Chapter 6

"Far South"

???: [Hey, when you were a peddler, what was the worst experience that you had?]

Otto: [What's that? You're asking me a nasty question again…]

Otto, who was staring at the documents in his room, frowned at Subaru's question. His brow had already been wrinkled in concentration, but Subaru’s question made his wrinkles even deeper and more numerous.

Subaru: [Well, I was talking to Garfiel about traveling alone. It's not exactly the same thing, but peddling is a bit like traveling alone, isn't it?]

Otto: [You could say that, but in my case, I have Frufoo. Thanks to my Divine Protection, I have no shortage of things to talk to, so I don't really feel like I'm ever traveling alone.]

As he said this, Otto rubbed his eyes and placed the stack of papers on the desk. He then looked at his visitors, Subaru and Garfiel. They were facing each other on the reception couch in front of the desk, and had spread out a Shatranj board between them. Subaru had the upper hand at the moment, but it was a back-and-forth battle.

TL Note: Shatranj is an old form of chess originating in Persia

Otto: [Garfiel, you're two steps ahead of the merchant…]

Subaru: [Aah! Otto, you bastard!]

Garfiel: [Hmm? Oh! Y’mean that! Ya sav’d my life, Otto-nii!]

Subaru and Garfiel each responded to Otto, who told them the best move with only a quick glance.. As Subaru found himself in a difficult situation, Otto muttered quietly.

Otto: [Even so, are you interested in traveling alone, Garfiel?]

Garfiel: [My amazin’ self doesn’t know ‘f I'm interest’d 'r not, but I am curious. It's just that I’ve been coop’d up ‘n ‘Sanctuary’ for so long. My amazin self’s never travel’d before.]

Otto: [Oh, I see. It’s just a matter of interest. Well, Garfiel seems to meet the standard of having the abilities of self-reliance and self-preservation. Natsuki-san would never make it.]

Subaru: [Hey, hey, don't underestimate me too much. My teacher has been praising my progress lately, don't you know?]

TL Note: Probably referring to Clind.

Otto: [I guess he's decided on a policy of praise and development. It's like he couldn't decide whether to praise or scold you.]

Otto's comments were lenient towards Garfiel and harsh towards Subaru. In fact, it's the right response to Garfiel, who can be strict with himself, and Subaru, who can easily get carried away. Anyway...

Garfiel: [So, what was the worst part ‘bout bein’ a peddler?]

Otto: [Are you still going on about that?]

Garfiel: [My amazin’ self doesn’t know ‘f yer curious, Capt’n, but I’m interest’d ‘n this Otto-nii. I thought ‘f Otto-nii was ‘n trouble, he’d be tangl’d up with a dragon or somethin’.]

Otto: [Garfiel is Garfiel, who do you think I am?]

Only in an emergency of that magnitude could Otto be put into a corner. In that sense, Garfiel's trust in Otto is a bit excessive, but in terms of his ability to respond in a crisis, Subaru assessed Otto with similar praise. If someone were to ask everyone in the camp who the most dangerous person is, Otto's name would probably come up unanimously.

Subaru: [Well, I can't imagine too many situations like that…]

Otto: [I don't know what you're babbling about… I've had a few close calls in my life, but being a prisoner of a dangerous group was probably the worst.]

Subaru: [Dangerous people? Did you get attacked by a group of bandits?]

Otto: [Yes. Well, it's similar. I was dragged away from Frufoo and the dragon carriage, and with no weapons or tools, I was wrapped up in a bamboo mat. I was prepared to die.]

Hearing Otto's distant muttering, Subaru and Garfiel looked at each other. Otto must have been terrified. His words carried more weight than they deserved.

Garfiel: [We're doomed, aren't we? It's like “being isolated in the Deku Highlands”]

Otto: [It was, actually. If it hadn't been for the kindness of some people who happened to pass by, I wouldn't be alive. I'll never forget it.]

Subaru: [I see. People have history, I guess.]

Crossing his arms and nodding his head, Subaru thought about Otto's predicament. Being tied up by a bandit, having your tools taken away, and having your right to live or die surrendered to the other party is a situation that Subaru has rarely found himself in, but nonetheless, it's one that he is familiar with.

Subaru: [However, thanks to their help, Otto is what he is today. We should be grateful to the people who passed by at that time.]

Otto: [...That's right.]

