Chapter 3 – The Queen’s Pearl
Time goes back a little, shortly after Leviathan’s return to the royal capital of Ishtalika. In the audience chamber.
Lloyd mentioned that he and Leviathan had parted ways with the three people at the port town of Roundheart, and immediately after Krone and the others heard this, a large tremor suddenly occurred, causing everyone in the audience chamber to raise their eyebrows.
“Your Majesty. There seems to be movement in the battle in Heim.”
Lloyd, who had been kneeling, stood up and looked out the window.
The sky in the distance, only the sky in the direction of the royal capital of Heim, stood out even in the middle of the night.
The glimmering glow of the Gluttonous World Tree seen from Leviathan could be observed even from here, the White Knight.
“Lloyd, hurry to the port and take command.”
“As you wish.”
“Send the Leviathan and other royal warships out to sea as well. We don’t know what might happen. Move into position to intercept.”
Lloyd’s expression was stern as he hurriedly left the audience chamber. He had only just returned from his report, but the aftermath of the battle was still fresh in his mind.
“It’s so frustrating that we can’t do anything about it.”
Sylvird said, and everyone nodded.
◇ ◇ ◇
Several dozen minutes later, the ivy, which Ramza and the others said was more threatening than the sea dragons, reached Ishtalika.
After leaving the audience chamber, Krone checked the scene from the window of her office.
The sight of the royal warships, the cream of the crop of technology, all standing in a row was a sight to behold. Yet, at the same time, she was pessimistic about the current situation in which they were still being pushed around.
Only the tree’s roots were raging.
It was the tree roots that the Gluttonous World Tree extended as it grew, sucking in nutrients. It was thicker than when Arche wiped it out and seemed to be so robust that it did not cower under the bombardment of the battleship.
Fortunately, there was no sign yet that it was likely to destroy the battleship.
But she could only imagine that it was only a matter of time before they did.
Krone slapped her cheeks strongly and then left the office.
The knights and servants were hurriedly moving around outside. She walked quickly alongside them, heading for the balcony at the back of the castle.
When she arrived within a few minutes, many royal knights were already at the entrance. They were waiting to escort Sylvird, who was just ahead, Krone guessed.
“Krone-sama. It is dangerous outside.”
“I know. Where is His Majesty?”
“──As expected, did you recognize?”
“Of course. I am just as anxious as His Majesty to see how everyone is doing.”
The royal knight did not try to stop her any further.
In fact, if the fury of the Gluttonous World Tree reached the castle, it didn’t matter whether you’re inside or outside. That being said, they should have fled far away when the order was given to Lloyd.
Besides, there was also the part where the knight realized that he couldn’t stop Krone when he saw her eyes in front of him.
Sylvird said without turning around at the end of the door.
It was night, but the Gluttonous World Tree’s glimmer and the battleship group’s lights made it easy to see what was happening at sea.
“It is at times like this that I wish I had asked the sleeping fool of a girl for her opinion.”
“Fufu, as you say, it would have been better if Katima-sama had been here.”
“Indeed. Now I have to think about how I should lecture her. …Even so, Krone, you could have run away, couldn’t you?”
“With all due respect, I think it is Your Majesty who should have run away first.”
The truth was, Sylvird was frightened.
“In any case, the result will be the same. If the tree roots can reach the castle beyond the battleship, it doesn’t matter how far I escape.”
“That’s true. The result would have been the same even if we had escaped earlier.”
The profile of Krone, who came next to Sylvird, was dignified.
Her eyes, reflecting the lights of the starlit sky, were staring straight out to sea, and her solid posture was like a holy painting.
“──If there was something I could do, I could have crossed the sea with Misty-sama.”
“Umu. I wish the same thing.”
“Fufu, Your Majesty. I may be able to go, but there is no way you can go.”
“I suppose you are right….. As for me, I’m also afraid to send Krone there.”
“No, I am fine.”
Krone smiles stoutly and continues to speak.
“I’m not worth much if Ain is not here.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It would be a great loss for Ishtalika to lose you now.”
“I am honored to hear you say so. But I can’t imagine the world without Ain.”
She looked up at Sylvird, who was standing next to her.
She turned her head slightly and said apologetically, her expression still stout, but her fingertips on the railing were shaking ever so slightly.
She was probably frustrated at not being able to do anything and terrified of a world without Ain, whom she had thought about even for a moment. Sylvird saw this and gently opened his mouth.
“Then we must ask Ain to return as soon as possible.”
──While they were talking, the Gluttonous World Tree continued to grow its roots.
The pride of Ishtalika’s maritime force was assembled, but they were not able to cope with it.
“…..I’m sure that Arche-sama’s side weren’t the ones who were defeated.”
“Yes. If they had lost, the tree’s roots would have already enveloped Ishtalika.”
The two guessed that if that were the case, they would have been struggling as close to defeat as possible.
The thought that the resurrected Demon Lord, the Sword King, and the Elder Lich are all powerless together reaffirms their helplessness.
