Episode 25

「Fuwa ~a, why do we have do something like patrolling at a time like this?」

Wearing an armor which was carved with the emblem that represented the Saint King’s chivalric order, black wings similar to obsidian and a silver sword, a man in the latter half of his twenties muttered listlessly while yawning hugely.
His subordinate, who was following behind him, chided him seeing as he clearly had no enthusiasm at all.

「Since it is work, please don’t complain, Squad leader. Even I don’t want to patrol so early in the morning」

The clock’s needle was currently pointing at a bit past 5 A.M. Moreover, the patrol had started together with sunrise, at 4 in the morning.
The reason was because of the already open and bustling shops. Especially flourishing were shops that served alcohol.

Once in a year, during the 3 days when the fighting tournament was held, almost all the fishermen would take a break from work, and they would drink alcohol from morning to get excited for the tournament and would let the merry-making unfold.
The town would overflow with drunk people, so there were repeated quarrels and the public order would get a little bad. The patrol would act as both a deterrence force and also to deal with cases like those.

「I think that you can’t be too merry just because there’s a festival」

「Although you’re saying that, why are you trying to go drink alcohol?」

The subordinate grabbed the shoulder of his superior, Squad leader Cody, who was trying to enter a bar as though it was very natural.
Him being this informal in his speech and attitude towards his superior was solely because of Cody’s personality. It wasn’t that he didn’t give Cody any respect.

「Ale is calling me」

「Don’t suddenly say idiotic things with a serious face」

Cody’s subordinate brought him back to the patrolling course as though he was dragging him.
Without being able to do anything, Cody just saw off the bar which was becoming distant. It wasn’t clear as to whose position was higher.

「Haa………so, not being able to do anything other than look at the surrounding people drink alcohol will continue for another 3 days, huh…………」

「Even though you say that, Squad leader, aren’t you weak against alcohol?」

‘Moreover, it’s irritating that you get entangled in a quarrel after you drink’, towards the subordinate who added such a complaint, Cody replied.

「It’s not that I like drinking alcohol. I like getting drunk」

For Cody, drinking ale was a means and not the objective. He declared that anything was fine as long as he got inebriated.
Accompanying Cody to drink some cheap, unappetizing alcohol, and finally getting dragged into a quarrel, for him, it was unbearable.

While the 2 of them were engaged in such a worthless dialog, from the alley in front of them, they suddenly heard a sound as though glass was shattering. Consequently, they also heard a woman’s shriek and a loud noise.
They exchanged glances, and then, both of them sighed deeply.

「Looks like it’s time for work」

「Good grief……….Can’t they drink in a more enjoyable manner」

「That’s not something that Squad leader can say」

「Shut up. Well, Robin-kun, let’s go control the situation with that frightening face of yours that makes everybody scared without any exceptions」

While speaking, they ran towards the direction of the sound. Turning around the corner of the alley, they pushed through the crowd of people to confirm what was happening. He ignored Robin aka Robinson who was muttering,’Can’t you change the way you say it…………’, behind him.

「Alright, please excuse me」

「Haah? Don’t push through-!?」

The robust man who lived on the seas, turned around to complain towards Cody, who was forcing his way through, and after looking behind him he saw Robinson’s face and lost his voice.
A 190 cm tall figure with a muscular physique, with dark skin more tanned than fishermen’s. Those dark grey sanpaku1 eyes coupled with them being slanted, his fiendish face looked as though he was intimidating the other party.
He was much more scary than those monsters around here.

Robinson’s temperament was gentle. He was the so-called type of person who was at a disadvantage due to his appearance.
But the amount of times it was used as an advantage when he was working as a knight wasn’t scarce. If the enemy was weak-willed, they would become timid as soon as they were glared at, and in situations like these, his path would naturally open up.
Even this time, the effect was instantaneous. It was to the extent that as soon as they noticed Robinson’s presence, the crowd parted.

