by his subsequent actions. This contrast brought a subtle change that turned him form ‘the worst of all trash’ to merely ‘trash’ in people’s eyes, which was better than nothing. By this point, he was used to being the target of hate and disdain anyway.
However, there was something he had yet to grow accustomed to, even now.
It was the fact that when he found himself in a situation similar to something that happened to Harold Stokes in the game, his mouth would arbitrarily repeat the same lines the character said in the game.
This happened to him back when he volunteered to take care of Clara’s execution, which then led him to fake her death, and it happened again when Justus came to meet him in the dungeon where he had been locked up.
The latter event never happened in the game, but there was a similar situation where ‘Justus wanted to grant power to Harold’, which happened at around the same timing.
Based on that, Harold guessed that what he referred to as the ‘Line Repetition’ was something that would happen when there was an event or situation that led to a similar development to what happened to the Harold character in the original story. He felt it was safe to assume that this Line Repetition wouldn’t be triggered by new developments that hadn’t happened in the original story, or by things that had already happened in the last eight years.
Harold did not have much proof behind his theory. He did think of intentionally starting events from the original story to see if that did anything, but since everything that was related to the character of Harold was also connected to death flags in some way, he could not take that risk.
However, now, the Line Repetition had happened again, and it had picked one of the worst times of all to do so.
Before Harold had been able to say what he wanted to smooth things over with everyone, his mouth had let out the lines from the scene where Liner confronted Harold as his enemy for the first time in the game.
Normally, this battle event was supposed to happen at an early stage in the story, when the hero’s party was only composed of Liner, Colette and Hugo. But right now, the hero’s party had all six of its members, and this was not Harold’s first meeting with Liner.
(Damn it! Is that how it works?!)
Harold hurriedly tried to think of why this was happening, and reached one conclusion.
The first time Harold had confronted Liner in this world was back in the tournament in Delfit. At that point, they did face off against each other but it was a friendly combat, not an actual fight. Then, they fought again in the fog valley, but Harold had not been fighting as himself, he had been pretending to be someone else.
However, right now, Harold had appeared while being Harrison’s underling, just like in the original story, and he was facing Liner as a real opponent.
(…I was far too negligent.)
The Line Repetition was far too rare for him to be able to figure out the conditions behind it. Moreover, he had already fought against Liner in the past, and the current state of things had deviated an awful lot from the original story.
Knowing all that, it had never crossed Harold’s mind that the repetition would be triggered here.
【”W-what are you saying, Harold…”】
Liner spoke with a slightly trembling voice, like he was witnessing something unbelievable. Well, Harold was not his traveling buddy or anything, but he still considered him to be an ally. Pure as he was, Liner could not compute the clearly and undoubtedly hostile words he had just heard. Looking at everyone else’s expressions, all of them seemed confused, to varying degrees.
The only one who was giving Harold a serious look was Erica. But Harold could tell this was not out of hatred. Rather, it felt like Erica was neither happy nor sad nor… Well, either way, this was neither the time nor the place to get distracted by that.
【”Are you being serious?”】
【”Who knows? Why don’t you take a step and see if you get sliced up or not?”】
Harold tried to give a negative answer to Erica, but he only let out some more provocative words instead. In short, he was just once again going through the development that he had learned to grow familiar with.
This was his opportunity to show off to himself what he had learned through all these years and to put the situation back on the right track.
First, Harold turned around, showing Liner and the others his back, to show through his actions that he had no intention to fight. Given their personalities, he knew they wouldn’t attack him from the back no matter what he said, so it was safe to do this.
With his back still turned, he stepped towards a different corner of the mansion’s rooftop.
He went towards a shed that occupied about one third of the large rooftop.
He tried to turn the shed’s doorknob with his hand, but it was locked. As a last resort, he used his sword to cut down the door along with the whole outer wall of the shed, and then proceeded to check what was inside.
There, he found a very large collection of weapons. He remembered that, back in the game, there had only been a few swords and axes decorating the walls unlike here. He supposed that small difference did not really matter.
