Chapter 4: Uninvited Return

Part 1

Bang bang bang!

 

Selphie woke up to the sound of someone repeatedly hammering on her door. She was not a morning person to begin with, and she was in the worst of moods this morning.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t feeling well or anything —she just wasn’t in a good mood. It was likely a lingering effect from yesterday when she had killed someone for the first time in her life.

“Selphie, something huge happened! Some. Thing. Huge! Hurry up and get out of bed already!”

“Argh~ ……I’m up~”

Even she thought that, ‘ugh~, I sound so dead.’ But it couldn’t be helped. She really didn’t have the energy today.

But Yuri, her newfound friend, wasn’t one to hold back. Yuri slammed the door open and rudely entered Selphie’s room before the latter had let her in.

“Aha! You’re still sleeping! But today isn’t a day where you can just lounge about as you please, Selphie. Something huge really just happened!”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Yuri roughly pulled off Selphie’s covers while the latter was still trying to sleep. Selphie had not had the time to stop her.

“Kyah! Wh, what are you doingg?!”

Selphie instinctively hugged her chest and curled up in a ball.

“What do we have here?”

Yuri let out a snarky laugh dripping with hidden meaning. She continued,

“what’s this? You’re sleeping in your underwear even though it’s this cold? Well, aren’t you being sexy? ……Minus points for the stripes though.”

“Please leave it be! I look like a child anyway!”

Selphie pulled back at her covers in a huff. Unfortunately, however, her opponent proved to be the stronger of the two.

“Like I was saying, don’t try to go back to sleep and wake up already.”

Selphie stubbornly pulled back at her covers at first, but she eventually gave up after realizing that she would never win and asked,

“so what happened, exactly?”

“Listen and behold,”

Yuri said before taking a deep breath as if she had been waiting for the moment,

“some high general named Safir, who was thought to have died in the previous battle, is apparently still alive! He apparently came back to the castle last night!”

“Eh?”

Selphie raised her voice.

She then immediately questioned timidly,

“……who is that again?”

“Oh, that was my reaction too!”

Yuri laughed brightly. She continued,

“I also thought, ‘who the heck is that?’ when I heard about it from the other squires. I mean, we commoners don’t really care about the names of the nobility and stuff like that. Especially because I don’t like a lot of them.”

The prim and proper Selphie didn’t readily agree with Yuri’s bad-mouthing, but she completely agreed with the sentiment on the inside.

Even Selphie knew that there had been seven high generals including Rain prior to the last Zarmine War.

However, even Selphie, who had always wanted to become a knight, could only name about three~four of them at most.

They had just left that little of an impression on her…… To put it bluntly, they had been the unpopular generals. Selphie had come to Galfort Castle upon hearing that Rain was recruiting new knights and thinking, ‘I want to serve under him since he was originally a commoner!’ but otherwise, she had been considering a career path as a government worker in another country.

The high generals of this kingdom were simply that lacking in both popularity and ability. Someone as talented and capable as Ralphus was the exception among exceptions.

Besides, there was a reason that Selphie disliked the high generals from the nobility on a personal level.

“Selphie?”

Her friend’s voice brought her back to her senses.

“Oh, yes?”

“What’s wrong; are you hungry?”

Selphie’s shoulders slumped down.

Couldn’t she had at least asked, “are you worried about something?” instead?

“No, not really. So, is there a problem that Mr. High General Who No One Really Cares About has returned?”

Selphie stood up and picked up some clothes to change into.

“Yeah, so about that…”

Yuri sat down on the edge of the bed with a plop and explained,

“that Safir idiot is apparently spreading rumors that he was entrusted with King Douglas’ will.”

“His will?”

“Yep. Well…… It happened just yesterday, so it’s still only a rumor, but apparently it said that the King “entrusted all future affairs to his most faithful servant, Safir.””

Huh, is that so?

Selphie was about to give an off-handed reply as she did the buttons on her clothes, but……

Her hands stopped moving as she gradually digested Yuri’s words. She turned her head and stared at her friend with wide-open eyes.

“Isn’t that……pretty bad?”

“Yeah, it’s really bad, mhmm. If things go south the coronation today will all~ go to dust.”

“A, all~ going to dust…… Th, that’s really, really bad!”

“That’s why I was saying that it was something huge from the beginning,”

Yuri said nonchalantly.

Then, after watching Selphie fluster about in amusement, she thought of something even more incredible and continued,

“plus, that Safir guy didn’t come empty handed —he apparently brought along a bunch of knights and soldiers with him. Safir’s already here, and his men are on their way to this castle right now. It’s been like we’re preparing for war or something all morning.”

“Eh, ehh!?”

All of the drowsiness that had remained in her body had been completely blown away. Come to think of it, it’s been pretty loud outside in the hallway…… How did I sleep through all that without noticing……?

Selphie grew disgusted at how carefree she had been. This wasn’t the time to be moping about.

“But how did it come to this? Isn’t he technically our ally?”

“He might be, but putting General Ralphus aside, there’s no way that he considers General Rain as someone of the same rank as himself. ‘Cause he’s a noble while General Rain’s a commoner. And, if the rumor about the will is true, Safir will basically be able to do as he pleases. He could even dismiss General Rain in a blink of an eye.”

“Eh, ehhh!? That’s not good at allll! That would really put me on the spot!”

she blurted out her honest feelings without realizing.

General Rain is dismissed → Selphie, his retainer, is also fired → Wandering on the road → Living in the night, with her body having lost its virtue.

The aforementioned diagram briefly ran its course through Selphie’s head. She always ended up considering the worst outcome possible in times like this because she had experienced the setback of a life of poverty multiple times in the past.

Yuri should have also been in a similar situation, but her friend was as calm as ever.

Rather, Selphie felt that Yuri was having fun watching her panic.

“You’re so calm about this…… Ah, geez!”

She tried to do her buttons over and over again, but Selphie eventually gave up on a few of them because her fingers were shaking too much. Instead, she took out her frustration on her friend and said,

“is this really the time to be laughing?!”

“No, sorry. It was just too funny because you reacted just as I thought you would.”

“It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t funny at! All!!”

Selphie retorted in a huff.

Yuri started to look a little more serious, possibly because she had reflected on her actions.

“Now, now. You don’t have to get so worked up. I doubt that that General of ours will obediently say, “oh, a will, is it? And I’m dismissed? Then there’s nothing I can do. I’ll go back to the countryside and become a fisherman or something,” do you? He doesn’t have the right personality for that.”

“……No, forget about the thing about fishing. But it’s the late king’s will, you know? Aren’t those usually absolute?”

“Hm~m. Selphie, you really don’t get him even though you’ve fallen for him. Listen up, alright? For starters, General Rain never gave the late king a second glance if he could help it. He’s not the type of person to care enough to follow something like the late king’s will.”

Is that really so?

The ever-serious Selphie was in heavy doubt. No matter how rebellious he was in spirit, as long as he was a knight, Rain should still be loyal to his liege’s orders. That was normal, Selphie thought, and was probably publicly considered to be common sense.

