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  Pride and Resolve  

The thin-trunked conifers whizzed past. Tsukasa and the others raced along in Ringo’s wake, trampling moss and ferns underfoot.

“Ringo, do we keep bearing straight ahead?!”

“That’s right…! It’s half a mile more this way! Keep going!”

“Understood! You two, I ask that we pick up the pace!”

Aoi glanced over her shoulder at the suit-clad young man and the young woman in a white gown a few paces behind her.

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Not to worry. I can still keep up.”

“You two are impressively quick, that you are.”

“Politicians and doctors both need their stamina, after all.”

“He’s quite right.”

“In that case, I shall refrain from holding back!”

“Fur speed ahead!”

Aoi and Bearabbit kicked off even harder against the ground and barreled through the forest.

A short while later, they reached a clearing. The conifers that had been so plentiful just moments before were nowhere to be seen.

Did we leave the forest?! Did I take a wrong turn, mayhap?! —No, wait!

That wasn’t it. It wasn’t that they’d left the forest. The forest just wasn’t there anymore. Dozens of trunks lay scattered at their feet. All had been ripped up at the roots. A few scant minutes ago, the forest had been there. Now, though, it had been completely blown away. The trees had been mowed down by some sort of insane force.

And the one who held that force—

“Aoi! It’s right bear!”

—immediately commanded the attention of all present.

It was just past the wasteland of toppled trees. The ursine monstrosity easily towered sixteen feet tall, its shiny obsidian carapace covered in black hair.

“Wh-what is that thing? It’s like a cross between an animal and a mineral… That’s pawsitively unheard-of!”

“So it was a monster, after all. I figured there was a chance, given that this world has dragons and beastfolk, but—Ah!”

Then Tsukasa and the others spotted Elch and the rest of the hunters by the creature’s feet. Their bows and axes were held at the ready, but they were all covered in wounds.


But before she could finish what she’d wanted to say, Aoi realized something. Elch and the others were being pushed toward the sheer drop of a cliff. Instantly realizing how urgent the situation was—


Until now, she’d been holding back so the others could keep up, but faced with a truly dire imperative, she let loose her full strength. The force of her kick shattered the mossy boulder she’d been standing on as she charged the Lord of the Woods.

She shot forward like a bullet, barreling through the air without decelerating even for a moment. Her speed was utterly inhuman. Such was the power of the High School Prodigy who’d survived countless battles with nothing but a single katana.

However, the Lord of the Woods was perfectly aberrant in its own right.

“GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!” It immediately responded to Aoi’s attack to its flank.

After dodging with speed anything its size shouldn’t rightly have possessed, it thrust forward with rocklike claws. It was intercepting Aoi’s charge with a counterattack.

This creature’s fast! But…

Aoi’s reaction proved faster.

As the bloodstained claws that looked as though they’d been hewn from stone slashed down at her, Aoi gathered power in her whole body. Despite having no footholds, she performed a midair forward roll on muscle strength alone. Then she slammed the heels of her feet onto the oncoming claw and used the force from her toes to pull herself upright.

“Compared to rifle shots, you appear to be standing stock-still, that you do!”

She dashed straight up the arm of the colossal creature, all the way to its head, and—


—as she passed it, the young woman drew her katana and lopped it clean off the monster’s shoulders. Its head flew up into the gray sky, higher than the tips of the tallest trees.

Aoi finished her dash by landing next to Elch and the others behind the Lord of the Woods’ body. The headless aberration toppled lifelessly to the ground in time with the swordswoman’s own landing.


“Everyone! Are you all right?!”

“Aoi! Thank goodness you came! Filippo must have really pulled through!”

“We’re fine. You made it just in the nick of time. But…”

The villager’s looks of relief quickly turned grim. Behind them lay a massive pool of blood and guts that had spilled from Mayor Ulgar’s shredded stomach. Elch was kneeling beside him, sobbing.


“Mayor Ulgar…m’lord…”

Then Tsukasa and the others finally caught up.


“Tsukasa… You came to rescue us…,” Elch said through sobs.

“Of course, although Aoi did most of the actual saving… What happened to the mayor?”

“He took an attack from the Lord of the Woods to protect me…! He just stopped breathing…”

“I see. Well, that’s a relief.”


Elch and all the other hunters gawked at Tsukasa’s unexpected response. Tsukasa grinned a little as he elaborated.

“If he only just stopped breathing, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Isn’t that right, Keine?”

