I had finally returned one sunny day, and instead of a greeting, I was promptly informed of Harold’s visit instead. Probably because it’s quite unusual for Harold to visit without telling us in advance, it was that kind of situation.
Harold was wearing a yukata at the time because it was already getting late.
“It’s been a long time, Harold-kun. How was your day today?”
“There’s something I need to talk to you about urgently.”
Harold wasn’t a person for pleasantries and cut straight to the point.
I also changed my posture to one for listening.
“Hmm, let me hear it.”
“One week from now the Knight Order will leave for an expedition to the Blitz Forest.”
“That’s quite far,”
Blitz Forest was located near the border, it’d take a month just to travel there.
At the very least, they could shorten the trip by taking an airship to a nearby area.
“But isn’t that too dangerous as your first assignment?”
“On the surface, it’s only a patriotic mission, but there’s a chance that it’ll develop into a skirmish against the Star Aria Tribe.”
I unintentionally let out a loud voice.
Harold just said that the Order and the Star Aria Tribe will fight, that there’s a chance of his mission developing into an ethnic conflict.
It would’ve made a funny story if the person telling it was different.
“Are you sure about this? Why is that?”
“There’s a traitor within the top brass, who’s planning to guide the negotiations towards war.”
It was hard to believe how he talked about such a topic so indifferently.
Well, the other party was Harold after all, he wouldn’t say something like this without a reason why.
“Their objective is the capture of the Star Aria Tribe, apparently they’re the resources needed to conduct inhumane experiments and dissections. Basically, if one is captured, then that seals their fate to death.”
“If what you’re telling me is true, then this is a problem that can’t be overlooked by humanity itself.”
But if there’s no evidence to justify these claims, then I, no, the Sumeragi Family can’t move.
Even just putting in a request for a search of this scale will put the people involved at high risk.
While it may be a despicable inhumane practice, you just have to close your eyes and pretend it’s not there sometimes.
“I can’t put out any evidence, it’s not possible, there’s no written reports or anything physical for me to procure.”
“Then how did you learn about this secret, Harold-kun?”
It’s only natural to doubt him at this point, this shouldn’t have been able to obtain this information in the first place.
Well, Harold always did have a mysterious information network, but is the information he received really credible?
In the end, my hypothesis was right on the mark.
“‘Giffelt’, have you heard of this name before?”
For a moment, I couldn’t understand what Harold had said, not because I haven’t heard the name Giffelt before, but rather the opposite.
When one speaks of Giffelt, there’s nobody who wouldn’t know this name.
There’s nothing in the world that he doesn’t know, he’s an information dealer who deals intel of all types.
However, that person is a fictional character.
“The rumours say if you’re willing to pay enough, you can get any information you want in the world… from the fairy Giffelt.”
Harold’s face turned downcast at my remark, but when I shook my head a couple times in apology, he reverted back.
“Bastard, are you an idiot? To say you still believe in fairies, it’s no wonder you’re a weirdo, I don’t know why anyone would call that thing a fairy in the first place.”
“Wait one second there, Harold-kun… did you really meet, that ‘Giffelt’?”
Giffelt was said to be an ugly being, similar to those talked about in urban legends. There’s no way I wouldn’t ask why he could say that he was its acquaintance with such a straight face.
The thing is, this boy in front of me wasn’t exactly ‘ordinary’ either.
I really am an idiot, aren’t I? Actually believing his story, but how else am I supposed to explain his information network?
Just by talking to him like this, I can tell he has a tremendous network of connections.
“Well, let’s forget about that and move on to the main subject,” Harold started again.
I could already feel my head throbbing due to how he just dumped all this amazing information on me and still hasn’t reached the main issue.
◇ ◇ ◇
Using the name Giffelt brought out a bigger reaction from Tasuku than I expected. Giffelt was only a character from a fairy tale after all.
I was somehow able to stop myself from laughing.
There are a lot of stories that pass through gossip, and I’ll use Tasuku to help spread the gossip on how ‘Giffelt is real’.
‘Information broker Giffelt’ is a character that has little influence in the game and is only there to give explanations on the game’s mechanics, hints on how to obtain items, and other tidbits like that throughout the game.
Although it didn’t bring out any important information about clearing the game, it’s a subtle character that can help you find rare high-level monsters in the forest dungeon, the hidden island in the middle of the sea, and the final area in the Last Boss’ dungeon, earlier than normal.
By the way, its real name, age, and gender are all unknown due to it mostly being covered by its androgynous appearance and its bulky hat.