Suddenly, the sea behind the castle swelled dramatically.
“We must go back inside.”
He said it like that, but he was not sure if he should go back in.
Although Sylvird said strongly, Krone would not budge. When he reached for her arm to force her to go with him, the two of them jumped away from the railing.
“Leave quickly! We’re retreating into the castle!”
No way, already?
The balcony railing had been shattered and collapsed by the tree roots that had emerged from the sea behind the castle.
As they rushed to escape, ivy sprang up from the tree roots as if to block their way, and human-sized flowers bloomed. The flowers were like roses.
In the center of the flower was a mouth reminiscent of a ferocious beast, its sharp fangs dripping a sticky liquid.
“Both of you! Please run!”
“Leave this to us!”
The royal knights rushed in to confront them with their swords, but they were swept away by other tree roots that simply moved to the side. The royal knights, who had been struck by their helplessness, were still undaunted and tried to stand up, but their hands and feet were tied to the ivy, and they were unable to move.
In the meantime, Krone was tied to the ivy and lifted into the air, and Sylvird was bound to crawl on the ground.
“Wait! Don’t touch her!”
Krone did not shed a tear but turned her head and closed her eyes as if praying.
Just below her, Sylvird was attempting to help her with all his strength. However, the ivy continues to restrain everyone without moving an inch.
The fangs, dripping with bodily fluids, slowly approach Krone, and she makes a deafening cry of delight.
Just a moment after Krone was almost bitten off in front of the snarling Sylvird’s gaze.
“What is that light?”
“I-it’s from Krone-sama!”
Something glowed in Krone’s chest.
The ivy, the roots, and the flowers were all frightened by the light. The startled and blinkered Krone’s hands are free again, and she has time to reach for the shiny object on her chest.
“The talisman is…?”
The object at the tip of her outstretched hand was a leather pouch. The talisman Misty had given her.
Holding the talisman in both hands, a dazzling azure glow emanated from the knots in the pouch.
Furthermore, the frightened tree roots and ivy brought freedom to Sylvird and the knights and made them stand up to save Krone.
However, even though they were frightened, the enemy was the Gluttonous World Tree.
The path to Krone was blocked, and even if they swung their swords, they would not stand a chance.
Something flew out of the open door.
The sound of a thud is heard, and something stuck into the tree roots and ivy.
“──Glad I got here in time.”
The calm female voice that came through the door sounded familiar.
How did she get here? Krone wondered, without getting an answer, she gained physical freedom and collapsed to the floor, which was barely left.
The person who stepped next to her to support her body was──.
The short, silver-haired elf was Chris’s childhood friend, Sierra.
“W-why are you here in the royal capital?”
“I am here by order of the chief. I came to see if I could lend you some of the old wisdom that we elves possess──It seems that I was right to come here.”
“Thank goodness you’re here! Sierra! Get Krone out here as soon as possible!”
“Please rest assured. Your Majesty. There’s nothing more to worry about.”
In her hand, she held several silver knives with engravings on them, the same ones stuck into the ivy and tree roots in the surroundings.
“These are knives with old curses on them. They are imbued with the sanctuary’s magic powers, so they show particular strength against evil beings.”
The tree roots that struck the place no longer seemed to be moving.
They clung to the half-destroyed balcony and turned into mere vegetation.
“Thankfully, we were saved by your power.”
Sylvird tried to express his gratitude.
“──No. Apparently not, exactly.”
“Hmm? Why, then?”
“I’m not sure yet, but perhaps it is because of the item Krone-sama has in her possession.”
“Yes. Let’s slowly talk about it in more detail in a different place.”
Thus, Krone stood up with Sierra’s help. She felt a slight twinge in her leg, and pain welled up, but it didn’t matter.
Because she had been so tormented by an intense headache that she couldn’t afford to worry about it.
Even though she had just stood up with Sierra’s help, she unintentionally held her head with both hands.
…..What’s the matter with you? Krone!
Sierra and Sylvird’s concerned voices reached her, but it was hard to hear them as if they were speaking to her from somewhere far away.
Soon, the voice of someone else reached her ears instead.
At about the same time, the intense headache subsided.
◇ ◇ ◇
When she opened her eyes, it was strangely not on the balcony. The place was….. a little different, but it seemed to be Sylvird’s room.
Krone was in the corner of that room, standing still.
She tried to move her body, but she couldn’t, nor could she look around.
But when she calmed down, she realized that there was a man and a woman in the room.
She noticed a man with only his upper body up on the bed, and a woman cuddled up to him.
“I’ve slept too much, and my body is heavy. Can I go outside and swing my sword?”
“If you want my permission, next month, you too will speak to the people.”
For a moment, she thought Ain was talking to someone else. Then she was startled, perhaps because the woman who answered sounded so much like herself.
──The only thing is that she can’t see their faces because of the bed canopy.
“Next month….. next month, huh…..?”
“Geez, why are you so confused!”
“──Sorry. I don’t think I’ll last another month.”