“But of course,” Keine Kanzaki answered in agreement and approached what remained of the mayor without delay. She then knelt beside the body and carefully looked it over.

“Left-side ribs five through ten are lost. Abdominal lacerations… Large intestine is torn. Viscera are exposed from the thoracic diaphragm down, and the patient has lost consciousness due to shock from excessive blood loss. Heart’s been stopped for less than three minutes, I presume. Heh-heh-heh. Very good, very good. I should be able to make this work with the tools on hand.”

“Wh-what are you—?”

“I’m about to begin operating. Please stay back. You’ll only get in the way.”

Keine got to work.

As she raised her hands into the air, a number of surgical instruments came flying up from beneath her gown. There was a scalpel, a pair of mosquito forceps, a pair of surgical scissors, a pair of tweezers, some medicine, a syringe, gauze, a roll of bandages, and countless others.

And before the unbelieving eyes of the hunters—


—she began to juggle them.

And that wasn’t all.

Still juggling the surgical instruments, she began performing her surgery on Ulgar. She sewed up his ripped organs, mended his shredded blood vessels, and rejoined his broken bones, all while keeping everything sterilized.

By catching whatever tool she needed next at each given moment and manipulating her fingers as deftly as an acrobat, she was able to mend the mayor’s body faster than the eye could follow.

“Wh-what’s going on?! His wounds are closing up before our eyes…!”


The villagers were a given, but even the normally silent Ringo let out a gasp of admiration. That was just how utterly miraculous a feat it was.

Back on Earth, Keine Kanzaki was the greatest doctor in the world. It wasn’t just her knowledge and technique that had earned her the title, however. It was also the mind-boggling speed at which she worked.

Normally, any sort of major surgery like this would need a whole team to perform. The surgeon would be accompanied by an assistant, an anesthesiologist, a clinical engineer, and a surgical tech to lighten their load.

Even with such an assembled team…Keine’s blistering speed would have left them all in the dust. After all, how could anyone keep up with someone who worked faster than the eye could perceive? And it was thanks to that speed and skill that she performed every role of a surgical team herself.

By mentally storing the entire procedure from start to finish in her mind, she was able to juggle all the instruments and anesthesia she would need and swap them out as necessary to maintain her superhuman levels of speed and precision.

That was the technique that had allowed her to save the tens of thousands of lives, even on battlefields lacking in medicine, tools, and manpower.

As far as she was concerned, it was more efficient to do everything herself than to have to rely on the sluggish help of others. She could save more people that way. And ever since she’d adopted her technique, not a single patient had died under her knife.

In mere moments—

“Ruptured intestine repaired. Surgery complete. Now injecting liquid oxygen and beginning pulmonary resuscitation.”

—she completed her extraordinary work and moved on to the final stage of treatment.

It was unclear when she’d cut the incision in the mayor’s chest, but she didn’t hesitate for a moment before sticking her hand in it and grabbing his stopped heart directly.


Not having expected the grisly act, several people screamed. However, Keine’s concentration didn’t waver in the slightest. She merely applied pressure to the heart with exacting tempo and control. And as the air-rich blood circulated through Ulgar’s body—

“Ah… Ack, gack!”


—he suddenly coughed up a tremendous amount of blood.

Now that his cardio-pulmonary function was restored, his body was excising all the blood that had built up in his lungs. After confirming that, Keine swiftly withdrew her hand and stitched up the incision in the same motion. With the procedure finished, the young doctor snatched all her tools out of the air.

“The operation is complete. He should wake up in two or three days’ time. I also took the opportunity to treat the stage-one stomach cancer I found, so he should make it another twenty years with ease.”

Sweat had begun pouring from Keine’s body the moment she finished the surgery, and it soaked her hair as she smiled at Elch.

The mayor didn’t seem to have regained consciousness yet, but his chest had started rising and falling. He was breathing again. Elch and the others thanked Keine profusely for the miracle she’d wrought.

“Ohhh! Thank you so much! We’re forever in your debt!”

“You saved our lives; I saved his. Please think nothing of it.”

Keine stepped aside from Ulgar so his grandson could come closer, then went back over to Tsukasa.

“Thanks for your hard work,” Tsukasa said, offering a brief word of gratitude as he handed her a handkerchief.

“Heh. A job like that hardly qualifies as ‘hard.’”

Keine took it, then turned back to the villagers as she wiped away her sweat.

“Now, I can see you all have varying degrees of injuries, so please line up over here in front of me.”