I’ve never actually met it in this life, but apparently Giffelt actually exists in this world. I’ve already seen countless existences in the game, and I already know it somewhat personally, so it should be fine to tell one little lie, right?
Looking at Tasuku’s reaction, I should be able to get away with using original knowledge as long as I use Giffelt as an excuse.
“I don’t care if you believe me or not bastard, but you owe me so I’ll give you this chance to pay me back.”
Now it’s time to negotiate. From a third person’s view this might look despicable, but we’ve already been doing this for so long that it’s become normal for us.
Though this might become a problem, right now I need to focus on proceeding the story.
“While I’m still here… prepare the Sarian Empire’s military uniform for me within three days.”
“The Empire’s? What do you need that for?”
“I just need to wear it under my armour during the expedition. Once the battle starts, showing a figure wearing the uniform to both sides might dampen their motivation to fight slightly.”
If an officer of the Empire appears in the middle of the battle between the Order and the Star Aria Tribe, both sides will start to question who the real enemy is.
The Empire’s uniform is normally eye-catching by itself, but it should be even more conspicuous in the middle of a battlefield.
“That’s too dangerous, in the worst case both sides will begin to concentrate their attacks on you instead.”
I’m aware of what Tasuku is saying. If it was possible, then not just the battle, I would’ve liked to stop the whole expedition itself.
However, the reality is that I don’t have the time or the means to take such measures.
“Don’t make me laugh, as if they could put out attacks that could even scratch me.”
As usual my mouth only lets out excessively arrogant responses, it’s only natural that I’d feel fear and anxiety in such a situation.
But I can’t back out now. I won’t be able to obtain Tasuku’s cooperation in this matter unless I show him an absolute resolve that this is something that I can accomplish, or else he’ll never make a move.
With the circumstances as they are, rather than a proposal to a plan, doesn’t it look like I’m blackmailing him into accepting?
At worst, Tasuku wouldn’t provide any support in this matter at all. Although I don’t want to get into too much debt with the Sumeragi family, or else it’ll get harder for me to separate myself from them in the future.
“…we still have time to think of alternative plans.”
With a pensive look on his face, Tasuku gave an unclear answer. Perhaps he was only able to answer this way from speculating about what I said.
I nodded, it was impossible to expect an immediate reply, rather, it was good luck that Tasuku didn’t refuse him right out.
Maybe he wasn’t very suitable as a noble, but he’s very likeable as an individual. Erika had probably inherited her gentleness from him.
“It’s fine if you can’t answer me right away, you can ignore me or prepare alternative plans, but you absolutely must prepare the uniform in time so I can add the alteration I need.”
“I will arrange it immediately, but honestly I’d rather not help send you to certain death. ”
“If that really is how you think, then do as you wish as long as you don’t disturb me, bastard.”
“Good grief… I guess I can’t stop you, Harold-kun. You know I can’t help but be amazed at how dazzling your youth is, but I also can’t help but be worried about you as my future son.”
What sly and embarrassing things is this old man saying?! Any bitter impressions I had left of him vanished the moment he referred to me as his ‘son’.
“…are you insane? Don’t you remember that I’m going to annul my engagement with Erika?”
“That kind of matter is only possible if both parties agree, don’t you think? Although if that is the final decision the two of you come too, I will respectfully accept your choice.”
That’s surprising, I thought that he would eagerly annul it for Erika’s sake, but apparently not.
Well, if he’s going to respect Erika’s intentions, then the engagement will naturally revoke itself in time, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
“Anyways, isn’t it about time you started calling Erika by her name? Since the day you met, whenever you called her by name you would always used the ‘-san’ suffix.”
(No, no, I don’t really need to… do I?)
The thing is, despite what he said, I can’t recall a time I ever called Erika directly by her name at all. I’d always refer to her as ‘bastard’ or ‘you1’, and even when I was referring to her when she wasn’t in the vicinity, I’d always use ‘that person2’. Although I don’t refer to others by name often, I don’t think I’ve ever referred to Erika by name at all.
Well, I guess that’s what happens when you try to avoid someone.
It’s been three years since we’ve first met, and I haven’t even called her by name once. It’d be too awkward to start doing now.
Even though my mouth had said that, maybe it really would be better to start calling her by name.
Well, whether this idea will actually be put into practice is another story.
Translated by KuroInfinity.
1 – (アイツ or “Aitsu”)
2 – (コイツ or “Koitsu”)