Chapter 22

"The Bloodless Siege Plan"

…A little bit before the Dancing Princess danced in the Guaral City Hall.

Abel: "...A bloodless siege, huh?"

Having entered the assembly hall, Natsuki Subaru had spoken strongly in front of everyone. Abel, who had the demon mask he was wearing forcibly removed, looked up at Subaru, repeated in a frozen voice the pipe dream that had shaken his eardrums. There was a cynical smile... no, there was no sound of mockery in it. What was there is pure skepticism, a kind of a breath of air that says that the person before them doesn't know what they are talking about. Subaru knew what he meant

Subaru: "You may have a plan that results in the least amount of sacrifices, but you don't have a plan with zero sacrifices in the first place."

Abel: "Of course. Whether you admit it or not, what we're doing now is war. No matter what, death is inevitable. All you can think about is avoiding the waste of human resources."

Subaru: "Well, I don't like the idea of human resources in the first place."

Subaru clicked his tongue as he looked down at Abel, who was sitting on the ground directly in front of him. Subaru believed that the term human resources was an abhorrent combination of the words human and resources, words that should not be combined. It was a view one step away from human, with this view people could only be seen as numbers. Or maybe it was a balancing act that a ruler like Abel must have….

Subaru: "That's said, I don't agree with this. Flop-san, you don't agree either, right?"

Abel: "...So what you're going to propose instead is a bloodless siege? That's quite a statement. Weren't you so exhausted just a while ago."

Subaru: "I won't deny that I exposed myself as a ragged and shameful disgrace. In fact, since being blasted away to this country, too many disasters have been falling on me non-stop.”

Mocking himself at Abel's point, Subaru stared at his palm. The fact that his right hand was so clean and new could be said to be one of the non-stop disasters. The replacement of his right hand was one of his few lucky breaks. The replacement of his right hand, and the waking up of Rem. Also, meeting Flop and Medium could also be counted as unquestionable blessings.

Other than that, there were just two sides of the same coin: luck and disaster. Abel in front of him, the People of Shudrak, the Imperial soldiers including Todd...

Subaru: "It's a lot of work, and it's wearing my soul out. But..."

Abel: “..."

Subaru: "...The harder things get, the more I get fired up."

Subaru said clearly, his palm clenched in his gaze. It was just then that Rem arrived at the entrance of the meeting hall, behind Subaru. She appeared with her cane, and with Utakata and Louis by her side. She must have come to see him off. Her selfish plea had set Natsuki Subaru's soul on fire.

Subaru: "You heard about a secret passage from Flop-san, and your strategy to enter the city ...

it is a surprise attack? That's definitely not going to work."

Abel: "Hmm, why not? It's a fortified city, protected by walls. Is there any other way to get past it?"

Subaru: "If there's a wall, it's anyone's idea to find a secret passage. That's because the secret passage itself may be cleverly hidden. ..."

If there was a secret passage built to get in and out of the castle city, it would naturally be used to allow people of uncertain identity and goods of questionable origin to pass through. Of course, it would have to be hidden from the guards to avoid detection. However, this only helps to get past the guards during peacetime. More than that, Subaru didn’t think it would be possible to sneak through when the enemy was under a wartime alert. Above all...

Subaru: "The guy who cornered us in the city is the kind of guy who wouldn’t miss a thing like that."

He's quick-witted, shrewd, and doesn't hesitate in his decisions. Now that Todd was aware that Subaru and the others were still alive, any kind of secret passage would be the most alarming opening. The enemy would not be so kind as to leave it as it was. It could be blocked as a matter of course, or it could be turned into a trap by not blocking it.

Subaru: "That's why a surprise attack is out of the question. As soon as you slip out of the secret passage, you might get your head chopped off by a guy wielding an axe waiting for you on the other side."

Flop: "Why do you keep saying that to my face, Husband-kun! That is a scary thought!"

Subaru was trying to make everyone aware of the danger, but he couldn’t help but stare at Flop's face. Subaru remembered how many times Flop had fallen in front of the deadly blade, or rather, the deadly axe, in front of Subaru. Subaru didn't want to see that again, not even if it killed him, he could not let it happen again.