“Huff…” Ringo let out a long exhale from her spot atop Bearabbit’s back.

“Are you all right, Ringo?”

“…I’m so glad…that everyone’s okay…”

“Yeah. Me, too. I’m sure it’ll come as a great relief to Lyrule and the others.”

After Keine had finished giving first aid to the villagers, they all headed back the way they’d come. They’d expected the women of the village to be waiting for their return with bated breath.

Unfortunately…they had no idea what lay in wait for them.



The first to realize that something was amiss…was Aoi.

A distinctive smell tickled at her nose. The smell of something burning. The smell of fire…

She looked up and saw a pillar of black smoke rising up to touch the dull, cloudy sky.

“…Tsukasa, m’lord. Is that smoke…coming from the village?”

When she pointed it out, he and the others took note of it, too. The moment he saw the smoke, Tsukasa was seized by an indescribable sense of foreboding.

“We need to hurry,” he said, then double-timed it out of the forest.

When they got to the village, the first thing they saw was the mayor’s house engulfed in a scarlet blaze.

“Wh-what’s going on?!”

“Why’s our house on fire…?!”

At first, they assumed it had been some sort of accident.

However, they soon realized that wasn’t the case.

“Don’t any of you move!!!!”


Five soldiers closed in around the group, swords at the ready.

In his confusion, Elch cried out.

“Wh-what the hell’s going on here?!”

“Don’t play dumb with us, scum!”

“You filthy peasants amassed wealth, and your lord has come to punish you for your crimes! Shut up and submit!”


Elch and the other villagers had no idea what was going on. It was all too sudden. Tsukasa, however, quickly talked them down.

“Don’t lose your head, Elch. This is no time be asking random questions. Right now, there’s just one thing we need to check… Where did you people take this village’s women?”

The soldiers’ mouths curled into cruel grins.

“Heh-heh-heh, we didn’t take ’em nowhere. They’re still right here in the village, enjoying a nice little outdoor cooking. They just happen to be the ones on the grill.”


“Don’t worry, though. Our lord told us to put everyone in the village to death. In other words, you guys get to join ’em on the other side!”

Making no efforts to hide their bloodlust, the soldiers swung their swords to attack.

But as the hunters instinctively braced themselves—

“I see. Now I understand what’s going on. Aoi?” Tsukasa, armed with the knowledge that the feudal lord was trying to kill the village, gave Aoi her orders. “We don’t need these men anymore. They’re eyesores, so would you mind cleaning them up?”

Aoi responded with a sigh, her katana’s hilt making a clinging sound as she stowed it back in its sheath.

“I wish I could obey, m’lord. But you spoke a moment too late. I’ve already dealt with the problem, that I have.”

“Ah. My apologies for being slow on the uptake.”

“What are you peasants babbling…about?”

Suddenly, the soldiers lurched forward and collapsed onto the ground in unison, unconscious. Aoi had struck them down with the flat of her blade.


Not another word came from their mouths.

Elch and the others spent a moment impressed at Aoi’s nigh-invisible swordsmanship, but they quickly came back to their senses and rushed toward the burning house.

“We have to hurry, dammit! C’mon!”

“““Yeah, let’s go!”””

As they were about to take off, however, Tsukasa brought the group to a halt.

“Stand down, all of you. Running into a burning building like that would be suicide.”

“Well, we can’t just stand here and watch!”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure the house is already empty.”


“One of our members can escape from a coffin after it’s been welded shut. Getting out of a house full of openings like that would be nothing to him.”

Tsukasa took out his modified smartphone and dialed Akatsuki’s number.

“Our unpleasant guests are gone, so you can go ahead and come out now.”

The moment the words left his mouth…a distant bit of underbrush began to rustle.



The women and children of the village came rushing out. The hunters ran over to them in turn, husbands and wives each rejoicing at discovering that the other was safe. Bringing up the rear were Akatsuki and Masato. Upon seeing them, Elch’s shoulders trembled.

Masato was carrying Winona’s limp body on his back.


Elch dashed over to them, but Masato was quick to assuage the young man.

“Winona’s fine. She was about to pick a fight with the soldiers, so I had to knock her out.”

Elch and Tsukasa breathed deep sighs of relief. If she and the rest of the villagers were safe, then everything was all right. At the moment, they could ask for nothing more.

“I’m impressed even you were able to sneak all these people past the lookouts, Akatsuki. Thank goodness you were here. Thanks to you, everyone…”

But then…Tsukasa noticed a conspicuous absence.

