The room was furnished so opulently that it seemed ludicrous to even compare it with the inn that they had originally been staying at. In the middle of that room were Diana and Shouko, sitting on opposite sides of an antique table and arguing vehemently.
“There’s just no way!!”
“But why not!? What’s wrong with ‘Saint’!?”
“It’s fishy as hell!”
“What part of it is fishy!?”
Their argument had been going on for nearly an hour.
“It’s got to do with my feelings so I can’t really explain it, but ‘Saint’ just sounds really horrible!”
“But why!? It doesn’t have a bad meaning in Japanese either, right!?”
“By the way, Diana-san, there’s something I’ve been curious about for a while now!”
“W-What is it?”
“What’s the biggest religion in Ante Lande right now!?”
“R-Religion? Umm…. I guess that would be the Church of The Divine King…”
“How long has that religion been around!?”
“U-Umm…. Since roughly two thousand five hundred years ago….”
“From a Japanese person’s point of view, a saint needs to be someone from around that era!! Calling someone a ‘saint’ or a ‘holy man’ and worshipping them while they are still alive isn’t something that is done in Japan!!”
“No way! I saw it on the news! There is a ceremony called ‘canonization’ by which people are granted sainthood, and even people from modern times have been given the title of ‘Saint!’”
In short, they were arguing over whether it was right or wrong to call Yasuo a ‘Saint’. The argument had started shortly after Leonid had arranged for them to be given these large quarters in the Holstro Battalion’s office, and had been continuing ever since.
Watching the two of them from a little distance away, Feigreid turned to ask Yasuo a question.
“So, how is it actually? What sort of image does the word ‘Saint’ give you?”
“Umm… Well, it certainly isn’t a word I would associate with a living person. How do I put it, assume there’s some person who dedicated their life to philanthropic work decades ago and passed away quietly without any fanfare, and then after a few more decades people suddenly started discussing that person’s deeds and they ended up being given the title… It sort of feels like that.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is.”
“Apart from that, I’ve seen stuff on TV where some grizzled ascetic gains that title after completing severe training deep in the mountains of India and starts being worshipped by the people around him.”
“So basically, it’s not a term commonly used in Japan.”
“I believe so. If I saw a young person being called a saint in modern Japan, I’d assume they were out to take advantage of people and get them to buy stuff like expensive vases or healing crystals.”
“Vases? Healing crystals?”
“Anyways, Diana and Tatewaki-san are arguing because they were raised in different cultures, so there’s no way for us to arbitrate.”
“I see. Then there’s no choice but to have Shouko yield regarding this matter.”
The Saint of Galedeite.
That rumor, exaggerated to bizarre proportions, somehow managed to travel a great distance and reach until here in such a short amount of time.
The origin of the rumor was obviously based on how Yasuo had used the broadcasting facilities in Galedeite to sing the requiem and send off all the Shii throughout the city in one go, which was the truth.
However, for the people of Ante Lande who were tormented by feelings of being trapped by the Shii, this was their first-ever piece of good news on the subject. Due to that, the rumors quickly started to be exaggerated to a bizarre degree as they continued to spread.
The rumor that Leonid had mentioned, where the Saint had apparently sent off a hundred Shii at once, was actually one of the least preposterous.
It was being said that the rumored Saint appeared from the heavens wielding the fourth Holy Armament similar to the Holy Sword Liutberga, the Holy Staff Marlowe, and the Holy Bow Pomona, and was traveling between the various countries while sharing his power to send off the Shii with the people.
Apparently people who prayed to the Saint for salvation would be given divine protection against the Shii, and children christened by him would have the symbol of the Saint appear somewhere on their body.
“How the heck did people manage to inflate the rumors so much in just two days!? There’s no way such a convenient person could exist, just walking around and spreading paradise! Didn’t anyone find it strange at all!?”
“It just sounds ludicrous when you put them all together like that, Shouko. In reality, each rumor is from a different place and is independent of the others. In some places, people only hear rumors about the fourth Holy Armament, while people in other places might only hear the rumor about the christening.”
