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[Seems like we’ve finally reached a moment of rest huh.]


[———-Yes.]


[How is it? Are you alright now?]


[…………………Yes.]


Guest house.


The rain outside had already stopped.


The only sound audible outside was the dripping of rain from the eaves of the roofs.


The castle had finally regained a certain level of quiet.


It was currently nighttime.


Seras and I were talking alongside each other on the wall of the corridor.


Munin had just left for the baths after the post-event processing was complete.


As for Slei, she has already been treated and is resting in the simple stables.


Hawk’s corpse had already been carried away.


The people of Mira are still busy with the cleanup from the earlier attack.


That’s why, they will hold a formal mourning for Hawk at a later date.


And as for Oyamada Shougo’s corpse———- it doesn’t exist anymore.


It has already been dealt with using < Freeze >.


Not even his corpse remains.


Oyamada Shougo is as good as gone from this world.


Since my return here, I have yet to directly meet the Mad Emperor.


It’s also the same case for Asagi and the others.


Their side also faced their own problem, so they’re probably still busy.


From what I heard, a man called the Exiled Emperor had invaded the Emperor’s room, where the Mad Emperor awaits.


He apparently drove him back.


By the time I thought about heading there, it was already over.


……Asagi apparently had a hand in their victory.


I heard they used it———- that trump card they had mentioned before.


There seems to be a good number of people who witnessed their battle.


I should probably try to investigate this in more detail later.


Also, there’s the White Army that was rushing into the capital.


They apparently dissolved in response to the death of the Exiled Emperor.


Nothing had been left of them, the white bodily fluids making up their remains washed away by the rain.


“They may have been creatures created by the Exiled Emperor, just as the Great Demon Emperor created the Great Demon Emperor.”


This is what the Mad Emperor seemed to have surmised.


Well, it seems that the Golden-eyed monsters created by the Great Demon Emperor still remain even after its death though.


[Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that the attack on the Imperial Capital, which seems to have been aimed at eliminating the Mad Emperor, has been put to rest.]


[Yes…… At least, the attack of their first group, that is.]


Incidentally, regarding General Wright’s army deployed near Mira’s northern border……


They still haven’t pulled back.


They were apparently still in a standoff with the White Wolf Knights.


However……


If word gets out that the attack on the Imperial Capital failed this time, the enemy will probably retreat sooner or later.


The movements of the White Wolf Knights.


It would be reasonable to assume that they were working together with this Exiled Emperor and the Drunken Sword Party.


Even so……


[Vysis unexpectedly is starting not to care about keeping appearances huh.]


The impression one gives with this movement sure isn’t good.


It’s like, she’s not caring about the end result or something……


[Although…… I could understand the Drunken Sword Party and Oyamada being sent here, but I don’t understand where this Exiled Emperor came from. With a second group of enemies possibly coming, it would be troubling if they’d just unreservedly bring out another unexpected force.]


[However, just as Touka-dono had guessed…… It seems reasonable to assume that there must be a reason why the Exiled Emperor and the White Army he created haven’t been brought out. There must be some reason as to why they couldn’t just have these soldiers charge forward.]


[I see. Considering that they can preserve units like that, they would have had usable forces that don’t have any risk to them…… That sh*tty Goddess probably already heard about the failure of the Heroic Sword and the Sixth Cavalry. And so, they had to deploy these huh…… Depending on how you look at it, the more they had to deploy such forces———– the less pawns Vysis were able to use.]


Which also means the time for my revenge is drawing near.


…………………..


Now then……


[……I’m sorry. It seems like it didn’t go as I had foreseen.]


[No…… Touka-dono is not to blame for what happened.]


Seras, looking guilty, kept her head down.


After I killed Oyamada, the conversation was centered around a man who was apparently Hawk’s deputy.


Before the man arrived, I asked Seras and the other what had happened.


“Fuuu……”, I let out a sigh.


Trying to keep my awareness to a slightly lighter tone……


[However, even Munin had her troubling parts……]


[My apologies. All of this happened because of my poor judgment…… All of this……]


Munin said that she had been hesitating to make a decision until the very last minute.


Whether or not to go in to help Seras……


Or to head towards our rendezvous point and call me.


No matter which decision between them she picked, she judged that it would end up being too late.


As Slei had also fallen, she was the only one who could help Seras.


However, she also knows that she isn’t strong enough.


She made the last minute decision and was about to take off to seek help from the Mad Emperor———–


——when I appeared.


[It seems like even if she gives herself up, Munin won’t give up on her comrades. Well…… It’s that kind of personality of hers that makes her so well-liked by the Kurosagas.]