But, when Selphie voiced her thoughts, Yuri confidently declared,

“well, just you watch. You’ll get it soon enough. ……It’s just…”

She furrowed her brows.

“It’s just what?”

“The problem is in how General Ralphus will take action,”

Yuri said somberly.

 

~~*~~*~~*~~

 

Shelfa was spacing out in her room as footsteps hurried about in the corridor outside.

Things had been progressing so quickly that she felt like she was watching a dream.

Last night, a lady-in-waiting had woken her up and Shelfa had been greeted by Safir, whom she had only met a handful of times previously, upon his return to the castle.

That had all been good and fine, but Shelfa had been rendered speechless after the lady-in-waiting had informed her about the existence of her late father’s “written will.”

According to the will, her father had apparently left all future matters in Safir’s hands, but Shelfa had never heard about anything of the sort before and this was the first time she had even heard about the will to begin with. However, her father, who was always rather cold to her, would have never told her about it in advance anyway, so it wasn’t that usual for her not to know of it. Safir had even showed her the written will in question, so he was probably telling the truth.

Putting that aside, Shelfa wondered if the coronation ceremony that had been planned for later in the day had been suspended due to the recent turn of events.

Shelfa actually welcomed the delay to her coronation; instead, she was worried about something else.

 

I wonder what Lord Safir is planning to do?

 

To get straight to the point, this was the gist of Shelfa’s worries. She had no objections to stepping down from the seat of the throne. Actually, she would be more than happy to hand it over to him.

However, even Shelfa could tell that Safir and Rain were not on the best of terms, so Safir’s attitude had the potential to become problematic.

She didn’t even want to think about it, but——

Rain could even lose his title as general.

Even then, that was still better than the possibility that Rain could be banished from the castle, rendering him unable to stay by her side.

That was one possibility that she could never accept.

She had no power to speak of, but if that ever happened, she would do everything she could to change Safir’s mind.

Shelfa firmly steeled herself.

Everyone had something that they could not accept no matter what. For Shelfa, this was none other than “a life without Rain.”

“Oh boy~. They’re all up and ready in position even though they had no orders to do so. Well, not that I don’t know where they’re coming from,”

Rain said in a low voice.

He had his back to Shelfa and was looking down at the castle’s courtyard from the window. His steady back was perfectly composed and did not betray even the slightest sense of movement.

“Rain……”

Shelfa’s voice trembled slightly as she called out to him.

Rain turned around, perhaps because he had noticed the anxiety in her voice. His expression softened a little as he moved closer to her.

“What’s wrong; you don’t look too good.”

“Um……”

“What is it?”

“We’ll still be together from now on, yes?”

she asked while staring hard into his black eyes. There was little point in asking, but she knew that she would feel relieved, as if it would really happen if he put it into words, as long as Rain answered, “that goes without saying.”

“……I keep my promises. And I promised that I’d stay by your side after the war ended, didn’t I? I’ll stay by your side as long as our promise doesn’t become a nuisance to you.”

“Something like that will never happen!”

“——! You surprised me. Don’t shout all of a sudden like that, it’s not like you.”

A wry smile formed on his virile face. He continued,

“then, there’s nothing to worry about. Just leave everything to me. But, a turbulent life might await you if you do. I don’t mean to threaten you or anything, but you’d best prepare for that. Also, depending on the situation……no, well, I don’t think this is very likely to happen, but……anyways, depending on the situation, you might not be able to live as a princess anymore. Is that still okay with you?”

“Oh, that.”

Shelfa felt all of her anxiety vanish at once as relief washed over her. She continued,

“I’m so relieved. As long as you’re by my side, Rain, I don’t wish for anything else.”

“That so?”

Rain said with a hint of laughter as he began to play with Shelfa’s blonde hair with his large hands. He continued,

“that aside, I’m more worried about the guys who were after you than I am about Safir.”

Rain returned to the window with Shelfa following close behind. He bitterly looked down at his men who were running about the courtyard for no actual reason.

“Are you talking about the assassins from yesterday?”

“No, it seems that their circumstances were different from what I’d thought it was.”

“What did you think it was, Rain?”

Shelfa gently wrapped her arm about Rain and drew closer. Rain threw a quick glance at her but didn’t reprimand her either, so she took the opportunity to stick even closer to him.

Still looking outside, Rain began to speak.

“Actually, I knew that Safir was coming from Gunther’s reports. I thought that he might be the one targeting you because the timing of his arrival was too perfect.”

“He’s……targeting me?”

“I thought that he might try to get rid of you to take over the throne. We~ll, he might still be aiming to be king anyway. Still. Last night, after interrogating the brat we caught yesterday, I started to think that something was off……”

Rain said as he shook his head and began the tale of the boy’s interrogation last night.

 

The boy who appeared to be the leader of the assassin’s offensive unit had not become a corpse as Rain had feared, but had been surprisingly docile when Rain checked up on him.

A sarcastic smile had arisen on his face upon seeing Rain open the heavy doors into the dungeon. He looked as if he had become freed from his past, or as if he had seen the fate that was in store for him.

“I thought you’d come see me soon enough,”

the boy spoke up first.

He sat up from the thin bed he had been lying on and stared at Rain. His eyes were completely empty. They were the eyes of someone who had lost all hope.

“Heh. Pretty nice attitude you have there. Are you willing to answer my questions then?”

Rain asked, still standing.

“……You wanna know who the client is, right?”

“Bullseye.”

“Let me tell you this first. You’re making a misunderstanding something here. I just got this intel myself, but……you’re probably thinking that Safir, who’ll be arriving soon, is the client, aren’t you?”

“You’re right. As expected of an assassin guild, intel travels fast. But I’ve given up on the “Safir’s The Mastermind Theory.””

The boy raised his brows at this, so Rain continued,

“my comrades——Ralphus’ unit, to be precise, anyway, I told you earlier in the day that they raided your base, right?”

“……And?”

The boy, finally interested, pressed Rain for more information.

Rain readily showed the boys his cards.

“Your guild had already been wiped out by the time Ralphus got there. Someone……no, it probably wasn’t just one person, a group of skilled people probably killed off all of the remaining assassins. Ralphus was beaten to the punch.”

He silently observed the boy after speaking.

Then, after watching the boy’s face for a while, Rain nodded and said,

“like I’d thought, you don’t look too surprised. Which means you have an idea about who raided your base.”

He paused for a moment and bluntly asked,

“is you client Zarmine, by any chance?”

“……What do you think?”

the boy asked back with a cunning gleam in his eyes that did not befit his age.

“Let’s see… Just like you said earlier, Safir doesn’t have the guts to destroy your guild. Besides, he doesn’t have any subordinates who are skilled enough to do so. Which leaves Zarmine……but they’re probably not your client either.”

“What makes you think that?”

“King Leygur already knows that you guys are no match for me. I doubt that he’d use an assassin’s guild this late in the game. And it’s a given that I’d get in the way of anyone who target’s the Princess.”