「Truly, it’s so smooth when Robin-kun is here」

「I’ll accept that as praise……….」

Like this, after Cody and Robinson struggled and arrived at the center of the crowd, there was a single boy and an adult man, and also a person who was wriggling while flapping his legs while his torso was thrust into a big water jug in front of a store.
Even while Cody and Robinson still couldn’t grasp what was happening, the boy pulled out the man who was stuck in the water jug. While looking down on the soaked man, who was and coughing and choking while on all fours, the boy muttered sarcastically.

「How’s it? Have you sobered up a little?」

The man who was frantically inhaling air had no leeway to answer. Instead, the other man flared up at the boy.

「You bastard, what the hell are you doing!」

「Can’t you tell just by looking? It seems as though even you have no recollection of what you did, so how about you too pour cold water on yourself like this bastard? Well, if you weren’t sane from before itself, then it would have no meaning though」

「Spouting out shit as you please……..! I won’t show mercy even if you’re a kid!」

Maybe because he was too drunk, the man approached the boy in a run while brandishing his right arm, wanting to hit the boy.
Even though he knew he couldn’t make it in time, Cody ran after the man to stop him. And he saw those eyes.
The boy’s penetratingly cold pupils.

Even with a man who wanted to hurt him right in front of his eyes, let alone showing hostility, the boy didn’t even seem to be interested in him. And not only that, he even captured Cody, who was rapidly approaching from behind the man, in his vision.
In this situation, he had a calmness and a broadness of vision unthinkable of a child.

His eyes met with the boy’s. In that instant, those emotionless eyes were dyed by a look of surprise, and then by vigilance.
But that too was only momentary. The boy slipped past the man’s large swing and drove his elbow into the man’s solar plexus.

That was more than enough to make the man kneel. The boy, who appeared from the other side of the man who had crumbled down, still had his sight turned towards Cody, severely glaring at him, even while being showered in the surrounding crowd’s applause.
Being in the middle of this series of events, Cody hit upon something.

(Don’t tell me, he perceived my strength? Just by the intersection of our sight that didn’t even fully last for even an instant?)

The unmotivated attitude, dislike towards fetters of obligation and hiding of true strength had affected Cody and had made him be content with the status of having the official post of Squad leader, but his fighting prowess was such that even in the chivalric order, it would be much faster if one counted from the top to reach him. It was to the that extent that he could fight on par with the person who would most likely become the next Captain of the Saint King’s chivalric order, Vincent Van Westerfort.
If it was that the boy became surprised at his strength and went on guard looking out for his intervention, then Cody could understand the boy’s reaction.

(Even more than his strength being able to defeat a large man in one blow, the surprising matter is his observant eyes)

To be able to accurately see through whether the opponent’s strength was higher or lower than oneself’s just by looking, the person himself should have a certain degree of ability. It seemed as though the boy was considerably strong.
Wanting to relax the boy’s vigilance, who was still observing him very closely, Cody raised both his hands and plastered a tired smile on his face.

「Well, that was splendidly skillful. Onii-san was surprised」

That figure of him laughing,’Ha ha ha’, was extraordinarily shady. But maybe because the boy decided that he didn’t want to mix up matters with Cody, he slackened his vigilance. Thinking that it would be fine to ask him about the situation if it was like this, Cody continued to speak.

「I’m sorry, but could you please tell me what exactly happened? Even we just came running now, so we still haven’t grasped the situation」

「……….It was just that these drunkards were quarreling. And during that time, one of them was thrust towards me so I just dealt with him」

「I see. That was quite the artistic way of dealing with it. Joking aside」

Remembering the legs sprouting out from the water jug, his laughter was welling up. Later on, it might become a funny story when he was drinking. The boy tried to leave since there was nothing else left to speak.

