If you do not hold any expectations, then you cannot be disappointed. As this was the truth, this was a universal fact which everyone knew. Despite that, why do people hope? Why do they go out of their way to shave away at their own body and mind in order to pursue that hope? While harboring the fear that their hope was all in vain, while also being certain that their hope was obviously all in vain.
If I was satisfied with the act of living in itself, then I wouldn’t have to do this. Even though I lived in a civilization and society where it was possible to not do this, why am I unable to do so?
Why are we unable to do so?
We firmly tied Roroa to a chair.
Since it wouldn’t be enough if I were the one to tie her, I merely gave the binding instructions while Sii was the one who did the tying. We then blindfolded her and bound it firmly so it wouldn’t fall off. Because of her body type, she looked like a preschooler who had been kidnapped and bound, but there was no one here who would feel sympathy towards her.
As that happened, Ariya stood on standby at my side while holding a dagger. Eventually, once we roughly finished binding her, I spoke.
“Wake her up.”
Ariya slapped Roroa’s cheek with the side of her dagger. Roroa immediately regained her senses.
“Are you awake now?”
Roroa panicked and tried to toss and turn her body. Albeit, due to her being tied down by Sii’s strength, all she could do was squirm.
“This, wan······ what’s the meaning of this, Yujin?”
Her voice was both trembling and in disarray.
“I’m a guard. Wan! This is an assault on an officer!”
“No matter how favored you are, Yujin, by Her Excellency, this is······ Wan! Her Excellency the Silver Lion Earl is a person who understands regulations, wan!”
“Ariya. Make her quiet.”
With the handle of her dagger, Ariya slammed the end of it against Roroa’s solar plexus. Thud······! Roroa swallowed down her gasp and groaned. I spoke while looking down at that girl.
“Does it hurt? Ariya is a bit angry right now.” I didn’t tell her that I was also upset to a similar degree as her. “It’d be a good idea to not stimulate her thoughtlessly. Even I had to go through quite the trouble in order to persuade her, after all.”
“Just what exactly······ E-Even though you may be favored by Her Excellency the Earl, the other two······ Miss Ariya and Miss Sii⎯⎯⎯.”
The handle of the dagger collided against Roroa’s solar plexus once more. Thud······! Roroa let out a whine that was unique to people who had been suffocated. I anticipated the pain that she was currently feeling⎯⎯⎯it wasn’t a difficult task⎯⎯⎯and took out my beads and gripped onto them once her pain had settled down slightly.
“There’s a total of 4 groups involved in this incident, so even I had a hard time trying to organize everything. It’d be difficult to explain, but since I already explained it once to Ariya and Sii, the second time should be easier. Let me begin.”
“What······ are you saying?”
“The first group is the Gongshik. According to Borg, there were 2 members. It was confirmed that they had entered this city 2 weeks ago.”
“Wan, so what⎯⎯⎯kah!”
Roroa received a blow on her solar plexus once more and lowered her head.
“Ariya, you’re acting too hastily. Only do it when I tell you to. Okay?”
“······My apologies, Fair Grace.”
“Mm, well. Roroa. There are quite a lot of types of words. Everyone says them. They say them a lot. In both my world and this world, both worlds are overflowing with an excessive amount of words. It’s quite detestable that not all words are true. Which do you take in and which do you throw out? Which words are true and which words are not? Fortunately, or rather, it’d probably be closer to being the exact opposite of fortunate, the thing that you should be aware of, is the fact that I’m really good with these types of things.”
8 Years’ War.
“Although I’ve gotten a bit rusty, was conceited, and made a mistake.”
I turned a bead on my bracelet as I glanced at Sii’s right arm.
“But still, it seems I can’t deny that I’m good at them.”
“What are you saying······ Yujin, I really don’t understand, wan. Just why······.”
“The first group, Gongshik. The fact that they entered the city 2 weeks ago and their member count being 2. Borg’s testimony was true. Except, for now, it’s unknown as to what their reason for coming here was. It’s also unknown as to where they went after that. Although I have a guess for the latter, let’s talk about that after organizing the groups.”
Roroa struggled to cough. The blood mixed in her cough dropped down and landed on top of the chair she was seated on.
“The second group are the fellows who used the Gongshik. Through a certain process, these fellows were able to meet the Gongshik, the first group, and obtained the daggers and masks from them. They then decided to impersonate that organization. The mysterious organization that had been extending their influence recently and yet were not a part of the Black Dragon Street. They probably thought that it would be clean and cause them no trouble later on even if they impersonated that organization.”
“The third group is Ariya.”
Roroa tilted her head. As if she truly had no idea. As if she had no idea as to why Ariya’s name had popped up here all of a sudden.
