There were some vigorous movements the next day. Mainly by 2 soldiers.
These were the 2 soldiers who knew the actions Kazuki had taken the day before.
To impose a gag order on this time’s plan to save Clara, thinking that it would be desirable to limit the number of people who were concerned with it, Kazuki had confirmed whether these 2 were people who could be trusted with confidential work, from Norman the day before.
Norman’s answer was a yes. For Kazuki, it was fortunate but, it was hard to say for the soldiers.
Called by Harold early in the morning, when they headed to his room filled with trepidation thinking about exactly what they were called for, all of a sudden they were given an explanation about the plan to save the servant.
Without their understanding catching up to the situation, the one thing that was carved deeply into the hearts of the 2 soldiers and the coachman of the horse cart, who was called like them, was that, if this plan failed and was discovered by a third party, their lives would be in danger.
Therefore, one of the soldiers completed the orders given one after the other with a – hii hii.
The other one was running around the town at the same time.
The only one who was at ease was the coachman, who had no work until night.
「Ha, Harold-sama, I have bought all the goods and come back」
「Toss them into the dungeon while not being seen. After finishing that, ride the horse and confirm the route to the highway with your own eyes」
「But I still haven’t brought the horse along……..」
「It’ll be fine if you borrow a horse from the ones in the mansion and go. However, give it an injury that arouses suspicion. Come back before it gets dark」
No mercy, precisely Spartan.
If explained why, since Kazuki himself was at his wit’s end, he didn’t have enough room to pay attention to his surroundings.
Confirming that the soldier had headed towards the stable, Kazuki resumed practising his magic.
The magic he was practising was the low grade magic 『Flame Column』, directly translated, it was – pillar of fire (Hibashira). The magic which was thought to be fired by Harold in the original work, to kill Clara.
They actually didn’t know what it was, but among the players who had watched the movie scene, 「It’s probably Flame Column」 was what they had widely perceived it as, and so he decided to conform to it.
Well, it was relatively inconsequential but, it couldn’t be helped that it’s power was weak.
At first, with embarrassment added to him thinking whether he could really use magic, he performed the chant. Surprisingly, when it succeeded in the first try, as expected, he was excited, but when he looked at it properly, it only rose up to a height of 40 cm and its thickness was also about as small as an aluminum can.
In the original work, it had a height and thickness which could easily envelop a grown woman, and in the combat scene, it looked as though it was a pillar of fire which had a height of 2 – 3 m.
If this body really was that of Harold Stokes, then it should also be possible for Kazuki to do it.
It wasn’t as though he would burn Clara to death so, Kazuki also knew that it wasn’t absolutely necessary for it to have so much firepower. Even for the actual performance, he had no intentions to activate the magic as extensively as shown in the movie scene.
That said, since he was letting Clara get away, there was no way he could show a corpse and so, he needed enough firepower to show that he had burnt her so much that not even cinders remained. For that reason, from some time ago, Kazuki was practising magic while simultaneously, leaving burn marks on the ground and tree trunks and also burning leaves.
Even though it was an open location, he was still inside a forest with dense, overgrown trees. Carefully paying attention so as to not start a forest fire, he was repeating a truly boring operation.
「Fuu……..It should be enough to this degree」
There was no change in his arrogant tone even though he was speaking to himself. For Harold, it seemed as though this was how he spoke originally.
Leaving that aside, for the time being, he disguised the vicinity as though it was the aftermath of a fire. Later, for the act, to show this off, if he just made a pillar of fire, it would be thought that it wasn’t a mystery that the corpse had been burnt off.
Honestly, he was a bit anxious. Or rather, he was full of anxiety.
Since his decision would divide whether a person died or not, there was no way his mind could be calm.
After all, they are game characters – Even if he thought of it like that, after actually exchanging words with them and experiencing those emotions, they were already human beings as far as Kazuki was concerned. He couldn’t possibly view them as just computer icons.
No matter how much preparations he had setup, 「With this, its absolutely fine」- he probably couldn’t be convinced that that was the case.
On the contrary, currently for Kazuki, that was fortunate.
When he came to his senses, he was lost in a world which seemed to be inside a game, and he was currently personally experiencing the unprecedented situation of possessing a character’s body.
Under such a situation, it wouldn’t be easy to keep calm.
However, presently, Kazuki could see the life-threatening crisis approaching him, and since he was doing his all to avoid it, he didn’t have the leeway to be concerned with other affairs. It was close to a kind of running away from reality, but it was an unshakeable fact that by doing so, he maintained mental stability.