Abel: "... I agree with you that if it's just a surprise attack, they'll be wary.”

Subaru: "What?"

Subaru rolled his eyes at the unexpected acknowledgement. Because the one who agreed with Subaru's opinion was none other than Abel himself. Abel raised his eyebrows at Subaru's surprise and continued...

Abel: "What, are you surprised that I agreed?"

Subaru: "Yeah, that's right... Despite you putting on the facade that you're right about everything in this world, you were quick to admit that you were wrong..."

Abel: "Nonsense, when did I ever admit that I was wrong? I'm just agreeing with the idea that using just a secret passage to launch a surprise attack will not be a successful strategy."

Subaru: "...? Then how the hell were you planning on using the secret passage?"

Abel's denial had a different sound than a sore loser who had been told the right way to think. To Subaru's questioning of the reasoning behind it, Abel closed one eye and said...

Abel: "There's no reason why it has to be people who come and go. If it's just to paralyze the functionality of the soldiers holed up in the city, it's enough to smuggle something in."

Subaru: "Something..."

Abel: "...Poison."

Subaru: "Even more reason why we can let this opportunity pass us by!"

Abel's matter-of-fact delivery gave the impression of a steadfast execution, and Subaru couldn't help but loudly denounce the plan. The use of poison would be outrageous. ...In fact, it is because Subaru has experienced the power of the poison that the People of Shudrak used that he opposed that it should ever be used. The suffering of that hell would be even more miserable than dying in battle.

Subaru: "In the first place, weren't we talking about minimizing or reducing the potential damage in order to convince Flop-san? What part of that plan uses poison...?"

Abel: "What are you talking about? Even if we use a secret passage to surprise our enemy, there is a possibility that our forces will be sacrificed in the event of an attack. With the use of poison, there is no such thing."

Subaru: "..."

Abel: "Reduce the losses of the forces we have at hand. This is what I mean by minimizing the damage."

Subaru choked up in front of Abel, who had just said that. Once again, Subaru was reminded of the vast difference between his and Abel's perspectivess, of how much broader the perspectives of those in power and others differed. The gap between them was more than Subaru could even comprehend. In other words, Abel did not take into account any collateral damage to the people of Guaral… Even if he didn't cause any damage to the residents, he did not consider any danger to the Imperial soldiers. This was obvious from the moment he burned down the Imperial camp that was targeting him.

Subaru: "Still, I wasn't thinking straight. You are..."

Abel: "Yes, your thinking is naive. Therefore, there is no place for you here..."

Staring at each other, Subaru and Abel's gazes sparked off. Their opinions clashed and the discussion was about to break down, but...

Flop: "...Well, well, well, wait a minute, you two! There's no need to stare at each other and argue like that!

It was Flop who stepped in between the two, forcing them to separate. He looked alternately at Subaru and Abel, who were staring at each other, and with a blurred smile said, "Let's talk this over calmly!" He clapped his hands in front of his chest.

Flop: "Actually, to be frank, my meeting with the village chief was going nowhere, you know! And then Husband-kun came back with great enthusiasm. I'd really like to hear what he has to say about a bloodless siege! If it's true, it would be a dream come true!"

Subaru: "Flop-san..."

At Flop's expectation of a smiling face, Subaru repressed the anger he had just felt. Apparently, it was the same for Abel, who was also distracted by Flop's behaviour. Abel gave a small snort and said...

Abel: "Hmm... All right, let's hear it. If you can successfully trick this merchant with your idea and get him to tell you where the secret passage is, then you're all set."

Flop: "Ehhh? Husband-kun! You can't possibly be ..."

Subaru: "No, no, no! We didn't coordinate this beforehand! Hey, just because you don't believe your plan is going to work, don't try to drag me along with you!"

Abel was not offended by Flop's unwanted comment. Hardened, Subaru sneered at him, "You don't need that demon mask ..."

???: "So..."

