Maseki Gurume – Vol 7 Chapter 2 Part 1

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ED: LonelyMatter



Chapter 2 – His Desperation

Part 1

 

The first morning after the day Ain returned to the royal capital when the sun had yet to rise.

A knock on the door of his room brought a question mark to his mind, wondering why at this hour of the day. He left his desk and headed for the door with a question mark on his face.

“Oh, Warren-san?”

It was Warren who was outside, looking somewhat puzzled.

“I apologize for waking you up so early in the morning.”

“It’s fine. I couldn’t sleep, so I was working.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Well, let’s just get inside the room. Did something happen at Heim?”

“Heim… umumumu, speaking of Heim, it is from Euro that it comes.”

He was not getting the point.

Ain beckoned Warren, who was having trouble saying it, to sit down on the sofa. Warren apologetically sat down, facing him.

“There seems to be a lot going on, and I’d appreciate it if you could tell me everything in order.”

He asked with a wry smile, and Warren said shortly, “Yes, sir.”

There was no way he would stutter any longer in the face of the crown prince’s arrangement.

“The story goes a little back in time. A creature of unknown origin attacked Euro. It was carrying a magic stone, but we are not sure if it is a monster or not.”

The unexpected words caused Ain’s expression to change drastically.

“The number of these creatures was extraordinary, and in the end, the main weapon of the battleship blew up the entire town.”

In fact, Lily was leading an elite force of knights, but they still had to rely on the battleships.

It is clear that the situation was more urgent than Ain could have imagined.

“What about Duke Amour?”

“He has already arrived at the port. Unfortunately, however, one of our knights has lost his life to the unknown creature.”

With his eyes downcast, Ain thought of the knight who had fought so bravely and instructed that a monetary tribute be sent to the bereaved family.

“Perhaps it is because of the victim that you seemed reluctant to say so.”

“That, too. But there is one more thing. We are actually protecting an unusual person.”

“An unusual person… who might it be?”

“It is not too extravagant. There are two unusual people. The first one is Elena-dono.”

“──Thank goodness, we were able to protect her…!

“It was very fortunate. She was in Euro in connection with the assassination the other day.”

But, the words continued.

“The problem is not with Elena-dono, but with the second person.”

“I see.”

Ain was no fool.

He’s a very quick thinker, and he could guess what was going on.

“Since it was hard for you to tell, I wondered if the other one protected was… the third prince of Heim.”

“As one would expect from you, Ain-sama, you are perceptive.”

“I can’t find the words to express this subtle emotion. So, how did he end up in Euro?”

“I think it is because of the assassination. He decided that it would be better for him to go to Euro than stay in Heim. I will ask him about the details directly afterward.”

“Hmm, okay.”

“I have been wondering what to do with Prince Tigre, and I have already asked His Majesty about it.”

“It’s disturbing that you came all the way here to talk to me, but I’ll ask you what my grandfather said, just to be sure.”

An unpleasant premonition is always right on target, and he had a feeling that this time, too.

“Let me give you the reply as it is: His Majesty said, ‘I will leave the matter to Ain.'”

“Ugh… Grandfather just wants to throw his responsibility to me…”

“According to His Majesty, it is Ain-sama who is closely related to Prince Tigre. But don’t worry. I will make sure that Heim will not accuse us of kidnapping.”

“I’m not worried about that, but, yeah… even if it’s up to me…”

Ain personally thought that the meeting had settled the matter, and he wanted more than anything to avoid any unnecessary disputes that might arise now. 

But Sylvird’s decision to leave the matter to Ain may have resulted from his own concern.

“What would happen if I said I would not allow him to enter the country?”

“He had already entered the country, but we would send him back to that continent.”

Warren’s words, without any hesitation, conveyed his seriousness.

“What if I tell you to detain him?”

“Let’s use the treaty violation as an excuse to put him in jail immediately.”

Elena must be vulnerable if the treaty decided at the meeting is brought up.

There was no way that anyone would disagree with Ain, even if he were to make a ruthless decision. Heim had done that much, and it made no difference whether it was Tigre.

However, the tone of Ain’s voice, entrusted with judgment, was not cold.

“──I feel like I’ve been entrusted with a very difficult decision.”

In the face of these indescribable feelings, Ain spoke out his thoughts in a few words.

“The third prince is the one who escaped, isn’t he?”

“…I suppose so.”

“There are those who will say that the decision I’m about to make is a mistake, but in my mind, that meeting was the end of it. I can’t send him back or put him in jail when his family is dead, and he’s fleeing the country, not that I know much about it.”

“…Hmm.”

“I think I could at least lend him a safe place to live.”

“Fufu, Ain-sama is very kind.”

“I’m just being naive. I just don’t want to make this story as disgusting as I can see it.”

He smiled as if mocking himself and put his hands on his temples. 

“I’d like to avoid as much hassle as possible. I’m sorry, but I’d like to leave the negotiating to Warren-san.”