“If I were to be exact, then it’s a bit different. Nevertheless, since Ariya ended up moving independently starting from the mid-point, let’s just call it Ariya. The fourth group is me. I did whatever I could in order to make this situation advantageous for myself. Although I did contemplate for a bit when I found out that Alshi had been stabbed, it’s fine now since she’s safe. I can’t change my goal here even for Ariya. I decided to keep going.”
“Now then, since we’re done organizing the groups, let’s go back to the beginning and go over the details.”
I spread out a piece of paper on top of a table. I wasn’t doing this in order to show it to the blindfolded Roroa, but in order for me to be able to just explain it easier.
“2 weeks ago, 2 people affiliated with Gongshik entered this city. Their goal, indistinct. Their destination, indistinct as well. Their current location was also indistinct······ is what they say, but I said that I had a guess earlier, right? I believe that these two are currently located in the morgue at the basement of the Star Tower.”
“Yeah.” I tapped on the paper. “The two corpses that were recovered from the waterway of the Mining Industry District. These two are probably them.”
“Just what are you saying······ how can you be so certain······.”
“Of course, that’s because these two are the only ones who were discovered as corpses this month. I’m not sure how they ended up dying. They may have met their demise while going after someone completely unrelated. There’s also a chance that the second group, the group which intended to impersonate them in the first place, were the ones who had killed them. However, whatever option it may be, their corpses and belongings were discovered by the second group.” I continued. “By you.”
Roroa’s mouth fell open.
“Until that moment, the thought to impersonate the members of Gongshik probably never crossed your mind. The idea must have just come to you after you discovered their corpses and got your hands on their belongings. Your head works well after all. ‘Ah, I can use this. I can impersonate this group.’ like that. This was something that you were already going to do, in other words, it alludes that you had already received orders to attack both me and Sii, but since this isn’t the right time to talk about that yet, let’s put that aside for now.”
“Now then, Roroa. You, who had resolved yourself like that, hid the corpses. But it seems you weren’t able to hide them properly. The corpses were discovered and reported after all. Of course, be that as it may, those corpses ended up going to you who was the assistant commissioner of the guards. In a state where they were all decayed and couldn’t be identified.”
“Why······ Why would you say that I’d do that sort of thing?”
“We aren’t at the step to discuss motives yet. For the time being, let’s just connect the incidents that had occurred. After getting your hands on their belongings, the masks and daggers, you came to attack us. However, you were too anxious to come by yourself. I understand. There are people in the world who are afraid to go to the bathroom by themselves. That’s why you found a comrade and came to attack us with them.”
“The ones······ the ones who attacked you were two maids⎯⎯⎯.”
“Ah. Can you stop treating your opposition like an idiot for a moment? Although furtively saying that they’re maids, they’re maids and establishing that as an accomplished fact was an okay technique, there’s no point in insisting it any further when, at this point, it has already failed. The person who came to attack us, the person who was standing at the front wasn’t a maid. While wearing a stolen maid uniform and also a mask, it was you in your unsheathed state.”
A stillness flowed by.
“······Why would, you think that?”
Naturally, if someone waves a knife around in front of me, if someone hits me, then I’m able to recognize that bastard the next time I meet them. It didn’t matter if that bastard was wearing a maid uniform or a mask. If you got bullied for 4 years and spent the next 4 years after that fighting back, then even you could become accustomed to a technique of this extent. Instead of saying that, I tossed out the ground bait that I had already set up.
“The spectrogram that I told you about earlier.”
“······but, you have to say the exact same thing as what was recorded······ that’s how, you’re able to analyze······.”
“That was a lie.”
Roroa opened and closed her mouth. I continued to speak.
“Shall I continue? The reason why you came in that attire was because you thought that it would be lacking if you only wore a mask. I understand this as well. You most likely used your little sister’s maid uniform. Kina’s, that is. Like that, you came to us after equipping another layer of defense.”
“No······ wan, I really didn’t, wan.”
“You attacked us.”
“I understand that you’re misunderstanding something because of the technology from your world, wan. Yujin······. But I really······.”
“But an unpredicted obstacle occurred here. Ariya’s intrusion. You, who could no longer subdue us easily, backed out immediately. She was an obstacle of that extent to you. The problem was the comrade who you had brought together with you. The second masked maid who was behind you, Alshi.”
Ariya gnashed her teeth. Roroa opened her mouth, closed it, and continued to repeat this motion. I lowered my voice.
“I feel like I can hear the gears in your head turn from here. That’s right, you saw it as well, right? The masked Alshi combatting against Ariya. You must have thought that it would be dangerous. The two of them are lovers. They always stick together. They probably have spars every day. In other words, if they were to ever fight one another, then there’s a high chance that they will be able to recognize one another.”
I turned towards Ariya.
“And actually, Ariya did realize.”