Subaru: [...? What's with that warm reply, it's weird.]

Otto's reaction was completely unexpected, and it caused Subaru to frown. Even with such an answer from Subaru, Otto gives off the presence of a mysterious Buddhist monk. As Subaru felt a chill run down his spine, Garfiel clenched his fists and said [But].

Garfiel: [My amazin’ self understands that ya've been through a lot, Otto-nii. Well, don't worry. From now on, my amazin’ self won't let anythin’ like that happen to ya.]

Otto: [Is that so? Well, Garfiel is really dependable. Compared to that, Natsuki-san is...]

Subaru: [Don't compare me and Garfiel in terms of fighting strength! It makes me feel as if all my efforts are going down the drain!]

With empty hands, Subaru swung his arms, as if he was wielding an invisible whip. Garfiel gestured that he ate through it with his fangs, which made Subaru feel helpless... Otto watched the two of them; the snarling Subaru that let out a [Gnnn!], and the triumphant Garfiel. He exhaled a shaky breath with a [Ha].

Otto: [Garfiel, advance the merchant diagonally to the right. Let's show him what a merchant can do.]

Subaru: [Ah! Oh, my God, Otto, you son of a bitch!]

Garfiel: [Hmm? Oh! He's so smart! Capt’n, you're weak!]

Subaru: [You don’t get to tell me that!]

Subaru howled, as across the Shatranj board, all his troops were trapped in a corner. A major defeat was inevitable before the combined forces of Garfiel and Otto- it was the howling of a defeated dog.

△ ▼ △ ▼ △ ▼ △

…Prisoner of war.

Upon hearing this, Subaru's mind drifted to four distinct points. His weapons and tools were taken away, his freedom was taken away, and he was held captive by an unknown person. As Otto had said, it was a natural situation to be prepared for death.

Subaru: [....]

Subaru is trapped in a place that looks like an encampment built for a battle, as seen in Taiga dramas. You can see a number of tents, along with rows of gear and weapons waiting to be equipped. The men coming and going had a somber air about them, they were a mixed army of humans and demi-humans. Subaru was seated on the hard ground, in a place with a simple curtain to block the wind. His hands were tied behind his back and his legs were shackled, depriving him of his freedom. However, what's important to Subaru is more than that...

Subaru: [Rem... with me, there was supposed to be another girl with me. What happened to them?]

???: [Oh, when you’re told you’re a prisoner of war, the first thing that comes to mind are those girls? Are you sure they are the ones that are most important to you right now?]

At Subaru's quiet question, the man crouched in front of him. This young man seemed to be the person who stopped that violent man who shoved his shoe into Subaru’s mouth. The man then closed one eye. He was a young man with bright orange hair, a little older than Subaru. He had a friendly smile on his face, but it didn't ease the tension of the situation. He's not wearing a full set of armor, but rather he's wearing some light armor to go with his gear, so he must be one of the warriors in this camp. He is not a knight, but a warrior.

Subaru: [....]

Having spent more than a year in a different world, Subaru had several opportunities to compare knights and warriors. Of course, there are differences in position and authority, but there is a visible difference between a knight and a warrior, just not a practical one. Knights are glamorous and warriors are rugged ... not in a bad way. It is a key difference, however.

A knight must not only have skill, but must also be able to win the hearts of people. In this respect, a knight must have integrity in their appearance. Reinhard and Julius are good examples of this. On the other hand, a warrior needs only the strength to fight.

This is why the men gathered in this camp are warriors, and the young man in front of Subaru is no exception.

Subaru: [...I'll ask you one more time. What about the girls who were with me?]

???: [You're stubborn. I don't hate you though. They’re safe, they’re safe. They are both fine. A little too energetic.]

Subaru: [...Ah, really!?]

The young man smiled bitterly as Subaru barked back at his answer. When Subaru leaned forward to get the answer he wanted to hear, the young man said, [Oops.] and pressed his hand on Subaru’s forehead to prevent Subaru from leaning forward any further.

???: [Your hands and feet are bound. Don't get too carried away or you'll fall over and bite your tongue. Oh, don't glare at me like that. They're both safe, I'm not lying.]

Subaru: [Don't give me a half-assed answer about either of them. As long as the blue-haired girl is safe, that's all that matters.]

???: [That's a pretty heartless answer, isn't it?]

