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While sitting amongst the group still immersed in discussion, Sare began to pursue a different problem on his own.
The group had just discovered its own will, a group mentality, which had solidified the ‘foundation’ of the group itself.
The will to protect Alice had to be fostered so the group could grow from here and pursue their own place to belong.
That will was the group’s ‘heart’ after all.
For the sake of such a group, the individual members had to decide for themselves if they will embrace this will of their own volition. If any member cannot honestly support this ideal then if they remain in the group it will only distort the group’s ‘heart.’
――That doesn’t mean I’ll force those who can’t, and won’t, fight to stand on the frontlines.That doesn’t mean I’ll force those who can’t, and won’t, fight to stand on the frontlines.
In the end, it’s a question of their individual will and position on the matter.In the end, it’s a question of their individual will and position on the matter.
But there’s no way I can ask them to truly embrace these ideals at this point.But there’s no way I can ask them to truly embrace these ideals at this point.
They could probably continue as before for another month, after all, they’ve existed by following the mantra of “protect Alice” for a month already, but after that time has expired they would just fall apart. There would be no point.They could probably continue as before for another month, after all, they’ve existed by following the mantra of “protect Alice” for a month already, but after that time has expired they would just fall apart. There would be no point.
For now, everyone seemed onboard with continuing to protect Alice. They could understand the importance of doing so.
The current problem was more of a concern as to whether or not personal emotions would cause problems later on.
If the ideal of protecting Alice is promoted effectively emotions, such as personal affection towards Alice and the like, won’t be necessary.
But, if there’s no affection involved, the official stance of protecting Alice seems unnatural.
In any case, no matter how it’s presented, a group that protects Alice without affection or any sort of empathy shouldn’t, and likely couldn’t, exist.
――But, if that’s the case, then such an emotionally-oriented ideal would definitely leave us vulnerable. And this vulnerability will eventually cost us.But, if that’s the case, then such an emotionally-oriented ideal would definitely leave us vulnerable. And this vulnerability will eventually cost us.
Sare said to himself,
“――It’s too idealistic, huh?”
Which were his honest thoughts.
After saying it aloud he felt he better understood the problem, Sare frowned and scratched the back of his head.
Yes, quite idealistic.Yes, quite idealistic.
Alfred and the others had a comparatively large amount of battle experience. That’s why, when they trained me they were merciless and discarded their own emotions in order to teach me fully. Because of this I was given any number of wounds because they didn’t get distracted by their personal feelings and in this way they imparted to me the basics of real battle.Alfred and the others had a comparatively large amount of battle experience. That’s why, when they trained me they were merciless and discarded their own emotions in order to teach me fully. Because of this I was given any number of wounds because they didn’t get distracted by their personal feelings and in this way they imparted to me the basics of real battle.
――Well, Alfred and the others were fundamentally kind.Well, Alfred and the others were fundamentally kind.
Even so, only when they were training me did they put aside that kindness.Even so, only when they were training me did they put aside that kindness.
They never told me as much, but that’s what I deduced upon reflection.They never told me as much, but that’s what I deduced upon reflection.
Emotional attachments and fondness are fostered when you have survived and are able to embrace such emotions and bear their fetters.
If they weren’t in such a stable situation, they would have never taken upon themselves to pick me up, raise me, and protect me.If they weren’t in such a stable situation, they would have never taken upon themselves to pick me up, raise me, and protect me.
But, if this group were to draw out their true strength, such fondness may instead become an obstruction.
On the other hand, these emotions may instead be the key to draw out their truth strengths, but such a phenomenon would not be seen for quite some time, at time when this group is truly united.
――For now it’s impossible.For now it’s impossible.
That’s why,That’s why,
“――Power is necessary.”
The power to prevent any crises or abuse that would disrupt the group before it had time to settle itself.
“Whatever is the matter?” Alice suddenly spoke from beside him, at some point she had come closer, but as usual she spoke expressionlessly.
“Oh, it’s nothing really.” (Sare)
“Nothing you say…even though you said ‘Power is necessary’ with such a dignified expression?” (Alice)
――Can you really not see? ――Aren’t you supposed to be blind?Can you really not see?Aren’t you supposed to be blind?
“Ah, you see I discerned from your tone of voice that you would appear that way. ――Although it was just a guess, I suppose I was correct, was I not?” (Alice)
Although her reply seemed positive, she seemed to deliberately step back a bit.