“Leave it to me. I will do my best for our Ishtalika.”

This was probably what Warren had expected. That’s why Warren’s answer was as smooth as if he had prepared it in advance.

“Now, I’m off to the harbor.”

“Let me know when you return.”

“I think you should get some rest, Ain-sama. You might get sick if you have to work all night soon after returning from Sith Mill.”

“I’ll be fine. I probably won’t be able to sleep.”

“Well, then, I’ll have Lady Krone keep an eye on you so that you don’t overexert yourself──”

“Alright! I’m going to take a rest after all!”

Even so, she was angry regarding the first king. If she were to keep an eye on him here, even the matter about the Demon King might be exposed as well.

It was not long after this that he saw Warren off and had no choice but to go to bed.

 

◇ ◇ ◇

 

The port was abuzz with the sudden return of a recently dispatched battleship. Even though it was still dark in the early morning, many lights were lit around the area.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of people passing by.

The fierceness on the knight’s face was even disturbing.

 

──Inside the battleship.

An iron box is filled with water and frozen by magic tools.

In a room with nothing else but the box.

An Elf was already on alert, with her rapier unsheathed.

“I’ll check it out.”

Warren was right beside Chris. Before meeting Elena and the others, the two had come to confirm the mysterious creature that had been reported.

The true identity of this creature was unknown even to the knowledgeable Chris.

The creature’s hideous appearance was disgusting just to look at, but to be attacked by such a thing in countless numbers is nothing short of extraordinary.

“It looks like a creature I’ve never seen before either.”

Besides, she said,

“It seems to be possessing a magic stone, but there is no way it could be attached in such a way. It is a flawed creature to expose its weak point, the magic stone, to the outside of its body.”

“Well, should I say that there was a flaw in evolution?”

“Or perhaps the magic stone was artificially implanted in the body. There are certainly examples of monsters with magic stones on their foreheads, such as the sea dragon, but in the case of the sea dragon, it is a monster so powerful that it is considered a calamity. So for that reason, I don’t think we can put them in the same category as this fragile creature.”

“Yes. The sea dragons are monsters that have no natural enemies.”

Warren nodded in response to Chris’s persuasive words.

“The fact that it was implanted with a magic stone makes more sense than the idea that it was a new kind of monster.”

“…It would be stranger to have a new species of monster swarming around.

“In other words, this disturbance may be──”

“The Red Foxes may have something to do with it. There is information that they manipulate monsters… and they look a bit like the Wyvern that Viscount Sage was using.”

The creature in front of them did not appear to have swollen muscles like that Wyvern.

But it seemed to have something in common in the sense that it was an unusual individual. The mastermind that Viscount Sage had mentioned, the Red Fox, floated behind their eyelids and couldn’t get it out of their minds.

“This time, it’s a matter of numbers. If the swarm is large enough to require main weapons, even if they are vulnerable, they are a threat.”

Increasing his vigilance, Warren looked at his watch.

It seemed that more time had passed than he had thought since he had arrived in this room.

“Excuse me; I think it’s time for me to go.”

“Oh… I see. Warren-sama is going to join Elena-sama and the others, isn’t he?”

“My apologies. I’ll have to talk to them directly as well.”

“I will observe the creature a little longer. Katima-sama will check on it later, so I will check again to see if there are any problems.”

“That would be very helpful. Please let me know if there is more information.”

After leaving the room, he started walking with the royal knights who had been waiting for him.

The sound of their footsteps rang out as they advanced on the hard floor, echoing through the pipes above their heads and throughout the ship.

Unlike when they were in the castle, it took them a few dozen seconds to advance at a brisk walk.

“Your Excellency.”

Lily, who was standing at the entrance to the outside, called out to him.

“Lily, I am so glad you are safe.”

“Your words are unworthy of me.”

“No, I’m always relying on you. So… where are the two you mentioned?”

In response to the question, Lily urged him to look outside and pointed to a carriage parked near the pier.

“That’s great that you’re so quick to get ready. Now, let’s go.”

“Yes!”

Warren let out a sigh in his heart.

The prince, who had been so pompous, now seemed to have an auspicious demeanor.

As he proceeded up the ramp, he became a little curious.

“How was Prince Tigre?”

“He didn’t talk much and seemed prepared for anything.”

“Oh? He seemed more obedient than usual.”

Once he was down at the pier, many thoughts stirred as he approached the carriage one step at a time. Although he had heard some of the circumstances beforehand, he was left with an important question.

──What did this mean, that they could no longer distinguish between friend and foe?

The reason why Elena and Tigre had left their homeland is the biggest question of all.

 

When they arrived at the front of the carriage, the knight who was standing guard said,

“The Heim knights are still inside the battleship, sir.”

“Very well. They will remain so until further notice.”

“Yes!”

Then the door was opened,

Lily was the first to step inside. Warren followed.

“It hasn’t been long since I last saw you.”

“Warren-dono… it is a pleasure to meet you again.”

The carriage started to move.