With this, is it really fine; Do any defects exist in the plan that I have thought out; Is there anything more that I have to do – Kazuki, without stopping these thoughts, was immersed in making careful preparations until the sun set.
And then, the long awaited full-moon night came.
In the forest illuminated by moonlight, Clara arrived, lead by the soldier.
She wasn’t wearing the maid outfit that servants normally wore, but casual clothes often seen in the town. During daytime, Kazuki had sent the soldier to buy them, and had ordered him to tell her to change into those clothes.
He rudely interrupted Clara, who was uneasy. Even now, Kazuki was extremely nervous.
For a while, the strained silence continued. Kazuki, Norman, Clara and soldier A- the one who was slacking off yesterday-The thing that broke off the silence which had descended upon these people, was the sound of a horse’s hooves impacting on the ground, from far away.
Deep from inside the forest, from the the direction of the town, the ones who appeared were the soldier, who was brushing aside plants, and a small girl, riding on 2 horses.
When they saw each other, Clara and the girl simultaneously raised their voices.
Clara strongly embraced the little girl, who was let down from the horse. With that in his peripheral vision, Kazuki received the report from the soldier.
「Sorry for being late, Harold-sama. It took some time to cross the forest while pulling the horse, so………」
「That is inconsequential. While bringing that girl, was your figure seen by the town-folk?」
「No problem. But, it seems as though a person going from the town to the mansion like her, has leaked out the circumstances, and rumors that Clara was already going to be killed are spreading out」
He involuntarily clicked his tongue. Now that it was mentioned, it was obvious, but he didn’t think that far ahead.
As expected, he still wasn’t calm enough.
But for now, he didn’t have the leisure to worry about it. He put off regretting and reflecting for a later time.
To the 2 people who were hugging each other with tears floating in their eyes, he talked to them in a compromising tone.
「I’ll present 2 choices to you bastards」
In front of the faces of the 2 people who were looking up at Kazuki, he raised up his index finger.
「First, die here」
Towards Kazuki’s words, Colette let out a voice as though she was convulsing. In contrast to that, Clara was staring straight-forwardly at Kazuki’s eyes. In front of their eyes, he next raised up his second finger.
「Second, discard this land and start a new livelihood outside the Stokes territory」
With this suggestion, as expected, even Clara opened her eyes wide. Outside the territory, in other words, if they migrated to another noble’s territory, the Stokes house couldn’t interfere with their lives.
That is, acquittal.
「If the latter option is chosen, then it will be declared that you bastards are dead. Coming back here once again isn’t permitted and all the connections made until now must be severed」
「………Will you forgive me?」
Murmuring as though partly in a daze, Clara uttered that.
But, in a haughty manner, Harold asked that question in return. As for Kazuki, he wanted to tell -「What is it about? 」- and play dumb with a smile.
First of all, the cause of this racket was when Harold bumped into Clara, who was watering the flower bed, and after slipping down he got dirty. It was clear that it was a really stupid incident in the game. It couldn’t just be called as pitiful, getting killed for such a thing.
For this reason, the resentment Colette felt towards Harold in the original game was extremely high.
Naturally, Kazuki didn’t even think of it as anything and it wasn’t as though he was angry, since his consciousness only surfaced after the incident.
「It’s fine, so quickly choose. As for me, it would be convenient and helpful if I killed you here and now」
「………I’m extremely sorry. I feel that I still want to continue living with this girl」
With this, if she told something like -「Please kill me」- all the troubling things he had worked for, would come to nothing.
First of all, there was no way Kazuki could carry out the act of killing people.
「Fu~n, boring. Then, take this and go」
Kazuki produced a jute bag from his breast pocket and casually threw it towards them. Opening that drawstring bag and casting a glance at the insides, Clara stiffened up due to being surprised once again.
「Th, this is ……..?」
「Consolation money. Don’t spout out that you don’t know what it means」
「–Thank you very much」
Clara put her hands on the ground and with a quivering voice, expressed her gratitude. The money itself was the allowance his father had given, when Harold had told that he wanted a sword and so, it was hard for Kazuki to accept that gratitude frankly.
「I’ll give this to you」
As though hiding his embarrassment, Kazuki also handed over a thing to Colette. It was a necklace which had the emblem of the knight order of the Saint King -a single-edged sword imitating wings, giving off a silvery obsidian shine- as an ornament. It was an article which he had discovered when he was in the middle of thoroughly searching Harold’s room.
「Never let this part from you, always wear it around your neck. This is the condition for letting you bastards run away. Understood?」
Although she was frightened, Colette nodded.