[………………………]


[You couldn’t abandon Hawk huh.]


[……My apologies.]


She’s a good person.


She’s a helplessly good person.


Whether it’s something good or bad……


If she sees a good person she can help in front of her eyes……


If she thinks she might be able to help them……


She can’t leave them alone.


In the end——— She’s just too noble.


Even though she had been educated by that princess.


That princess probably tried to preserve Seras’s nobility.


Deliberately, that is.


Straightforward.


Earnest.


And perhaps, stupidly honest.


[Touka-dono, I am……]


[From what I heard, every decision you’ve made has backfired on you this time.]


[……Yes.]


Seras became stronger.


In terms of combat capability alone, she’s more than adequate.


However……


She’s still unskilled at bargaining like that.


When weighing two things, she probably can’t make a quick decision between them.


She may have realized this very strongly this time.


[……I thought I had finally refined my “sword”…… enough to feel confident enough to stand by your side.]


Self-deprecatingly, Seras broke the ice.


[However, I fully realized that the sword I wield now could only be effective in the presence of Milord…… of my King. When you are far away…… I may never be more than just “Seras Ashrain”……]


[Thinking back about it, I guess we never did act apart from the beginning of our journey to this point huh. Even at that time with the Faraway Country, we weren’t that far away from each other, and we were able to get in touch with each other pretty quickly by sending out a messenger.]


Fortunately, I got here in time.


The southward advance of the Drunken Sword Party was faster than I had imagined.


However, that had become a blessing in disguise.


The town where I fought the Drunken Sword Party wasn’t that far away from the Imperial Capital.


Therefore, I was able to make it back in time.


“After neutralizing the Drunken Sword Party and stopping their southward advance, the soldiers at the fort near the Imperial Capital would launch a counterattack against those white beings.”


Since that was accomplished, the results of the war was a passable result.


We were also able to hold back the refugees to a moderate extent on Mira’s eastern side.


As far as I can personally do, any more than that would be an unreasonable request.


[Touka-dono, I———]


[When you get right down to it, this whole thing was an error in judgment on my part…… No, I guess that would also be a harsh way of saying it for Seras huh.]


After all, those words could be interpreted as me thinking I don’t value Seras that high.


Her virtue, her straightforwardness, her earnestness.


They might have been deeper and more definite than I thought.


……Seras isn’t “me”.


 I think I became more aware of that this time around.


The consequences may have been that……


But in a way, I was glad to have known about this before the decisive battle.


Letting out a snort, I leaned the back of my head against the wall.


[Well…… Hearing you say that “you had abandoned Hawk and ran away because of that situation” when we meet up is also rather……]


How should I say this……


I can’t imagine that happening.


[…………………]


[I’m just saying that whether it’s to save or kill someone…… It’s much easier to make a decision if they’re a bad guy. Perhaps, if Hawk had been more of a jerk, the decision to make there would have been easier……]


It’s tricky when good guys are the ones involved.


Depending on how you look at it, their existence might act as shackles.


That’s even more so when they become hostages.


However……


A person who has shown goodwill towards you can’t just be neglected.


Doing such a thing would be against my Uncle and Aunt’s intentions.


After all, for me, doing such a thing is the same as denying my Uncle and Aunt who are important to me.


[I think I would do the same as you. I’m not sure if I could have abandoned Hawk under the same circumstances. It’s just———– I’m not going to delve into this because you yourself are aware of it———– but Seras, it’s true that you had lost your cool and acted out of character.]


Well, I’m not in a position to blame Seras either……


I prioritized my own emotions and didn’t immediately dispose of Oyamada.


I wanted to make him fully aware of the gravity and stupidity of what he has done before I do away with him.


I should have dealt with Oyamada right away and prepared for the “next” phase.


However———– As expected, I had also lost my composure.


I would make no excuses for what I did.


[……After I found out about Hawk-dono’s death…… Having Munin-dono flee to safety…… I was wondering if I could somehow save Slei-dono…… and create an opportunity to fight back……]


Oyamada’s evolved Inherent Skill.


If it had been just a simple attack, she might have been able to gain victory.


However, an attack that made moving feel heavy…… Is it something like a Gravity-Type attack?


There’s no way for one to prevent an attack that slips through even armor.


Moreover, with her protecting Hawk in her arms, evading——— dealing with such an attack would be difficult.


……I’m also a little curious about that “diving in ruins” that Seras briefly mentioned earlier.


I heard that’s how Oyamada got strong after all.


[Touka-dono———-]


[Stop with the reflection topic already…… Let’s talk about something else.]