It was an honest answer, but there was no point in telling the young man that. Anyway, once Subaru believed the young man's words, the next question was the location of Subaru and the others. The young man had said earlier that he had taken Subaru prisoner.

Subaru: [It's hard for me to accept that I'm a prisoner of war, but if I am… why am I being separated from Rem and the other girl?]

???: [If you want to see them, I'll let you see them later. As long as you're willing to answer our questions honestly. Those girls are in a cage right now.]

Subaru: [A cage! Why would you do that!?]

Being told that they were imprisoned in a cage, the harsh conditions the girls were in immediately flashed through Subaru's mind. However, as he was about to ask for more details, a sharp pain ran through his left hand, where three of his fingers were still broken.

Subaru: [Gagh…. !]

Subaru gritted his teeth as pain ran throughout him, and behind him, a man with an eye patch over one eye stepped on the injured hand with his shoe. The man roughly stomped on Subaru's broken fingers.

Eye Patch Man: [If you've been listening, you're a man who doesn't have enough awareness to be a prisoner, you know. All you’ve to do is answer the question, don't you? Yeah?]

???: [Jamal, stop! He’s gonna faint again!]

Jamal: [It pisses me off that he doesn't know his place. If he's okay from the neck up, he can talk. He has three broken fingers anyway, he can get two more...]

???: [...Jamal.]

Jamal, the man who violently stomped on Subaru’s hand, threatened him with an evil smile. Suddenly, the young man called out Jamal’s name in a quiet tone. Hearing this, Jamal choked up and reluctantly stepped back.

Jamal: [Okay.]

Subaru: [Gah...]

Jamal: [Damn. You can thank Todd for that. You make me sick.]

Jamal releases Subaru’s broken fingers, and spits on him. Right after, Jamal turned away and irritably walked away. As the sound of footsteps faded, Todd scratched his head.

Todd: [Good grief. Jamal's got a temper, you know. It was Jamal's unit that found you guys by the waterfront...]

Subaru: [His unit... But?]

Todd: [I heard that one of your companions put up quite the fight. Half the men in Jamal’s unit were decimated, and the captain's face was ruined.

Subaru: [Ah...]

Subaru felt like clutching his head as he realized what had happened. It must have been after Subaru had crawled out of the river and lost consciousness. Rem was the first to wake up, and then she beat Jamal and his comrades to a pulp when they arrived. That must be why Jamal is in a bad mood. At first glance, Rem is a pretty girl who can't move her legs, so Jamal and his comrades can't be blamed for allowing her to attack first. but...

Subaru: [I hate that guy....]

Todd: [Haha, that's odd. I don't like him much either. Not to get too off topic, but how are your fingers?]

Subaru: [They are definitely broken. The... pain is getting better though.]

Still, the stinging pain was constant, but Subaru gritted his teeth and temporarily shut out the sensation of the roaring pain. He'll deal with the pain he has accumulated later, time permitting, but for now, right in front of me--

Subaru: [Todd-san, is that right?]

Todd: [Yes, it's Todd. And this Todd here has a question for you. As I said before...]

Subaru: [I guess I should just answer honestly... What do you want to ask me?]

He is just Natsuki Subaru, a simple, unremarkable person from another world. He doesn’t know how he crossed worlds, and unfortunately, he doesn't have the expertise to use knowledge cheats that are typical in other isekai stories. It's a lot to take in, and when he gets right down to it, it makes him want to cry.

Subaru: [What could I possibly answer?]

Todd: [I don't know what up with that sneer of yours. Well, it's a long shot, but there's only one thing I want to ask you. … You're from “Shudrak”, aren't you?]

Subaru: [...“Shudrak”?]

Todd's question possessed a word unfamiliar to Subaru. But when he heard Subaru's reaction, he put his hand on his forehead.

Todd: [See, I knew it. I could tell by your reaction. You have nothing to do with it.]

Subaru: [Whoa, whoa, wait. I haven't answered much of anything yet. No matter how fast...]

Todd: [No, you have. Nobody pretends to be a noble when asked. Even the ones that don’t sound familiar. No one would believe you if you say that you're from “Shudrak”.]

Subaru: [....]

It was a definitive statement, but it didn't sound like he was bluffing. Todd's conviction was so convincing that Subaru couldn’t resist. But then again...

Subaru: [Who are the “Shudrak”?]

Todd: [They're the people we're looking for. They're in that big forest... somewhere in the Buddheim forest .]