「……….But, if a guy who wants it appears, give it to him. Only give it to a guy whose age is around yours and appears to be a bit skilled. In exchange for that, make him promise to protect you as a knight」
Colette was confused at Harold’s excessively detailed orders. Even if he wanted to explain it in a more simplified manner, his mouth wouldn’t allow him to do that.
Thereupon, a timely help came from beside him.
「Harold-sama is telling you to hand it over to a person who would protect you」
Nice translation – thinking that, Kazuki clenched his fist lightly and did a Guts-pose.
Colette who understood its meaning this time, rigorously nodded her head twice.
「Then go already. It is unbearable for me to be troubled by you bastards anymore」
Turning around, Kazuki gave orders to the 2 soldiers. It was arranged that Clara and Colette were to ride the horses from here and were to be lead until the the vicinity of the highway. After that, there was no other choice than to leave it to the soldiers A, B and the coachman of the horse-drawn cart.
「Harold-sama. Really, thank you very much」
Just before straddling onto the horse, Clara and Colette together, bent their waist deeply, announced that, and then left.
Undoubtedly, they were showing their gratitude for him doing everything that was possible, for them.
However, originally speaking, Harold was the cause for all this so there was no reason for them to thank him. Certainly, if it weren’t for Kazuki, Clara might have died, but in the first place, if it weren’t for Harold, then there was no way they would have fallen into such a predicament.
(For a rescue operation when I’m acting in my own play, even if you express gratitude……)
At least, there was no way he could feel proud. Well, it’s fine since Clara and Colette can live happily after this – thinking that, for the time being, he put a stop to the gloomy feelings in his heart.
There was one last job left to do.
「Norman, go back first」
Norman responded to Harold’s command after hesitating for a breath. Looking at Harold’s expression, which seemed as though he was brooding over something, he hesitated because he was thinking whether it would be fine to leave this boy alone.
However, that expression returned back to a calm one in a very small amount of time. In that case, now isn’t the time to unnecessarily interject – thinking that, Norman decided to withdraw.
And then, he immediately realized that it was a mistake.
While he was reluctantly heading back to the mansion, the wind carried Harold’s voice to Norman’s ears.
When the voice, which was broken due to it being mixed among the sound of rustling of the tree leaves, reached his ears, Norman reflexively stopped walking.
「Ha, unsightly face………no value in living……….」
The boy’s voice, which could be heard faintly, contained self-derision
As though repenting for one’s sins
「Life……..useless…… At least, if…….death………,right?」
And yet, it contained a sharpness which could cut through one’s body.
The monologue of a 10 year old boy. With a cleverness unbecoming of a child, he saved the parent and child, and he, who had accomplished a praise-worthy thing, was suffering.
All alone, so that no one could find out.
「It’s over–『Flame Column』」
A thunderous roar, together with a hot wind blew through the forest. The pillar of fire, which was growing higher and higher, as though it was the manifestation of the feelings inside Harold’s heart, was fiercely blazing.
As though burning down the pain contained in that small body.
The conflict held within Harold. Norman, catching a glimpse of that part and being petrified while in a daze, couldn’t move until Harold came back, stamping on leaves and branches.
Seeing Norman like that, Harold’s expression warped.
「What are you doing at a place like this? I should have ordered you to go back first」
Kazuki’s tone became rough. This was because, just now, he had spoken out the dialog of the event.
In a place where nobody was present, mocking and laughing at a Clara who had already left long ago, and talking to himself while murmuring – this was a shame play where his dark history shined brilliantly. If somebody heard that, it was at the level where he would hang himself or at least seriously consider doing it.
Much less, if people started thinking that Harold was a sad person who had chuunibyou, then it wouldn’t just end with the destruction of his character. He would have to silence anyone who would expose that shameful behavior, because if he didn’t, then there was a possibility that in the future it would lead to a troublesome situation.
「Everything that happened, everything that you saw and everything that you heard today, forget about them completely. Otherwise, without telling it to anyone in the future, carry it to your grave. I won’t accept an answer other than a “Yes”」
As though vigorously pressing for an answer, he keeps talking to Norman without a pause.
It was something that he was desperate for to that extent, but that desperation held a different meaning in Norman’s eyes.
(Trying to hide his weakness to such an extent, why………Even though he is still a child, just how big of a responsibility is Harold-sama trying to carry)
The attitude obstinate enough to not depend on anyone else was sorrow itself.
But Norman could do nothing other than to nod his head.
Taking a glance at Norman who showed his acknowledgement, Harold left with a quick pace. That retreating figure looked as though it was extremely worn out.
Perhaps, Harold, taking his biological parents as a good example of what not to do, without having any real power presently, was trying to avoid a direct confrontation and was deceiving them.
