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“So we decided it would be in our interest to cooperate with her.”
Hiro said and then cut off his speech.
He glanced again at both Hugin and Luca, then, acknowledging that they understood what he was talking about, he opened his mouth once more.
“I know you have a lot on your mind, Luca, but I need you to be patient here.”
There was a rift between the two of them. The two had a quarrel three years ago when they invaded Grantz.
The passage of time did not mend their relationship.
This was proven when Hugin’s life and death were unknown. Luca could not keep her composure when she heard the story from Lucia. And even now, Luca must count taking Hugin hostage as one of the grudges she held against her.
“If Luca wants the throne of Urpeth, I could lend you a hand, though?”
“I do not need the throne now. Moreover, I am disgusted at the thought of being under Queen Lucia’s command.”
Luca, who had turned her stagnant eyes on him, wrinkled her brow and showed her disgust.
“Above all, there is not a single thing I desire in Urpeth. If there is, it would be a complete collapse―the destruction of Urpeth.”
“I see… then let’s not worry about it.”
As for where her hatred would lead her from here, she was still fixated on Hiro, who held a “memento” of her late brother, and she continued to hate her homeland, putting a shadow over Hugin.
If Luca wanted to, she could lay the heads of the current Urpeth camp in front of her.
Lucia, Queen of Anguis, would not complain if she did so.
Most of the Urpeth camp was made up of the long-eared tribe, whom she detested, so she would be pleased but not angry.
The only other thing left was Eagle’s “memento” in Hiro’s possession, which he would give to Luca in the not-too-distant future.
And what would be left of her after all of this comes true?
Her wings were ripped off when she was old enough to fly, and she found hope for life by relying on her younger brother. However, Hiro took her twisted happiness away, and now she lived only for revenge.
What would happen if she was given freedom? A little bird that did not know the world could not live outside. It was because she was fed by her owner and knew how to live only in a small cage.
Then, if she lost her owner and did not spread her wings to the outside world…
(I’ll be the one to do it then…)
He let out a self-mocking laugh and noticed that Hugin was staring at him anxiously.
Before Hugin could open her mouth, Hiro smiled gently.
“Yes. Hugin, there was something I wanted you to do.”
“I want you to check on Skaaha. I’m sure she won’t refuse you a visit.”
The “Ice Emperor,” who had been taken in by the “Black Princess Camellia,” told him what had happened to her.
But her current situation is unknown to him.
He hoped she was safe, but from what he could remember of her, she seemed to be in a very dangerous state.
“Are you going to go too, Wise Brother?”
“I would love to. The Grantz are keeping the fact that Skaaha is injured a secret. If I went to check on her at a time like this, strange rumors might start.”
“Am I going to be all right?”
“If you go there as a messenger, you won’t be suspected of anything.”
The “Raven Army” and the “Grantz” were, in a sense, in a mutual struggle relationship, but they did not easily welcome people from other countries into their encampment, except when they had permission from the higher-ups.
However, now that the main forces of the Six Kingdoms had been defeated, the morale of the Grantz has been boosted, and there was an air of victory in the encampment.
This made them less vigilant. However, it was clear that if he went there, he would cause a commotion, but as a messenger of the “Black Dragon King,”―Hugin would not be suspected.
“I understand. If that’s the case, I’ll go check on Skaaha-neesan.”
“Then, I’ll go with you.”
Hugin sat up, and Luca, who had been silent up to that point, stood up with her back to him. At that moment, Hugin turned around in a panic, holding her ear as if someone had breathed in her ear. It was a funny sight, but why did anxiety pass through his heart when Luca did it?”
“T-there will be a commotion if Luca-neesan comes in.”
“Here, I have something with me.”
Luca took out a mask with strong self-assertion. Hugin’s mouth twitched as if to say that it would stand out even more.
It was handed to Luca by Hiro, who feared that her identity would be revealed when she left the small country of Baum for Grantz.
Even now, he wanted her to wear it at all times because he did not know what might happen to her, but Luca lived her life without the mask when she was out of Grantz’s sight.
“Luca, if you go there, you’ll cause more commotion than I will. Only Hugin here――”
“Then I’ll dress up as a soldier and accompany Hugin.”
“That would be too much――”
After being stared at, Hiro gave up trying to stall Luca.
After repeated push and shove, Luca’s character was not likely to give in.
If she had been given a strong order, she would have obeyed it, but considering the damage she would have caused in the future, it would have been better to be honest and let her go.
“Okay… I don’t know if the size fits you, but could you please dress up as a male soldier?”
It was more likely that a certain person would recognize her in disguise.
However, she would know what was going on and would not make a fuss. The point was that Luca’s true identity should not be revealed to the majority of people.
“It would be fine. It’s a lot better than this mask.”
Luca, who had thrown the mask at Hiro with these words, left the tent and immediately returned carrying the armor. Then she threw it to the ground, and the armor made a groaning sound with a loud clang.
“Oh, ugh, Luca-sama… what in the world do you think you’re――?”
The soldier who had taken off his helmet looked around with a puzzled look on his face as if he did not understand the situation.
