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――A sudden surprise encounter and a choice which could decide the rest of one’s life.
As Sare was practically finished with his preparations, thinking Now then, where should I go? he suddenly felt as if someone was approaching.Now then, where should I go?
A sound, a presence. It was enough of a change in the air to alert him.
To free his arms he lifted up his bag and hung it from one shoulder as he went into action trying feel for the location of the presence.
Sare’s body reacted immediately as if it knew exactly how to prepare for whatever sort of danger might be on the horizon.
There was a high likelihood that the ten-odd years of intense training he had undergone had contributed to how easily he went into action.
――What is it? No, who is it?What is it? No, who is it?
He drew the Imperial Sword from the scabbard hanging on his left side and hid himself in the shadows in order to secretly observe the area.
The presence of approaching bodies came closer to his location bit by bit.
The sound of [speaking] was somewhat mixed into the normal noises of the forest, but the words slowly became clearer as they approached.
“Do you really think anyone lives in a remote place like this?”
“It seems so. I felt maryoku earlier.”
“Maryoku? ――Is there any chance it’s someone from the Pure race?”
“If the people of the Pure race were born with maryoku we’d have all died out by now I’m sure. In all probability it’s someone from an other race.
“Hmmm….well, we can only hope that they are a member of a race that is willing to communicate.”
“Who cares, by the way, it’s seems we’ve come preeeetty far, huh?”preeeetty
“It has been several weeks since we initially met after all. In any case, can you stop speaking so familiarly with me as if we were close friends? It’s bothersome.”
“W, well aren’t you awfully cold! I’m maybe just a little offended….”
“It has been awhile since I last heard you speak this cheekily――”
Sare could hear these three voices coming from directly in front of him.
There were any number of other voices that made themselves heard as the group approached.
Since they were using words, they were likely all members of humanoid races.
The voices came even closer.
They would arrive any minute.
“I just remembered. This area, in the past, was home to the Majin race, the Ehno Ayla. I think their country was called――the Irudoe Empire. I heard that their numbers dwindled after a war with Atem, but I wonder if some of them are still alive? ――Uwah….Majins huh….even in this day and age they still seem a bit scary.”
“The Majin race was it? Even I have heard of the ferociousness of that race.”
“Ah―! I know a buncha stuff about ‘em! Like how that Iru-something Mr. Emperor destroyed a whole country a long time ago, and tricked a god into fighting! I’ve heard about it before! Everyone says they’re suuper scary!”
“Now now, you are only pointing out their violent points. They were trusted enough to be at peace with the Pure race, so they may wish to live peacefully in their hearts.”
“Sorry to interrupt, but can you guys keep quiet for a moment….”
――That’s a lot of people, huh?That’s a lot of people, huh?
Sare eavesdropped from the shadows.
There were so many voices it was hard to follow what was being said.
At first glance they didn’t appear to be the type of people that would be hostile, but he didn’t even have enough information to form a clear hypothesis on the matter. It was best to stay wary and prepared.
When Sare felt confident enough to lean out of the shadows, so he could to see the group, the main speakers were just coming close enough to be seen.
Sare took the risk of being slightly exposed in order to get a clearer glimpse of them.
His curiosity demanded that he discover the appearance of the voices he heard.
What kind of weapons did they hold? What kind of clothes did they wear? What kind of armor? What sort of race were they?What kind of weapons did they hold? What kind of clothes did they wear? What kind of armor? What sort of race were they?
――What kind of people were they?What kind of people were they?
When he was able to see them closely, Sare could only stare in mute amazement.
――What is that?What is that?
Their appearances were shocking enough to render Sare completely dumfounded.
To Sare they had completely unfamiliar features.
At one glance, he could safely assume that their unique characteristics marked them as members of various [other races].
To start with there was:
One with a single horn protruding from their head.
One with the body of a person but the head of a lizard.
One who had the ears of an animal.
One with a partially transparent right arm.
One with a pair of large white wings on their back.
One with a tail.
――Ah, but I have one of those as well.Ah, but I have one of those as well.
In any case, it was a strange yet spectacular group.
Diverse. Surely they represented that word to perfection.
Suddenly Sare realized he was hanging out too far in his dumb stupor and quickly pulled his head back into the shadows.
So that no one could see him.
Almost immediately after this a voice spoke from the group.
“Let us pause for a moment, my friends.”
“Whatever is the matter?”
“This place bears the stench of death.”
The whole group came to a stop.
Practically right on top of where he was hiding in the shadows of rubble.
“Hmph, who goes there?