“…Wait, where’s Lyrule?”

The girl he’d spent the most time with out of anyone in the village was nowhere to be seen.


The carriage rolled away from Elm, back toward the castle. Inside, Inzaghi looked at the young woman at his feet and chuckled to himself.

“Heh-heh-heh. I was just after their gold and goods, but I stumbled onto a jackpot. Today must be my lucky day.”

Inzaghi had no interest in peasant women, but the girl’s beauty had caught even his eye. Lord Findolph was as lecherous as he was corpulent, so the girl would make an excellent tribute for him.

With an offering like this, his recommendation for a promotion to Gold Knight was all but assured. Having a simpleton for a lord certainly came in handy.

That said, handing her over as is has its dangers.

Once she woke up, she would no doubt hate them for having destroyed her village. She’d probably resist with all her might, bare her fangs like a wild dog. No matter how beautiful she might’ve been, she was still just a commoner. Inzaghi doubted that she’d act with any shred of civility.

She needs to be collared first.

Fortunately, he already had a collar ready.

“Wake up, you. Are you planning on sleeping all day?”

“Nnh… Huh? Where am…? Ow!”

Inzaghi kicked her, and Lyrule’s eyes shot open, horrified to discover her situation.

“Huh?! Wh-why are my hands tied up…?! What are you—?”

Suddenly, she met Inzaghi’s gaze as he glowered down at her. Recognizing him as the same man who’d attacked the village, rage flared up inside her.

“It’s you…! What happened to everyone in the village?! What did you do to them?!”

Inzaghi gave her a faint sneer. His response was brief.

“I killed them.”


The light faded from Lyrule’s lapis lazuli eyes, immediately replaced with the darkness of hopelessness. However, that darkness soon gave way to a black flame of fury and loathing. As an orphan, the villagers who raised her were her family. And now they were dead.

“How could you…?! How dare you do that to everyone! To my family…! You won’t get away with this!”

“Hmph. I knew you were an uneducated mutt,” Inzaghi said, sighing in exasperation. “Who do you think you’re barking at? Know your place.”

“Agh! Ah…!”

Inzaghi pressed down on Lyrule’s side with his foot, then rescinded his earlier statement.

“Don’t worry. When I said I killed them, that was just a little joke.”


“I bound them all up in a shabby little hut and took a torch to it, but…there was that blond girl with them. When my men were tying her hands behind her back, she twisted her wrists sideways.”

“…What does that mean?”

“If you turn your wrists sideways when they’re being bound, you can simply twist them back the other way to escape the restraints later. In short, she could have escaped whenever she wanted to. She’s probably untying the other villagers and helping them escape as we speak. The village’s men are coming back, so I had to leave a few soldiers behind to keep up appearances, but I made sure to leave only the utterly incompetent. They won’t stand a chance against hunters tempered by the mountains. Understand what I’m saying? Your precious villagers are still alive.”

This was the man who attacked her village. There was no reason she should believe a word he was saying. There was no reason…but given the look in his eyes and his tone, he didn’t seem to be lying.

If, indeed, everything he’d said had in fact been true, it only served to further confuse Lyrule.

“But why would you…?”

If he knew about the wrist thing, why hadn’t he done anything? Inzaghi was more than happy to tell her.

“In order to make a deal with you.”

“A deal?”

“Quite. Right now, we’re bound for the lord’s castle so that I may offer you to him as a tribute. I’m sure you’ve heard about his proclivities. You’re easy on the eyes, so if I hand you over to him, I’ll surely earn his favor. However…he’s liable to blame me if you do anything untoward in the bedroom. So I offer you this deal: become his obedient concubine and pleasure him with your body.”


“Then, as long as you fulfill your role properly, I’ll spare the lives of your precious villagers.”


This was the “collar” Inzaghi had prepared.

“In fact, I’ll even let you see them sometimes. I can guarantee you that much… Should you refuse, however, I will turn the carriage around this minute, mobilize the Order of Guardian Knights, and slaughter this family of yours. And it won’t be anything so lenient as flame this time, either. I will flay the flesh off every woman and child in that village before your eyes… Even an uneducated peasant like you can tell which choice is wiser, right?”

“…Waaah, hic, waaah…”

The flames of hatred in Lyrule’s eyes lost their intensity. As they vanished, fat tears began spilling out in their place.