[Ah, well then…… ummm…… What happened to the Drunken Sword Party?]


[They’re all alive.]


I have put them to sleep with my skill, bound them, and locked them up in the basement of a house.



They should be awake by now.


[I told Hawk’s deputy who had arrived earlier where I had locked them up. I’m going to leave it up to the Mad Emperor to decide what to do with them. However, I have also informed him of what I myself wanted to do with them.]


[You didn’t take their lives huh.]


With a hint of relief in her voice, Seras said.


[It’s just as I had told you before. Making a decision about what to do with them would have been easier if they were nastier people.]


Every single one of the Drunken Sword Party…… were people that are hard to deal with.


As I was looking for the right moment to attack them, I was watching them.


And every single one of their members———- were good-natured people.


They were aware that what they were doing was evil.


Still, with cold headed determination to protect the people that had been taken hostage against them, prepared to be resented by Mira’s people————


They were even prepared to die for it.


[The Heroic Sword, which I had fought the same way as them, was many times easier to deal with. Even though no matter how one looks at it, Heroic Sword should be the more powerful between them.]


Those two battles feel similar, but totally different.


It’s also the same case for this situation with Oyamada.


Yasu Tomohiro truly wanted to make a fresh start in life.


Oyamada was merely saying that he wanted to make a fresh start in life.


“I want to change.”


“If I could start over, I would.”


The words in those two sentences resemble each other, uttered with the same meaning in mind.


However, they were very different.


[……………………..]


With this in mind, I stared at Seras, to which the smiling Seras tilted her head, seemingly wondering why.


[? E- Errr……]


……Being able to see through lies is a really important power in assessing people.


If only I had this power back in that world……


I wonder how many people I had crossed paths with———– were living honestly……


[U- Ummm…… Touka-dono……?]


I smiled.


[I’ve always said this, didn’t I…… that you’re a terrible liar.]


[My lies…… Ummm, why did the topic suddenly……, ———Ah.]


Pulling her close to me———- I held Seras in my embrace.


Very tightly.


[……That’s enough.]


[Tou… ka…… -dono——- I……]


Seras clings on the fabric around my chest.


Her hands——- were shaking a little.


Gently cradling her head in my hand, I spoke as softly as I could to Seras.


[You must have been scared.]


[I…… ummm——-]


This was before I killed Oyamada———– just after I put him to sleep.


Seras immediately ran to check on Slei.


Before I called out to Oyamada, I had instructed Pigimaru to tell me if Slei was in serious trouble.


Pigimaru didn’t tell me that, so I knew that her life wasn’t in danger.


However, I had also rushed up to Slei after her.


Munin soon appeared as well.


Almost in tears, she began an incessant stream of apologies.


After calming Munin down, I asked her to administer first aid to Slei.


I then carried Seras and Oyamada indoors.


Then, after killing Oyamada, we had to deal with the aftermath too.


That’s why, Seras———- all this time, her thoughts had been devoted to someone other than herself.


Even up until now, she had only been blaming herself.


All she did was express her remorse.


However, even if she had made a mistake in judgment……


Even if she had lacked composure……


The one who deeply hurt———


……was Seras herself.


Now, I guess she was finally in a state to deal with the damage to her psyche.


Seras, still in my arms…… quietly began to sob.


She would occasionally heave with sobs, but she never spoke.


Her face pressed against my chest, she just cried quietly.


All the while, I held Seras in my arms in silence.


[You…… are always putting yourself before others, Seras Ashrain. Just for this one…… you’ve sacrificed yourself too much.]


That’s why……


[I couldn’t help but like you.]


The hand that gripped my clothes felt stronger.


[Even though I was pompously saying that earlier, I myself had also lost composure.]


Seras’ body jerked———- and her sobbing weakened a little.


[As soon as I saw Oyamada, you  and Slei…… I had unusually almost completely lost my composure. The only thought I had in mind was that I would kill him. I would kill Oyamada. However, I’m not just going to kill him.]


[………………..]


[It’s just, after I killed him…… I was completely repulsed. Me and him…… Oyamada really are the same kind of human. The emotion I held right from the start———– was the desire to kill after all.]


A truly kind person wouldn’t have thought that way.


Yes, if it’s my Uncle and Aunt, it would definitely not have gone that way.


[No…… You are a kind person. No matter what anyone says, for us……]


[……Hearing you say that makes me feel a bit relieved.]


[Touka-dono.]


[Yeah.]


[Won’t you go…… to the room upstairs with me?]


[……Alright.]



We were sitting side by side on the second floor of the guest house———— on the edge of a bed in one of the rooms.


