Chapter 111 is here!
I’ve been holding back on posting this one to give some time to the author to post his chapter, but I think the next will come soon so I’ve decided to just post now.
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Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
The first image that came to mind was something dazzling. A light so powerful that it could go through the cover of closed eyelids.
The mere remembrance of that light was like a wake up call.
Looking on the side of the unfamiliar ceiling, there a white curtain swaying back and forth. Even further to the side was an open window letting the sun enter the room through the gaps it could find between the leaves and branches outside. The movement of the leaves moving to the rhythm of the wind slowly brought back the memory of that fight.
【”So, you’re awake now?”】
The one who suddenly said so was a person standing at the entrance of the room, on the opposite side of the window. It was Lifa.
Lifa was the type to clearly show her emotions on the surface. And while she did look slightly angry, Erica could tell that she was also still very shocked.
That being the case, Erica answered back with another, vague question.
【”…Awake? Do you mean literally or figuratively?”】
【”Take it as you will. Geez, if you were going to regret this, then you shouldn’t have done it in the first place.”】
Without concealing her bad mood, Lifa sat on the edge of Erica’s bed.
Erica considered denying having any regrets, but she realized it was useless to try to deceive Lifa, who was already well aware of how she felt.
【”I have nothing to say for myself. I even dragged you with me in this…”】
【”I’m perfectly fine. I did tell you not to fight but I still decided to do it in the end. It was my own call.”】
Seeing Lifa speak so openly, with so little hesitation, Erica perceived a strength in her that she herself did not have.
Realizing that she was about to fall in a circle of self-hatred again, Erica did her best to resist that urge and quickly asked the question she had in mind.
【”So, that aside… What happened to sir Harold?”】
When she asked that question, Lifa’s expression grew darker.
【”How far do you remember, Erica?”】
【”I remember firing a composite spell at him…”】
Just saying it made her feel a lump of disgust in her throat.
At the time, she had fired the best spell she could achieve. Even though that was what Harold himself wanted, Erica still felt endless remorse. Even if it was selfish of her to ask this when she was the one who had injured him in the first place, she still could not help asking if he was alright.
【”I don’t quite recall what happened afterwards. I do remember a flash of light…”】
Using a combination of two spells of the highest grade at the same time had taken an absurd amount of Erica’s mana. That being the case, she had lost consciousness before she could see the results of it, but she did feel like she had seen some type of light right before that.
【”You might have a hard time believing it, but that light was the result of Harold tearing through your spell.”】
【”But that spell was… Wasn’t he supposed to be restrained by your spell?”】
【”My spell certainly did stop him for a short while, but he freed himself from it midway and he countered your spell at the same moment.”】
【”But how on earth…”】
Erica’s composite spell was the most powerful spell she could possibly use. She’d understand if Harold had defended himself against it or just endured the damage, but that was not the same as countering it.
In other words, this meant he had a spell equally powerful as or more powerful than her composite spell.
【”I’m guessing he used a combination of his magic and a sword skill.”】
【”Is that even possible?”】
【”I don’t know. He didn’t use multiple incantation-less spells, nor did he have the time to recite multiple incantations. But he was definitely using magic. And when he countered your spell, I saw him swing down his sword like he was cutting something.”】
【”You’re saying he wouldn’t have had to do that if he was just using magic.”】
【”Well, more or less, yes. Then again, like him, I was also busy protecting myself from the after-effects of the spell so I didn’t see all that well. I can only make a wild guess.”】
It certainly was a wild guess. Granted, Erica had used a simultaneous combination of two spells, but while the attributes were different, those were merely two utilisations of magic, which only involved separating one’s thoughts and magic casting. That was still very much within the realm of the possible.
But when it came to magic and sword skills, even in cases where their attributes were the exact same, those two types of techniques took the user’s mana through completely different channels. From Erica’s perspective, using them at the same time would be like trying to do two opposite actions, like stepping forward and backward at the same time.
To her, this didn’t seem possible at all, realistically speaking. But then again, this was Harold.