And then, a faint voice slipped into the gap created by the situation. It was Rem's voice, standing at the entrance of the meeting hall, staring at Subaru's back. Rem, unperturbed by the atmosphere of the place, continued to stare only at Subaru.

Rem: "So, what would you do? Would you be able to find another way, a way that is not a faint dream, a way that is not a bloody reality?"

Subaru: "....Every time you say something, you say it in a way that makes my heart sing.”

Rem: "..."

He smiled at Rem's gaze as he pursed his lips together, and regained his resolve. Then he looked around at the faces of the people in the meeting hall again. Abel, Flop, Mizelda, and the rest of the Shudrak were all looking at him.

Subaru: "My idea doesn't require any secret passages or bloodshed. However, Flop-san is going to have to help us."

Flop: "There's no need for a secret passage, but you need my help ...? But Husband-kun, you know I'm just a peddler with no power and a bit of a mouth, don't you?"

Subaru: "Oh, of course. But Flop-san is not only a merchant, but he is also blessed with a natural talent... a nice face."

Flop: "...Huh? My face?"

Flop rolls his eyes and puts his hands on his face when he is told that. The people in the meeting hall also heard this and tilted their heads, "His face?” They tilted their heads.

Mizelda: "Yes, indeed."

Talitha: "...! Sister, did you notice something?"

Mizelda: "No, I was just agreeing with Subaru that Flop has a nice face."

Talitha: "Sister..."

Mizelda crossed her arms and nodded, while Talitha looked reluctant and sagged her head. However, more or less everyone couldn't grasp the intent of Subaru's statement, and an air of doubt spread through the air. It was the same for Flop and even Abel.

But Mizelda's interest in the beauty and ugliness of others was not out of line. It was her weakness to beauty that gave Subaru a great hint of what to do in this situation. It was Mizelda's shallow attraction that gave us the idea for this bloodless siege.

Subaru: "Proof is better than an argument. ...Flop-san, just come along for the ride"

Flop: "Come along? That's fine, but what the hell are we doing....?"

To Flop's unanswered question, Subaru forcefully said, "Just go”. Then he turned his gaze to Mizelda.

Subaru: "You dye your hair and draw patterns on your body, so you wear makeup, right? Why don't you lend me some of those items?"


Everyone in the room: "..."

A few moments later, they returned to the meeting hall, and the people who were shown the results were speechless. However, Subaru knew that it was not a silence of bewilderment, dismay, or any other negative emotion, but more of a genuine surprise, admiration, or excitement. He could say with all of his heart that it was a work of art deserving of such an impact.

Subaru: "If the material is good enough, I can do something like this."

Everyone else in the room: "..."

As usual, there was no response to Subaru who rubbed the bridge of his nose and said that. With everyone still at a loss for words and struggling to come back, a worried voice said, "Hey, Husband-kun." It came from the only person other than Subaru who was not involved in the shock.

Flop: "I'm not sure I'm seeing any results, but what do you think is going on? It's not looking so good..."

Subaru: "Hey, don't worry about it, Flop… no, don't worry about it, Flora."

Flop: "Flora!?"

Flop's eyes widened in surprise- no, Flora’s. However, Subaru nodded confidently and stroked his cheek, saying that the expression of surprise on his face was also a pretty one. Then, once again, he grabbed Flora's thin shoulders and made her face forward.

His long golden hair was softly tousled, and he had applied eyeshadow to make her eyes more defined than usual. His eyelashes were adjusted to make them look longer, and he changed her outfit by adding a hint of red to his cheeks and red to his lips to accentuate his naturally pale skin. With his slender body, he could be made to look like a "she" with just a little ingenuity.

In other words...

Subaru: "This is the key to a bloodless siege, the best I can do!"

Raising his fist strongly, Subaru presented Flop-Flora to the people in the assembly hall.

Although it took only a short time, he was proud of the gem of his work that made the most of the potential of the items he had. Surprisingly, this is not the prettiest Flora, as it was created with little preparation. Once a person had the necessary tools and learned a few tricks, their attraction would rise all the way up, not by linearly, but exponentially.

Subaru: "Beauty can be created."

Rem: "Are you kidding me?"