Seras seemed to have calmed down considerably.


I was wiping the dirt from Seras’ face.


Munin may have gone to take a bath, but we had only changed our clothes.


[Ummm…… My turn next.]


This time, as Seras was wiping my face, there was a knock at the door.


[Ummm, I’ve finished…… I- I mean, are they here? Seras-san, Touka-san, are you in this room?]


[Ah, Munin-dono…… Yes, we’re here.]


[You can come in.]


[Ara? Am I not interrupting…… while the two young ones were having a fun time?]


[I don’t really mind if you watch.]


[T- Touka-dono……]


[………………….]


No, what we’re doing now really isn’t something I would mind if others watched.


Well, I think I can tell what Seras was imagining.


[Ara, you two are getting hotter there than I am, who was just fresh out of the bath♪ Well then, I’ll be intruding in.]


Munin, finished taking her bath, entered the room.


……I wish she could be a little more careful about the exposure though.


[Hmm…… Ummm, I’m sorry about earlier, okay? I know it must have been hard on you two at that time…… but I was so distraught that I couldn’t even sort out my feelings……]


She meant that storm of apologies huh.


[I told you not to worry about it.]


[Nfuu…… Geez, Milord-sama is so kind……]


With slightly half-lidded eyes, Munin acted as if she was fidgeting.


Perhaps, thanks to the hot bath, Munin’s state of mind had also returned to normal.


To be honest though, I haven’t really paid that much attention to her earlier.


[U- Ummm…… Touka-san, are you alright? Ummm…… The enemy this time was just like Touka-san…… Ahh——— I- I’m sorry. I was being a bit inconsiderate.]


[No, it’s okay…… I actually don’t regret killing Oyamada.]


I’ve already killed a lot of people.


This time, however, the person I killed this time was a classmate who had studied in the same classroom and spent some time together.


I thought I might feel something special from killing him.


However, I felt nothing more than I thought I would.


No sadness, no regret.


It was no different from the first time I killed humans, at that time I killed the White Walkers.


That so-called “right feeling” didn’t come at all.


I feel somewhat refreshed though.


I guess I really am their son huh.


[M- Munin-dono…… Cheer up. Your attentiveness is appreciated.]


[T- That’s not it…… Even when I was feeling scared for Seras-san…… I’ve just been conflicted all that time…… Even though I should have been the oldest……]


Munin’s voice is a little shaky, and she gets a little teary-eyed again.


When it comes to other people, it seems like the eldest really has a very weak mentality.


……It can’t be helped, let’s change the mood around here.


[By the way, Munin.]


[Eh? Ah, yes…… What is it?]


[When I managed to return safely, you said you’d pamper me with hugs and cuddles, right?]


[Huwehhh!? Ahh———- T- That was indeed the case, right…… Ufufu♪ T- That’s right…… If Seras-san is fine with it, I don’t mind……]


……Her switchover sure is quick.


I think that’s just her being considerate…… right?


Scratching her cheek with her fingertip, Seras cheerfully chuckled.


[I- If that’s what Touka-dono wants…… I believe it would be something necessary……]


No, you can just pull away like normal here, Seras……


You’re putting your faith in me too much.


As I was feeling astounded and a little guilty about their high evaluation on me———


———–Tok tok, tok tok———–


[Ara? What’s that?]


Munin opened the curtain.


Outside the glass window, there’s a space that sticks out a bit.


There, we found a white bird knocking on the window.


[It’s banging against the window like crazy……]


When we looked out the window———— The bird toppled over.


Showing its belly to us……


[Wait, Seras.]


I gently opened the window.


Seeing my actions, it seemed that Seras herself had also realized it.


Yes, toppling over and showing its belly———- is a signal.


In other words, this bird———-


[It’s Erika’s familiar huh.]



<Afterword>


This concludes Volume 9. Thank you very much for your patience with us until the end of the volume.


I would like to thank everyone who has helped me to continue for 300 chapters. Of course, I would also like to thank you all too.


Volume 9 was the volume where Touka finally meets his classmate as “Mimori Touka”.


On the other hand, I also feel like this was a Mad Emperor volume as well.


Also, from around Volume 8, Touka and his classmates often crossed paths.


I would be grateful if you could keep watching over how things will turn out in Volume 10.


Just like before, Volume 10 is scheduled to begin with an Intermission Chapter.


We would also like to thank everyone who gave us comments, reviews, bookmarks and rating points during the serialization of Volume 9. We will continue to do our best little by little, taking your support and encouragement into our hearts for the future.


Thank you very much.



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