Aleist was a reincarnator.
He had been reborn into the world of a romance-themed game, carrying over the knowledge from when he played it.
Yet Aleist had no memory of a country called Celestia making an appearance. It wasn’t even that it existed in setting alone.
Wearing similar robes to the masked group he fought, Aleist thought to himself.
(I didn’t think they’d come to another country. But why am I fighting this guy in a place like this.)
The ‘this guy’ Aleist referred to was the man holding two barbed swords before his eyes.
The man who used two blades just as he did, Aleist knew him.
(Gaia’s assassination unit, was it? No, I believe they called them the special forces, but…)
Both sides swung about two swords freely, contesting with their number of cards to play.
Around the men who seemed to be enemy grunts surrounded Aleist.
(If you count the Celestia knight, we only have three.)
While he had inherited an overwhelming disadvantage from Rudel, he couldn’t be negligent with the enemy before his eyes.
Of all else, the three-eyed man before him was a character who appeared in the game.
Leading the mechanized unit that headed Gaia’s special forces, he was a character without a name. Aleist remembered him appearing in a number of combat events.
His main characteristics had to be the special means of attacks he gained from his mechanization.
“This is troublesome.”
In a muddled voice, the three-eyed man who called Aleist troublesome leapt back to take a set distance.
Seeing that, a shiver raced down Aleist’s spine.
He instantly used magic as he jumped back.
As he protruded tens of black spears from the ground, a number of them immediately shattered.
He crossed his swords to receive what impact remained of his enemy’s attack.
“You stopped it? You’re the second one I’ve ever met who’s been able to stop it the first time they saw that attack. You can be proud of yourself… black knight.”
Kukuku, or so the three-eyed man burst into laughter.
He turned up and lifted the back portion of his robe to show the sharp blade attached to the tip of the tail furnished on.
A tail of coiled metal wiring, Aleist quickly determined it would be dangerous and destroyed it with his sword before it could retract.
But his foe shoed some leisure.
“This truly is a wonderful feeling. For my sure-kill blow to be stopped… Black knight, I think I’ll add you to my list.”
“List? And what list would that be?”
Aleist asked out of curiosity but instantly found himself regretting it.
“The list of individuals I want to land the final blow on personally! Be proud. I’ll put you in at second place. Ahahaha–”
Said he as he sprang up.
The enemy grunts, as if to follow, raced their way up the wall.
The black-robed group ran, they jumped… it wasn’t a pleasant sight to see.
“… He must be quite the dangerous one.”
While his face stiffened, Aleist was relieved the enemy had pulled back when a voice called from behind. It was Nate.
“Senpai, you’ve earned the affection of someone outrageous. That guy, even if he looks like that, he’s the top of the Imperial mechanized division’s applied theory unit.”
“Is that it? That’s who he was supposed to be?”
Even his title didn’t appear in the game, and Aleist only saw him as a troublesome foe.
And now he had been recognized as the person that individual wanted to kill second-most.
(Then who’s number one… and wait…)
At the end of his fleeting glance was the green haired man Nate directed her dagger at. Before what appeared to be a knight of Celestia, Aleist didn’t know what he was supposed to do.
Nate kept wary as she spoke.
“Now then, I’ll have you explain yourself, Emilio-dono. When you’ve already called out to Courtois, I never imagined you’d invoke accursed Gaia as well.”
Nate’s voice was lower than usual, becoming one to threaten the other party.
In regards to the knight called Emilio, Aleist was wary as well.
But their foe showed no signs of resistance. Forget resistance, he tossed his sword aside and sat on the spot.
The alley floor is filthy… Aleist thought when Emilio opened his mouth.
“I never thought it would go well. It’s just, if the possibility existed, I had no choice but to cling to it. Otherwise, Cleo… my little sister would be…”
Covering his face with his right hand, Emilio grit his teeth.
“Little sister? By Cleo, you mean the princess of this country, don’t you?”
Aleist tilted his head in wonder.
Nate saw her opponent had no will to resist and tucked away her dagger. She decided to hear out Emilio’s circumstance.