Alshi is, how should I say it······ she is contemplating about something right now.
“She tried to resolve it by herself.”
“······My apologies, Fair Grace.”
“No, I understand. You’re lovers. If anything, the thing I couldn’t understand was the fact that Alshi didn’t say anything to Ariya, who was her lover.”
As I had guessed, Ariya was probably unable to understand that. Why her lover Alshi had attacked us. Who the other person with her was. The reason why she wouldn’t open her mouth all together, Ariya was most likely unable to understand any of this. The frigid air that flowed between Ariya and Alshi was there because of this.
“Although I have a various number of deductions in regard to this, like I said, let’s drop the motives for a moment and talk about what has occurred. Roroa, I’m not sure how you did it, but you received her oath quite unbelievably well. Alshi really didn’t tell Ariya anything.”
It’s simple, but if Alshi did perhaps say something, then there’s no way that Ariya would only give Roroa cold eyes. Until I had told her, Ariya had absolutely no idea that Roroa was that other masked maid. Even after seeing Roroa cling onto Alshi.
“I······ like the time you caught me when I was stealing, I thought that you had somehow caught the scent that Alshi was one of the attackers. That’s why I······.”
Ariya’s voice was filled to the brim with guilt for having no idea who the main instigator was even when they were directly in front of her. Roroa stammered as she spoke.
“Like I said, Yujin, Miss Ariya, it’s a misunderstanding, wan······. I have no idea what you’re······.”
“I’ll continue. Like so, a stalemate had happened. Although Ariya knew that Alshi was one of the masked maids, it was because of that very reason that she couldn’t tell anyone. Alshi didn’t tell her the reason for the assault nor did she tell her anything about her comrade. I, at that time, wasn’t able to gather the puzzle pieces, so I didn’t prod further into the identities of the masked maids. As for you, after considering the possibility that Alshi’s identity was revealed to Ariya⎯⎯⎯or because Alshi herself had confirmed it to you, you weren’t able to move. If several more days were to have passed while in that state, although laughable, the assault incident may have faded off just like that. The majority of the embers of the world are like that after all. However, that didn’t happen this time. We have an outrageous nuclear bomb as our lord after all.”
The Silver Lion Earl had called us together.
“You must have panicked. I wouldn’t be surprised. The Earl was more upset than you had expected, right? You were worried that, in a thousand to one chance, if your identity as one of the attackers were revealed, then you would be dragged off to the torture room, right? Ariya probably felt the same thing. That she couldn’t let things continue like this. Her precious lover, Alshi, if the Earl finds out that it was her, then it may not end with just an arm. Like that, one person to protect themself, and the other person to protect their lover, carried out the same course of action at the same time. You went to Alshi.”
I pointed towards Roroa.
“You were a bit faster.”
Ariya had returned with us to our room first before heading towards Alshi’s room. On the other hand, Roroa most likely immediately headed to where Alshi was. The fact that Roroa wasn’t there when we went to the guards’ headquarters was because of that. Because she was together with Alshi until then. Thus, because that was the case, or because of another reason, Alshi did not open the door for Ariya.
“You most likely believed that you had to tell her right that instant. If you didn’t, then there’s no way that Ariya would have returned wordlessly. However, after that, I made a mistake. Because I told you about the spectrogram, you had set up a time limit for yourself.”
Although setting up that time limit in itself was my intention, the timing was bad.
“You probably thought this. Since the voice that was recorded was mine, the culprit won’t come out even if they looked through the voices of all of the maids. Moreover, since you heard the condition for the voice analysis from me⎯⎯⎯the fact that you had to say the exact same line as the ones that were recorded, you just had to avoid that. However, then what would happen next? The smokescreen tactic that you had spread out abundantly⎯⎯⎯yeah, I’m saying this now, but that nonsense about a proxy war between otherworlders was quite interesting⎯⎯⎯I could conclude that the attackers were outsiders. I could also report to the Earl that conclusion of mine. If that were to happen, then once more, the investigation could have fizzled out.”
“Yujin, I really······.”
“But that might not happen, right? I could have been certain that it was an insider, but just not a maid. I’m the otherworlder who had resolved the Fedchants case after all. No matter which way you looked at it, I must have been foreboding. You couldn’t underestimate me. These thoughts probably went through your head. Additionally, even if you got past this investigation without trouble, Alshi and Ariya would continue to stick on your conscience. People like you end up obsessing over things like that to an abnormal degree. That’s why you decided to choose a method that was a bit more drastic and cliché.”
Ariya ground her teeth. Her fist pounded into the pit of Roroa’s stomach. Thud······! Roroa gasped and ended up coughing blood, but she soon clenched her teeth together.
“So······ cough, so, you’re saying that I went back to Alshi and stabbed her, wan? Like an assassin?”