At the sight of the girl, Inzaghi merely mused, How sentimental.

They had no education, no surnames. They were like beasts crawling on the ground.

People like that could never accomplish anything.

Temporary bouts of rage could make them bare their fangs, but that never lasted.

They have no status or goals. It’s impossible for animals solely concerned with how they’re going to get through each day to muster any sort of sustained drive. After you get past the moment where their anger peaks, the rest is easy.

The sly knight knew how the minds of the have-nots worked, and just as he’d expected…Lyrule nodded her assent to his arrangement.

—Just by giving up her lowly orphan life, she could protect her whole village. To someone as compassionate as Lyrule, it was her only option.


After Tsukasa and the others drove off the remaining soldiers, Masato told them everything that had gone down after they’d left the village.

“That’s horrible…! They stole little Lyrule away?!”

“That perverted bastard…!”

The middle-aged hunters ground their teeth and clenched their fists in frustration.

Lyrule didn’t have any blood relatives. However, that was precisely why each and every adult in the village treated her like she was their own flesh and blood. And now she’d been abducted. Their collective fury hung thick in the air.

Elch was the one to rally the other hunters.

“C’mon, everyone, there’s no time to waste! We have to storm the castle and get Lyrule back!”

“Yeah! You said it!”

“Lyrule is like a daughter to all of us. We won’t just sit by as they snatch her away!”

The hunters all followed him. There was no reason they shouldn’t. However—

“Hold it right there.”

—Tsukasa moved in front of the group and blocked their path, fixing his heterochromatic eyes on them.

“Don’t be idiots,” the boy snapped with a voice as sharp as a knife.


“The man you’re going up against is the lord of the Findolph domain. This isn’t some barroom brawl you’re walking into. You’re committing an act of war against the entire nation. Even if, by some miracle, you actually managed to rescue Lyrule, the imperial court isn’t just going to sit quietly by. They’ll retaliate with extreme force. I don’t know exactly what the scope of this country’s military looks like, but I do know it’s not something a single village can hope to withstand.”

The hunters winced when faced with the cruel reality of their situation. Yet, even so, they were loath to just abandon Lyrule to her fate. That simply wasn’t an option. In other words, if Tsukasa was going to stand in their way—

“B-but then, what do you want us to do…?!”

—Elch interjected, assuming that the young prime minister must have concocted some sort of plan.

Tsukasa gave his reply in the same calm, collected tone as always.

“I’m going to go negotiate with them. In exchange for Lyrule, I’m going to get them to drop the treason charges.”


“How dare you! You’re just gonna abandon Lyrule like that?!”

“It’s not like I’m happy about sacrificing her, but the fact of the matter is she’s the one whose life the lord and his men value. In other words, she’s the only one we can sacrifice. Fortunately, she’s an orphan, so we won’t have any problems on that front… What? I can make these negotiations work. I guarantee it.”

Flames of rage flared up in the villagers’ eyes. Elch grabbed Tsukasa by the collar and shouted at him.

“You sick bastard! You can’t possibly mean any of that!”



Tsukasa’s bellow was loud and forceful enough to drown out all the other angry cries. His eyes burned with rage every bit as fervent as anyone else’s. It was clear he was just as repulsed as they were. Yet, even so, he pressed on.

“…It’s the only way this gets resolved peacefully. And it’s not like they’re going to kill her. If we can trade her…for the future of everyone in this village, then it’s the only sensible option. Think of the village’s children. And most importantly…it’s what she herself would want.”

He was right. There was no way Lyrule would want the villagers to start a war and fall into ruin just to save her.

“You all… You all should know that even better than I do.”

“………” The villagers hung their heads, silently grinding their teeth. Just as he’d said, they knew that wasn’t what Lyrule would want.

And yet—

“True. That probably is what Lyrule would want.”


Winona, who’d woken up, stood before Tsukasa. She, too, spoke with conviction.

“She would try to protect us, even if it meant giving herself up. That’s just how gentle and kind a girl she is. We all know that… But right now, Tsukasa, that isn’t what matters.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re right. We could follow Lyrule’s wishes, send you to negotiate with the lord, and get our peace back… But the moment we abandoned Lyrule, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore. If we threw a child of ours to the wolves just to save our own lives, we’d be no better than the beasts crawling on the ground that the nobles think we are.”

“…Don’t you believe that it’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion?”