“That’s even worse! I bet those are the kind of people who easily fall for targeted scams!”
It looked like Shouko, who disliked the title of ‘Saint’, was reaching the end of her patience.
“To some extent, those rumors might be unavoidable. There are probably people in Gaz who remember Her Excellency Erijina using the Pomona, and there might be people who heard from the Knights Division or other Magitech Knights that I am escorting Yasuo… or rather, a mysterious traveler, and started spreading their speculations.”
“Those are the kind of people who should never be given access to social media!!”
She wasn’t even making sense anymore.
“Shouko, calm down a little. Certainly, the whole ‘Saint’ thing was unexpected, but it is still an effective card to play against Leonid and Baskelgarde. Due to that, we weren’t arrested and we have the freedom to discuss what to do next. This is an even better result than what Yasuo initially planned for. We should consider that to be a blessing for now.”
“That’s… Well, you’re not wrong, but…”
Shouko reluctantly backed down after Feigreid pacified her.
“But for the next step, that scary-looking Magitech Knight is going to be coming with us, right?”
Shouko was probably talking about Gaius.
“That’s unavoidable. Baskegarde needs to gain something in exchange for keeping this incident under wraps. We need to travel around Basklegarde anyway, so let’s think of him as a sort of all-access pass to help us do that. At the very least, his presence will allow us to easily travel to the Ruins of Oodem.”
The Ruins of Oodem.
That was one of the places shown in the recordings that they saw in the museum, and it was also one of the destinations that Yasuo and the others intended to reach during this journey.
People from other countries only knew about the place as remnants of an ancient civilization located in the northern reaches of Baskelgarde, but the ruins held a special meaning for those who witnessed the war against the Demon King’s army.
According to historical records, Hero Hideo’s Holy Sword Liutberga had awakened to its true powers in the Ruins of Oodem.
Also, based on the data collected by Resteria’s Magitech Observatory, there seemed to be a high probability that Hideo had ended up there after being separated from Yasuo and the others during their journey.
Since even Resteria had been able to come to that conclusion from so far away, obviously Baskelgarde’s Magitech Observatory had detected the anomaly in the Ruins of Oodem as well. Of course, since Baskelgarde knew nothing about Hideo’s return, they were merely puzzled over what they saw as an abnormal magical reaction.
“Considering that matter as well, it was necessary to reveal Yasuo’s identity as the ‘Saint.’”
For the most part, Diana’s sentence was directed towards Shouko who was still overreacting to the term ‘Saint’.
“Well… I guess that’s true.”
Even Shouko couldn’t argue when she put it that way.
Diana had informed Leonid that Yasuo was the son of the Hero Hideo. This was something they had planned to do from the beginning after deciding to turn themselves in.
However, she hadn’t said anything about the Hero Hideo himself returning to Ante Lande.
“Uncle Leonid knows Hideo very well. I thought that introducing Hideo’s son as the Saint would convince him to let us investigate the ruins, and that went exactly as planned. The ruins are inextricably linked with Hideo’s Holy Sword Liutberga, after all. And besides, telling Uncle that Yasuo is the Saint will keep Baskelgarde from interfering with Japan or Tokorozawa, if only in a roundabout fashion.”
“Eh? Why’s that?”
“Because if they irritated the Hero, the Great Magician, and even the Saint on top of that, it would spell the end of the world.”
“Seriously, Ante Lande? For such a pathetic reason?”
“I have nothing to say in our defense. Even my mother, who is supposedly one of the braves, probably thinks that way.”
“……Anyway, that’s enough talk about me and my family. The point is, our chances of meeting up with Dad have increased thanks to Leonid-san. More importantly, what about the matter of Tatewaki-san’s Shii? Did you hear anything about that?”
“Considering that Captain Gaius will be accompanying us, I think we need to tell them the truth to a certain extent.”
Using Shouko’s body, Raia Calgani had spoken in the language of Baskelgarde and defeated Gaius and his men with only her fists. At the very least, they needed to tell them that Shouko and the Shii were fused together and that the Shii possessed a personality identical to that of living people.