「Ah, wait, wait! You aren’t injured, are you? Even if it’s a scratch, if germs enter it’ll be terrible」

「I just dealt with guys who couldn’t even help me warm-up. There’s no problem」

「Really? Don’t take it lightly. If you just move your body for a bit, then any pain might……….」

「Annoying. If you want to know about what happened, ask the rubbernecks. Or else, do you want to waste my time by questioning me?」

「Ah, you found out?」

His true feelings was that about 20% was for grasping the situation. The rest of it was because he was curious about the boy’s identity, he wanted to drag the conversation but it ended futilely. Glancing at Cody who had easily confessed, the boy left.

「Squad leader, what to do with those people?」

「Ah, right, let’s see. For now, we’ll wait for them to recover, and in the meantime……….」

While firing orders to Robinson, Cody was thinking about the black-haired boy. That discernment and the way he carried himself, and also that unflinching grit even with a person as strong as Cody in front of him, all these were abilities that couldn’t be learnt if he hadn’t experienced real combat. As he saw it, the boy was about 12 to 13 years old, but it was unknown as to where he had piled up such experiences.

(There are many points that I’m curious about, but to start with, let’s pay attention to the fighting tournament. It seems as though I’ll be able to see something interesting)

From his words that said they weren’t even able to warm him up, the probability of him participating in today’s fighting tournament was high. When he thought of how the fight for the under-13 division was being held on the 1st day, the boy’s age too seemed to be dead on.
To the work that was boring, a fragment of enjoyment came rolling in. While thinking of remembering the boy’s name, Cody just realized that he had forgotten to ask for the boy’s name.



(I panicked! I seriously panicked! Why is Cody here!?)

As though running away from the crowd of people, or rather after actually running away, Harold entered an empty alley and held his head.
The reason was because of the one he had just now encountered, Cody. It was obvious since Harold knew his name, but as expected he too was a character who appeared in the game.

He was the core person of the mercenary group 『Furiel』, which was made up of wanderers………but he would occasionally appear in front of the hero party and from a common front, and at times would use them in a good way- he was that kind of incomprehensible character. Well, basically he was a good person who came out in some spots and had the role of rescuing the party.
Harold already knew about the setting of Cody being a former member of the Saint King’s chivalric order, so he wasn’t surprised seeing him wear that armor, but he hadn’t even thought that he would run into Cody in this place.

Because of the tumult of the city that started stirring at sunrise, Harold had opened his eyes when the time was bit past 4 in the morning.
While thinking about the boisterous and somewhat restless air, he was reminded of the college festival in his university years, and as though it was inviting him his legs turned towards the city.

30 minutes after he thought of doing some warm-up while also exploring Delfit, a loud shout reached Harold’s ears when he was wandering in the market street without any aim. When he turned his eyes towards the origin of the voice, there were 2 men who were grasping each other’s collars and quarreling. Due to their scuffle, a wooden table was overturned and the plates and glasses on top of it fell down and shattered with a piercing noise.
As he thought of how they were overflowing with vigor so early in the morning, and when was about to pass them since he wasn’t meddlesome enough to stop them, that happened.

The man who was thrust away came falling in Harold’s direction. It wasn’t a big deal. It would have been fine to quickly avoid him and walk away. When he was about to do so, he realized that there was a small girl behind him. If Harold were to dodge, the girl might be squashed by the man.

And from there, his body moved before he could think. Harold swept the legs of the man, who was unbalanced and was falling down towards him, while at the same time he gripped the man’s right wrist and shoved him inside the uncovered water jug. The man who was floating in midair had no means to struggle.
After that, it became something like Harold fighting the other man and paying him back after agitating him with sarcastic words. At this point, Harold had a defiant mental state thinking,’I don’t care anymore’.
He had already given up being hateful at this mouth whenever it spit out reckless remarks since it would just make him tired.

When Harold was thinking of handling it as fast as possible, he noticed the suddenly incoming Cody and his mind went into chaos.
Due to that, he lost his composure and unintentionally erred in holding back as he used his elbow.