Her voice was hard to understand.
“And you’re saying that I then forged her last words and placed it there, wan? In order for the dragnet to not reach me? Like some sort of Mage Tower schemer? Me, you’re saying that I did those sorts of things?”
“You, you’re still trying to make excuses······!!”
Sii had shouted out as if she had grown tired of just listening, but Roroa shouted back in an even louder voice while coughing out blood.
“That isn’t so, wan!”
With her head lowered, Roroa shouted desperately.
“Miss Ariya······ Yujin, Miss Sii. It isn’t me, wan. It really isn’t. I mean, how could it be me? How exactly would that be possible? I was born in this city. Wan······ a native to this city······ I’ve been working as a guard for more than 6 years now, wan. In order to protect the people of this city! My God, my little sister is even a maid! But you’re saying I did that? That sort of act which deserves to be punished by the heavens, that I had even made another maid who works alongside my little sister do that, and that I had even tried to cut off my tail? This me······?”
As much as the blindfold was able to cover half of her face, she was that small. Her flowing tears soaked her cheeks.
“That’s impossible······ I mean, this, this is really absurd, wan······ it’s a misunderstanding······ a terrible misunderstanding, wan. Or it’s a trap······ why, just why, ah, or maybe this is a performance, wan? Wan······ in order to lure someone else, you’re using me as bait······ if that isn’t the case, then I don’t······.”
Ariya hesitantly turned towards me. I glared at Roroa without wavering. Ariya clenched her fists firmly and turned back towards Roroa.
“With the otherworld technology that Fair Grace had mentioned⎯⎯⎯.”
“I’m, I’m not sure about that, wan······ I don’t know. I mean, is it not technology from another world, wan······ the certainty that that would work properly in our world as well······ Additionally, not only do I not know how they work······ but Ariya, you don’t know either, right? How do I refute against something that I don’t know about······ even if you use that as evidence, only Yujin would be able to comprehend it, wan. I, I can only state that I’m being framed······.”
As I expected, her head worked fast. Honestly, what she said was exactly the case. Those words were enough to be planted as a reasonable suspicion.
“Yes, Yujin······ this is really, really a misunder⎯⎯⎯.”
“I’m aware as well. That this is lacking as a finishing blow. But you know, with everything that I explained to you just now, shouldn’t you have roughly grasped it by now? The fact that I was aware that Alshi was one of the attackers since a long time ago. Do you think that I would have done absolutely nothing?”
I took out a USB from my pocket. I plugged it into my iPad, approximated the point of time of the video, and pressed the play button.
〈······that, the case?〉
Ariya swallowed down her gasp.
It was Alshi’s voice.
〈That’s right, wan. It’ll be dangerous at this rate, wan.〉
And, of course⎯⎯⎯Roroa’s voice.
〈I’m sorry, wan. My thoughts were shallow, wan. I didn’t think it’d become this tangled from the start. Wan······ but everything will be taken care of once the prince arrives soon, wan. We just have to wait until then, wan.〉
〈······Is that, true?〉
〈Of course, wan! If we work together, then we can protect Ariya, wan.〉
Ariya opened her eyes wide. She most likely had no idea why her name was mentioned just now. As someone whose Flaming Goddess was lying in a hospital room, it was one of the deductions that I had already made. What was the keyword that was capable of making someone with a lover become blind and caught in even the most ridiculous of frauds?
“This······ something must be wrong with this, wan.”
Roroa muttered in a voice that sounded as if she were clueless.
〈Alshi. That’s why, in order for us to discuss what we’re going to do from this point forth, can you come here⎯⎯⎯.〉
“This is really······ I can only say that it’s fake.”
A stabbing sound resonating from the iPad. The sound of a gasp bursting out from Ariya’s mouth.
And the words of denial drifting out from Roroa’s mouth.
“Why would I······ to Alshi. No······ it isn’t the case, wan.”
“Fake······ it’s a trap, wan.”
〈I’m sorry······ it couldn’t be helped. If this contin⎯⎯⎯.〉
Soon after, the sound of knocking could be heard from the door. We had arrived.
If I were to have let it play further, then we could have probably heard Roroa hurry out the window and roughly leave a fabricated escape trail that led all the way to the waterway before coming back to talk to us as if nothing had happened. Like that, it would have continued on until this very moment. I stopped the video. A deathly silence spread throughout the room.
Roroa’s weeping broke that silence.
“It’s a trap, wan! I have absolutely no idea, wan!”
“You’re still saying that nons⎯⎯⎯.”
Everything happened in a single moment.
The instant Ariya pulled her shoulder back so she could drive her fist into Ariya’s solar plexus, green particles burst out from Roroa’s body. The moment Ariya instinctively shielded her eyes, unsheathed, Roroa initiated her transformation. As her body swelled up, the rope that was binding her became undone, and with her two now liberated feet, she kicked Ariya away and ran towards Sii.