Is she trying to act surprised? No matter how I see it she deliberately stepped back. If you can’t make it look more natural it’ll be troublesome in the future.Is she trying to act surprised?No matter how I see it she deliberately stepped back. If you can’t make it look more natural it’ll be troublesome in the future.
“Due to my lack of vision, my sense of hearing is unbelievably sharp. Although it can be seen as rude, I am able to gather quite a bit from the sounds around me. Please be careful.” (Alice)
“Yeah, I’ll be careful.” (Sare)
――Of your hearing and your teasing!Of your hearing and your teasing!
“In any case, we should not discuss this topic here.”
Alice’s gestures, from the start, when she acted surprised, to now, as she brushed off her sleeves and sat down next to Sare, looked as if they were all carefully scripted.
“By that I am acknowledging that I have grasped Sare’s current thoughts. But, this is not something you should have to figure out on your own. ――More than likely, many others have had thoughts similar to Sare-san’s own. To name a few, Gillius-san and Touka-san. And also, maybe――Premiere-san.” (Alice)
Although I can confidently say the first part of that statement is likely, if you mention Premiere――I wonder.Although I can confidently say the first part of that statement is likely, if you mention PremiereI wonder.
A woman who calls people she just met [cretins] just moments after meeting them.A woman who calls people she just met [cretins] just moments after meeting them.
Terribly self-centered.Terribly self-centered.
So arrogant, as if we shouldn’t be allowed to breath the same air.So arrogant, as if we shouldn’t be allowed to breath the same air.
“After travelling together for a month, I believe I have a handle on her personality enough to understand her point of view.” (Alice)
“――The results of your findings are?” (Sare)
“She follows the policy of ‘everyone except myself are all cretins.’” (Alice)
――I think the whole group has come to the same conclusion.I think the whole group has come to the same conclusion.
“But it is not just that――”
Sare was smiling wryly to himself as Alice continued her thought.
“She believes these cretins are frail, stupid beings and thinks that ‘Cretins are beings I must protect.’” (Alice)
How arrogant, how disadvantageous――what a noble thought.How arrogant, how disadvantageouswhat a noble thought.
If that person has such noble thoughts then I could truly believe she’d understand this group’s problem.If that person has such noble thoughts then I could truly believe she’d understand this group’s problem.
――Unfortunately, at her base, Premiere is just an idiot.Unfortunately, at her base, Premiere is just an idiot.
“Well, I do wonder though. She does belong to the idiot class after all.” (Alice)
“Ah, just now I was thinking the same thing.” (Sare)
“Is that so. ――At her base, she is a person with many varying thoughts, who, when the mood takes her, can choose to understand or misunderstand any idea. Somewhat air-headed, she is a one-of-a-kind stupid angel. On that point we agree.” (Alice)
“Haha, that’s for sure,” Sare replied cheerfully.
Alice suddenly redirected the conversation,
“Now then, in my opinion we have stayed here for an awfully long time. Although I am concerned as we are still being pursued by the Atem Kingdom…to push them into motion before we have made a decision as to our goals and have yet to be ready to move forwards in unison, would only be inviting danger from our enemies swooping in to attack. ――I suppose it cannot be helped,” Alice paused to sigh before continuing,
“A bird that does not know what the ground looks like has no choice but to fly with all its strength for the whole of its life. Once it has exhausted all its strength it will quickly fall. We know what the ground looks like because we have already become exhausted and even if we flap our wings we can no longer fly, we are at the point where we wish to simply rest to regain our strength.” (Alice)
“How poetic.” (Sare)
Hearing her words, Sare became convinced of something.
Something concerning Alice.
From the very first meeting until now Sare had been of the opinion that she never showed emotion. Because she was expressionless.
But, that impression was likely incorrect.
――She [sees] this group more than anyone else.She [sees] this group more than anyone else.
If you expose your inner thoughts, people can [somehow or other] come to understand you.
A person who is truly without emotion, when they encounter an ordinary person who expresses their inner thoughts, will be unable to understand them.
That’s why, she is not emotionless, because she can understand them, she can [see] their inner thoughts.
But if that’s the case, why is it――
――Why is it Alice never shows emotion on her face?Why is it Alice never shows emotion on her face?
Sare would soon discover the answer to this question.
The migrating birds who had grown close were still in disarray as the [great country] descended upon them.
“Ah….” Alice spoke quietly as she quickly stood up.
“What’s wrong?” Sare asked, but Alice closed her eyes and shivered.