Then he noticed that Hiro was there, his face turned pale, and he pressed his forehead against the ground and bowed low.
“Your Majesty, the Black Dragon King…”
From that point on, no words came out. He probably didn’t know what to say.
He was not summoned, nor did he have any urgent business.
It was understandable that he was at a loss for words since Luca had abducted him and then rolled around in Hiro’s tent in a situation that he could not understand.
Hiro also could not understand Luca’s out-of-the-ordinary behavior, so he put his hands to his temples as if he had a headache and asked her questions on behalf of the soldiers.
“Luca, I don’t know what you want.”
But Luca ignored Hiro’s question and looked down at the soldier over his head.
“Take it off.”
“You don’t need armor.”
“No, um, what do you mean…?”
The soldier was in a cold sweat, but Luca’s pressure was only getting stronger.
Here, Hiro finally understood Luca’s thoughts but was taken aback because he did not understand her outburst. However, feeling the air getting heavier, Hiro decided to offer a helping hand.
“Luca… there are some reserves. Don’t bother robbing him.”
When the soldier turned to him with tears in his eyes, Hiro shrugged his shoulders and crossed his legs with his arms over the armrests.
“I want you to give her a set of armor. Hugin, help her get dressed.”
The soldier immediately stood up and ran out of the tent, repeatedly bowing to Hiro.
Luca clicked her tongue as she looked at his back, and someone grabbed her arm.
“T-then, Wise Brother, I’m off to visit Skaaha-neesan.”
Perhaps because she was dealing with Hugin, Luca did not resist when she was pulled and taken out of the tent.
After seeing them off, Hiro sighed deeply and looked up at the ceiling with emotionless eyes.
“I’ve got four of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Swords. Just like you once did.”
He continued to speak as if he was expressing his repentance to someone who would never respond to him.
“The “lion’s eye”, “five emperors of the spirit sword”, “god of war”, and “turning point” the conditions are all in place. Only “chaos” remains.”
Hiro raised his right arm and held his hand up to the moonlight streaming in from the entrance to the tent.
In his hand was a small piece of wriggling flesh.
“What is it that you want to accomplish in such a form, Stobel?”
On that day, just before Liz put the final blow to Stobel, Hiro intervened in their battle.
All in order to obtain the five emperors of the spirit swords – “Ice Emperor,” “Thunder Emperor,” and “Wind Emperor.”
However, in Stobel’s obsession, a piece of his flesh was stuck to the five emperors of the spirit swords.
It was still, weirdly enough, stirring in Hiro’s hand in an attempt to regenerate itself.
“It’s a ‘failure,’ but it’s got a terrifying vitality. Is it because of the tremendous ‘curse’ put into it?”
He could feel the various forces mixing together. If it were an ordinary person, just touching a piece of meat would cause a mental breakdown. If worse comes to worst, they could die.
Stobel’s resentment was that strong.
What made Stobel change to such an extent―was not the ‘curse’ by the spirit that forced him to follow the “Wind Emperor.” Instead, someone had modified him and strengthened the ‘curse’ to create a monster. Even now, as Hiro watched, the piece of flesh was swelling up to the size of his fist in an attempt to regenerate.
“Unfortunately, your story is over. You may not be satisfied with it.”
Hiro took a crystal from his free hand. It was the “dharma stone” that had been attached to Eagle’s arm when he was taken into the Black Princess Camellia. Without hesitation, Hiro embedded the “dharma stone” into the piece of flesh. The blood from the wound on the piece of meat overflowed, wetting the ground with a reddish-black color.
“A trivial dharma stone cannot purify the mighty ‘curse.'”
The “dharma stone” shone, producing a burning sound of flesh, and a foul smell filled the tent. At first, the pieces of Stobel’s flesh were purified by the “dharma stone,” but then the tables were turned. The flesh swelled and began to envelop the “dharma stone.”
“If the poison is too strong, it attracts evil, and if the two mix, they create a new power.”
A purple stripe pattern was created on the blue crystal. Hiro smiled as he looked at it.
“The more cards I have in my hand, the better. Stobel―your death was not in vain.”
Once again, Hiro squinted at the reflected light as he held up the crystal in the moonlight.
“The “Faceless King”… Let’s continue where we left off 1,000 years ago.”
Their paths had not yet crossed, but their thoughts were about to mix and transform.
Hiro stroked his mask and covered his right eye with his hand to hide it.
“Altius, your legacy has been passed on to Liz. All that remains now is for me to compensate for your loss.”
The ambition he once had was in Liz. It would be nurtured and nurtured strongly and greatly.
All that remained was the confirmation, the test of her resolve.
“I have committed a crime, and I have to take the punishment for it myself.”
In the past, the gears had all gone haywire at the hands of Hiro. It took a long time to fix it. But it was finally coming to an end.
Hiro put his fist on his forehead, clutching the crystals, and prayed to his now departed comrades-in-arms.
“Rey, Altius… please protect Liz.”
When all obstacles were removed, she would soar higher, higher, and higher into the heavens.
She would soar through the world with the giant lion called Grantz in tow, roaring with prestige and renown.
Imagining those glorious days, Hiro was lulled into a deep, deep, deep sleep.
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