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“Oh my goodness, this is quite a problem,” Alice said in a voice that didn’t sound at all worried, and a face that didn’t change expression at all.
“Let us take a moment to reorganize ourselves. We should reassess our situation and get some input from Sare-san.” (Alice)
“Umu, I concur.”
The one who agreed with Alice was the man with the head of a lizard. An honest-to-goodness lizard head.
But he didn’t look like a plain or ordinary lizard, instead he had two fantastic horns growing from his head.
The lizard head approached Sare, who was standing next to Alice, and held out his hand. He was offering his greetings with a handshake.
“Let me formally introduce myself to you, Sare. My name is [Gillius]. I am proud to announce myself as a member of the [Dragunal], or Dragon race. ‘Tis a rather rare race, but if I were to compare its rarity to that of Sare’s own, the Iino Ehla, it may not be rare at all.”
“I don’t think I’m all that amazing. ――It’s nice to meet you, Gillius.”
No way, the Dragon race?
――Dragon?! ――Even just the character is awesome!
Sare got excited thinking about it.
When you were suddenly presented with a race with the heads of lizards it would be kinda weird, but if you call them the Dragon race, they suddenly seem really cool.
――Yep, guys love dragons.
Gillius had black scales that seemed to rise above his skin, a thick tail, and two large wings on his back.
“My appearance is hardly subtle. Because of this I feel like I am only half a person….”
“I believe Gillius perfectly fulfills his job of surprising everyone we meet. There is no need for you to do anything, your presence alone completely crushes their bravery. ――Especially if it happens to be dark.”
“Ku! You are so cruel, Alice!”
“Not at all, I am simply stating the truth.”
“Alice cannot go easy on anyone….” came a voice from within the group which was still chattering amongst themselves about the question Alice asked earlier.
Suddenly Gillius was pushed aside and another person came before Sare.
“Truly, that Premi. What doest she think mine horn is? ――――Nu, we were not able to conduct proper introductions due to Premi’s interference. Alloweth me to once again introduce myself: I am [Touka Yakou].”
It was Touka. The beauty with the horn and the long black hair.
“In case you were curious, my lineage originates from the East Continent, I am one of the Ogre Race, the Vaal Valka. I overheard your conversation before. In terms of rarity my race will not lose to the Dragon race. Though, if you were to compare its rarity to the Majin race it is not as impressive.” (Touka)
Touka spoke in an old-fashioned way, and was comfortably clad in a deep crimson kimono. Combined with her beauty, it was like she was surrounded by a bewitching atmosphere.
“Nice to meet you. By the way, about your horn――” (Sare)
“It’s perfect for grilling.” (Alice)
“Thou art mistaken!!” (Touka)
“Eh, I made a mistake?” Alice spoke earnestly and seemed disheartened by the information.
In comparison, Touka seemed as if she was being worn down.
“――G, gunu…. ‘tis a feature of the [Ogre race]. All Ogres grow horns on their heads. Not a single ogre hath ever used their horns to grill meat you know? ――You are mistaken, do you understand?” Touka’s tone changed as she advised Alice.
Compared to her normal austere way of speaking, Sare felt that her speech style had become somewhat patronizing.
“Well then, alloweth us to put aside discussions concerning mine horn. ――For now.”
Touka forcibly redirected the conversation.
“――Alloweth us instead to worry about our current state of affairs,” Touka asserted with a serious expression on her face as she crossed her arms in front of her.
Gillius, standing beside her, crossed his arms as well and spoke first:
“Well, first of all, our number one concern is that we are being pursued by the Pure race of Atem Kingdom.” (Gillius)
“Yes, we have been lucky to escape up until now. But if we make a single mistake――”
Alice paused for a moment,
“We will be annihilated,” she finished while wearing a serious expression.
“What on earth is going on in that head of yours, Alice…?!” (Gillius)
“I am merely voicing the hypothesis I believe to be most likely after careful deliberation. Do not let it bother you.” (Alice)
“I, I see…..” (Gillius)
“Alice’s predictions are usually on the mark, which makes what you said frightening…!” Gillius grumbled to himself.