They also needed to reveal that the Shii was originally a person from Baskelgarde.
“I’m not sure whether we should let them know about the connection to Orion. Based on what we heard from Raia Calgani, there’s some history there that might rub people from Baskelgarde the wrong way. But if we keep it a secret now, and it comes out at some point later by accident……”
The gazes of three people converged on Shouko. Shouko also understood what the three of them left unsaid.
“If that spiteful creature suddenly takes over again and uses my mouth to reveal information that is disadvantageous to us, the tables will turn on us instantly. Is that right?”
Raia was one of the deceased.
Even though they could converse with her, there was no way that they could come to a mutual understanding. She would never stand on the same side as Yasuo and the rest.
Everything that Raia said and did was clearly with her—or rather, the Shii’s—best interests in mind. Moreover, compared to Shouko, Raia was obviously in a better position to make use of the ‘other party’.
“Umm, do you mind if I ask you something, Tatewaki-san? Were you still aware of what was going on when Raia-san was in control? Do you have any memories of what happened during that time?”
Yasuo asked that question because he was genuinely curious. He just wanted to know what happened to the host’s consciousness when a stranger’s soul or mind suddenly entered the host’s body, a topic that often came up in fiction.
“What!? Of course not!! Why would you even ask that question!?”
However, Shouko snapped that back at him at a speed that surpassed human cognition. Moreover…
“Of course she doesn’t. Don’t say such silly things, Yasuo.”
For some reason, even Diana responded that way.
“I don’t remember a single thing that happened when that spiteful creature was in control! That’s the truth!”
“She’s right Yasuo. Why would she remember something like that?”
“What’s with you two all of a sudden!?”
The two girls suddenly put up a defensive wall of thorns against Yasuo as if their personalities had actually changed.
“It looks like Yasuo can be tactless once in a while.”
“That can’t be helped. He lacks experience, after all.”
“Feig-san, did I really say something so horrible!?”
“P-Please don’t involve me in this.”
Diana and Shouko’s attitude indicated that Yasuo had trod upon a subject that must never be touched. Fearing the aura that the two girls were giving off, Feigreid clumsily dodged Yasuo’s request for assistance.
“Still, the instant before she takes control and the instant after she goes away… Let me see, it’s probably similar to the feeling of dozing off or waking up from a dream.”, Shouko said while continuing to glare at Yasuo.
“It’s like that feeling of, ‘Oh, was I asleep just now?’, or, ‘Oh, this has got to be a dream—but hang on, I can still hear Mom operating the washing machine.’ It’s really just a feeling so it’s hard to describe. ”
“Actually, I think I understand what you are saying, Shouko. Back when I was still training to be a Magitech Knight in Gaz, the training drills were so exhausting that every cadet went through the experience of putting on their uniform while they were still asleep at least once. Our bodies would move on their own even though we were still asleep. If it is that sort of feeling, then I think I can relate.”
“Ah, I know that feeling too. One time, a girl who shared a room with me imitated our drill sergeant and woke me up in the middle of the night, and I remember rushing out of the room before I was fully awake.”
If anything, Yasuo found the conversation between the two career soldiers harder to process. However, he understood that it was next to impossible for Shouko to use her willpower to resist when Raia took over her body.
“Anyway, I think it would be best to tell them about Shouko and reveal Raia Calgani’s name. That would be better than having it come out at some time in the future and causing problems. No matter how delicate the matters surrounding that name are, I doubt it would be enough to make someone in Uncle Leonid’s position turn against the only daughter of the Krone family. Even now, although they put her under surveillance, they’re still allowing Shouko to stay together with us.”
When it came to matters regarding the Shii, there were very few facts that were known.
Leonid and the country of Baskelgarde probably wanted to investigate Shouko’s body as soon as possible, regardless of the identity of the Shii that possessed her. However, they hadn’t done so because of the influence of Diana, the Krone family, and Resteria, together with Yasuo’s identity as the ‘Saint’ and the son of Hero Hideo. These factors acted as trump cards to keep Baskelgarde in check.