In the silence that followed the question Sare gave in to his curiosity and peered slightly out from behind the rubble, when he did he accidently locked eyes with the lizard-headed race man.
The lizard-headed man, who had been the one who spoke, seemed to slowly lose patience and began to quickly approach the rubble where Sare was hiding.
Ah, well, why was I hiding again?Ah, well, why was I hiding again?
I didn’t want to just reveal myself to the unexpected, and somewhat odd, company, but instead I became a suspicious person…I didn’t want to just reveal myself to the unexpected, and somewhat odd, company, but instead I became a suspicious person…
Realizing that, Sare mentally prepared himself and stepped out from the shadows.
As soon as he did so, the whole group immediately went into battle mode.
“An ambush…!! Are you a member of the Pure race?!”
“Just a moment. You’re deciding guilt too quickly.”
“E, even so……”
“We are not wild beasts, let us try and talk this out first. Afterwards we can judge the situation more appropriately.”
With just one hand a woman with gray hair calmed the lizard-head man’s charge and stepped out from the shelter of the group.
In a monotone voice with an air of nonchalance, the young woman turned her weak and indifferent gaze towards Sare.
Pale crimson eyes.
So we’re going to talk this out first, huh?So we’re going to talk this out first, huh?
Sympathizing with her words, Sare returned the Imperial Sword to its scabbard and dropped his hands to his sides.
At the sight of this, the other visitors who had accepted the young woman’s words kept an eye on Sare’s sword and reluctantly relaxed their own battle postures.
When Sare returned his sword to his sheath the gray-haired young woman raised an eyebrow.
Watching her, Sare noticed something about the young woman’s gaze.
There was a bit of a delay when she would shift it.
Rather than reacting to Sare as he was sheathing the Imperial Sword, she reacted to the metallic sound as it was returned to its sheath.
“――Your eyes, are you blind?” Sare blurted out as his introduction.
“Yes, I am blind.”
――Is what she said, but it sounded more like “So what?”
It feels like I just killed the conversation, Sare scolded himself mentally.It feels like I just killed the conversation
“Let’s just get the conversation back on track, shall we? ――Nice to meet you. I am known as [Alice Art]. If possible, may I have your name?”
He almost said Sare Satana, but then remembered the dream and the note,
“――Sare Sanctos Satana,” he finished.
“Thank you very much. May I call you Sare-san? Please call me Alice.”
From start to finish the gray-haired young woman called Alice’s voice was completely monotone.
“…..Sanctos? Hmmm…..I have a feeling I’ve heard that from somewhere…..” Said a young man in the group wearing glasses as he tilted his head in deep thought.
“Have you recalled something?”
“The Irudoe emperor we were talking about before! The Majin who destroyed a whole country! [Gazel Sanctos Satana]. I think he was the third emperor of the Majin race――”
“Which makes this person his descendent.”
Without saying anything himself, Sare’s origins were decided.
“Meito-san, Gillius-san, do you think this is the appropriate time to begin such discussions?” Alice scolded.
“Ah, s-sorry.” (Meito)
“M-my humblest apologies….” (Gillius)
Alice gave a sigh of exasperation, even though her face was still expressionless, and turned back towards Sare.
“I apologize Sare-san.”
“Don’t worry about it. That name is something I take pride in,” Sare paused before continuing, “but what that guy in glasses said is the truth, I’m a Majin.”
Sare said it assertively.
There was no real reason he had to keep this fact a secret.
He felt he could reveal it to Alice and the others, who seemed fairly amiable――at least at the moment.
When Sare revealed his race to the others the group broke out in noisy chatter.
“[They really exist?] [It’s the first time I’ve seen someone from the Majin race.] [But there’s only one.] [A violent and rare race, huh?],” and so on.
Also, as they carried on, Sare didn’t overlook the doll-like Alice’s face as her brow rose higher and higher until a crease appeared on her brow.
“Please disregard their disagreeable ramblings. I once again apologize to you.” (Alice)
“Ah, well, it’s fine. ――Rather, I have a few things I’m curious about. That is――” (Sare)
――Lizard-head. Horn. Animal ears. White wings.
Sare trailed off rather than directly ask about them.
At the same time Alice bowed her head and apologized, the others in the group seemed to realize that Sare wasn’t emitting any sort of malice towards them.
――He had no intention of fighting.
They quickly rushed to this conclusion and rallied their spirits as they noticed Sare’s merits as a comrade and waited for Alice to speak.
“What shall I do everyone? I would very much enjoy talking with Sare-san some more…” (Alice)
“I see. I have no qualms with allowing Alice this opportunity.” (Gillius)
“Neither do I.”