Claws were held at the neck of Sii who was standing awkwardly. Roroa took off her blindfold once she had finished transforming. Green particles, which she had used to organize her list on the first day we met, were gathered on top of her palm.
“I really didn’t want to do this, wan.”
Her voice was perplexed.
The Ariya, who had fallen down after that kick, pushed herself up strenuously. I spoke quietly.
“The piece of candy that you handed to us earlier. It’s a relief that we didn’t eat it. I feel like I wouldn’t be surprised if I were told that it was filled with poison.”
Roroa responded with a still perplexed voice.
“I mixed some scorpion poison from a Groundspider in it, wan. It’s a long-acting poison. It’s a poison that has been favored ever since Borg Edantres became the head of the branch here, wan. Previously, there was a time where we had to empty an organization that belonged to the Black Dragon Street and I secretly took some.”
“When I took that piece of candy, have you considered the chance that, instead of taking the piece of candy and eating it later like we said we would, we’d give it to someone else?”
“Then that would be your responsibility, Yujin. I’m the assistant commissioner of the guards, wan. Rather than that, if there’s a possibility to take your life, then I judged that it would be ideal to pursue that plan.”
Sii, who was currently being held by Roroa, asked.
“······Why would you do this?”
“For this city, wan.”
I was sad that I was incapable of being curious as to what sort of personal experience she had to go through in order for her to give that sort of reply. Fortunately, there was a person here who wasn’t as sullied as I was. Ariya panted.
“How is attacking Fair Grace, dragging Alshi into this, and trying to kill her for this city?”
“I have already sufficiently experienced the ruin that an otherworlder can bring to a city, wan.”
Her voice was low and cold. It wasn’t because of her transformation.
“A lot of things, Ahyeon knew an incredible amount of things, wan.”
The particles of light gathered on Roroa’s hand scattered. Within the dark room, a 3D projection of the City of Confinement was displayed.
“Many things, he tried to change an incredible number of things, wan.”
The additionally gathered green particles became buildings, markets, and the shape of small people. Each time Roroa moved her hand, that imaginary City of Confinement gradually became livelier. Roroa muttered in a voice that was like a shaman who was telling an ancient story.
“Many types of prejudice disappeared, wan. Things that were obvious stopped being obvious, and the things that weren’t obvious became obvious, wan.”
The particles clumped together and created two small girls.
“My sister and I, were there, wan.”
Roroa gazed down at those girls.
“There was a future, wan. There was hope, wan. I believed that the God whom I worship, Giant Molars, had sent an apostle, wan.”
A large mouth that stretched from one ear to the other. Her blade-like teeth were shining in the darkness.
“However, Ahyeon disappeared, wan.”
The green particles disappeared all at once.
The Saber-Fang girl in her unsheathed state looked terrifyingly large in this dark and small room. However, her eyes felt strangely small.
“Every change had stopped, wan. Everything that I dreamed for had disappeared like a mirage, wan. And this city became hideous like a building that had been abandoned in the middle of its construction. It had become an abandoned structure.”
Roroa turned towards Ariya.
“Ariya, you must surely remember the time back then. The time when your father was alive. You probably remember that shining period, wan. Compared to back then, how is the city now, wan? Miss Sophna is constantly shutting herself in her room and the esteemed daughter⎯⎯⎯Her Excellency became like that, wan.”
If they weren’t able to see the future from the start.
If hope weren’t shown to them.
If nothing had changed.
Aah, if it were like that, then they wouldn’t have had any sorts of expectations.
“The funny thing is that I still loved that incomplete work, wan.”
Roroa spoke sorrowfully.
“Any more breaking must be prevented. Wan. In order to do so, there is something that is as important as stopping an otherworlder before they’re able to spread more poison, wan.”
“You mean the security of the city.”
I uttered. Roroa tilted her head and looked down at me.
“That’s right, wan. Although I may be working, it’s true that things aren’t working properly. Miss Sophna, the Head Vassal, is always shut in her room and the Vice-captain, who’s right under her position, is busy playing around, wan. Normally, we’d still be able to operate well with this sort of system, but what do you think will happen if some misfortunate event were to perhaps happen, wan? Could a group of guards like this be able to guarantee the safety of the people, wan?”
Roroa ended adamantly.
“I require a role that is capable of moving the guards however I please, wan. After having even dragged the Orange Hawk Prince into this, everything was proceeding nicely, but I won’t let some spontaneous otherworlder whisk that all away from me, wan.”
While looking down at the claws that were aimed at her throat, Sii spoke.
“That’s why······ you tried to get rid of your rival for the sake of your own advancement, is that what you’re saying?”
Roroa spoke defensively.