Todd answered the question, pointing behind Subaru. However, with his hands and feet tied, Subaru could not easily turn around.

Todd: [Guess I don't have a choice.]

Todd puts his hand on Subaru’s shoulder and makes him turn around. And then...

Subaru: [... The Buddheim Forest.]

Todd: [This whole area is a forest. It'll take years to search through all of it.]

Todd muttered in a languid tone, but it was understandable that he would speak in that way. It was such a vast forest.

Looking from the position where Subaru was trapped, greenery stretched endlessly to the horizon on both the right and left. If its depth were comparable, it might even rival the Amazon. To find a “Shudrak”

Subaru: [...To put it bluntly, it's impossible, isn't it?]

Todd: [You think so too? I really hope not. If I delay my return for years, my fiancée will turn her back on me.]

The sorrow of a soldier who had been sent to war and separated from his lover. Todd's comment was somewhat similar, and Subaru felt a certain amount of sympathy for him. However, this sympathy didn’t last very long, as Subaru is currently separated from his significant other. The problem at hand is more important than that.

Subaru: [Hey, Todd-san. From what you've seen, I've been honest with you. So I hope you'll keep your word to me, too.]

Todd: [People are bemoaning the fact that they can't meet their fiancées, and you want them to meet your girl? Cold-blooded.]

Subaru: [I don't need to be told that by a fellow who steps on the broken fingers of the wounded.]

Todd: [Haha, that must be it.]

Subaru gave a rather gruff answer, but instead of getting angry, Todd laughed. He then crouched down beside Subaru and loosened the tightly bound ropes around Subaru’s legs so that he could walk.

Todd: [You can at least walk with short steps. I'll take you to your cage.]

Todd put his hands under Subaru’s armpits and lifted him up. When Subaru stood up, he found that his legs had regained some of their freedom, though it was only about half the freedom Subaru was used to having. Subaru could walk like this. He’s glad that he has short legs. If Subaru's legs had been as long as a model's, he would’ve been very unbalanced.

Subaru: [Well then, show me the way.]

Todd: [Impudent ...... you're a nobleman, aren't you?]

Todd, who smiled wryly, patted him on the back, and Subaru also started walking with a slow stride. The men around Subaru looked at him with curiosity as he walked slowly, having been let out of the tent of captivity. Some of them seemed to be sneering at him, but Subaru was not concerned about that. Rather, he conversely observed the men.

After all, it looked like a camp made for war. A hastily-made wooden fence covered the perimeter of the camp, and there seemed to be more than a hundred people here. However, it’s impossible for a hundred people to survey the entire forest. Subaru can understand Todd's lament. And to Subaru, who was feeling sorry for Todd and his fiancée...

Todd: [Oh, the nobleman reminded me of... the knife I found when I went through your luggage, where did you get that?]

Subaru: [...]

Suddenly, Todd's asked a question, as if he suddenly remembered it. Subaru raises an eyebrow for a moment, and then he quickly recalls the knife that Todd had in mind. The knife that had been given to him by the masked man in the forest had served him well in breaking through the obstacle-ridden forest and the traps set by Rem… Subaru wondered if that masked man was one of the “Shudrak” Todd’s men were looking for. If so, telling them of his existence would be a betrayal of Subaru's benefactor.

Todd: [What's up with it?]

Subaru: [Nothing...]

Todd pondered at Subaru’s silence, but Subaru also had a difficult choice to make. Under the circumstances of his captivity, Todd has been relatively gentle with Subaru, but Subaru is still a prisoner of war. It's hard to say that Todd is friendly. The masked man, on the other hand, is unlikely to be seen again, but he gave Subaru effective advice on how to find Rem, and also gave Subaru that knife. Subaru owes him a lot. Meaning...

Todd: [Hey, what's up with it?]

Subaru: [... That knife belongs to my family. It's a family heirloom.]

Todd: [Is that so? Hey, you're a little something, aren't you?]

Subaru: [Huh?]

After much thought, Subaru decided to protect his benefactor. Todd's voice rose slightly in surprise as Subaru lied with that thought in mind. Subaru was unable to understand the reason but Todd continued.

Todd: [Because, it's a knife with the national crest of the “Sword Wolf” on it. I've heard that such things are given directly from The Emperor to his subjects. That means you're from a noble family, right?]