He couldn’t do anything other than that. If by chance, his thoughts were discovered by his parents due to a third party, there was no mistake that it would give rise to some discord.
If it were a normal kid, they would likely clash with their parents as it was, but since this boy was sagacious, he might have understood the dimensions by which it would affect the future, if he had done that.
For the sake of it not becoming like that, he had chosen to deceive his parents and all the people in the mansion. Thus, not a single person who had anything to do with the Stokes house could see through his facade to know what he really was like.
His motive for acting like he always was, wouldn’t have been clear if it wasn’t for this irregular incident, and most probably, it also wouldn’t be found out in the future.
Towards the boy who was continuously fighting alone, he, who had judgemental thoughts, didn’t have any rights to be worried about him.
Norman found that to be unbearably vexing.
「………No, I can’t just keep regretting and do nothing」
I’m surely going to keep regretting the fact that I couldn’t get close to Harold during the past 10 years, for my whole life.
But, doing only that, won’t solve anything. These 10 years of inactivity, there’s no way other than to get it back from using all the remaining time, from now on.
Until the day that kind boy loses the reason to keep tormenting his heart under the pretense of evil.
How much time has passed from being shaken due to the cart.
While stroking the hair of my daughter, who was sleeping using my lap as a pillow, I noticed the sky growing lighter. Daybreak must already be near.
But still, Clara wasn’t feeling drowsy and was feeling a fluffy sensation as though she was floating in midair.
In these past 2 days, her world had turned around completely.
When she was imprisoned in the jail, she already thought that she was going to be executed. The only thing she felt was the fear towards death and despair for leaving her only daughter alone.
The one who saved her from that was a boy, whose age differed from her daughter’s by only a single year.
For the sake of a servant, who could be changed easily any number of times, he had handed over clothes, horses and a cart and also, a huge amount of money for them to start a new life, free of charge.
There was no way Harold’s parents, who had abused Clara by calling her an 『inferior species』, would allow such a thing. Which meant that this was something he himself had done.
While they were being escorted to the cart, she heard from the 2 soldiers about how the boy had saved them.
First, telling that he wanted a sword from a famous blacksmith in Lietze, he obtained the transit permit. He gave it for the coachman’s use and then, asked him to pretend departing to Lietze early in the morning, while he hid in the forest which was in the vicinity of the highway, where there were less people, a bit away from the town.
Meanwhile, the 2 soldiers, who were in civilian clothes so that they wouldn’t stand out, went to the town to loan the horses and to buy and gather the necessary goods. 「Thanks to that, we ran around the town for the whole day」- smiling wryly while telling that, but also feeling a bit proud, the soldiers narrated.
And then, after entering Brosch, Clara and Colette would remain in the village, while the horse-cart and 1 of the soldiers would continue on to Lietze. It wouldn’t look to be suspicious because, on the shortest route from the Stokes territory to Lietze, they would need to pass through Brosch village.
The round trip to Lietze would roughly take 4 – 6 days, so a delay of 1 full day was also within calculations.
When Clara heard this, she couldn’t help but be surprised. A 10 year old boy had thought up such an elaborate plan in not even half a day, and had splendidly accomplished it like this.
To add to that, the money given to her was the money given to him by his father to buy a sword for himself.
Then, when they went to Lietze, they wouldn’t be able to buy the sword – when Clara was worried about that, the coachman stifled his laughter.
When she asked the reason for his laughter, he told her that he had asked Harold the same question when he had revealed the series of plans to him. And, he had gotten this reply back.
「Bastard, are you an idiot. Won’t it be fine if you choose a cheap sword randomly」
It was as though there was some gentleness mixed in those sharp words. Maybe he had sensed that, since hearing the coachman telling it as though it was enjoyable, left a deep impression on her.
By no means could Clara’s lifetime be called as smooth sailing but still, Colette being born and encountering Harold, she thought that those 2 things were irreplaceable.
「Clara-san, are you awake?」
「Yes. Did something happen?」
「Brosch village is coming into view」
Hearing the coachman’s words, she peeked out from behind.
The thing that came into Clara’s view was, illuminated by the sun rays rising from the horizon and covered in morning mist, a sparkling Brosch village.
「We’ll have arrived by the time the sun has completely risen. Until then, how about resting for a while?」
「Thank you for your consideration. But, for now, I want to burn this into my memory………」
「Is that so. Well, I understand, those feelings」
Clara, the coachman and even the 2 soldiers, had their hearts stolen by the scenery which was like an illusion.
By that form of Brosch village, which was as though it was blessing Clara’s and Colette’s new life.