“That’s too simplified, wan. I’m not a materialistic person, wan. It’s just, isn’t it natural for someone to pursue two or more goals while they’re already executing one, wan? Moreover, even if it’s me, do you think I’d enjoy killing other sentient beings? Yujin. You acted up too much, wan. Has no one advised you about this?”
Go get crushed somewhere.
(TL note: This is a Korean slang that’s used when telling someone to stop sticking out.)
“If no one did, then it’s your fault for not having made friends well. Furthermore, you’re too smart, wan. These sorts of variables must be taken care of early on. It’s called an even greater righteousness, wan.”
“Righteousness!? With what mouth are you······!”
Sii’s groan forced Ariya to shut her mouth. Roroa was grabbing Sii’s right arm⎯⎯⎯the area where there was once a severed line.
“Miss Ariya, I beg of you, wan. Don’t act rashly. If this part of Miss Sii were to perhaps fall off again, then at that time, it’ll become more difficult to reattach. She could end up with a single arm for the rest of her life, wan, and it’ll be your fault. Wasn’t it enough that Alshi was wrapped into this because of you, wan?”
Ariya wasn’t able to even breathe properly.
“Alshi······ what you said earlier. What did you mean when you said that Alshi attacked Fair Grace for me?”
“I told her that you stole something again and that I possessed evidence that could prove it, wan. I told her that if she helped me, then I would destroy that evidence, wan. I wondered whether this could actually persuade her or not even while I was telling her this, but it surprisingly did. Was it because I lived a good life until now? Wan, no. If you think about it, then it’s because of your relationship as a couple. It isn’t my fault that you lack dialogue and trust between the two of you······.”
Before Ariya could even gnash her teeth, a pained cry burst out from Sii’s mouth. Roroa acted as if she really didn’t want to do this, but she was clearly twisting Sii’s arm.
Sii uttered through her teeth.
“Certainly······ Certainly, the otherworlder called Ahyeon, who came here previously, brought a calamity to this city. You, he made you into a guard.”
“Yes. And the otherworlder called Yujin, whom you stick around to so much, will make me into the vice-captain of the guards, wan.”
“Since this much ruckus has occurred.”
“It’s enough for the mistrust towards the superior of the guards to come to the fore. It has actually been brought forward, too. Moreover, while in that situation, the incident where Alshi was stabbed had occurred. Despite that, despite having been warned only a short moment ago, Vice-captain Ryungste went to go drinking. Although it’ll probably be impossible to take Sophna’s position, you’ll be able to at least seize Ryungste’s position. Was that your plan?”
“Yes, Yujin. The fact that Her Excellency was angrier than I had imagined······ that was certainly my miscalculation, wan. One wrong move, and there was a chance that my head would have flown off. Wan. I really have to prevent that······.”
Roroa looked worried. Ariya looked as if she had no idea how Roroa could make an expression like that in a situation like this.
I understood. Despite having untied the rope, the fact that she had waited for the perfect moment when Ariya charged at her, the fact that she waited and didn’t miss out on her single chance, and the fact that she was able to run straight towards Sii despite having not taken off her blindfolds. The fact that she denied everything since the very beginning and even showed tears, this meant that within her mind she had been busily finding a path that would allow her to survive. Even while aware that she was scheduled to be in charge of the investigation, the fact that she had attacked after having prepared several layers of protection was a truth that I was already aware of.
“There are three facts that you all must know, wan.”
She spoke like a thorough advocate of self-protection.
“One is the fact that I have a soft spot in my heart for you all, wan. Another is the fact that I sympathize with you all, wan. The final fact is the truth that I feel apologetic towards you and you all, wan. I am not a coward. I am not garbage. I am not a beast who does not know how to empathize with others and understand their feelings, wan. I hope that you do not doubt this fact, wan. I pray that you do not doubt at least this sole fact, wan.”
“Only beasts say things like that.”
“Although they blabber all sorts of splendid lines out of their mouths, they’re fellows whose heads are only filled to the brim with the desire for their own profits. If it’s not a match which they can win or if they didn’t prepare an alternative, then they’ll keep their mouths shut. A fellow who, despite knowing the situation of their old boss’ daughter, will capture that girl regardless of that. Nevertheless, they’re also fairly smart, fairly talented, and they even possess luck. A fellow who’s able to do the things that people would normally utter ‘That much?’ and hesitate to do. Although I believe that they’re a possessor of a talent that’s truly difficult to find elsewhere.”
“Still, beasts cannot win against humans.”
Roroa spat coldly and put more strength into her grip on Sii’s arm. Sii cried out.
“W-Wait······! W-What are you going to do!? You can’t run away any······.”