Rain said his piece and leaned back against the cold stone wall. He crossed his armed and looked at the boy in the eyes before continuing,

“so how about you ‘fess up already? Who……or which organization is your client?”

“I don’t feel like telling you everything,”

the boy said rather curtly.

He stole a glance at Rain and continued after confirming that he wasn’t getting angry.

“But, there’s still something that doesn’t sit too well with me either. So I’ll give you a bit of a hint. ——Our organization was threatened.”

“Threatened? You guys were still an assassin’s guild, albeit one on the smaller side.”

“Exactly. As stupid as it sounds, it’s the truth. “Kill Princess Shelfa. You’ll receive a handsome sum if you succeed, but you’ll be annihilated if you refuse,” they said. We laughed away the messenger of course, but the fact remains that several senior members of the guild died one after another a few days later. They were all highly skilled, but they were killed almost without resistance. They couldn’t touch us while we were still inside of the guild, but people were killed the moment they went outside.”

The boy drew a line across this throat with his hand.

“Some people had their throats slit open like this, and others were cut down by a sword. Our guild leader tried to pretend that everything was okay, but he finally caved after several members of the top brass died. “Kill her as quickly as possible!” he said, so we had no choice but to take the commission. And this is the result,”

the boy said regretfully with his face twisted in frustration.

Rain waited in silence, but the boy would say no more. Then, Rain voiced his doubts,

“there’s one fatal contradiction in what you’ve said just now. Why wouldn’t those guys…… I’m just calling them those guys for now, assuming that they do exist, why wouldn’t they act on their own if they’re so amazingly strong? If they had confidence in their abilities, they could have just come at me themselves.”

“They apparently said that “they didn’t want to come out in public” or something. Publicly, they wanted to say that our guild received a commission and killed the princess for some regular client.”

“Hmm~m. Well aren’t they annoying? And you don’t have any intent on revealing their identity. It can’t be that you guys don’t know who they are either, do you?”

“……But we have more information than you do.”

The boy grew serious and his eyes betrayed how displeased he was, but he closed his mouth before saying anything. After a while, his face returned to his original irritating expression and he said,

“I won’t bite. Figure out the rest by yourself. Though I doubt that it’ll be that easy to figure out their identity.”

Then, he began to laugh in a hollow voice and said,

“they’re strong, you know. Then again, you’re also undoubtedly a monster. You monsters should just finish each other off……hehehe……hahaha……gah!”

The boy started choking mid-laughter.

By the time Rain jumped to his aid, a strange noise had sounded from his throat as he coughed out a clot of blood and his eyes rolled back.

Rain did not know exactly how, but the boy had probably prepared poison or something in his mouth beforehand.

He felt the boy’s wrist, but could not find a pulse.

“……I wonder why they’re always so eager to die…”

he whispered after closing the boy’s eyes.

Come to think of it, the boy had never given his name. He was probably a pure-bred assassin who had been raised and trained in the guild since infancy……

Rain shook his head and left the dungeons after one last look at the boy sprawled out on his side.

 

“And that’s what happened. In other words, if we believe the brat’s words, these “somebodies” did away with the guild because they didn’t want others to figure out their identity,”

Rain finished his long tale while still looking down from the window.

Shelfa steeled herself and nodded.

She did not want to disappoint Rain by being fainthearted.

Then, as if he was rewarding her resolve, Rain wrapped an arm around Shelfa’s waist and hugged her tight.

“Don’t let it get to you. I only told you about this because I thought that it was only right that you know, since it concerns you. If someone comes for you again, I’ll be right here.”

“Thank you very much,”

she said, grateful from the bottom of her heart.

If Rain had not been there with her……she probably would have died a long time ago.

“Anyway. I’ll be continuing to be your bodyguard for a while. I’ll try to be by your side as much as possible.”

“Um, yes!”

“Hey, don’t say that so happily.”

Rain tapped down on Shelfa’s head with a fist. It was a tap so gentle that he might as well have pat her instead, prompting Shelfa to joyfully reply, “I’m sorry.” Despite the content of her words, the light spring in her cheerful voice betrayed her real feelings.

She knew it was imprudent of her, but she honestly did not mind being targeted by people if it meant that she could always be with Rain.

Still resting against Rain, Shelfa gently closed her eyes.

Then, someone knocked.

“Who is it?”

Rain called out before Shelfa could.

“It’s me.”

“Oh, it’s you.”

Rain gently freed himself from Shelfa’s arms and opened the door.

Standing on the other side was Gunther, whom Shelfa had gotten used to seeing, with his usual sullen visage. He nodded briefly at Shelfa before bowing deeply before Rain.

Most people would think that he was being rude, but Shelfa thought otherwise. Shelfa had come to a conclusion regarding the morose man after having watched him for a while.

The man called Gunther Valoa was a highly conscientious and proud person. Thus, he refused to easily lower his head to anyone other than his own master, Rain.

Ironically enough, the taciturn and obstinate man’s actions only served to increase Shelfa’s trust in him. Though, of course, the fact that he was Rain’s “right-hand man” played the biggest factor in her evaluation of him.

In any case, Gunter turned to Rain, his one and only master, and began his report as always.

“All of our preparations are underway. The rest is up to your discretion, Lord Rain.”

“Hm~m…”

Rain replied casually as he brushed back his black hair. He continued,

“I think it’s more up to our opponent’s discretion than mine…”

Then, a lady-in-waiting dressed in a maid outfit came up to the door and stopped before Shelfa and the others.

“Your Highness, do you have a moment of time?”

“Yes?”

“Lord Safir wishes for you to come see him in the audience chamber. ……And…”

she timidly looked up at Rain and continued,

“he has called for General Rain as well.”

“Me too?”

Rain scowled magnificently as the lady-in-waiting gave him a low bow. He continued,

“since when did that idiot become important enough to call for people like that? I’ll beat him up good when we’re done. And who does he think he is to use the audience chamber as he pleases?”

“My report is a step too late, but,”

Gunther interrupted,

“Safir’s car has just arrived. I believe that he has timed his arrival on purpose.”

“Heh, it finally starts.”

A fearless smile formed on Rain’s face.

The lady-in-waiting had brought a hand up to her lips when Gunther called Safir without his proper title, but no one, including Shelfa, paid her any attention.

“I see. That means my bad hunch will probably come true. Man, it’s a good thing we laid out our groundwork in advance.”

“By your will.”

“Um…”

This time, it was Shelfa who interrupted, unable to hold it in any longer. After she spoke, she remembered the lady-in-waiting, who was also piping with curiosity, and said, “I’ll be there soon.”

Reluctantly, the lady-in-waiting did a right about-face and left. Then, Shelfa started again,

“Um, I believe I asked you yesterday as well, but…… What are you talking about?”

Rain help up a hand as if he was telling her to wait a moment and gave orders to Gunther first.

“Alright. I’ll give you some kind of signal if anything happens. Though it’d be best that nothing does. And I’ll trust you to explain everything to everyone. ……Let them act on their own decisions if possible.”