Subaru: "Huh!?"

A cold voice pierced through Subaru, who had shown the results of his painstaking efforts.

The voice came from Rem, who had cold eyes. The expectant look that she had just given him was gone, and she was now looking at him as if she hadn't seen him since she woke up. Gasping at the sharpness of his gaze, Subaru said "Wait!" and stuck out his hand.

Subaru: "No, I'm not kidding! I'm not kidding at all, so don't give me that look!"

Rem: "Isn’t this a joke? Please don't joke around. I was a fool to try to believe in you… even a little."

Subaru: "You're jumping to conclusions! The way you’re looking at it, you're just like Ram now!"

Rem: "Huh?"

It may not be something that the current Rem would have been familiar with, but the speed at which she gave up on him was similar to that of Ram. He was relieved that they were sisters after all, but for now, his priority was to regain Rem's lost trust. In fact, Subaru was not joking around. He was trying and thinking about everything seriously. The reason he went to the trouble of having Flop disguised as a woman named Flora like this was because...

Abel: "Is this for Zikr Osman?"

And so it was Abel, with his hand on his chin, who first arrived at the answer. Unlike those around him, who could not hide their surprise at the transformation from Flop to Flora, Abel remained silent, probably to gauge Subaru's true intentions. And in fact, he was able to see right through what Subaru was aiming for.

...The target was Zikr Osman. He is a Second Class General of the Empire, and the commander of the Imperial Guard stationed in the fortified city of Guaral. He is a strong man who prefers to use solid and secure tactics, and...

Subaru: "I heard he's called the Womanizer. He seemed to be famous among the Imperial Guard."

Abel: "It's no secret that's what they call him."

Subaru: "Womanizer... doesn't give me a very favorable impression of him."

Hearing the conversation between Subaru and Abel, Rem made a reluctant face. Subaru agreed with that impression. When one hears that a military officer is a womanizer, one would expect them to have a nasty and vulgar personality. But, there was an opening.

Subaru: "In the camp of the Imperial Guard, there was even talk of offering a captured woman to General Zikr. In other words, if she appears harmless, there's a good chance we can get to him."

He didn’t like to remember this, but at the camp, Jamal told Subaru that he was going to offer Rem to Zikr. Rem was a beautiful girl, which meant that Zikr’s sense of beauty was normal.l

Subaru: "Then with the power of Flora, it should be possible."

Flop: "What, Husband-kun? You've been calling me Flora with hot anticipation for a while now. I don't know what's going on and I'm scared!"

Subaru: "Don't worry, Flora. Of course, I'm not going to let you do this alone. I'm going to fight the same way."

Mizelda: "That's absurd at any rate, Subaru!"

Mizelda stood up at Subaru's comment, which appeased the confused Flora. She clouded her strong-eyed expression, grabbed Subaru by the shoulders, and shook her head. Then, lowering her voice as if to convey a hard-to-reach fact, she said...

Mizelda: "There's a certain charm in your eyes as well. But with the characteristics that you were born with it is a bit..."

Subaru: "Oh, come on, Mizelda. You didn’t listen to me, did you?"

Mizelda: "What?"

Subaru: "...Beauty can be made."

Putting his hand on top of Mizelda's hand that grabbed his shoulder, Subaru forcefully asserted.

At this, Mizelda's eyes widened and she gasped. Then she looked at Flop, squinting as if the makeup on his face was dazzling.

Mizelda: "You've got me beat. …Show me what you can do.."

Subaru: "Yeah, you'll see."

Kuna: "I don't know what you all are talking about."

Mizelda trusted him, and Subaru accepted said trust. Kuna looked at the two of them in a dumbfounded manner, couldn’t help but comment. Anyway, the question now was...

Abel: "If we're going to use Zikr Osman's preferences, what are we going to do? He's a wolf, too. He is not going to bite at bait like a dog just because we dangled something pretty in front of his face."

Subaru: "Well, that wouldn't be much of a story if you hung it aimlessly. So we need to devise a way to get him to bite. For example, lure him to a party."