“If you’re concerned about me, then it’s fine, wan. Although I’ve been forced into a corner many times before, the God, Giant Molars, always shows the path to his believers. Yujin, I am absolutely not a beast, wan. You cannot win against me, wan.”
The veins on the back of Roroa’s hands, which were now covered in fur due to her now being in her unsheathed state, swelled up. As if she intended to twist Sii’s arm off and toss it forward while pushing Sii herself back. As if she were going to escape the instant we became distracted by that arm and Sii.
Regardless, should I tell her the fact that she can’t escape from the Earl’s summoning ability? Even if she’s somehow able to escape from the summon, should I mention that her little sister Kina will end up suffering instead? This probably won’t work. Although she’s displaying a baseless confidence, she isn’t foolish enough to believe that she’d be able to shake off a summon.
This fellow’s goal was to ‘make us think that that was what she was planning to do’.
At least, her intention to tear off Sii’s arm and pushing Sii back was probably right. However, she’ll use that opportunity to charge forward and take all of our lives. Afterward, she’ll use whatever trick that’s available to her to kill the unconscious Alshi. That course of action would most likely hold a higher chance of her survival after all. Once I had thought that far.
“I’ve been thinking about it, but, as I thought, I like you, Yujin.”
Once more, many things happened.
At the same instant Sii let out a cry, I tossed my iPad. Although Roroa tried to hit that aside with her free hand, in that very instant, Sii powerfully swung her right arm, which was being held, and freed herself from Roroa’s grasp. “Kahak···!” A pained groan flowed out from Sii’s mouth. She hunched over due to the severe pain emanating from the area where her arm was once cut, but she used her momentum and flung her body backward. Roroa, who had been struck on the pit of her stomach several times already, was forced to bend her back forward once she was hit by Sii’s full strength tackle.
Roroa shouted. I then immediately pulled on the thing that I was holding in my hand. Following that movement, one of Roroa’s leg swung forward.
“Since the very beginning,” I spoke while holding onto the fishing line and hook that was hooked onto Roroa’s pants. “I didn’t intend to bind you with just that rope.”
Despite that, Sii being captured as a hostage was my mistake. Roroa didn’t plan on missing that mistake of mine.
Like how a person would try to clutch at straws when falling into water⎯⎯⎯the assistant commissioner of the City of Confinement, the Dog Knight of Justice, tried to grab Sii.
That arm, which was swung fully, missed its course as if it had collided against an unpredicted resistance.
Roroa looked down and shock spread across her eyes. The buttons that were sewed on into a single line. When a transformation occurs, the buttons were supposed to move according to how the lining on the uniform stretched out, albeit, even if they became deviated, they were supposed to stretch out just like that.
However, those buttons were currently entangled in a way that made them appear like some constellation. Roroa uttered.
I felt it when I witnessed Kina transform and I became certain once Roroa had explained it to me.
Kina’s maid uniform and Roroa’s guard uniform were made specifically for Saber-Fangs. In order for the clothes to not tear whenever they entered their unsheathed state, they were made with magic lining. Like the armor of a Saiyan, it changed in a way to match the transformation of one’s body.
However, not the buttons.
To be exact, the thread that was used to sew the buttons weren’t like that. The deviation of the buttons happened because of that very reason. Since, compared to the expanding clothes, the thread that held the buttons did not stretch.
If the person who did the sewing was aware of that, then they could play a trick during that process that would work only a single time.
There was no need to explain all of this. The bottom of Ariya’s shoe slammed into Roroa’s face.
Her body followed after her head, which was kicked like a soccer ball, before her pants got caught by the hook, forcing her down, and slamming the back of her head against the stone floor. Bang······! Kah, Roroa cried out as she coughed out blood. Ariya leaped on top of that Roroa, grabbed her by the neck, and with her other hand aiming at Roroa’s eyes, she⎯⎯⎯
Ariya froze. With a desperate face, she turned to look at me. I spoke adamantly.
“We made a promise, Ariya, and you agreed to it, right?”
“······Yes, that is the case.”
“Okay. Hold her like that.”
I immediately went to examine Sii’s arm. It hadn’t fallen off. Sii, although her face was still completely enveloped in pain, was strenuously displaying a smile to me.
All right. She was okay. That’s a relief. If that was the case, then this was fine for now.
I walked towards Roroa and looked down at her.
Roroa struggled a couple of times in order to free herself from Ariya’s hold, but she eventually gave up and sighed. She must have been unable to maintain her transformed state any longer as her body shrunk.
“Will I be tortured and executed now, wan······?”
“That may happen. That may not happen as well. Since you had put so much effort into temperamentally protecting yourself, there are a lot of choices available to us.”
“And because of Alshi, wan? I⎯⎯⎯ it won’t work with me alone. Things like taking all of the blame isn’t righteousness, wan. If I’m captured and questioned, then I’ll have no other choice but to reveal the name of Alshi who had acted······.”