“I don’t think Uncle Leonid will make any impossible demands as long as we promise to make a stop at Holstro on our way back to Resteria, no matter what happens in the ruins of Oodem. Captain Gaius will be accompanying us, after all. After that, I think we should be fine as long as I promise to share whatever information Resteria acquires from this mission with Baskelgarde.”
“One last thing, what should we do about the Carnelian of the Coal Mine?”
“Considering our situation, I believe there isn’t any pressing need to tell anyone about them. They haven’t really done anything to hinder us so far, and not only do we have no evidence, we don’t even know of sure if the organization is really moving behind the scenes or not. If we have to tell Baskelgarde something, then I think it would be best to talk only about Beatrice Heller as a single person……”
Back in that white world, Yasuo had already heard Beatrice’s name from Raia’s lips. There was no doubt that the Carnelian of the Coal Mine and Beatrice were connected to the appearance of Balor in Galedeite as well.
Besides, it didn’t really matter if Beatrice did it herself, or if it was done by her subordinates. Rumors of the arrival of the ‘Saint’ and Balor’s defeat by the user of Pomona had already spread far and wide. There was no way Beatrice would assume that Yasuo and the others had fallen victim to the Shii in all the confusion.
“I wonder if they’re plotting something.”
“I don’t know. I doubt they have kept track of every move we made, but considering how big an organization Carnelian is…”
The organization known as Carnelian had slender and hard to detect connections to the command structure of every country.
Being directly manipulated by Beatrice, as Khalija had been, was actually the better alternative. Most people believed that the Carnelian was an organization for charity work and trusted them utterly, as Feigreid had once done.
Director Kelly, Feigreid’s adoptive mother and the overseer of the House of the Fireflies in Galedeite, had contacted the organization in good faith and yet that had directly resulted in the summoning of Balor’s Shii to that location.
If there were any people close to the center of Baskelgarde’s Knights Division under the influence of the Carnelian or Beatrice like Khalija had been, then they would find out everything about what Yasuo and the others planned to do next.
“That’s a bit scary. Even though we’ve come this far.”
The flame in Shouko’s left eye grew slightly bigger.
Many people considered Shouko, who had merged with Raia, to be a ‘Latch’.
Yasuo felt like he had already caught a glimpse of the true nature of the ‘Latch’ once, and as for the power of the ‘Destroyer of Armies, Orion’ that had saved Shouko multiple times during and after their journey to Galedeite, it would no longer be a good idea to rely on it now that the personality of Raia had awoken completely.
Even at this moment, Raia could be waiting with bated breath, watching closely for a chance to take control of Shouko’s body.
“Depending on how things go during our journey to Oodem, it might be a good idea to tell only Captain Gaius about everything that happened since I first went to Tokorazawa. Once we are sufficiently far away from Holstro, of course.”
Truth to tell, Yasuo still didn’t know what exactly had pulled him and the others out of the white world that they had been sent to while they were at the museum. A part of him felt that they had been sent back due to Raia’s will, but the fact remained that Gaius had already been inside the museum before Yasuo and the others returned from the white world. They had no choice but to talk to Gaius later and find out if he had seen anything strange at that time.
Shouko’s mouth dropped open and she exclaimed as if she had remembered something, but she then immediately covered her mouth with both hands.
“What’s wrong? If you remembered something, you should tell us—”
“It’s nothing. Diana-san, help me.”
“She said nothing is wrong. Leave it at that.”
“What’s up with the two of you? You’ve been acting strangely for a while now.”
Ever since they had accepted Leonid’s protection, there had been times when Diana would cover for Shouko and keep Yasuo at a distance. It was quite obvious because Shouko—or rather, Diana—would suddenly start behaving differently, but some reason Diana would start talking to Yasuo in a somewhat reproachful manner at those times.
“How about we call it a day? We have a meeting with Uncle Leonid early in the morning tomorrow, and besides, all of us are tired after everything that happened today.”
“Y-Yeah, that sounds good. We should do that.”
“In that case, I will excuse myself. Yasuo.”