Still, the number of weapons exhibited inside was truly enormous. Some of them clearly distinguished themselves from the rest. Among them was the sword that was stolen from Liner’s family, and the treasures Harold, Lilium and Ventos had brought from the ancient ruins were all enshrined at the center of the room.
These could be used to give a strength boost to Liner’s party. Granted, if they tried to fight the last boss by just wearing this equipment, it would still be checkmate for them. However, Harold had already prepared a solution for that through Frieri.
For now, as long as they had these weapons, they party should be able to progress smoothly through their quest.
【”Liner. This is what you were looking for, right?”】
As he said so, Harold took out the Gramgrand sword that had been stolen from the Griffith… Or rather, the sword that he himself had stolen from the Griffith family, and then threw it towards Liner.
The sword fell in an arc that outlined a clean semi-circle in the air before it landed right in front of Liner’s feet.
However, Liner did not try to pick up the sword, and his facial expression became even more distorted.
While Harold wondered what the problem was, Colette spoke up.
【”How… how do you know that it’s his sword?”】
The answer was that Harold knew because of his knowledge of the game’s story, and because he was the one who had stolen it in the first place, but he could not say any of that.
Even so, he did not understand, what was so strange about him knowing that information? He had already been told, as ‘Harold’, that some robbers had broken into the house of Liner’s family and stolen their sword.
However, Colette’s next words made Harold’s blunder abundantly clear.
【”Even Liner has never seen the sword before, so how…”】
Originally, the Gramgrand sword did not have a scabbard; instead, it was stored inside an iron box. However, inside the shed, it was openly exhibited without the box. Since Liner had never seen it, then the only ones who should be aware of how it looked were his parents, Olbel and Leona, who had found it in the ancient ruins.
If so, then the fact that Harold had recognized the stolen sword at first glance could only be seen as odd. Given the situation, they were probably suspecting that Harold knew how the sword looked because he was connected to the people who had stolen it.
Seeing Colette’s and Liner’s reactions, it was clear that their thoughts had gone in that direction.
Though the situation was more complicated than what they assumed, the fact of the matter was that they were exactly right.
Harold did not have the time to think of how to answer. Staying silent or taking too long to answer would be the same as admitting that they hit the bull’s-eye.
He had to deny their suspicions immediately, yet he also had to choose his words carefully. Such was his conundrum.
【”How, you ask? Do I have to spell it out for you?”】
But these were the words that ultimately came out. It was a neutral reply, but under these circumstances, any unclear answer could only be considered as an implicit confirmation of the duo’s doubts.
Had he gotten too dependent on proving his real intentions through actions alone? Was that method obsolete, now? No, that was not it. This was all due to his own carelessness.
(What is this, an overconfidence flag? I pick these damn flags way too fast.)
I wouldn’t expect any less from ‘Harold’, he thought, in self-derision.
At this point, all he wanted was to just run away from here.
However, in the real world, things rarely go the way we want them to.
【”Why would you… I thought we were friends…!”】
Liner gripped the handle of his Gramgrand sword with his shaky hands. As he glared at Harold, tears accumulated in his eyes, to the point where they were about to spill out at any moment.
For someone frank, nice, and genuine like Liner, who greatly valued his family and friends, this turn of events must have been heart-breaking. Knowing his personality, Harold could guess how he felt.
There probably was not a single hint of falsehood in Liner’s claim that he considered Harold to be his friends.
Finding out that a person he thought of as a friend had ties with the people who had hurt his parents must have brought him immeasurable anger and sorrow.
The surrounding atmosphere suddenly turned very tense. Liner readied his sword, releasing a special kind of pressure intended to intimidate his opponents.
Harold also readied his sword. He resigned himself to the situation, thinking, ‘In the end, I guess I’m still gonna have to fight’.
The problem wasn’t that he had not considered the possibility of this happening at some point. Rather, from what he knew of the original story, he used to think the fight would be unavoidable.
【”…Your friendship is meaningless to me. Don’t you remember what I told you? Crowding with others is a weakling’s way of life.”】
Nevertheless, he wished he didn’t have to fight Liner and the others. He did not want to clash blades with these impossibly kindhearted heroes, who were going to save the world.