Subaru: [...Wait.]

Todd's voice bounced, and Subaru, who had been listening to him, choked up. The reason for the knife he received was good for the time being. It also seemed to have a story worthy of surprise, but, let's put that aside for now. The problem lies elsewhere... It is the crest of the “Sword Wolf”, and The Emperor.

Subaru: [....]

With his lips pursed, Subaru stopped and took another look at his surroundings. He saw several tents, bonfires, men laughing at him, a vast forest, and a blue flag fluttering in the wind beside a large tent.

…In the center of the blue flag was a wolf pierced by three swords.

TL Note: We are going with three swords based off an image we have of the crest of Vollachia Wiki Link

More than a year had passed since Subaru arrived in this other world. He had been introduced more and more as Emilia's knight, and had been in the middle of learning about the common knowledge of this world so that he didn't sit on his laurels as a person from another world forever. The results of this study and with the wolf pierced by three swords... the "Sword Wolf” matches. It's...

Subaru: [The Sacred Vollachia Empire.]

This is the crest of the empire that straddles the border to the south of the Dragon’s Kingdom of Lugunica. It was only at this moment that Subaru realized that they had been sent to another country, beyond the borders of the kingdom and into the empire.

△ ▼ △ ▼ △ ▼ △

--The Sacred Volachia Empire.

That was the name of the land - or rather, the country - where Subaru was currently a prisoner of war. As a result of his study in this other world, Subaru's impression of Vollachia was,

Subaru: [Just like the empires in games, this one seemed to be a haven for evil.]

Like the Kingdom of Lugunica, the Vollachia Empire is one of the four major powers that hold the balance of power in this world, and is the largest country located at the south of the world map.

Blessed with a mild climate and fertile soil richer than in both Gusteko to the north and Kararagi to the south, it had developed a system of “the strong rule the weak ''.

A large variety of different races and ethnic groups intermingled, with the strong gaining riches and honor, and the weak being oppressed.

The Vollachia Empire was a place where violence was encouraged and committed. In short, the place with people the most incompatible with Natsuki Subaru.

Subaru: [The Sacred Vollachia Empire.]

The words slipped out of Subaru’s mouth unconsciously as he saw the flag waving beside the tent. Hearing Subaru's stunned muttering, Todd raised his eyebrows slightly and said.

Todd: [Long live Vollachia!]

Subaru: [Whoa!]

Suddenly, a voice boomed right behind him, startling Subaru and making him look up. Todd laughed at Subaru’s jumpy reaction.

Todd: [What's with that reaction? You're the one who initiated it.]

Subaru: [Long live Vollachia?]

Todd: [Long live Vollachia.]

He was accused of something he didn’t know he did, but that gave him a general idea about what he had instigated. Every time someone said the name of the Sacred Empire, people would respond with “Long live Vollachia”. That must be common knowledge here and part of their national culture.

And there was something else he realized.

Subaru: [... I can’t let people know that I’m from Lugunica.]

This was a major blow to Subaru’s plans.

Currently, Subaru's position is that of Emilia’s knight. Emilia was a candidate for the Royal Selection being held in the Kingdom of Lugunica. Under the authority of Roswaal, he had been formally knighted and became a member of the nobility in Lugunica, albeit only for a short amount of time. And even if he didn’t have a title of nobility, everyone in the kingdom knew about the royal election. Therefore, if he revealed his identity, he would’ve been in a position to ask for favors. --At least, once he was sure that Rem was safe, Subaru was planning to tell Todd, who seemed like a good person... But if this was the Vollachia Empire, then it was a completely different story.

Subaru: [....]

The bad relationship between the Kingdom of Lugunica and the Vollachia Empire was well known to Subaru, who had studied the history books of this world. The two countries had fought several major wars over land more than four hundred years ago, but since the Kingdom of Lugunica made a pact with the “Divine Dragon”, there hadn’t been any more major wars. However,small sporadic skirmishes have taken place since then, and there’s no doubt that the relations between the two countries are still far from good. It’s said that before the royal election was announced, a preliminary agreement was made to prevent the Empire from taking advantage of this opportunity and launching a war.

What would happen if he told them that he was a member of nobility in Lugunica? Putting who he told aside, even if it was a sensible imperial noble, he was in a camp on the edge of a battlefield. Excluding Todd, would Subaru be treated like a guest of honor, with bloodthirsty people like Jamal around?