“Understood,”

Gunther replied curtly before bowing again. Shelfa got the feeling that something was about to happen, but she did not have a clue as to what that could be.

“You look like you have no idea what’s going on.”

Rain placed a hand on Shelfa’s shoulder. He continued,

“you’ll understand soon enough. In any case, why don’t we go and see what that idiot Safir has to say?”

Rain showed off his white teeth as he flashed a grin.

 

~~*~~*~~*~~

 

Rain and Shelfa saw Ralphus walking ahead with his back turned toward them when they turned the corridor on their way to the audience chamber.

Rain immediately called out to him.

Ralphus turned around and smiled a pleasing smile upon recognizing them. He gave Shelfa a polite bow and nodded lightly at Rain. His behavior was the exact opposite of what Gunther’s had been earlier.

“What’s this, have you been called down too?”

“Yep. Though I have no idea what about.”

Ralphus’ pleasant smile quickly disappeared and he looked at Rain anxiously instead.

“That’s fine and all, I suppose…… I’ve left my men on standby, just as you’ve wished. You’re not seriously thinking of doing something ridiculous, are you?”

“What do you mean, something ridiculous?”

Rain fell in step with Ralphus and grinned.

He looked at his friend out of the corner of his eye and continued,

“and besides. Even if I did end up doing something ridiculous, you’re not the kind of person to simply take advantage of that, right?”

“Yeah. I didn’t ask for the details on purpose, because I knew that you would never be mistaken about me regarding that point…… But do try to keep your tempter in check. If anything happens, I plan on raising a protest against Safir as well.”

“——So, in other words…”

Rain raised a hand in acknowledgement as guards from the other end of the hall saluted them and curled up the ends of his lips. He continued,

“that means you’re thinking something along the lines of this, too: “Safir might try to use the will as a shield to get something done.” That’s why you quietly agreed to my seemingly ridiculous request, no?”

“……I believe it’s possible that he will, unfortunately,”

Ralphus readily agreed as he knit his elegant brows. Lord Ralphus is worried about the same thing, thought Shelfa.

Before she realized what she was doing, Shelfa interrupted the two with a determined voice.

“In that case, I too will protest against Sir Safir when the time comes!”

The two high generals exchanged looks and smiled.

Then, Rain gently replied,

“well, the fastest way to find out what he’s thinking is to ask the man himself…… But still, thank you. We appreciate your feelings. ——And huh, there’s a bit of a fight going on.”

It was exactly as Rain had said.

It was taking place up the stairs in a hallway without a lot of people. They could see the large doors to the audience chamber right before them, but there were four guards standing in front of it instead of the usual two, and they were divided up into two groups of two and arguing against each other.

“……Two of them look like they’re Safir’s subordinates. As for the other two……I don’t know them, so they’re probably yours. Besides, your troops were on guard duty today,”

Ralphus deduced.

“Lessee~”

Rain squinted and continued,

“Yeah, I recognize their faces. Hey!”

He walked straight up into the middle of the fight and said,

“what’s going on here? Why are there four of you here today?”

“——Oh.”

The two guards that Rain “recognized” became visibly relieved.

One of them, who had a bit of a baby face, angrily rattled on,

“while we were guarding this area, Lord Safir brought a large group of people over out of nowhere and pushed their way inside. And not only that, but these two here——”

he pointed at the other two guards,

“said that they were going to guard the area starting from today. They said that us commoners were unnecessary here.”

The youth’s voice wavered in fury, hinting that his humiliation went beyond what he had already described.

He looked at Rain directly in the eyes and bit down on his lips.

Finally, Shelfa realized that one of his cheeks were a little red.

“My deepest apologies, sir. We tried to stop Lord Safir and his entourage, but…”

Both the guard and his partner lowered their heads.

Shelfa felt dark clouds forming in her heart. Without a doubt, Sir Safir had——

“Don’t sweat it.”

Rain slapped the youth across his shoulders and continued,

“he’s a high general like me and all. There was the possibility that he would cut you down, and we can’t have that, so it couldn’t be helped. Actually, I should be praising you for trying to stop that idiot even after he hit you. Good job! Er, you’re Miran, right? You were on guard duty here today, I see.”

“Ye, yessir!”

The youth called Miran smiled broadly and looked extremely happy for some reason.

“Alright. That’s enough for today. Go to the courtyard. That’s where everyone is.”

“Huh? I mean, yessir!”

Miran looked like he was about to ask a question, but then he changed his mind and bowed instead. His partner followed suit. Rain, in turn, returned the salute in a more serious fashion then he normally did.

 

Once Rain’s loyal guards had left, Ralphus suddenly turned to the other two guards that remained.

“I won’t repeat myself. Leave!”

He spoke in a stern voice that left no possibility that it was a jest. His voice held a kind of tone that caused listeners to instinctively straighten up.

Shelfa stared at Ralphus’ face in a bit of a shock. She had only ever seen him smile gently until now, so the change surprised her.

And, more importantly, Ralphus’ words were extraordinarily effective on the two guards.

They had been sneering at Rain and Miran until then, but now the color was visibly draining from their faces. They seemed to have been taken completely by surprise. It was possible that they hadn’t expected to be rebuked by Ralphus because there existed an abnormally strong sense of camaraderie amongst the nobility.

One of the guards attempted to mumble vehemently,

“How, however, we were…”

“Weren’t you two listening?”

For once, Ralphus had cut someone off before they could give their excuses.

Speaking of which, this was also the first time that Shelfa had ever heard him take such a casual tone with someone who wasn’t either his friend or his comrade.

“I said I wouldn’t repeat myself. There’s no point in wasting your words if you plan on protesting any further. I’ll personally be your opponent, right here, right now.”

He was neither getting worked up nor putting on an act of arrogance, but had simply made the suggestion with a relaxed attitude.

However, the two guards peered deep into Ralphus’ azure eyes and broke out into a sweat after feeling “something” in their depths.

They understood that he was completely serious.

They immediately made themselves scarce without uttering another question or thought. They had left so swiftly that it left their onlookers dumbfounded.

Rain watched the whole thing unfold with a grin on his face and said,

“damn, get a load of this. I’m gonna call you over whenever I wanna chase away people I don’t like. I think it’d be faster than punching them away.”

“Stop teasing me.”

Ralphus had promptly returned to his usual gentle smile. It was his face that he usually wore when he was with Rain that Shelfa had become used to seeing.

Still, I can see why the ladies-in-waiting are always making gossip about him.

Shelfa was impressed, as if the issue had absolutely nothing to do with her.

She thought that it was only natural that he was popular with members of the opposite sex, excluding herself.

“Now then. Shall we go and have our audience with our idiot Safir?”

Rain placed his hands on the double doors that were twice his size in height. “Be careful,” Ralphus warned, and the three of them stepped inside.

 

~~*~~*~~*~~

Part 2

 

The ceiling of the audience chamber was supported by multiple columns made of white stone and the entire floor was made of black marble.