Not only his intelligence and strength were unfathomable, he was also a living contradiction to the concept of common sense. Erica felt like maybe he would able to do this. That was probably the same thought process that had led Lifa to come up with that wild guess.
【”So… how was he after that?”】
【”…Obviously, he was hurt. He was bleeding a lot and was having a hard time breathing.”】
Even though Erica was already aware of that, hearing those words said out loud was like taking an arrow to the heart.
【”But still, he didn’t fall. He should have taken an awful lot of damage, but he was still able to move so well that it looked like he simply vanished when he left.”】
【”Did he go to a hospital or…”】
【”All I can tell is that he didn’t go to this hospital. As for where he went or where he is, I have no earthly idea.”】
Lifa shrugged her shoulders like she had given up on finding Harold’s whereabouts.
Erica didn’t know if she was supposed to be relieved that he was alive or worried that he was seriously injured. Harold was the type to do very rash things very calmly, so at this point, he could still be just applying pressure to his wounds while taking care of other things he deemed more important.
Erica’s mind was overflowing with such thoughts.
(I was supposed to strengthen my magic to heal him, not hurt him…)
Even if this was what Harold wanted, so what? She was the one who had vowed to become closer to Harold on that day, eight years ago. If the her from back then saw her current self, she would surely be disappointed.
【”Well, let’s focus on what I do know. I’ll explain the current situation.”】
Lifa clapped her hands together to lighten the heavy atmosphere and change the subject.
【”First of all, you’ve been sleeping for two days. You passed out because you ran out of mana, but also because you lost too much of it in too short a time.”】
【”i was aware that this was a double-edged sword, but you’re saying I was unconscious two full days?”】
【”You think that’s a lot? I feel like if I had used as much magic as you did, passing out would have been the least of my worries. Anyway, everyone else woke up within the day of the fight, and they’re staying at an inn nearby right now.”】
【”It seems I have kept all of you waiting for a long time. Are any of them injured?”】
【”Everyone’s doing great. If I had to say, Hugo was complaining about his chin hurting, but that’s all.”】
It was only natural for his chin to hurt after he was dealt such a splendid blow. But thankfully, he was not injured.
However, the fact they weren’t injured proved something else: Harold had clearly been going easy on them.
Erica did not want to be overconfident, but she felt like neither she nor any of her companions were weak. Moreover, their cooperation was a great point of pride. They each knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
And yet, even now, Harold’s strength was still far beyond their reach. Despite the overwhelming advantage of fighting 6 to 1, he had neutralized the four fighting at the vanguard in no time at all, and it had taken every single one of Lifa’s and Erica’s trump cards to finally land a blow on him.
If Harold had been fighting seriously, then far from being uninjured, everyone would be dead.
He was too strong. This was her first impression after confronting Harold.
【”And so, we’ve reached the main thing I wanted to tell you about…”】
【”What is it?”】
【”Besides you, there are two other people who have been hospitalized here.”】
【”…You mean, the two from back then?”】
When she heard “two other people”, Erica immediately thought of the fallen bodies of the man and woman that the group had fought on Harrison’s rooftop. She recalled that they had both lost consciousness after Harold did something to them.
Though she had complicated feelings towards them since she had fought against them, she still believed it was only natural to bring them along to the hospital.
【”Well, yes, but that’s not I wanted to tell you about…”】
However, from Lifa’s tone, it didn’t feel like she thought the problem was only the fact that they were in the same hospital. It seemed like there was another issue at hand.
【”Is there something going on with those two people?”】
【”…Back when you fought them, didn’t you notice there was something wrong about them?”】
Erica did not understand the point of the question, but she did not think Lifa would ask her about it pointlessly.
The fight against Harold had been so intense that Erica’s recollection of it was faint, but when she thought back upon that day, she instantly found an answer for Lifa’s question, to her own surprise.
Those two people were supposed to be there to kill the group, but she hadn’t felt any hint of killing intent or animosity from them.