Abel: "A party. But, it's not easy to pull off. Of course, there's no reason for him to come out from within the walls until there are reinforcements from the Imperial Capital. He's not going to accept a questionable invitation."

Subaru: "That's right. I’m still in the process of narrowing down our options…"

Rem: "Well, wait a minute!"

And so, while Subaru and Abel are exchanging ideas, Rem raises her voice. She looked alternately at Subaru and Abel, with surprise taut on her face.

Rem: "I mean, are you serious? I can't believe you're going to make this whole conversation revolve around a prank on Flop-san."

Flop: "Eh, a prank on me? What's really going on with me? Your wife says I look like a joke has been played on me… Niece-kun, what’s going on?"

Louis: "Ahh-? Unh! Uhh!"

Besides the tense Rem, Flora, who has not yet been able to look at his own face in the mirror, asks Louis for help. But Louis panicked at the sight of Flora, whom she had never met before, and hid behind Rem. In other words, in Louis' point of view, Flora and Flop are two different people.

Abel: "Whether that girl's reaction is appropriate as a touchstone or not, I don't see this as a prank. We’ve finally come up with an idea that's worth discussing."

Subaru: "Then you recognize it, too. The beauty of Flora."

Abel: “.... I admit, it was your idea and that I hadn’t considered it. It’s slightly off the mark, you know."

At Abel's stubborn reply, Subaru bent his lips to express his dissatisfaction. Abel, however, did not respond to this, but put his hand over his mouth and pondered for a while. Then he turned his piercing gaze toward Subaru,

Abel: "Natsuki Subaru, I'd like to ask you something… is it only the merchant who can be make use of your makeup?"

So he asked.

Subaru: "...?"

For a moment, he was taken aback by Abel's question. However, Subaru chewed the question's intent in his mind and shook his head.

Subaru: "I told you. If we were to carry out the mission, I'd be in the same boat!"

Abel: "That’s not true. Who would expect anything like that from you? Look at your own face in the mirror before you talk about it."

Subaru: "The way you say that!"

Abel wrinkles his brow and spits it out with heartfelt contempt. Leaving Subaru hurt by that comment, he put his hand on his chest,

Abel: "It's too much for the merchant to handle alone. ...If so, I'll follow."

Mizelda: "Oh, Abel as well!?"

The air in the meeting hall was buzzing with excitement, especially when Mizelda heard his imposing self-recommendation. Of course, Subaru was also surprised by Abel's statement. He had never dreamed that the guy would come out with that on his own.

Subaru: "...Honestly, I thought the main focus would be on how to talk you into it."

Abel: "In normal times, it would be a fool's errand not even worth considering. But as it stands, we don't have many cards in hand and our options are limited. If it's effective, it's an inevitable situation that we'll have to stoop to."

Subaru: "Tch, that's not a nice thing to say. This is why charismatic people are…"

Even though he was forced to leave his seat, he never wavered from being the emperor. That's what Abel believed in, and it's a principle he would never bend. Having been shown a glimpse of this, Subaru could not help but be honestly impressed. If he were an example of a bad authority figure, he would be too busy taking care of himself to do anything wrong. However, since his first encounter with Subaru in the forest, Abel has been winning big gambles with his own ransom as chips, including the Lifeblood Ritual. This time was no different, and he had no intention of backing down.

Abel: "An ingenious strategy is only effective if it is played from outside the opponent's expectations. Take advantage of the general's preferences and hide behind his inevitable carelessness. It's worth considering."

Subaru: "Yeah, it's written in a book called Kojiki. It says that cross-dressing is the best way to get at an enemy general's head."

TL Note: Kojiki refers to an ear chronicle of early Japan.

Rem: "You can't believe the contents of such a dubious book..."

It's a citation of a prestigious ancient book, but even if he was to preach in defense of the Kojiki's credibility to this current Rem, it would fall on deaf ears. Currently, he can't think of any way to rapidly regain her lost trust. However, he was concerned about being dismissed out of hand, so Abel's reaction was both surprising and gratifying.