“Not at all. No matter how much the nobles may consider us beasts, we’re still people. We’re people, just like they are. And we won’t abandon someone in need. No matter how much it costs us, we’re always going to go support them. Because that’s what it means to be human. We’ll hold on to our pride, even if it costs us our lives.”

“““ ”””

The hunters, the women…even the small children—all agreed with her. Their eyes burned with silent, resolved affirmation. As people who lived on the barren mountains, it was their one ironclad rule. No matter how many people called them savages, they refused to relinquish their pride as human beings.

The importance of that rule was etched into their very bones. Their souls screamed out, commanding them never to break it.

“We’re going. Not just to save Lyrule… To protect our own humanity.” As she spoke, Winona stepped toward Tsukasa…and pried open his hands.


A stir ran through the villagers.

The flesh on Tsukasa’s palms had been gouged, and his raw blisters were bleeding. That was how hard he’d been clenching his fists.

“Well, that’s a shame. You just got those treated, too.”

“…I’m not some unfeeling monster, you know.”

“No, you aren’t. In fact, you’re just as kind as Lyrule.”

Winona took Tsukasa’s bloody palms and gently placed her hands atop them.

“…Tsukasa, if you’re that worried about us, won’t you lend us your strength? We know just how incredible you all are. We can’t do this on our own, but with all of you on our side…I’m sure we can save Lyrule…! I’m begging you…! Please help us…!” The woman looked straight into Tsukasa’s eyes as she made her plea.

Her words moved the boy’s heart. He wanted to protect people’s smiles. He wanted to be able to lend them a hand. It was an almost childish wish, but it was that ideal that had inspired Tsukasa to become a politician in the first place. It was an ideal he’d clung to every day.

He might end up having to sacrifice everything else. But despite it all, he couldn’t just pretend he hadn’t heard Winona’s plea. He couldn’t just pretend he hadn’t seen the villagers’ eyes.

“…Like I said, what you’re trying to do amounts to a declaration of war against the entire Freyjagard Empire. Once it starts, saving Lyrule won’t end it. The war will be long and arduous. Corpses will pile up like mountains, and enough blood will spill to fill the sea. You’ll experience unthinkable hardships, and you’ll know that they could have all been avoided if you’d just stayed servile to the nobles… Is protecting your dignity really worth all that?”

“ ”

The people of Elm didn’t reply. Their expressions said that the answer was so obvious they didn’t need to. After confirming their resolve…Tsukasa steeled his heart in turn.

“Understood. If you’re prepared to go that far, then as a politician who upholds democracy, I lend you my aid. I’ll join your war—your People’s Revolution.”

At Tsukasa’s verdict, Winona and the others bowed deeply.

“You don’t need to thank me,” Tsukasa said. He then turned to the other High School Prodigies. “You know the score. I would ask you all to join me in this battle. The situation being what it is, though, I certainly won’t force you…”

“We’re way past that, Boss,” Masato said with a laugh. “We already agreed that you’d be the one calling the shots. You won’t hear any complaints from my end. Besides, abandoning Lyrule like this would leave a shitty taste in my mouth.”

“It goes without saying that I shall accompany you, too, m’lord. Yet, had you not gone, I would have fought on behalf of my friends all the same, that I would.”

“I suspect my talents will be called for as well. There’s no shortage of patients on a battlefield, after all.”


“Ringo’s saying that she’ll do her best fur Lyrule’s sake, too!”

“O-of course I’m gonna come fight t-to help out my friends! Wh-what kind of guy wouldn’t?!”

“Prince, dude, your legs are shaking like crazy.”

“Shut up! I’m just, uh, ex-ex-ex-excited, that’s all!”

Akatsuki protested Masato’s assertion while practically on the verge of tears.

However…not even he made to leave. He loved the people of this village just as much as the others did.

“Yo, Tsukasa. You should probably warn ’em first, right?”

“…True. Too true.”

Tsukasa turned back toward the people of Elm. No, not just him. The entire group from Earth turned to the villagers in unison. Faint smiles played at their mouths as Tsukasa gave the people of this world his speech.

“Friends, while we’re willing to help you, it means we’ll be putting our lives on the line. And that means we aren’t going to be able to hold back.

“In short, we’re likely to end up accelerating your world’s culture by a factor of at least five hundred years.

“Your government, your economy, your value systems—they’ll all be drastically changed.

“In other words, what I’m trying to say is this:

“Given that we’re liable to destroy the world as you know it, is it still all right to give this everything we’ve got?”

To the people of Elm, no words could have made them happier.

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