Subaru: [Absolutely not.]

Which meant Subaru couldn’t share his identity carelessly. Right now, the fact that he had gotten lost with Rem was turning out to be a blessing in disguise. Because of her memory loss, she couldn’t compromise their situation by casually mentioning Lugunica.

Todd: [Hey, what's wrong? Did you hurt your legs along with your fingers?]

Subaru: [No, I’m fine. It's just that when I heard you say long live Vollachia, I couldn't help but stand in place from the awe that came over me…..]

Todd: [Oh, I see. Well, that can't be helped. If you're related to an imperial nobleman, it's only natural that you'd be impressed by the state of the Empire. That was a lack of consideration on my part.]

Subaru; [Haha, yeah, haha.]

He would’ve scratched his head sheepishly, but he settled with smiling at Todd. He had only known about the Empire from literature, but this was the true “Empire”. A sense of imperialism permeated... even from regular soldiers like Todd. Subaru bit his lip quietly as he took in the situation he was in.

His trump card, revealing his identity and asking for help in going back to the Mathers territory, had been blocked. Maybe a noble could help him out, but...

Subaru: [... It’d be too risky to bet on that.]

Todd: [What are you mumbling about? Come,on, we’re going to her cage .]

Subaru: [Oh.]

Subaru’s shoulders were pushed forwards and he began taking small steps forward. When Todd told him to look up, he was in front of a steel cage near the edge of the camp.There were several cages in a neat line, and in one of the cages, there was a blue haired girl sitting down.

Subaru: [Rem!]

Rem: [What are you doing here?]

Finding the girl he was looking for, Subaru jumped to the cage. Rem, who noticed this, frowned at his actions and glared at him with open hostility. But that doesn't matter. As long as he could confirm that she was safe...

Subaru: [Oh, thank God! Did they do anything to you? Are you hurt anywhere….. ah!]

Todd: [That looks like it hurt.]

Because he was hurrying to check on Rem, he got his legs tangled up and fell down

As a result of his small hurried steps, Subaru’s legs got tangled and he fell forward. Of course, he couldn't use his hands to stop his fall, so Subaru crashed face first into the steel cage.

Subaru let out a grunt as he picked himself back up.

Rem: [Hey, what are you doing?]

Subaru: [Eh, I’m sorry.. I didn’t mean to scare you…]

Rem: [You didn’t scare me! Please don’t make fun of me….Are your nose and teeth alright?]

Subaru: [You’re worried about me?]

Rem: [Huh? No, what are you saying?]

Rem's answer was cold to Subaru, who sat back up and rubbed his nose. However, as he stared into her pale blue eyes, Subaru let out a heartfelt sigh of relief. Seeing his reaction, the caged Rem tensed her cheeks even more.

Todd: [Yes, yes, I get that it’s an emotional meeting, but we’ve just met haven't we? So, um, your name is Rem, correct?]

Rem: [...I don’t know.]

Todd: [Oh come on, look at the situation you’re in. There has to be a limit to how stubborn you can be.]

Todd interrupts Subaru and Rem’s cold reunion with a reluctant face. Rem turned her face away from Todd, showing that her unhelpful attitude wasn’t reserved only for Subaru, but also for the imperials as well. Subaru guesses that’s just the way Rem is, someone haughty and boastful at home but meek and reserved outside.

Subaru: [If you bark at everyone like that, people will call you a rabid dog.]

Rem: [You’re calling me a rabid dog now. Not only do you have horrible body odor, you’re also rude.]

Subaru: [What do you mean I have horrible body odor? Are you saying I don’t clean myself enough? But I don’t really know how I would’ve kept myself clean.]

There’s a saying that “if you dislike someone, you will end up hating everything they stand for,” which is what Rem was saying to Subaru. It wasn’t good that he had yet to get rid of the bad impression he first gave her at the time of their first meeting.

Subaru: [Anyways, her name is Rem. Thanks for helping me….. Although it is hard to say that when I see her in a cage.]

Todd: [Well I told you, Jamal’s unit was completely beaten to a pulp. If we didn’t give them this, they wouldn’t be able to face her. Well, I’m not going to hurt her.]

Subaru: [..... Can I trust you?]

Todd: [I have the authority of the Empire’s nobility on my side. Even Jamal can’t go against me.]