“――Our second issue is that we have been running without considering our destination, a place where we will be able to live. We must consider what we will do from now on.” (Gillius)
At these words a new voice was heard from within the group.
The voice belonged to a slender young girl with animal ears on her head.
“Then, how about we take this opportunity to strike Atem Kingdom, since we are so close? If we manage to strike a heavy blow here, we may scare off our pursuers and say goodbye to running away in fear――”
The girl stopped mid-sentence as she noticed Sare.
She turned to face him, her expression seemed to say: I haven’t introduced myself, huh?
“――I am [Makoto Shintoruu]. Like Touka I am a race from the East Continent. I am a Ruu Farce, one of the [Fox people]. It is nice to meet you, Sare.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you too.” (Sare)
“Her other name is [cutting board Makoto]. ‘Tis fine if thee desires to make a guess at her chest measurements.” (Touka)
“Like I’d do that!!” (Sare)
Makoto’s fox ears twitched at Touka’s words and her face flushed red.
That’s because Touka, who added [cutting board] to her name, was staring directly at her chest as she continued,
“Look, that sheer cliff is the saddest thing thee shalt ever see. Wither hast her breasts runneth off to….? Even though we both hail from the East Continent, if thee compared hers to mine……a pity.” (Touka)
“Don’t say [….a pity] as if you’re concerned!! S, stop it! Don’t stare at my chest with those eyes!!” Makoto yelled in response while covering her chest with her arms.
“――I mean, why are we even talking about this?! Weren’t we having a serious conversation before?! Quit interrupting important conversations just so you can bother people by bluntly talking about things that might be a sensitive topic!” Makoto’s ear twitched as she continued to yell at Touka.
“So those are fox ears,” Sare said to himself.
――I really wanna touch them.
From near the fighting Touka and Makoto another voice spoke out.
That white-winged angel, Premiere.
Her six large white wings fluttered as she spoke.
“We can return to the conversation but――it’s impossible, Makoto.” (Premi)
Up until now Premiere had been so hyper, but now she spoke calmly.
“There are barely fifty of us here. If we tried to go against Atem’s military forces we wouldn’t stand a chance. While it’s true that we could win a battle of strength against individuals of the Pure race, we can’t keep up with the power of their sheer numbers and――the [Oracles]. If we had enough strength to go against them, the Regnard would have never lost the war.” (Premi)
“I see…” (Makoto)
“Ah, that’s right, there’s one more thing I want to add――you really are flat as a cutting board, huh? No matter how noble I may be it’s sad to act as your followup. You’re so pitifully lacking that you make mine more impressive you know?” (Premi)
“What the hell!! You were so serious before that I actually got a better opinion of you!! In the end you guys always have to talk about it!! Do you actually enjoy bullying me like this?! ――Fine!! Have fun with your pointless growths! Those hanging blobs of fat!!” (Makoto)
“Ara, well aren’t you being crude? Not only a cretin and a cutting board, you also have a quick temper and are prone to jealousy? Can’t you at least fix your temper and jealousy? ――Since it’s impossible to cure the cretin and cutting board parts!! Fufufu…!!” (Premi)
“You guys! Isn’t anyone on my side?!” (Makoto)
There wasn’t anyone in the group willing to step into the squabble between women.
Certainly, getting involved wouldn’t result in anything good, or so Sare thought.
Just now Sare heard a word that wasn’t part of his vocabulary, so he asked:
He had no knowledge of the term.
Alice, standing beside him, tilted her head questioningly as she answered him,
“They are those who have received the divine protection of the Dios, the Divine race, Sare-san.”
“Divine beings? ――Eh? You mean gods? In this day and age?” (Sare)
――That’s impossible, Sare thought frankly.
A god, or in other words, the Almighty.