The center part of the back wall was turned into a multi-layered platform, and seated on it was a tall throne. The floor between the throne and the entrance that Shelfa and the others had come in through was covered by a crimson carpet that was wide enough for to two people to walk across side-by-side.

Normally, military officers were placed to the right facing the throne. Civil officers were placed on the left, and each officer would line up in accordance to their court rank——

However, this was changed up completely today.

Gathered closely around the throne were nobles whom even Shelfa was not familiar with.

Shelfa thought that they looked like they were protecting Safir as he sat on the throne, and Rain was likely of a similar opinion because he cursed under his breath. Ralphus kept a straight face for the most part, but she felt that he was enraged on the inside.

Safir, the main problem, was seated on the over-embellished golden throne with his nose upturned in a show of haughty arrogance.

He was dressed in white ceremonial robes, had curly blond hair, and he wasn’t unattractive either……but Shelfa didn’t like him very much because his eyes were always clouded over as if he was scheming something.

She disliked him a little less than Ganoa, the former high general, but that was about it.

To begin with, Shelfa had generally confined herself to just one room of the palace, so she had not met Safir enough times to grow to hate him.

However, she had absolute confidence that he would be on her ‘people I hate’ list if she had met him multiple times.

Safir looked haughtily down at Rain with eyes that looked drunken with a sense of victory and said,

“pft. Well done in coming here, is what I’d like to say, but I don’t have much to say to you. Actually, I only have one thing to tell you.”

Safir could not contain the smug happiness in his voice.

His followers snickered on the side.

Then, after pausing a beat for dramatic effect, he continued,

“your role here is over, go off and disappear to wherever you please. I feel like even the very air itself has become cleaner now that I think of how the castle will be cleared of the stench of common folk. Oh, and this obviously needn’t even be said, but you will hand over all of the troops that you command. My troops will be in charge from now on.”

v2_c4_1.jpg

Shelfa felt as if the earth had begun to shake from under her.

Until now, that “Sir Safir might banish Rain” had been on her mind. It had been on her mind, but never in her wildest dreams had she thought that the matter would come up as abruptly as it had.

For a moment, a violent fury overcame her as she was stunned into silence. For the first time in her life, Shelfa was about to raise her voice against someone——

But then, Rain said in his usual tone,

“If I may?”

“What’s this, I’ll not listen to you complain.”

Rain smiled and said, “I wasn’t about to,” as he waved his hand and continued,

“you see, I’ve always thought that you were a bit of an idiot, but now I see that you’re an even more of an idiot than I’d thought you were.”

The audience chamber fell into silence.

Safir’s expression fell flat and he gradually began to turn red.

In a hoarse voice he whispered,

“……what did you say?”

“I mean, c’mon.”

Rain, on the other hand, looked completely unaffected. He continued,

“there’s no way I’ll just stand here and do what you say, is there? It’s not like I’ve ever had any actual interaction with you. So just how did you decide to propose such a stupid idea without even getting to know to me to any extent first?”

Safir glared at Rain with his face as red as a ripe persimmon, but then suppressed his rage by the hair upon looking at Shelfa.

“……Your Highness. Please come here first. For this is where your seat is. Staying with one such as him will dirty your noble being.”

He pointed next to himself. There was a small seat that had been prepared in advance. It had apparently been prepared specifically for Shelfa’s use.

Before she could flatly refuse him, Rain whispered in her ear,

“go. It kinda pisses me off that he’s looking down at you. That throne he’s sitting on is technically supposed to belong to you.”

“……If you say so, Rain,”

Shelfa reluctantly whispered back before tottering over and sitting down on the chair that had been prepared next to the throne. Safir recovered his bearings and said, “good morning, Your Highness,” but Shelfa obstinately remained facing forward and only returned the barest minimum of a greeting. What Safir had said just before had dropped her evaluation of him quite heavily.

 

“Now……then.”

Safir returned his gaze to Rain, completely oblivious to the fact that Shelfa quite disliked him. He continued,

“it appears that you have not heard the news from Her Highness yet. Listen well, for I have received His Late Majesty’s—”

“Yeah, hold it right there,”

Rain cut him off completely,

“I already know. I ignored you last night ‘cause I didn’t wanna see your face, but I heard everything from the Princess and Ralphus afterwards. You have his written will, yeah?”

“E, exactly. I see that you already knew.”

“……But is it even real? Let us see it for a bit.”

“Hmph. Did you think that it would trouble me if you said that?”

Saifr stuck out his hand to the crowd of people behind him with a look of composure and received a scroll of paper from one of them.

He untied the sash sealing the scroll closed with grandiose gestures and unraveled it for all to see.

Written on the paper was a messy scrawl of deep black letters, and while it was rather difficult to sum it up in one sentence, the basic gist of the writing said, “I entrust all future matters to my most faithful servant, Safir.”

“Hmm~m,” Rain voiced as if he wasn’t concerned at all, though he did verify with Shelfa,

“Princess, how is it? Is there no doubt that this is King Douglas’ penmanship?”

Shelfa studied the piece of parchment that Safir was holding up with his head held high from end to end and unenthusiastically replied,

“……certainly, it does appear to be my father’s writing. However, I cannot be too sure because I am not very familiar with his penmanship.”

“Wha, what are you saying?! This is most certainly, without a doubt, His Majesty’s penmanship! There are plenty of others who will attest to this, even if you cannot, Your Highness!”

“Hey, quit yelling at the Princess,”

Rain abruptly interrupted again. He continued,

“or are you panicking so much because the will’s a fake or some other joke like that?”

“Bah!”

Safir, who’s face had turned yet another interesting color, was about to rush along into another long rant. This time, Ralphus, who had remained silent until then, took a step forward and said,

“Safir. Let us put aside the veracity of the will for the time being. There is something I would like to ask you first.”

“Oh, Sir Ralphus! Naturally, I’d be more than happy to listen to what you have to say!”

“……Then allow me to ask. The reason that you are sitting on that throne is because you intend on taking on its power and authority as the ruler of this kingdom……can I interpret it as thus?”

“Sir Ralphus.”

Safir showed Ralphus proper courtesy. With mock grief embedded in his voice, he carefully continued,

“I am all too aware of my own powerlessness. However, His Majesty deemed to entrust me with his will before riding off to war. Thus, it is my duty to set aside my weakness and be strong for the kingdom. It needn’t be said that I’d like for you to continue working as a high general as you always have. I do not intend to be crude with you.”

Throughout his speech, he wore a self-satisfied look that seemed to say, “I’d rather you not but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

However, his tone was slobby and he has a silly grin on his face, so his words were not very persuasive. Rain almost burst out in laughter at the sight of him.

Still, Ralphus continued,

“I still have a few more questions for you. First……what were you doing after the war until now?”

“Indeed. I had actually suffered a grievous wound during the Zarmine war. I was unconscious for a long time after somehow ordering an honorable retreat. Fortunately, my men carried me back to my castle……but it was ten days until my consciousness returned. Then, I deemed that it was faster to come here in person than it was to come in contact with you.”