The man told the woman at his side, patting her on the head as if he had no choice. The woman buried her face in the man’s breastplate, tears spilling down her face and her body seemingly shaking.
“…..You can’t do anything about it anymore?”
“Yeah, there is nothing I can do about it.”
“…I’m… we made you fight alone──”
“No, it’s not. It just means I should have fought.”
The woman looked up at him, her face streaked with tears, and asked, “What do you want to do?”
He thought for a moment, then laughed and said.
“I want to spend my last days in my hometown.”
The woman nodded without saying a word.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Eh… What was that…?”
The next thing she knew, Krone was tucked into bed in one of the castle rooms.
She no longer had the headache, nor were the tree roots and ivy raging. With the help of Sierra, who was standing beside her watching over her, she raised herself and looked out the window to see that, although there was a battleship, the sea bed had somehow regained its normal serenity.
“I’m glad you’re okay… that scared me to death, you know?”
Sylvird was also standing close by, and he let out a breath of heartfelt relief.
“Yes. I’m so glad.”
“Both of you, may I ask you what exactly is happening to me…?”
“You’ve been unconscious for about half an hour.”
“…I’m sorry──Oh, yes! Where is the leather pouch?”
She panicked when she realized that the talisman was not in her hand.
Sierra pointed to the table next to the bed.
“It’s over here. Please don’t worry about it.”
The talisman was on a wooden tray.
Krone immediately reached out and clutched the leather pouch with both hands. Seeing this, Sylvird and Sierra exchanged glances.
“I apologize, but I have seen what you have in that pouch.”
“No problem. This is a talisman given to me by Misty-sama──I mean, given to me by a certain someone. I have not been told what kind of magic stone is in it.”
“When you say Misty-sama…”
Sierra must not know of her existence. That’s why Krone had to rephrase it as a certain someone.
However, she was soon informed that her concern was useless.
“She is the one I just told you about. The Elder Lich Misty, the mother of His Majesty the First.”
Sylvird said that he had already explained the situation to Sierra, including Ain’s rampage.
“You do not mind if I speak to Sierra-san about it?”
“There is a reason why I have to tell her. Because this talisman of yours──”
“Your Majesty. I will explain it to her.”
Sierra sat down in a small round chair next to the bed.
“The stone in your leather pouch is a magic stone that has been in Sith Mill for a long time. It was in the chief’s room, and only the chief and I know of its existence.”
“It is a….. precious magic stone, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps. But actually, I don’t know what kind of magic stone it is either. The chief told me she would tell me when I took her place.”
“…Why did Misty-sama…”
“Yes. I have wondered that myself.”
“After hearing the story, I also had the same doubts. I don’t believe that Misty-sama would steal it, and I don’t believe that the chief of the elves would lose such an important magic stone.”
“So, His Majesty and I have come to a conclusion.”
Sierra’s voice was confident.
“The chief gave it to His Highness the Crown Prince without my knowledge.”
Krone immediately thought back to this.
It was before she saw Misty and the others off when she met her and was given the talisman. As she recalled, Misty had said at that time.
“It’s a new talisman. I got this in Ain-kun’s room──No, it’s nothing.”
That’s what she had said.
If the elven chief had given this magic stone to Ain and Misty had borrowed it from Ain’s room, it would have been more fitting.
“And it was that magic stone that restrained the crown prince’s rampage.”
She could imagine a little of that, too.
Sierra had said shortly after she had rushed over that it was probably due to something Krone had in her possession that she had been able to suppress the tree roots and ivy.
“Let’s leave aside my complaints about the chief not telling me what was so important. Fortunately, that magic stone seems to be enough to curb the crown prince’s rampage, so it’s a trivial matter.”
“However,” Sierra’s voice changed slightly to a quizzical tone.
“The magic stone was covered with special silk soaked with magic power that floated through the sanctuary. Without it, it would have had the power to strongly poison the body of anyone who came into contact with it. However, it seems that there is no problem even if Krone-sama touches it. I was curious about that.”
“I think this leather pouch was made by Misty-sama.”
Sierra nodded her head.
“Not a single thing was done to the leather pouch. It is well tanned, but that is all it is.”
“I can’t touch it, and neither can Sierra. I got sick just trying to touch it.”
“Yes, that’s right. Of course, in addition to the warriors I brought with me, the castle knights also tried, but not one of them could touch it.”
“Umu. I even borrowed a special magic tool from Majolica and was finally able to carry it. But even then, the magic tool reached its limits and was damaged.”
How did Krone keep that kind of magic stone in her pocket?
She still held it in both hands, but from their point of view, it’s unsettling. Looking at Krone, who was looking so nonchalant, the question only deepened.
But there is one answer to that question.
Earlier, Sierra mentioned that ‘It was able to suppress the rampage.’ And the only one who could use that power was Krone here.
…..Maybe there is something I can do for Ain.
It was still small and feeble in her heart.
But as a certain hope began to grow in her heart, Krone’s chest shook with a great thump.