【”They were like sophisticated pup-… No, like humans with no emotions.”】
Erica hesitated to call them puppets, but her point was that she had been unable to feel any sort of intent from them.
In her eyes, when they fought, their attacks looked mechanical.
【”To be honest, I couldn’t quite pick up on those subtle signs during the fight, but since you fought them personally and noticed the same thing, maybe it’s actually true. Well then, I know you just woke up, but please take a look at this.”】
As she said so, Lifa took out several parchments. Erica took the first sheet and started skimming through it.
This parchment was a sort of written transcript of an interview of those two people. Though Erica was wondering how Lifa had obtained this, she kept those thoughts for herself for the moment and read the sheet as she was told.
According to the record, the two were called Ventos and Lilium. They seemed to be members of the Stellar tribe who used to live in the Bertis forest. When she read up to there, Erica had a bad feeling about what it implied. That feeling was confirmed by what she read next.
According to the two people, several years ago, the village that they lived in had suddenly been attacked. In the middle of that chaos, they had both been kidnapped and confined in a research laboratory. A lot of other people from the same tribe had been taken there as well, and their bodies were subjected day and night to different experiments.
Ventos and Lilium were no exception. With the help of medication and some strange machines, they were gradually remodeled, both in body and mind. Through this process, their consciousness became faint and they became unable to do or say what they wanted to on the surface. In the end, they became unable to do anything other than follow orders.
If this was true, then how terrifying would it have been to feel the process of having one’s body and mind remodeled while still conscious?
There was also no doubt that what had led to this was Harold’s intervention. Based on what she had seen in her maid’s, Yuno’s, report in the past, Erica knew that this would surely have left Harold with a painful wound.
Although Harold had been young at the time of the Bertis forest’s happenings, that did not diminish how strong he was even back then, and yet he had still come out of that massive battle with very heavy injuries. Even if many had died or been kidnapped, it would have surely been impossible to search for them if it was believed that they had been lost in such a dangerous battle.
In the first place, Harold had said that that criminal ―― Justus Freund, had made arrangements with both the military and the justice department, and that it was impossible for him to be caught no matter what. So even if something had been discovered about the kidnappings, it would have been useless.
(What a despicable man.)
Holding back her anger, Erica finished reading the rest of the transcript.
【”So that’s why I didn’t feel any killing intent from them.”】
【”I talked to them separately and they gave me the same answers. Now that I have your take on it, I’m almost sure it’s the truth.”】
In the past, Harold said that he had taken away two people who had been used as test subjects, and that they were both from the Stellar tribe.
He had most likely been referring to Ventos and Lilium. Given his personality, he must have intended to save them, and somehow, he had now succeeded in making them regain their consciousness.
Even if his method implied facing Erica and the others, he still did it.
【”Anyway, they said they want to apologize to Liner.”】
【”About injuring his parents?”】
【”Yes, apparently, they had no intention of doing it, but they still sort of remember it.”】
One could only imagine how painful it was for them to acknowledge a memory of hurting someone else against their own will.
Even so, they were still taking responsibility and wanted to apologize.
【”The problem is whether Liner can stay calm in front of them…”】
【”That might be difficult. Kind as he is, Liner deeply loves his family, I doubt he’ll easily forgive those who hurt his parents.”】
【”You think so, too? Well, like I thought, maybe it’s better to give it some time.”】
【”No, we’ll create an opportunity for them to bury the hatchet.”】
Erica wished to respect their will. After, Harold would likely have done the same.
But more importantly, Lilium and Ventos seemed dazzling to her. They had the strength that she herself never had. They were nothing like her, who had run away from the reality that she could not truly support Harold.
(Even though I’m useless, people who have true strength like Lifa and these two might be able to help sir Harold one day. )
She knew that she was thinking the wrong way about it. She was also aware that she was selfishly trying to push her own beliefs onto others.
However, even if she couldn’t do anything, she still wanted to help Harold and pull him away from his lonely ways.
This was the one desire left in Erica’s hollow self.
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Other novel that might be of interest to you if you like Death Flags: https://defiring.com/population-control/