His story was inconsistent.

“That sounds like a down-right lie,” Rain mocked in a small voice that was still loud enough for Safir to hear. Another vein popped on Safir’s forehead, but Ralphus ignored him and continued his questioning.

“Then, what about the army you brought with you? The reports say that you brought several thousand men, but I doubt that you had that many soldiers left at Greatark (Safir’s castle).”

“Oh, there’s a simple explanation for that. The subordinates of the late high generals gathered under me. At first, I had only a few hundreds of men with me, but my army grew as I marched here thanks to them. I am sure that my army’s numbers will only continue to grow.”

“So basically, this is how it is,”

Rain laughed and derisively began to recap.

“A bunch of fallen nobles who failed to die thought that they couldn’t keep going the way they were and decided to approach you, who they think will grow into something useful. Am I right? You were probably diligently exchanging letters with surviving nobles for the past month. Damn, I let those nobles who couldn’t even die properly be because I thought they were already done for……but I guess it was a bad move.”

“Wha, what do you mean “it was a bad move”! Your words border treason, commoner!”

Safir raged as he spat out a large volume of spit. Naturally, Rain took no notice of this and simply continued to calmly glare back at him.

The audience chamber suddenly burst into motion.

Only people who ranked high general or above were usually allowed to be armed in the audience chamber, but all of the nobles present were armed with a sword for whatever reason and they reacted to Safir’s anger by placing a hand upon said swords.

The situation had quickly turned explosive.

Ralphus, however, kept everyone in check.

“Hold!”

His sharp rebuke echoed throughout the audience chamber.

All of the nobles froze where they stood. This guy’s really something, Rain secretly thought to himself.

“Rain. I’m not done with my questions yet.”

Rain looked back at Ralphus with a sullen look on his face. If Ralphus had been even a few seconds later in his rebuke, Safir would have attacked Rain.

“I still think it’s pointless to talk to him. ……But if you say so…”

Rain relaxed his muscles, which had been tensed like that of a wild beast that had been about to pounce upon his prey, and crossed his arms.

“Thank you.”

Ralphus turned back to Safir after flashing a grin at Rain. Safir, who had been about to get up from his seat, also sat back down.

“Then, one last question. Today was originally supposed to be Her Highness’ coronation ceremony. But from your statements earlier, I doubt that you would acknowledge her as the new Queen. So how does Her Highness factor in to your plans? That is what I wanted to ask.”

“That’s——”

Once again, Safir pretended to hesitate before answering. Then, he nodded as if he had decided upon something after a quick glance in the Princess’ direction.

With a foolish grin and a look that suggested that he had attempted to look serious but failed to keep his excitement in check, his face twisted into a strange smile.

“Naturally, I plan to show Her Highness, who has royal blood running through her veins, the respect that she deserves. Thus, how about if I welcome Princess Shelfa as my bride when I rise to power? Of course, it should not be a problem if I make my current wife my concubine——”

“I refuse.”

Shelfa’s voice loudly reverberated through in the middle of Safir’s triumphant speech. It was filled with the raw feeling of how absolutely against his proposition she was.

Safir was stunned into silence with his mouth still left hanging open. His blank expression made clear that he had not thought that he would be refused even in his wildest dreams.

The remains of a lewd smile lingered on his lips, likely because he had already been imagining his first night with Shelfa.

Speaking of which, Shelfa had already risen from her chair and was looking straight at Rain.

It needn’t be said that Rain understood her intentions.

He gave her a small nod.

This had gone on for long enough.

“This is it,”

Rain quietly declared as he took several steps forward.

“Ralphus, do you still have more questions?”

“……No.”

“That’s fine. In that case, let me speak my mind. Or rather, I’m going to lay down a verdict of sorts.”

With his arms still crossed, he articulated each and every word for Safir to hear.

“I won’t stand inferior to you. I also won’t step down from being a high general. Well, I don’t really care about being a general in and of itself, but the circumstances won’t allow me to walk away from it right now.”

A piercing light gleamed in Rain’s black eyes.

“And so, from here on out, you and I are enemies. Prepare yourself, Safir!”

“Wha—!”

Safir, who was still sitting on the throne, scooted his bottom further back into the seat as if he was being physically pushed by the pressure in Rain’s gaze.

He flailed about and held out the will in front of him like an invisible shield.

“Da, damn you! Are you going to ignore the will of your ruler?! Are you planning to rebel against this kingdom?!”

“……Man, for someone who’s trying so hard to induce guilt in others, I have no idea where you think you’re getting your authority from. I guess that’s what you call hiding behind the bigger bully on the playground,”

Rain said, fed up, and then suddenly yelled, “aah!” as if on purpose while pointing at Safir with his right hand.

Everyone turned around to see what was going on.

“Whoaaa ahh, hot, hot!?”

It was Safir’s wails that echoed throughout the chamber this time.

He leapt off the throne and hurriedly threw aside the will that had burst into flames.

The parchment was not something that should have alighted so easily, but it was burning with great ferocity for whatever reason. It went without saying that Rain had sneakily cast magic on it while everyone was looking elsewhere.

Thus, the will had turned into charcoal while the nobles scurried around. They picked it up in a hurry, but were too late.

“Ahhhhh!”

Safir screamed in a shrill voice filled with grief as he clutched his head.

“Whoaa, that’s a disaster if I’ve ever seen one. You never know what’ll happen in the world……hu~h,”

Rain said in a grave voice as he pensively shook his head.

“The fuck are you saying?!”

Safir forgot his noble-like high speech and began to stomp on the floor like a child. He continued,

“this is your goddamned fault————!!”

His followers behind him were nodding their heads in agreement and howling about how they couldn’t forgive Rain’s actions. Some of the more bloodthirsty ones had already drawn their swords.

“Hey now, are you really going to go and blame a shy, serious, and quiet guy like me? Man, you guys are harsh.”

Rain laughed shamelessly.

When he threw a quick glance a Shelfa, he saw that she had regained her composure and had a hand in front of her lips as she desperately tried to keep herself from laughing.

Yep, it’s always better for a girl to be smiling…… He thought, as per usual.

“In, in any case, I will not condone you any longer! I’ll have you executed as a rebel for committing treason against the kingdom!”

“You call me a rebel, but what’s your basis for that? You and I are colleagues, what authority do you have, huh?”

“What are you talking about?! My authority comes from the will!”

“And where’s the will?”

“It’s right here in my——!”

Safir turned bright red as he raised his sooty, but empty, hand and realized that the will was no longer there. He began to blindly kick at the marble floor. He had snapped.

“Shut up, shut up! Even if it’s been reduced to ashes now, a lot of people have already seen it. There’s no use trying to trick people into thinking it didn’t exist! No matter what you say, I’ll marry Her Highness and rule over this kingdom!!”

“Didn’t the Princess flat out refuse you just now?”