(Sorry, I went too far, uncle who’s name I don’t know)

Remembering the appearance of the man who had fainted, Harold apologized in his heart, and after suddenly calming down, he realized that there had been no need to run away from Cody.
In the first place, Harold and Cody’s relationship in the game hadn’t been described. By the time the game started, Harold had been a member of the chivalric order, and Cody had already made Furiel. Although there might have been some period when they had both been members, it would have been very short.

(I mean, wouldn’t it have become more easier later if he had remembered my face?)

Since there were times when Cody would accompany the hero party, if Harold had some connection to him, Cody could become a source for Harold to learn about the party’s internal affairs. If he thought about it, then his previous actions might have been too hasty.
While pondering about how to somehow build a friendly relationship with Cody the next time they met, Harold returned to the inn to have breakfast.
When he arrived in front of the inn, he met Itsuki who had just come out.

「Good morning, Harold-kun. Where had you gone?」

「Previewing the venue」

It was true that along with taking a stroll, he had taken a glance at the venue. Looking at the unexpectedly big stage, honestly he was a bit nervous.

「It seems like you have enough motivation. I have something that I want to give you」

「……….What is this?」

Itsuki handed him something that was wrapped in paper. While feeling suspicious, he peeled the wrapping off. The thing that was there was a mask that covered from above the nose, like the one used in balls.

「Since you’re participating while changing your name, I thought how about even hiding your real face too」

「Like hell I’d want this!」

That retort came from his very soul. They might have been the most powerfully said words from the time he had possessed this body. Somehow recently Itsuki’s character had become more and more incomprehensible. When they had first met, Harold had thought that he was a person with serious sister complex, but actually, he had a weird playfulness which could be considered as quite similar to Erika in the game.
But when he prepared for such an item with a serious face, Harold couldn’t help but doubt whether he was playful or a natural airhead. Was he really the same person who had outwitted Erika and Harold last night?

Harold, who was dejected with the mask given as a present, would immediately come to know that he had been registered in the tournament with an extremely dubious name like 『Mr.Lord』, and would once again quarrel with Itsuki just before the tournament.
As a result, his nervousness was dispersed with a pointless tiredness replacing it, and he stood on the stage for his first match.

The stage at the venue was surrounded with a huge crowd with their enthusiastic gazes and cheers directed towards the participants. The pressure felt as though it could physically push. If one took even a step out of the room where the under-13 division’s participants were present, they would unsparingly be bathed in that pressure.

「And facing off, with his real name unknown, is Mr.Lord-kun!」

When his registered name was called, Harold climbed up the stage with heavy footsteps. Although this digressed, the only one who had used an alias from among all the participants was just Harold, so he stood out even more. Even if he didn’t want his background to be known, if he gathered attention due to it, then wouldn’t it have had an adverse affect.

While thinking about such things, Harold pushed down his embarrassment, and as though expelling all his emotions, his face became completely expressionless. Although that appearance seemed as though he was concentrating on the match, if one looked at the young boy from up close, they would feel as though they were looking at some fearful existence.

And when the match was about to start, Harold saw her. The blond hair that was shining due to the sunlight was longer than what he remembered, with it being tied in a ponytail now, was the girl he had saved 3 years ago. Although she still had childish features, there were vestiges of features that would be there 5 years later of which only Harold knew, Colette Emerel was there in the spectator seats.
Colette too looked at Harold with her chestnut colored eyes. As though to run away from that gaze, Harold averted his eyes.

She completely knew. When he saw how Colette had widened her eyes due to surprise, Harold was convinced of it. It was the worst timing possible for a reunion since Erika was here. If there was a God, he wanted to curse at his nastiness.

(Ah, if I knew that it would be like this, it would have been better to have worn that mask given by Itsuki…….. It might have become unexpectedly popular. Isn’t it the strongest item since it can hide one’s identity while also get laughs?)

Harold, who had fallen into a crisis, for now, attempted to escape reality.

1.Sanpaku gan (三白眼) or Sanpaku (三白) is a Japanese term meaning “three whites”, and refers to eyes in which the white space above or below the iris is visible.

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