If there was such a being in this world, there wouldn’t be so much strife.
Rather than this world being guided by the Almighty, it was more like it had been warped.
“It is quite difficult to explain but those of the [Divine race] are not exactly gods. They are not almighty beings.” (Alice)
“As in they aren’t omnipotent?” (Sare)
“Something like that. If you were to define what the Divine race is like――they are those who are closest to achieving omnipotence. There are divisions based on their abilities, such as [Gods of War] and the [Gods of Harvest]. In the subdivisions of those gods are those such as the [Sword God] and the [God of Rice]. Although they sound grandiose, if you remove their special powers, I believe that these existences would look no different than those of either the Pure or Other races.” (Alice)
“Oh?” Sare remarked with eyes glittering in excited curiosity.
“By the way, it is said that the realm of the gods is sealed within another dimension, called the [World of Gods: Ichthys] which will rise to overlap our own at the end of this era. Those of the Divine race are waiting, sealed within this dimension, until our current civilizations decline and the end of the age approaches.” (Alice)
“Eh? They’re sealed?!” Sare exclaimed in a voice full of amazement, rather than simple curiosity.
“In history books it is vaguely mentioned that the Divine race had existed in our world at the beginning of the current era. But their presence and guidance caused civilizations to develop at an unbelievable pace, that their people, those of the Pure and Other races, could not match. These civilizations were unbalanced and…” Alice stopped speaking as she drew her hands together for a moment, before continuing:
“Those of the Pure and Other races did not possess the knowledge to control their own civilizations without the guidance of the Divine race, which they regretted. They feared that both the Pure and Other races would destroy themselves since civilization had progressed at such a rapid pace, so they sealed themselves into Ichthys.” (Alice)
“I see. Even if they were called divine, they still made mistakes,” Sare offered.
“That is correct. After the Divine race sealed themselves in Ichthys, they lent their power to the people in the our world. This was to weaken the superiority of the civilizations they left behind, which were abnormally advanced. It was their way of [compensating] the rest of the world.” (Alice)
“But in the end they were just lending out power randomly, huh?” Sare commented while smiling slightly.
“Which leads to the present day, where we call these people who have received the powers of the Divine race [Oracles]. Their powers are diverse and they are found in many different fields. This is so they can carefully observe and moderate progress. ――This is the result of the Divine race sealing themselves away,” Alice said as she gave a thumbs up with her right hand.
――I wonder why she seems kinda happy. Sare wondered to himself before deciding not to ask her about it.
Just as Alice had finished her explanation Gillius spoke up,
“There are many Oracles within the Atem Kingdom. The leaders of Atem’s most powerful troops, the [King’s Blade], are all selected from the Oracles possessing the powers of the God of War. This is why the Other races always stayed on Atem’s good side, as it would be a simple matter for Atem to crush them if they opposed.”
“Does that mean that the Other races don’t have a lot of Oracles?” (Sare)
“They exist, but their numbers are few.” (Gillius)
Touka followed up Gillius’ simple answer,
“Due to the variety of types of Other races and the various abilities they naturally possess, the Divine race hath chosen to lend more power to the Pure race. Although they mean well, I feel they art being narrow-minded. The mediator tends to be exceedingly tough on the Other races. ――Since we are discussing it, should we give it a try?” (Touka)
“Give it a try?” (Sare)
“Forming a contract with one of the Divine race. ‘Tis surprisingly simple to open the gate to Ichthys. ‘Tis not as if I am trying to bringeth one hither, but I doth know a technique to make simple contact with them,” Touka said as she held out an index finger and continued,
“――The god I am able call upon is named――the [Tsukkomi God],” she stated proudly.
“Suspicious! That sort of god sounds really suspicious….!!” (Sare)
Ignoring Sare’s cry, Touka took her finger and began to draw the formula on the ground.
She waited for a few moments afterwards before saying:
“Well then, I shalt open it.”
All eyes on her, Touka spoke words softly that seemed to do something, although Sare didn’t understand their meaning, and the formula on the ground quickly began to glow.