Subaru: "When you said poison, I suspected you were the type who wanted to kill everyone who crossed you…"

Abel: "If necessary, I will do so. But emotions are a long way from being necessary for making decisions. In the first place, it's not just the city of Guaral that we need to get our hands on."

Subaru: "..."

Abel: "If we can get the general, Zikr Osman, in check, we will have a good chance of getting what we want unscathed. If we can also reduce the risks of a breach from within, we're all set."

Subaru: "......I see. As expected, the words of a person who has lost his position after being defeated from within have a lot of weight."

At a glance, the remark may have been an attempt of provocation to keep in check, but Abel's expression did not waver a bit. Perhaps because this amount of sarcasm or disrespect is nothing worth reproaching. …Or perhaps, as he himself said, he is not so stubborn as to not admit his own blunder. At any rate...,

Subaru: "If you're willing to cooperate, so much the better. For a name… Abel, Vollachia… Bianca?"

Abel: "I don't care about pseudonyms, you can call me whatever you want. More importantly, me, you, and the merchant are not enough to take care of everything. Yes, that’s right..."

Crossing his arms, Abel looked around at the faces in the assembly hall. Then he said “Hmm” and closed one eye.

Abel: "It seems that Kuna and Talitha can be used."

Kuna and Talitha: "What?"

Abel: "It's a natural precaution. Even if we can successfully draw out Zikr Osman, we'll still need enough people to hold him down. However, we want to avoid anything that can be instantly identified as from the People of Shudrak.

With that said, Subaru could understand Abel's thoughts as he squared his chin.

Being suddenly nominated, Talitha and Kuna were at a loss. Even among the People of Shudrak, these two are the types that relatively don’t draw too much attention.

Mizelda, who was a warrior, and Holly, who gives off a peculiar impression at first glance, are not suitable for this time when they want to hide the identity of the People of Shudrak. What is required is a femininity that does not make the others people wary…

Subaru: "There is a limit to what I can cover up with makeup and ornaments???"

Rem: "...I’m in."

Subaru: "Rem?"

Then, it was Rem who quickly raised her hand. Although Rem had not hidden her distrust of Subaru since the incident with Flora, her expression became more serious, as if she was thinking about the fact that they were seriously considering the idea. And, with determination and resolve lighting up her pale blue eyes,

Rem: "Please let me come with you, too. I'm sure I can be of use."

Subaru: "Rem… I'm sorry, but I can't do that."

Rem: "...Huh! You're also trying to keep me out of danger unnecessarily…"

Almost frustrated in her resolve, Rem glared hard at Subaru. Certainly, Subaru had a sense of overprotection that Rem would find irritating. It was no lie that he wanted her to stay away from danger and to be at peace in a cradle. However, that wasn't the only reason he stopped her from joining this mission.

Subaru: "I'm worried about you, that’s true. But I'm rejecting your participation purely because it will reduce the success rate of the mission... Your face was seen by every Imperial soldier in the city."

Rem: "...Ah."

Subaru: "It's the same when we were caught in the camp, but also when we were fleeing the city. For the same reason, I can't borrow Medium-san's help. we've been drawing too much attention."

After being so conspicuous, the guards at the checkpoint would not forget the faces of Rem, Medium, and Louis. The key to this operation was how to get behind their opponent’s thinking. They can't take Rem with them as it would jeopardize the very foundation of their plan.

Rem: "But… if it's on the condition that they’ve seen my face, then it's the same for you!"

Subaru: "Yeah, but it's not. Because the next person to go through the main gate of Guaral won’t be me, but Natsumi Schwartz."

Rem: "Huh?"

The anger in Rem's eyes lit up with anger as he persisted, as if she thought she was being deceived again. But no matter how much he tried to explain this to her, she just wouldn't understand. Just as Flop was transformed into Flora, Natsuki Subaru would be transformed into Natsumi Schwartz. ...There was no other way but to show evidence rather than to explain the theory behind it.

Subaru: "Anyway, I've already explained why I can't take Rem with me. However, both Talitha-san and Kuna will have to be convinced before we can move ahead with this since it will be a dangerous mission…"

Mizelda: "No, it’s interesting. I'll allow it. You’ve got two of them."