As he said that, Todd reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife. Subaru widened his eyes at the sight of it, and Todd pulled the knife out of its sheath and cut the ropes at Subaru’s hands and feet.

Subaru: [You're just going to let me go?]

Todd: [Yeah, I’d like to give you this baby and send you off…but that's not gonna be possible.]

Subaru: [...]

Todd: [Don’t give me that scary look. I’m not doing this to be mean. As you can see, we’re currently here to fight against the “Shudrak” that live in the forest. But this isn’t the only camp posted around the forest. If you wander around too much, you’ll just end up getting caught by some other camp.]

In order to conquer the forest, camps had been scattered all over the place. If Subaru and Rem had inadvertently entered the grounds of another camp, they would be captured and interrogated just like they had been this time. Or--

Subaru: [You mean we might be forced to eat a 3-course meal of shoes in a camp filled with Jamals?]

Todd: [I don’t mean to brag, but finding an imperial soldier like me is rare. I don’t like pain or anything like that, I much prefer talking my way out of things.]

Rem: [Most of them are as bad as that rude man.]

Subaru: [Well, if that's why I got your wrath, then I guess I deserved it.]

Rem's hard voice was full of intense disgust. Subaru was not a likable person, but he must’ve had a worst first encounter with Jamal. Todd, who seemed to know what was going on, didn't stand up for Jamal, so it was clear that even his allies couldn't defend Todd’s actions.

Subaru: [Todd-san, I know you're worried about our safety. But what should we do? I know you've been lamenting about it, but it's not like you're asking us to stay here until you're done with this forest.]

Todd: [That's true, and, if we take outsiders into our camp for too long, even we’ll be punished. Don't worry, a supply convoy will be heading to a nearby town in a few days. If you leave the camp with them, you won't cause any unnecessary trouble.]

Subaru: [I see, a supply convoy, huh?]

Of course, in order to feed a large number of people, a considerable amount of food and water would be needed. There's no way they can provide all of that locally, and the troops that transport those supplies are just as important as the combat troops. That's why Todd recommended that they go with the people who play such a role in this camp.

Subaru: [So, it's okay to burden you for a little while ...?]

Todd: [It’s okay, right? I don't think the war will progress that quickly. ...... Just make sure you stay away from that Jamal guy. Unless you want to eat his boot again.]

Subaru: [That rule is in my bones. ......Rem, you’re going to follow that policy too, right?]

Rem: [...]

There was no reply from Rem as she turned away with a pout. However, the fact that she didn't deny it to Subaru’s face suggests that she doesn't have any objections or alternatives. Subaru will simply take it as just a cute defiance.

Todd: [You two have an unusual relationship, don't you? What’s up with you two?]

Subaru: [Uh, think of us as a couple of windbags or travelers, Rem is someone precious to me, and the other one I was with is a stranger.]

Rem: [You can still say that .......?]

Hearing the answer to Todd's question made Rem's disbelief grow even stronger; Subaru knew that he had failed, but on the other hand, he really didn't want to accept Louis as his companion. Honestly, if the Empire would take her in, then so be it.

Subaru: [Come to think of it, that girl's not in a cage with Rem, is she? Where did she go?]

Rem: [.... That child, she was taken away for treatment. It looks like she cut her forehead somewhere when she recklessly tried to jump into the river.]

Subaru: [Treatment ...... treatment?]

Subaru was stunned for a moment at Rem's answer, averting his gaze, which then turned serious. He then jumped at the cage.

Subaru: [Did you just say treatment!?]

Rem: [What? Yes, treatment. Or are you saying that you don't want the girl you don’t like to be treated for her wounds?]

Subaru: [You're not wrong, but that’s not the issue here. Hey, Todd-san! Where is Louis getting treated? Which tent?]

Todd was startled by Subaru's menacing look.

Todd: [What?]

But Todd didn't understand the gravity of the situation at all, so Subaru grabbed him by the shoulders and asked him once again

Subaru: [Where?]

Todd: [If she is being treated, it's in a tent with a red flag. But what's going on all of a sudden?]

Subaru: [There's nothing we can do, we're all going to die!]

Pushing past Todd’s shoulder, with bloodshot eyes, Subaru hurried to the red flag tent. Rem and Todd looked at each other unexpectedly at Subaru's momentum.

Todd: [What the hell? Anyway, I'm going after him......]