As if she sought to focus the whole of her senses, she ceased all motion.
Everyone immediately noticed Alice’s behavior and, in order to not disturb her focus, stopped speaking and also drew very still.
“It is….Uura Mitos――” (Alice)
“Is that….for sooth?” Gillius stood up, and urged Alice to continue.
“――So it appears, I have no doubt. Innumerable footsteps, and the words [Atem Kingdom] can be heard in their conversations, though it is very faint so maybe――Ah! Just now, I heard it for sure….”
[Victory for the Pure race, for the glory of Atem], Alice repeated the phrases she was hearing.
Everyone felt a sickly throbbing in their chests return that they had wanted to forget.
“As I thought…we stayed here too long. ――I was foolish,” Alice spoke as she dropped her gaze to the ground.
“Everyone trusts Alice’s judgement. Alice hasn’t been foolish. Also――don’t be so quick to call your decision foolish just yet.” (Sare)
Like the others, Sare also recalled the same uncomfortable feeling in his chest.
But, more than the discomfort, his body was ruled by a new [determination].
――It’d be bad to declare Alice’s judgement foolish at this point.It’d be bad to declare Alice’s judgement foolish at this point.
The group had only just decided to come together for Alice’s sake, she was central to the group, an incident at this point would unravel their fragile bonds.
No matter what happens, until they were truly united――
Her words, and Alice herself, must be protected.
If not, it would all come tumbling down.
Not only that,
――No one else must die.No one else must die.
If even a single person dies, the [reality] of their situation would immediately crush any [ideals] they held in their hearts.
――I have to protect everything and everyone.I have to protect everything and everyone.
Even if this determination was born of [self-righteousness]…Even if this determination was born of [self-righteousness]…
“Alice, I have to ask, can we run away?”
“It is impossible Touka-san. They are marching even faster than I thought possible.”
“….Fumu, then this fight is unavoidable.”Fumu
In response to Touka’s words, Gillius offered his own idea,
“How do the skies fare? We has’t many winged races in this group, and if I were to completely assume mine dragon form I could carry any number of people to safety.”
“Ara? Idiot dragon? Can you really fly like that? Pilin’ on tons of cretins, fluttering around in the air, is that your aim? Really? ――Like, for reals!?” (Premi)
“Don’t lose sight of the issue at hand, Premi.” (Gillius)
“What? Calling me a woman who has lost sight of herself, wouldn’t that make me unsightly? A beautiful, noble woman like myself? Who stands above you lowly cretins as a member of the great Heaven race? That I could lose sight of myself, staggering about――there’s no way! No matter what happens in this life, I will never be on the same level as you cretins! If you let those cretins in the sky that way, they’ll want to become more noble and high class and end up trying to imitate me! Then one day they’ll try to fly on their own――and die!” (Premi)
“W-what kind of scenario is that?” Gillius wondered as a question mark seemed to float above his head, but he continued to listen to Premiere’s words.
“That’s right, they’ll die. I’m noble so I’ll be fine you know? I’m high class, so even if I lose sight of myself, I’ll be fine you know?! I’ve been blessed with wisdom since birth!! I’ll be fine!! ――But cretins will die. Why’s that? Because they’re idiots!! They’ll try to fly, maybe jump from that tree over there and fall, then they’re dead!! ――Stupid, right?!” (Premi)
[Does anyone have a hammer? Maybe if we hit her on the head it might fix her!] Or so said someone from within the group.
But, Premiere didn’t stop there,
“But that’s no good. I won’t allow them to die. Because! Dead cretins aren’t able to serve me!! Fufufu….!”Fufufu….!”
――In any case, Premiere has managed to convey the fact that she wouldn’t allow anyone to die, or something.In any case, Premiere has managed to convey the fact that she wouldn’t allow anyone to die, or something.
Sare thought to himself with a furrowed brow and a wry smile.
She communicated it, with her own bizarre, arrogant methods.
But, well, being who she is, that was probably the only way she knew how.
“Well, let’s do our best so no one dies.” (Sare)
“Everyone should have had enough of losing people they care about. If that’s the case――from this point on let’s focus on obtaining things instead. The people we’ve lost can’t come back, but that doesn’t mean we can’t obtain new things. So, at the very least, these connections we have obtained――” (Sare)
I’ll protect them.I’ll protect them.
After speaking these words, Sare turned his gaze towards the direction of the approaching soldiers.
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