He had been thinking that perhaps he would be able to avoid this fight now that he was starting to stray away from the original story, but his wish did not come true. Knowing from experience that it was time to give up, Harold went ahead and turned on the Switch in his consciousness.
【”Harold, I can’t deny that you’re strong… But couldn’t you use that strength to protect others instead of hurting them?! Couldn’t you have stopped these guys before they did any harm?!”】
Liner’s gaze was pointed towards benches where Ventos and Lilium were lying down.
【”Of course I could have. Ending these two would be no challenge to me.”】
【”So why did you let my mom and dad get—!”】
【”Because it was necessary.”】
This was the last straw.
With a single stride, Liner covered the distance between himself and Harold. This move was much faster than anything he had shown back in the fog valley, and the sword attack that followed was endowed with a sharpness far beyond what any common human could attain.
But what was even worse than all that was his Gramgrand sword, which had a function that allowed it to absorb the surrounding magic power to fuel magic-attribute attacks.
As the sword came swinging downward, its blade became covered with flames, like it was responding to Liner’s wrath.
This inflamed blade could burn anything it touched. However, using his two swords, Harold blocked the attack with such force that Liner’s sword was completely repelled away as he was powerfully pushed back.
Bracing his legs, Liner endured the impact and only slid on the ground without breaking his stance.
However, Harold was no longer focused on him.
(There is no meaning in injuring them! This is the worst! But I can’t afford to be careless here; I have to stay alert—)
The moment Harold tried to step forward; an attack came near his feet.
The explosion that followed created a 3 feet (1m) crater in the ground, at the center of which there was one single arrow. Needless to say, this came from the only person here who used a bow.
【”『Wind fan strike』“】
She, who chanted her spell with a completely emotionless voice while aiming her arrow towards Harold, was none other than Erica.
Looking at her eyes, Harold saw no sadness or anger, only his own reflection, and an indifference that matched the tone of her voice. Coupled with her beauty, this made her appear like a sophisticated doll, both pretty and eerie at the same time.
【”Sir Harold, I do not understand what you are thinking.”】
Although she had already attacked, Erica suddenly started talking.
【”Even if I asked you why do we have to fight, I suppose I wouldn’t get an answer anyway, would I?”】
Harold did not have any reason to fight Liner and the others here. He had only fallen into this predicament because his words were imposed on him, which led the original story’s events to become entwined with the current situation. However, if Harold tried to explain that, he would only end up seeming like he was making fun of the party and looking down on them.
That being the case, he just stayed silent and did not answer anything.
【”…At this point, it doesn’t matter. If you wish to fight, if you have a reason to fight us, then we will do just that.”】
【”…You’re one troublesome woman.”】
Harold reflexively smiled. It was not a cynical smile, but a smile of self-ridicule.
In the original story, Erica was the type of character that talked first and fought after. Well, as an RPG’s party member, she naturally had no trouble fighting against anyone or anything, but based solely on the personality she showed within the story of the game, she was never openly willing to fight, even when the fight was imposed on her.
She was like a saint that craved for peace, and she avoided letting things turn violent whenever she could.
Knowing how peaceful she was, her current behavior showed just how much she truly despised Harold at this moment.
And Harold could blame none other than himself for letting things turn out this way. He had no right to complain about her hostility.
Erica held up her bow, pulled its string, and once again point it at Harold.
Although this was happening at a different time than it did in the game, it seemed like the iconic fight between Harold and the full hero’s party was about to start.
【”Let us fight.”】
And with that last line from Erica, the battle indeed began.
Translator’s note: Next time, the big fight! The chap is already out, so do expect it soon.
By the way, I’ve been working on a new project lately, and it’s kinda hard to get readers for a new project. It’s called Population Control, and trust me, it’s a great read.
By the way, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in helping the author last week, on showroom and whatnot. He really appreciated it, I invite you to check out his twitter and to read this chain of tweets that I translated if you’re curious about the reason for the slow updates of the last few years.
I wanted to get chapter 110 ready for today, but I’m moving countries and whatnot, which is taking more of my time than I expected, sorry about that. I should be done with all this by tomorrow.
In the meantime, have a wonderful week!