Warren sat down and greeted Tigre lightly. Then he looked at Elena and asked.

“I would very much like to know more about why you two left Heim.”

“…And if you do, will you promise to keep His Highness safe?”

“I promise, even if you don’t ask me. Ain-sama has told me that I should do so and that I should provide a safe place for him to live.”

“That man is…?”

“Your Highness!”

“I-I am sorry… and I thank the crown prince for his kindness…”

His honest response to Elena’s hurried admonition was new to Warren, who was facing him.

“How about it, Elena-dono?”

“Of course, I will tell you.”

The king, Garland, had been talking to Tigre in Heim castle.

King Garland called Shannon with “Dono” suffix, and Elena explained thoroughly what she expected in light of the Roundhearts, the Brunos, and that Edward was missing.

Warren listened, sometimes wide-eyed, sometimes thoughtful.

“So you didn’t realize that before the meeting, the daughter of the Bruno family had contacted Edward-dono?”

“It was only by chance that I could recall it.”

“As expected of Elena-dono. This matter certainly smells fishy.”

Although he said this, Warren was convinced.

The creatures that attacked Euro and the “shadows” moving in Heim. It was obvious that the Red Fox, the beast that was about to turn its fangs on Ishtalika, was involved.

The two, in particular, Shannon and Edward, could now be considered to be Red Foxes.

On the way back from Ain’s visit as a representative, he received a statue from Edward under the name “Crimson Fox,” which was definitely a red fox.

This fact also made Edward’s involvement in this matter unquestionable.

“I’m sorry.”

Tigre suddenly opened his mouth.

“You probably won’t believe a word I say. But I’ll be sure to thank you when all is settled.”

“We’ll talk about it later. I want assurances first.”

“Assurances that His Highness and I have not been abducted, right?”

“Indeed. How about it?”

“Yes, I promise I will sign it however you want. But I can’t promise that my father will accept it. Especially since he seems to be a different man now than he was before…”

Warren laughed at this.

“I never thought that even that king would declare war on Rockdam.”

“Hmm? We didn’t declare war, did we?”

“Sending an armed force is the same as declaring war. No, on the contrary, it could be called the use of force without a declaration of war. Don’t you agree with me, Elena-dono?”

“I have to agree with you, even though it hurts my ears.”

But once this happened, Tigre’s words were worthless.

If Garland, King of Heim, says that this signature is a forgery, it wouldl be the truth in Heim.

But Warren does not care about that either.

“It doesn’t matter. I will believe in Prince Tigre’s sincerity.”

“…I’ll say it again and again, I promise. I promise to return the favor with all my heart and soul.”

Now he did not seem to be lying. On the contrary, he was desperately trying to be sincere from the bottom of his heart.

When the time was almost right, Warren smiled.

“You have made a good decision.”

It was a gentle smile that he had never shown before.

“You must have been conflicted about relying on us.”

“…..Not at all, not even a little bit. I felt as if the world had changed in just a few days, and I had no time for petty stubbornness.”

“You seem to have less energy than before.”

Tigre turned his head to look out the window and hid the weak trembling of his cheeks.

“I’ve seen some horrors recently.”

“I suppose you are referring to the situation you just mentioned, where it is impossible to tell who is a friend and foe?”

“Yes. I was so confused when I heard that my father was involved in this. At the time, I had forgotten about my brother’s death and was desperate for my own survival.”

As he speaks this in a self-loathing manner, he presses his hand over his eyes.

“Even my own room, which I had been living in, felt like it wasn’t my own. Then, strangely enough, I could think things over calmly. My mind was strangely calm in the face of the possibility of death.”

Perhaps it was a survival instinct.

He struggled to choose the right words to continue, but in the end, he let his emotions run free.

“…..I was afraid to stay in Heim. That’s why I left the country with Elena. I guess I was hoping for the connection that Elena would have.”

Even in the midst of darkness, the might of the country of Ishtalika remained unshaken.

Perhaps he could rely on that connection to help him. Yet, he had this ridiculous feeling.

A single drop trickled from the edge of the hand that covered his eyes.

“A… After doing so many things, I rely on that person and rely on the relationship of my subordinate! ──What other story could be so pathetic? Believe only what is convenient, and you will be saved! I was betting on such a flimsy hope!”

He tried to maintain a resolute attitude, but it gradually disintegrated. He was crying like a little child, his voice trembling, even his shoulders shaking.

“How very human of you to say that.”

“Nothing but a shallow snob! I, while denouncing my father, abandoned my country and crossed the sea with my subordinates in search of a way for my own survival!”

“That is also correct. But that is not all.”

He also showed courage.

“You went bravely on the battlefield, and you abandoned your stubbornness and relied on us to save the lives of those who adored you, Prince Tigre. This is something to be proud of.”

Tigre looked at Warren with surprise.

A calm, non-hostile face in front of him.

“…Fuh, I never thought you would say that.”

He made one last show of winning and then shed a large tear.

 

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