“It really is that simple….” (Sare)
Sare was kind of happy, but also kind of sad, a complex series of emotions ran through him as he continued to gaze at the formula.
In the next moment from within the formula an [arm] extended.
An arm sticking out of the ground――it was a little horrific.
“Now then, grasp that arm and the one over there wilt decide whether or not thee art worthy to receive their power.” (Touka)
“S, sure.” (Sare)
A strange feeling fluttered in Sare’s chest as he approached the arm that extended from the technique formula on the ground. He crouched before it and gripped its hand.
He couldn’t feel any life from it, the flesh felt more like something made from ceramic.
After grasping the hand for a few moments, Sare felt the hand from over there sending power to where their hands met, and then he was release from its grip.
The hand extending from the ground then extended a finger and bent over to write something on the ground near Sare.
Sare read the words aloud as they were written.
“Let’s see… [Within you, the power of tsukkomi, resides. There is no need, for me to lend you, my power, figure it out, yourself] ――hey, do your damn job!!” (Sare)
Sare raised his hand high above him and slapped the arm coming out of the formula.
Afterward the arm pounded its palm on the ground excitedly and gave a thumbs up.
“[There you go. It’s that kind of feeling, make sure not to forget it.]” It wrote before receding back into the earth.
“Uwah….how annoying! Somehow that guy really pissed me off!! That shitty arm!!” (Sare)
“That is basically how you do it.” (Touka)
“I get it, but I don’t get it. In any case I understand that those of the Divine race are my enemies!” (Sare)
‘I know how you feel,’ the rest of the group responded in unison.
“Well, well, well, we have certainly strayed from our main discussion. Let us return to the problem at hand,” Alice began, “if anyone has an idea as to where we should head, or knows of a landmark we should aim for, please speak up.”
“I already told you, we should just begin work on building my country!!” (Premi)
“Rejected. But if no one else has a suggestion that plan will be selected by default….if you are absolutely against it, please decide something out of a desperate attempt to keep Premi’s kingdom from being our goal.” (Alice)
At those words, members of the group broke out in discussion:
‘Wait, if it’s Premi’s kingdom, wouldn’t that mean she’d be our queen? Then we’d all just be her subjects?’
‘If that’s the case we need to do something to prevent it from happening….we’d be better off becoming vagabonds. Ahh…really now….’
“You’re all a bunch of cretins, yet you dare to speak so cheekily!! Just shut up and kneel before me!! You should happily plant your face into the ground!! If you do I’ll step on you!! When you are lucky enough to be tread on you should show me a face in ecstasy and say [It feels so good!]!!”
As debates travelled through the group Premiere’s voice could occasionally be heard accompanied by shrieks from her unfortunate victims. They were a lively bunch.
Sare was currently standing in the middle of this group and tilted his head as he listened to the various conversations going around him. Although he had recently joined them, he wasn’t comfortable yet with joining in on the discussions.
Rather, it might be helpful to absorb the various gossip he heard and formulate a consensus on his own.
‘Makoto’s fox ears, I really want to touch them.’
‘Don’t Premi’s white wings look kind of soft?’
‘That new guy, the Majin, his tail might also be worth considering?’
There were other similar discussions that were absolutely unnecessary in solving the problem at hand. Sare pretended he didn’t hear anything.
The mention of his tail, which he took great pride in, was worrisome so he decided to hide it in his clothes from now on.
It might be in danger.
“Is anything the matter?” (Alice)
“Nah, nothing worth mentioning.” (Sare)
There seemed to be a question mark above Alice’s head as she asked curiously, but Sare forced a smile and continued to listen to the discussions that surrounded them.
In conclusion, despite the multitude of discussions, they still couldn’t decide on a specific plan.
There were too many varying opinions.
The biggest reason they couldn’t decide was because, due to the presence of so many [different races], their differences in beliefs and backgrounds made it difficult to find common ground.