Rem: [Please go. If you don't stop him, he's going to do something reckless.]

Todd: [I don't know why I’ve to be the one told that .......]

Todd, scratching his head, hurriedly chased after Subaru, who was pushing forward at a rapid pace. When Subaru's back was out of sight, she moved away.

Rem: [...... What is it? He's been pushing me around all day.]

Rem muttered in a quiet voice that no one could hear.

Rem: [....]

Meanwhile, Subaru, having heard what Todd said, let his gaze wander in search of a red tent. When he heard that Louis was going to be treated, the worst possibility flashed through Subaru's mind.

It was the possibility that Louis, who somehow seemed to have lost her mind, would return to normal after she received treatment and be resurrected as one of the Sin Archbishop of “Gluttony”. If that happens, Subaru and even Rem, who has no memory, would not be able to stop her. Even if Todd, Jamal, and the imperialists of the camp were to unite, there would be many casualties.

He can't let that happen. Subaru's heart was filled with frustration. Then, he headed towards the tent with the red flag that caught his eye, and pushed forward…

Subaru: [Terrible! Here's that horrible blonde girl--]

Louis: [Ahhhhhh!]

The moment he was about to open the tent, a golden bullet flew out from inside with great force. The bullet was well-aimed and hit right under Subaru's nose, in the middle of his body, causing his awareness and upper body to wobble. Subaru fell backward on his buttocks. Then, in a flash, he smashed his left hand against the ground. ...The left hand with three broken fingers.

Subaru: [Aaaaah!]

Lous: [Aah! Aaah! Uh-ah!]

Subaru fainted in agony from the fierce pain. There was a demon straddling the writhing Subaru, cackling happily. ...It's Louis. She is still smiling as she did when she woke Subaru up in the grassland, a manifestation of innocent evil, and she is rubbing up against his chest. Subaru wanted to brush her away, but his pain-stricken consciousness wouldn't let him .

Louis: [Ga, ku, ah, ......!]

Todd: [Yikes, your left hand? That's, oh, that's tough ......, but from the looks of it, she looks fine too. And that cut on her forehead got patched up.]

Todd caught up with the writhing Subaru and gently picked Louis up, who was flailing on Subaru’s fallen body. Louis was "oohing and aahing" and flailing her arms and legs, but Todd was unconcerned. As Todd had said, Louis's head was bandaged and the cut on her forehead seemed to have been treated. However, it was not by magic, but by simple medical means.

Subaru: [Damn ..., I see. That’s what kind of head treatment they did .......]

Subaru thought that they were going to use magic to heal Louis’s wounds, so he was in a hurry, but with that method, the healing wouldn't extend to areas that he didn't want to be healed. For the moment, Subaru's fears seemed to be unfounded.

Todd:[You treat the girl who is so attached to you like a stranger, but consider the girl who is so cold to you very precious. I don’t know what happened, but you seem to be in a lot of trouble.]

Subaru: [...... I ain't denying that. It's not common for someone to get into as much trouble as I do.]

If there is a limit on how much hardship there can be in one human life, Subaru wonders if he has hit his yet. Or does the count reset after using "Return by Death", and he will never be at peace? Just thinking about it is terrifying. It's scary, but...

Subaru: [First of all, I'm alive. That's what matters.]

Todd: [That seems like a low benchmark. ...So, what will you do? Can we proceed with the idea of you accompanying the supply convoy in a few days?]

Subaru: [Oh, yeah, that'll be fine. But I'm sorry I'm leaving you in the lurch.]

Todd: [Yeah? Then don't worry. I'm not going to leave you with an unearned meal.]

In response to Todd's words, Subaru, who had been sitting on the floor on his knees, looked up.

Subaru: [What?]

Todd then lowered Louis to the ground, her legs flailing, and put his hands on his hips. He then gestured with his hand to the Imperial positions spread out behind him.

Todd: [This is a large camp. There's never enough manpower. We've got a lot of work to do, and we'll need help with a couple of things.]

Subaru: [... Those who don’t work, don’t eat, right ?]

Subaru muttered, and Todd heard him and said,

Todd: [Those who don't work ...... That’s right. That's exactly what I was thinking. You know just how to say it, don't you?]

Todd nodded his head, and Louis nodded her head as if to imitate him. As he looked up at the two of them, Subaru popped his neck.

Subaru: [Doing anything is way better than eating a boot, right?]