Other voices of agreement were raised from the group.
“I understand. ――Sare-san, would you allow us to stop here for awhile?”
At first Sare had nodded while making a noise of approval but halfway through he remembered that she couldn’t see and instead awkwardly said:
“Ahh――it’s fine with me.”
“So he says everyone. For the time being I will entrust you all to keep a close lookout.”
At her words came an energetic “Yes ma’am” from everyone within the group.
Sare would have liked to ask Alice to take a seat, but all that was behind him was the remains of Sanctos Castle sitting snuggly within a mountain of rubble. The ground was also uneven and rough.
Sare hung his head for a moment and leaned himself against a piece of rubble in frustration.
“I’d offer you a seat if possible, but everything is a bit of a mess――”
“Please do not worry about me.”
“Sorry about that. Well, I wonder if this would work. ――Excuse me for a moment.”
Sare hesitated a moment before taking the blind girl’s hand and guiding her. Her hand was pleasant and cool to the touch, but above all it was very small, so small that it felt it would break if he gripped too hard.
Sare guided Alice by her hand and brought her to a spot where she could sit.
――I’ve met a truly interesting a mysterious person, Sare thought at he watch the ever-polite Alice put her clothes in order as she sat on her knees with her hands properly laying atop them.I’ve met a truly interesting a mysterious person
For the past few days he’d been completely alone, and now there was another person seated beside him.
Such a strange visitor’s presence caused the gaping hole in Sare’s heart to shiver slightly――and initiate the very beginnings of recovery.
“Well, since we’re here may I ask you a question?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Sare-san, have you ever left the Irudoe domain?”
“――I see. That explains your surprise at our appearances.”
“‘That explains,’ you say. Wait, how could you tell I was surprised?”
Sare didn’t explicitly say “But aren’t you blind?” but the implication of what he said was obvious enough.
“I guess, if I were to explain it simply, I could hear your surprise in the tone of your voice,” Alice replied in response to his unasked but implied question. She continued, “Nowadays it is rare to encounter someone who doesn’t know of the [Other races]. Even people who live far removed from society know about the Other races from information from travelers or gossip.”
“In simple terms they are what every other race besides the Pure race are called.”
“I see,” Sare said somewhat to himself.
“I will get straight to my main point. Sare-san, do you have any interest in leaving the Irudoe domain?”
“Yeah. I was just preparing to leave when you arrived. This place….there’s nothing left for me here.”
“――Is that so?”
“――It is so.”
Sare accidently replied in a similarly disinterested tone to slightly tease Alice.
He wasn’t trying to be sarcastic, but he prepared himself for any anger she might vent at him for parroting her words.
Sare mentally scolded himself for speaking to Alice this way at their first meeting. Although Alfred and the others used to exchange quite a bit of sarcasm in their day-to-day battle of wits, it wasn’t something Sare should have tried with this girl he had just met.
With reluctance, Sare tried to read Alice’s face to see if she was upset.
――Uwah….she didn’t react at all….Uwah….she didn’t react at all….
Alice was sitting with her hands resting on her knees as before; her facial expression hadn’t changed in the least.
Without any hesitation she returned to the conversation at her own pace.
“Well then, there is another matter I would like to inquire about.”
At the sight of her constantly expressionless face Sare felt a bit of chagrin at being unable to fluster her at all while waiting for her next words.
“Do you have any interest in travelling with us?”
――My patience has been rewarded with Alice’s strong offensive strategy.My patience has been rewarded with Alice’s strong offensive strategy.
From behind her iron wall of expressionlessness she launched her powerful words at Sare and interrupted his comparatively weak and simple inner thoughts.
This girl will definitely become a great negotiator. …..Definitely.This girl will definitely become a great negotiator. …..Definitely.
“……We~ll, how do I put it, I’d like to discuss things a bit more before answering that――” (Sare)
Alice’s straightforward approach couldn’t interrupt Sare’s thoughts forever.
Once he had recovered his train of thought he tried to state his reservations.
“I should have mentioned this at the beginning, but staying here is dangerous for the Other races. This domain is neighboring on the Atem Kingdom after all.”
I can totally understand that.I can totally understand that.
That’s why I was going to leave Irudoe.That’s why I was going to leave Irudoe.
“Just recently the Atem Kingdom made a proclamation on [Pure supremacy] to all the surrounding countries.”
“Correct. ――A proclamation regarding the [Other race subjugation plan] being initiated within Atem’s territory.”
Sare’s heart skipped a beat.
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