The biggest divide was between those who were [for fighting] and those who were [against fighting].
Those who were for fighting had one main reason.
They felt they were just in pursuing a [war for revenge].
Although they knew they couldn’t stand against Atem’s armies, they felt the group could win against the forces that pursued them.
There were a large number of group members who felt this way.
These members were determined to immediately begin to formulate their strategy and plan their defence.
Compared to the pro-fighting members those who were against fighting had a multitude of reasons for their opinion.
They believed that the group could never stand against Atem’s military forces.
There was a lot of uncertainty as to how they would fight, and whether their mismatched forces would be effective in battle.
There were also those who, rather than feeling unable to fight, came from a culture that did not see a need for battle.
The many members whose races were unsuitable for battle also added that ‘Unlike you were are unable to effectively fight.’
And lastly, one depressing reason was――
“I don’t care anymore. ――I’m tired of this.”
From a corner of the group a single voice spoke out,
“Everyone is already dead. No matter if we find a way to live from here on out, it’s futile.”
Sare empathized with these words.
He couldn’t deny such a reason.
If he had heard them a few days ago, he would have said the same thing.
He lost so much, and regretted even more.
At these words everyone dropped their gaze to the ground.
But Sare was no longer easily influenced by such words.
Though he did understand them.
――I decided to fight back against the flow of this world.
As if reflecting the strength of his will, his red eyes seemed to shine.
“What do you think, Sare-san? ….Rather, what would you like to do?” (Alice)
Alice seemed to be trembling.
Even though her candid voice, her awfully respectable way of speaking, and the faded light in her eyes hadn’t changed.
“I see. ――Well, aren’t they both fine?”
Sare continued, “Well, it’s fine to want to fight for revenge, and for those who think we wouldn’t stand a chance it’s perfectly reasonable to not want to fight. There are also times when simply fighting won’t satisfy those wishing for revenge. Although it sounds convenient, there are also those who are managing to survive by hoping to go to Atem Kingdom in order to fulfill their desire for revenge.” (Sare)
There was also a grudge. Atem Kingdom had initiated the [Other races subjugation plan] which was offensive in itself.
“From what you told me, the Atem Kingdom thinks the Other races are an eyesore so they started to subjugate them. If that’s the case, just managing to run away is a sort of revenge. Ah, but like I said before, this may just be a convenient truth.” (Sare)
In other words,
“――In the end, I think everyone should be free to do what they need to. After all――aren’t you all connected by fragile bonds? Because you were in similar circumstances, because you had all lost people, you ended up together, but even so, just because you’ve been together for around a month it doesn’t mean you are able to truly understand one another.” (Sare)
Though being able to understand one another would be a good thing.
“You’re naive to think that such a loosely connected group could win against the Atem Kingdom’s unified forces which believe in the creed of the [supreme rule of the Pure race].
This is my honest opinion.
But, even so,
“If you still feel that you have to fight, that you need to desperately struggle, then I think it’s important to remember the need to struggle under the flag of a [just cause].”
Although this is just the ramblings of a guy who has just joined up, Sare wanted to add.
“So I’ll answer the question I was asked earlier. ――What do I want to do? No, what do I wish to do? My answer would be――”
Sare took a deep breath before continuing, at some point their eyes had focused on him.
Everyone was focusing on his gestures, they were straining their ears to hear his words.
“Rather than saying that one month isn’t very long to know one another, aren’t the days you spent struggling forwards together kind of amazing? Also, besides that――you had [Alice] with you. I heard that you all made it this far by thinking [We should at least protect Alice]. If that’s the case――”
I’ll just say it,
“Isn’t that a good enough reason?”
The words were spoken candidly.
“Protecting her is a just cause, so couldn’t you continue on this way?”
――Ahh, even I realize that I’m blurting out a bunch of nonsense in the guise of a plan.
So Sare thought, but he continued on anyways.