Mizelda interrupted Subaru who was about to confirm Talitha and the others' intentions. When he turned around in surprise, Mizelda was eyeing Subaru with a curious glint in her eyes. The eyes of a hunter, as if she were about to peel back his skin and peek beneath it. For a moment, Subaru felt horrified, even scared.

Subaru: "Mizelda...san?"

Mizelda: "Subaru, you and Abel have already proven your valor. Us Shudrak are proud of your honorable bravery. But that doesn't mean we should dismiss wisdom as unworthy of honor. The best warriors are those who excel in both military prowess and intelligence… Let me prove it to you."

Approving of the plan, Mizelda’s cheeks loosened. With preconceived notions, he thought that Mizerda and the rest of the People of Shudrak would not like such a strategy. That's why he wanted to ask Talitha and the others if they wanted to participate. But when Mizelda replied, Talitha and Kuna naturally nodded in agreement.

Kuna: "Since the Chief says so, there's nothing much for me to say."

Talitha: "I’ll follow my sister’s wishes. I'm also interested in… makeup."

Kuna agreed with a bored attitude, folding her hands behind her head. Talitha agreed along with her, but it was Flora she was glancing at. Apparently, she was interested in Subaru's makeup skills. He thought such a scene was somewhat lacking in tension for a preparatory stage of a deadly mission.

Abel: "If you have no objections, we'll get started on the preparations as soon as possible. The cowards of the walled city must be settled before the Imperial Capital slaps them on the back."

Subaru: "...Oh, okay. If everyone is okay with that, Rem, can you handle that?"

Rem: "... You're not going to listen to me anyway."

Laden with a sense of shame, Rem glared at the motionless Subaru. He was sorry for her determination, but weighing her safety against the success or failure of his plan, he didn't have the option of letting her accompany him. Therefore, Subaru lowered his eyebrows, prepared to face Rem's wrath with indifference. However...

Rem: "But, I’m the one who asked you to do something about it."

Subaru: "Rem?"

Rem: "I can't possibly interfere with this, can I? Please… succeed."

The feeling of regret has not changed, and Rem hadn’t forgiven Subaru. However, he could tell that she respected the decision, as she looked away. That alone was enough to clear the dark clouds in Subaru's mind.

Subaru: "It's limited to Rem, however cheap… no, not really?"

Whenever Rem showed even the slightest favoritism, the current Subaru felt so happy that he could almost fly. But if Emilia smiled at him, that was enough to make him feel heavenly, and if Beatrice explained something with a smug look on her face, it would warm his heart immensely.

Wait, he was even easier to deal with than he thought, Subaru had now just realized that.

Rem: "What's the matter, you're scared now?"

Subaru: "Right now I was of something else… I’m just starting to get fired up."

Abel: "Hoh. Then, work hard and show me."

Abel snorts at Subaru, who replies, emboldened by Rem's words. Needless to say, he intended to do so. ...If they succeeded with this bloodless siege, they may be able to open a way to return to the Kingdom of Lugunica. Even if he didn’t, he couldn’t let them spread poison in a place where Subaru could see them.

Medium: "...Heeey, An-chan! I think it's time to give him a rest, so I'd like to leave him somewhere."

And so, as the enthusiasm rose in the meeting hall, Medium peeked out from behind the curtain.

Compared to the Shudraks, who have a sturdy physique, Medium stood out a good head taller than most present. And with this prominent height, she scanned around the assembly hall with her round eyes.

Medium: "Hey, where's An-chan?"

Flop: "Oh, little sister! How heartless of you to lose sight of your brother. I'm right here!"

Medium: "...?"

When Medium tilted her head, Flora stood up and asserted her presence. At Flora's words, Medium raised an eyebrow and pondered. Then, she shut down for a moment, and eventually exclaimed as if she has realized something.

Medium: "An-chan, you're actually my sister!?"

Flop: "Husband-kun! What is going on with this!? I'm scared!"

If he could fool his blood sister's eyes as well, it was going to be pretty good practice for the operation.