“Be, be silent! Her Highness simply said something that she didn’t really mean because she was embarrassed. Our marriage has already been decided.”

“You need to shut your mouth!!”

Rain suddenly shouted in a thunderous voice.

Safir was stunned into silence in the middle of what he had been saying by the force of Rain’s voice. Silence rang throughout the chamber once again. Rain continued,

“stop spewing nonsense. I never had any intention of letting you have your way to begin with. I’ll have you give up on marrying the Princess. Though I think you really need to give up on other things, too.”

“Give, given enough time, I’m sure that I can persuade Her Highness into consenting to marry me. You, you have no right to stop me!”

“What kind of shameless nonsense are you going on about? No one likes clingy guys…… But whatever. Listen up.”

Rain looked down in contempt straight into Safir’s eyes and said,

“I doubt there’s even a one-in-a-million chance of it ever happening, but even if the Princess did consent to marrying you, I’d never let it happen.”

Safir looked back up at him in indignation while Shelfa stared at Rain with great anticipation.

“The Princess is certain to be unhappy if she married you. Her opinions don’t matter this time. I’ll never let it happen no matter what. Understand, you idiot? On that note, Princess, your wishes no longer matter. Anyways…”

Before Rain could say, “please return.”

Shelfa sprang up from her chair and immediately began running. Before Rain could stop her, she ran straight up to him and leapt into his arms.

“My opinions regarding this matter have been clear from the beginning, Rain!”

Lost in how adorable she was, Rain hugged her back and pat her head and then froze up in the next moment. Now that he thought about it, they were still in the audience chamber of all places, not alone by themselves, and not only were the stupid nobles still here, but Ralphus was also right next to them.

Even Rain was a little uneasy as he snuck a side glance at his friend. However, Ralphus was neither taken aback nor reproachful, but instead looked back at them with a gentle smile.

What, were we that obvious? ……Then I guess I don’t have to hide it anymore.

Unlike Ralphus, however, there were others present who did care.

They included all of the nobles, save for Ralphus, who were present. Especially Safir.

“Damn you!”

Safir was trembling so much that Rain almost wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to shake so hard as he stood up ram-rod straight and pointed at Rain. Safir continued,

“I have you now! You laid your shameful hands on Her Highness and made her victim too your lustful desires! How dare you?!”

“Hey hey hey! Stop making up such pleasant fantasies!”

Rain yelled back sullenly.

Shelfa was still clinging on to Rain with no intention of letting go.

While no one could fault Safir for jumping to conclusions based on the circumstances, his accusations were still quite outrageous. Rain continued,

“quit thinking on your own terms! That’s that you want to do, so stop lumping me together with you! Besides, don’t just come out now and start saying whatever you please! I’ve never liked that about you!”

He swiftly pulled out his magic sword, quite fed up with the other man.

The nobles braced themselves as the sword began its characteristic buzzing and its blade was enveloped by a bluish-white aura. Rain continued,

“you should have stayed holed up in your castle and raised a cat in your room or something! But instead, you came barging in here with your stupid ambitions. I’ll beat the crap out of you and toss you into the pond out back, so don’t you move a muscle!!”

The nobles drew their blades at once at Rain’s mighty declaration of war.

To begin with, they were convinced that they “could not ever lose to the likes of Rain,” which Rain actually found rather convenient.

For better or worse, they knew that they had the upper hand in terms of numbers, and ignoring the unlucky few who would get caught in between the battle, they felt that it was a given that the “impertinent commoner” would soon become a corpse.

It was evident that the two sides would clash violently, no matter how anyone looked at it.

Safir had completely lost his cool and was shouting around, “kill the bastard——!” in pure rage. His temper, which had been short to begin with, had completely snapped after watching Shelfa leap into Rain’s arms.

Rain, on the other hand, was perfectly happy with the situation. He was wearing his usual bold smile as if he was saying, “yeah, come at me all at once wherever you damn well please.”

He pushed Shelfa toward Ralphus and prepared to throw himself into the crowd of nobles.

“Wait, Rain.”

Ralphus stuck out an arm to his side and stopped Rain yet again.

“Hey hey hey! Again?! Don’t tell me you’re still hesitating?”

Although fed up, Rain still lowered the tip of his sword and Safir began spitting out,

“oh, Sir Ralphus! I’m glad to see that you understand how things are supposed to be. Execute that traitor with your own hands!”

Immediately, Rain shot back,

“what do you mean, “that traitor”?! Quit spewing out stupid things!”

Then, he turned to his friend and continued,

“……make up your mind already, Ralphus. I don’t want to be enemies with you, but I won’t always defer to your judgements just because of that. I absolutely won’t give in, especially this time. If you’re going to take Safir’s side, then…”

Without taking his eyes off of Ralphus’ usual clam blue eyes, he finished,

“…unfortunately, you’ll be my enemy as well.”

He raised the Siren’s Blade just a little.

Then, Shelfa suddenly took Rain’s hand and squeezed it gently.

When he questioned her with his eyes, she silently shook her head.

Her large eyes stared deep into Rain’s black ones.

Finally, Ralphus said,

“I may be a man of many shortcomings, but I know that I have an eye for people, Rain. You cannot kill me.”

“……Are you saying that I can’t beat you?”

Rain’s black eyes sharpened considerably.

This was one of the things that he had absolutely hated hearing the most.

Ever since that day, that time, so long ago, Rain had hated ‘losing’ to an abnormal degree. It was one thing if he lost a battle between two armies, but he would rather die than lose an individual match. He continued,

“do you really think I can’t?”

“That’s not it.”

Ralphus’ smile never left his face. He continued,

“I know that I cannot best you. I simply wanted to say that, unless you were at your wit’s absolute end, you aren’t one to cut me down over something like this. ……Her Highness held you back because she knows this.”

After seeing the anger fade from Rain’s visage, Ralphus continued,

“Besides, I’m in favor of overthrowing Safir.”

Huh, that so? Well, no complaints here.

Rain felt himself relax.

However, there was one person who did the exact opposite and stirred up a fuss. It was Safir, who straightened up and pointed a shaking finger at Ralphus.

“Sir Raphus! What is the meaning of this?! Are you, a member of the Five Great Houses who carries the noble blood of our progenitors who founded our kingdom, taking sides with a mere commoner?! Are you sane?!”

“I am quite sane, I assure you,”

Ralphus responded calmly in contrast to the angry Safir.

However, while his tone was even, the contents of his words were merciless.

“Safir, I refuse to accept you as my king. I cannot detect any truth in your words. You haven’t said a single thing with your own words this entire time, but instead you’ve been using His Late Majesty’s will as a shield to hide yourself while you enact your personal desires. Why should I honor someone like you as my ruler?”

“S, such sophistry! But no matter how you play with your words, it doesn’t change the fact that you are ignoring His Majesty’s orders!”

“While I doubt the veracity of the will to begin with——. Still, if it is real, then it is exactly as you say.”

But I am all right with that.