Roroa’s words unnaturally came to a stop. Ariya had started to choke her so strongly that her nails were starting to dig into Roroa’s skin. I, should have immediately made Ariya stop, but I waited for a moment. After that, I placed my hand on Ariya’s shoulder and spoke.
“The investigation will end in smoke.”
After a momentary pause, I continued.
“I will make it happen. The Mage Tower seal I drew on that foolish will you left behind was for that purpose as well. To the Earl, the Mage Tower is a place she has some history with. Although the Earl absolutely isn’t foolish, she’s not that bright either. If we change the angle, then it isn’t difficult to direct her towards a direction which we desire. Like what you had tried to do with us this entire time.”
“Now then, once more······ the investigation will end in smoke. I will make it happen. After that, I plan to swallow up every circumstance that was mixed in with this case. Of course.”
“If······ wan, as long as I listen to your orders, Yujin. Is that it, wan?”
“Like that, you will end up becoming the vice-captain just as you had desired. Mister Ryungste, although he appeared okay, he doesn’t seem appropriate for this situation. Even he seemed like he wanted to retire and live a free and easy retirement life. That’s why I’m telling you to become the vice-captain.”
“As I thought, Yujin, you want me to be the vice-captain of the guards who’s also nothing more than your puppet, wan?”
I nodded. Roroa laughed hollowly.
“Who’s calling who a beast······?”
Roroa’s ears lightly fell down.
“Ariya can’t place her hands on me, wan. Because of Alshi. I can’t disobey you, wan. Because you’re holding onto my weakness. Alshi can’t report me, wan. Because you made this exchange while in front of Ariya. Since she has to protect Ariya. Even spiders wouldn’t be able to make a web that’s as elaborate as this, wan.”
By making people aim at one another while also holding onto each other’s weaknesses, in the end, no one will be able to move.
Within that, only I’ll be able to move freely.
In order to create this scenario, despite having already figured out the majority of the truth, I stayed silent until I had gathered all of the puzzle pieces. Due to that, Alshi had nearly died. If Alshi did actually die, then the wait would have been for naught and everything would have fallen apart. Nevertheless, I shouldered that risk.
The things that I had done to the point where I had gotten sick and tired of them during the 8 Years’ War, I had done them once more, and I’ll most likely continue to do them a countless number of times in the future.
“However, I can promise you two things. First, I’ll change this city.”
“I’ll fix the system and remove vices. I’ll solve the various issues that’ll most likely block my path during the process, and I’ll reform every unreasonable system. Finally, after all that, I’ll rehabilitate the Earl. I’ll leave a proper city in the hands of a proper leader. You can look forward to this.”
While peering into her eyes, I put more strength into my voice and continued.
“I’ll finish that incomplete work that had made you fall into despair.”
Roroa was unable to say anything for a while.
While averting her gaze, she spoke.
“······What’s the second thing, wan?”
Roroa lifted one ear. I spoke.
“Your little sister. Do you know what the real reason is as to why she holds such hostility towards me? It probably isn’t because she was worried that you’ll be taken away by an otherworlder again like you had said. In case her sister is betrayed again, devastated again, she’s trying to block me off beforehand.”
“What do you mean so what? It means that you’re a sociopath who didn’t feel any hesitation whatsoever even though you were pushing that little sister of yours, who was that concerned about you, into a situation where she would be bullied. However.”
I placed my hand on her forehead.
“That’s not all.”
It most likely wasn’t.
“Even for you, that most likely wasn’t everything.”
“I won’t disappear.”
“That’s why, it’s fine for you to place your expectations on me.”
There was then another long silence.
“Roroa⎯⎯⎯Dog Knight of Justice, the next in line to be the vice-captain of the guards. What is your answer?”
“Wan······ do I even have any other choices?”
“I understand, wan.”
I nodded. I then shook Ariya’s shoulder and made her step aside.
Ariya, looked up at me with an expression that showed that she had a lot of things to say. However, instead of saying them, the course of action she took was to wordlessly step to the side. Roroa sat up and looked up at me while folding down her ears.
“Although I was confident that I was smart, wan.”
Dog Knight of Justice. The girl, who was going to be my dog from now on, placed her small hand on top of my shoe.
“By the looks of it, it seems I was gifted with a fate that is unable to be rewarded, wan.”
I sat down on a chair, took off my shoes, and crossed my legs.
Roroa got down on one knee and placed her lips on the top of my foot.
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter! Everything has been revealed and Roroa is officially on Yujin’s side now. There’s another chapter left and the short story before I’m done with this volume, so I’ll do my best to pump those out soon. The next chapter is actually quite short so that may be finished by tomorrow. Who knows.
In other news, SINoALICE hype. That is all.