“You could call it sophistry, a stance, a whim, a show of self-righteousness, or even honor. You don’t need to follow any sort of motive. ――Just keep moving forward. If we are ever forced to reveal this group’s motive, we can confess that we are kept together by a simple goal that the varying members all believe in.”
Or you could say its a group that is kept together because they don’t have a clear goal. At least not at this point.
“It’s not as if our differences mean that we can never get along. Even if you met another member of your race, there is no guarantee that they will think the same way you do.”
Thoughts and feelings are different for everyone.
“That’s why it’s fine to just [protect her]. Can’t we just go forward raising the flag of such a just cause? In cases where those who are against fighting are faced with enemies, they can run away while saying it was to protect Alice, similarly those who want to fight can face their enemies and take them on in order to protect her. ――Oh? I feel like I’ve managed to finally say something important.”
But it’s almost like I’m saying our stance should be to strategically go to war.
What a stupid idea.
I’m speaking honestly.
These unusual, fragile bonds that have formed――I don’t want to lose them.
As Alice said, they are a sort of substitution, bonds that have helped to stop up the hole in my heart.
Using them as a substitution is fine. At this point, I want to keep them.
――I’m sounding pretty emotional about this.
“It may be simple but――I think it’s better if everyone struggles to live on.”
For this group to truly think as a [single body] then they need to have an official stance to bring them together.
After time passes, this stance will be tainted by their individual motives and that unity will change and the group could collapse.
But if time has passed, the group will not easily break up for such reasons.
“I have my own reasons for wanting to go against the Atem Kingdom and I’ve decided to do everything I can to follow this desire, even if I have to go it alone. But, after all, having comrades is reassuring――most of all because being alone is lonely.” (Sare)
“You are awfully emotional about all this Sare-san.” (Alice)
Sare jumped a bit in surprise at the words Alice whispered to him.
It was one thing if he thought it, but it was embarrassing if someone pointed it out.
“A fine speech, Sare.” (Touka)
“I had no idea that the Majins were in possession of the power of public speaking.” (Gillius)
“Such a cheeky cretin!! ――But you make a good point, for your efforts I’ll elevate you from a cretin to a commoner!!” (Premi)
“How are they different?!” (Sare)
At some point everyone’s eyes had lit up at Sare’s words.
They had been lit up by everyone’s determination which meant,
――Everyone decided to buy into my bullshit.
But there’s one more thing I need to say,
“I’ve basically proposed that Alice should become like our pillar of support, but what do you want to do, Alice?” (Sare)
“[Like]? You practically made me your pillar. Are you going to pray to me?” (Alice)
“….Oh, are you mad?” (Sare)
“Not at all, I do not feel at all angry. I give you permission to pray to me, after all, during the journey up until now I had practically been an object of worship. This would just be a continuation of what has happened up until now. If that is what everyone needs to do to move forwards, then by all means, pray to me to your heart’s content.” (Alice)
Her consent was a little difficult to take in.
“But….I suppose it is not a bad idea after all. Even for those who do not wish to fight off death, refusing to die at this point may at least annoy Atem Kingdom. ――If that is the case, as Sare-san said, being able to stay together following a simple goal may be the right idea. Having an official stance is a good start.” (Alice)
“Well, even if ‘tis just for show, an official stance may reassure those who see us as a threat. Even if’t slightly, showing some defiance is good,” Touka said teasingly while nodding her head as she spoke.
“We have managed to slightly advance our discussion,” Alice began. “Now then, everyone, how shall you go about protecting me? Let us return to our earlier discussion as to our goal.”
In this way one discussion was brought to an end.
Since Sare’s idea was accepted, he was prepared to take responsibility for his decision.
TN: Some names of the races were changed, since I didn’t like my katakana approximations from last chapter. They are as follows:
Reg Nahdo ==> Regnard
Ehno Ayla ==> Iino Ehla (I messed this one up because I couldn’t read the tiny katakana…>.>;)
I will be making a page for some of the terms and whatnot in the near future.