There was no hesitation in Ralphus’ voice. He continued,

“never forget that the bond between a liege and his retainer goes both ways, Safir. You do not earn the right to be king simply because you sit on the throne. I’ll say this as many times as you’d like……I refuse to accept you as my king. Besides, I already have someone whom I intend to serve.”

An intense light shone in his azure eyes.

“I, Ralphus, will never allow a mere scrap of paper to change my attitude even in the slightest once I’ve vowed myself to the service of another.”

While he did not fly into a rage as Safir had, Ralphus’ words still carried a strong sense of firm resolution.

In other words, he had chosen Shelfa as his master of his own volition and was firmly denying Safir’s claim to royal authority. Rain was more than ecstatic about this, as it meant that he would not come into conflict with Rain’s chosen path.

Rain slapped Ralphus across the back.

“Nice! Alright, we’ll be going drinking tonight……and it’s on you,”

Rain cheerfully pitched in.

“……Sir, Sir Ralphus has betrayed usss!!”

One of Safir’s staff officers shouted all off a sudden. On that note, the entire chamber was soon filled with angry voices censuring Ralphus.

“Sir Ralphus! No, Ralphus! I won’t forget what you’ve just said! You’d best keep that in mind!”

Safir finally drew his own sword and pointed it cleanly at Ralphus.

In contrast, Ralphus still looked as calm and composed as he always was.

“Everyone here is aware of what I’ve said, the heavens are aware of what I’ve said, and most importantly, I am aware of what I’ve said. I don’t need you to remind me.”

Elated, Rain began,

“alright! Now then——”

“Wait, I tell you,”

Ralphus said as he grabbed Rain’s shoulder before the latter could run off. He continued,

“it’s simple enough to defeat Safir here and now, but that would complicate things later.”

“Later? What do you mean, later?”

“Think about it. The fact that Safir had the will has spread throughout the entire castle. If we defeat him here, people might misunderstand and think that we murdered him because he was inconvenient to our designs. Safir’s army is also here on stand-by. The castle would turn into a battleground.”

“I don’t really care about any of that……. But I get that you’re the worried mostly about the Princess.”

Rain sighed and lowered his magic sword.

This situation had actually been well within his predictions. Knowing his friend’s personality, he knew that Ralphus would naturally be worried about that stuff.

However, Rain personally thought that they were better off defeating Safir now even if it meant turning a blind eye to a few potential misunderstandings and the dangers that may accompany them.

“Knowing how clever you are, I knew that there was no way you wouldn’t realize this. You were waiting for me to stop you again, weren’t you?”

“Nah, this time, I would’ve gone on with it if you hadn’t stopped me.”

“I doubt that.”

Ralphus shook his head and then turned to Shelfa and said,

“it is just as you’ve heard, Your Highness. The final decision lays with you…… But I believe that Your Highness’ name will be tarnished if we overthrow Safir here. I propose that we withdraw for the time being.”

Shelfa instantly questioned back,

“I don’t care about what happened to my own name, but would people speak ill of you and Rain as well, Lord Ralphus?”

“Please do not mind us. We are simply following the path that we believe in. Please think only of yourself and give us your decision.”

Instead of replying immediately, Shelfa lowered her eyes for a little while. Eventually, she looked up again and looked at Ralphus’ smile before resting her eyes on Rain.

Doing his best to lighten up the mood, Rain smiled and said,

“it’ll be fine no matter what you decide. Please don’t worry about things too much and just tell us what you think. It’s okay if we withdraw, and it’s okay if we fight. The only thing that changes is whether Safir dies now or later.”

Still looking a little pale, Shelfa sighed out in relief. She had reached a decision upon hearing Rain’s words.

“Let us withdraw. I would hate for the people who are dear to me to be slandered. Besides, I have no particular attachment to this castle. This is because I have already decided that the place where I belong is——”

Shelfa stopped mid-sentence and held her silence as her cheeks flushed red. Then again, Rain already had an idea of what the rest of the sentence was supposed to be so there was no need to ask her to continue.

Yep, so this is what we’re going with.

Rain nodded at Ralphus and Shelfa and turned to the nobles, particularly Safir, who were slowly but steadily closing the distance between them with swords in hand.

The sight of several dozen nobles coming at them with drawn swords was like a moving thicket of blades.

Still, Rain raised a hand at them without a shred of tension.

“Well, we’ll be drawing back for now. Later, Safir.”

“What do you mean, “later”? There’s no way I’d just let you go!! I’ll have all of you, save for Shelfa, die here!”

“Hey, hey, did you really just call the next person in line for the throne without her proper title? And your intensions are pretty transparent as to why you don’t want the Princess dead.”

Ugh, this is why lechers are so…

As he spoke, Rain abruptly swung the magic sword dangling in his hand diagonally upward.

“Hyah!”

Bang!

Safir’s scream and the destruction of the back wall sounded out in succession. Safir sank down to the floor with his sword still in hand. A portion of his presumptuously curly blond hair had disappeared and a red line appeared on his cheek. Blood oozed down from the wound.

The nobles stealth~ily looked behind them with their hair standing on end.

The Sunkwoll flag that had been hung up over the back wall was slashed diagonally, and a large fissure ran through the stone wall behind it.

Rain flashed a grin.

“Hey, don’t get it wrong. You guys aren’t letting us go here. We’re doing you the favor of withdrawing for now. It’d take me a second to kill you if I really wanted to, Safir.”

Heh, the idiot.

Or so Rain said, but Safir and the rest of the nobles did not appear to have been listening. Unrest was spreading through their numbers like ripples on water. They had figured out what Rain’s magic sword was.

Safir scrambled up in a panic and hid himself behind the group of his comrades. His actions held neither shame nor honor.

Some began to say, “a ranged attack……th, tha—that…” in a strange voice.

“Man, everyone who sees this has the same exact reaction. Hahaha!”

Rain laughed heartily but soon found himself facing Ralphus’ surprised gaze as he took a quick glance to the side. Oh, right, he didn’t know about this yet, he recalled.

Well, not that I particularly care whether he knows or not.

“Now then, shall we hurry up and withdraw?”

Rain cheerfully readied his magic sword again.

“I’ve always wanted to try this at least once. Let’s go out with style!”

Answering to its master’s wishes, the dancing blue aura glowed even brighter.

Once again, Rain sharply swung his magic sword.

The bluish trail of light that it carved outshone the light of the chandelier above their heads.

This time, its target was the stupidly large doors of the audience chamber. In a burst of destruction that was sure to bother more than a few people, the thick and heavy double doors exploded into small, broken fragments. The sword’s “invisible slash” had pulverized even the walls on the opposite side of the hallway and had opened up a huge hole.

“Well then, let’s go,”

Rain said with a bright expression.

 

Afterward, however——

Ever Rain could not have anticipated the complicated turn of events that were soon to arise.


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3 thoughts on “Chapter 4: Uninvited Return

  1. Thank you so much for translating this story. I am really excited and happy you are doing this. Your translations are excellent. Thank you agai .

    Like

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