“A-Ah, ok, me too…”
“I’ll leave the rest to you.”
“Sure… W-Wait, what?”
Feigreid clapped Yasuo’s shoulder after calling his name, and then for some reason pushed him through the door of the girls’ bedroom that Diana and Shouko had just been about to enter.
“W-What are you……”
“What do you mean?”
Feigreid looked at Yasuo as if he had asked a strange question, and pointed in a certain direction.
“Yasuo, you need to sleep in the same room as Shouko, don’t you?”
Yasuo and Shouko looked dumbfounded, and only Diana clapped her hands as if she had just remembered something.
“In case Raia appears again, Yasuo is the only one who can suppress the Shii’s control without harming Shouko.”
“Eh… Well, that’s certainly true, but…!”
“Of course, I will be on standby here in the living room just in case something happens. Shouko, Major Krone, please rest without worrying about anything.”
“Eh? A-Ah, I see. So that’s what you meant.”
The three of them were overwhelmed by Feigreid’s smile that lacked any trace of malice.
The quarters that Leonid had arranged for them were so opulent that none of them except for Diana had even set a foot into such a place. The quarters were meant for visiting nobles and were so high-class, luxurious, and huge that they even hesitated to call it a suite.
The living room where they had been talking had the same floor area as the entire Kenzaki family residence in Tokorozawa on its own, and it was flanked on two sides by massive bedrooms, each of which was equipped with two king-size beds.
The shag carpet on the floor was so luxurious that not only had Yasuo and Shouko repeatedly asked the Magitech Knight who guided them here if it was okay to step on it with their shoes on, they were still hesitant to do so in the end and ended up taking off their shoes.
Based on his experience and knowledge, Yasuo could only tell that the carpet was incredibly thick and that the furnishings in the room looked really expensive. All he understood for certain was that it was pointless for him, a third-year high school student, to wonder how much money it would cost to stay in a similar hotel room in Japan.
“B-But do we really need to do that? The rooms are right next to each other, and Fieg-san, you don’t have to stand guard, aren’t you tired?”
Shouko was completely flustered, but Feigred’s answer was overwhelmingly gentle.
“No, just think about it. It’s unfortunate, but everyone here apart from Yasuo was completely helpless in the face of the phenomenon caused by Raia in the museum. Moreover, it happened in a flash. Even though the rooms are close by, there’s still the living room in between so it might be too late if anything happens.”
“T-That’s true, but sleeping in a girls’ room is a bit…”
“T-That’s right. Oh yes, Second Lieutenant. It wouldn’t be fair to push the guard duty to you alone, so let’s decide on a time and take turns to keep watch….”
“What are you talking about? Major Krone, you should rest. It’s fine. With that soft sofa in the living room, I’ll get plenty of rest just by sitting down. You must be exhausted after the negotiations with General Leonid. You should go to sleep as well.”
“….!! No, I mean, but…”
Apparently, Feigreid was serious.
For what it was worth, Yasuo was an adult male, at least on paper. And yet Feigreid was trying to make him sleep in a room with the girls.
After a while, it looked like Feigreid realized why the other three young people were so flustered. He thought about it for a second and beckoned Yasuo over to have a whispered conversation with him.
“F-Feig-san, this isn’t going to work out…”
“It’s fine. You are a sincere and gentle young man. There’s no way anything inappropriate will happen, right?”
“That’s not the problem here!”
“You said it yourself, Yasuo. Think about what should be given the highest priority. There’s nothing more important than Shouko’s safety and peace of mind right now, am I right?”
Yasuo was at a loss for words. Feigreid apparently took that to mean that he was convinced, stepped away from him, and bowed slightly to Diana and Shouko.
“Well then, see you again tomorrow.”
Saying that, Feigreid closed the door right in front of Yasuo.
After staring at the delicate carvings in the oak door for a moment, Yasuo timidly turned around.
“……There’s no choice. Just accept it, Yasuo.”
“……Seriously, though. You understand right? No funny business.”
Yasuo saw both Diana and Shouko standing there with awkward expressions, causing his vision and his thoughts to go completely blank.