“Based on the situation, taking you out here is my role. It seems you have some circumstances… so why don’t you tell us about it?”
Emilio spoke after letting out a sigh.
“Do what you will, is what I’d like to say, but I will be putting up a last-ditch effort.”
Nate entered negotiations.
“I said based on the situation. If there’s profit to be had on our side, I’m saying we might just cooperate with you.”
There, Emilio indifferently started into the present state of Celestia’s underbelly.
“If it’s in my possession, be it information or anything else, go ahead and take it. I’m fine as long as Cleo is saved. That’s my mother’s wish.”
So Aleist got to learn the truth of Celestia.
Having saved Cleo and returned to the palace, Rudel was summoned to the king’s room.
In regards to this incident, the king proclaimed he would carry out the questioning himself.
There were many points beyond his understanding, and this was a foreign land, so Rudel paid it little mind as he spoke the plain truth.
About the attack, about the combat with a unit from the Gaia Empire, and about Emilio’s betrayal.
But he decided to cover up Aleist’s involvement.
Hearing all that, the king’s spoke without a change in expression.
“So Emilio was an enemy spy… good grief, how disappointing.”
A prominent knight of his own country was colluding with the enemy. It was no laughable matter.
(Even so, he doesn’t look at all panicked. Is it because the princess is safe?)
Rudel felt something off at the king’s attitude, but he decided to confirm his future plans.
“Will there be any change to our mission?”
There, the king spoke without looking at Rudel.
“None. You are to depart tomorrow as scheduled. There is no need to pay mind to anything else. Tell Cleo it will all go as planned.”
This wasn’t the attitude of a parent giving a final farewell.
The one before him was a foreign king.
Rudel’s position was not one to stick his mouth into foreign affairs.
“She was betrayed by those closes to her. From what I’ve heard, Emilio had accomplices as well, correct? The princess must be feeling–”
“What a human set for death feels bears no relevance. Is that all you wanted to say?”
Rudel glared at the king who wouldn’t hear his opinion.
He wasn’t scared. But Rudel did feel within him, this was much too sad of an attitude from a father.
(Is it really possible to be this cold to his child?)
Cleo sat on the bed of her own room.
Absentmindedly gazing out the window, she recalled the words of her closest friend, the servant who deceived her.
‘What a dull woman. Well, such a thing shouldn’t be a problem for bait, so I’ve no complaints. I was able to have a laugh over how you thought of me as a friend, and your pitiful environment was interesting enough to watch, so I’ll forgive you.’
In the narrow world she lived in, the maid would teach her all about the world outside.
It was always a fun time for Cleo. The food at the stands, the events of the castle town, she was the reason Cleo longed for it so.
“So I never had any friends…”
While she felt sad, Cleo turned it around.
“It’s better the fewer people there are to be saddened by my loss.”
It was a little sad but even so, she had a duty to fulfill. If she did that, then surely, the smiles of many people would be protected.
Cleo convinced herself as her tears flowed.
Rudel left guard detail to Izumi and Millia as he prepared himself for tomorrow.
Calling Sakuya to the palace courtyard, he prepared to take Cleo to the destination point.
To Rudel, who didn’t seem up for it at all, Sakuya let out her voice. Thought rather than a voice, it was a telepathic something Rudel could hear.
If looked at from the side, it looked as if Rudel was talking to himself.
‘Are you worrying, Rudel?’
“Pardon? Ah… I probably am.”
Rudel had been given a mission as a knight of Courtois. More than his own personal feelings, he was there under orders to accomplish the mission.
He didn’t agree with it, but if it was an order, it couldn’t be helped.
“My order from the higherups was co complete the request of Celestia’s king. I will take Cleo to the destination point. I’ll be counting on you tomorrow, Sakuya.”
While he spoke of expectations, Rudel’s expression was cloudy.
He didn’t know himself.
(If I lead Cleo there, that’s where she’ll die.)
No matter how it was phrased, Cleo was a sacrificial lamb to protect Celestia. That was the country’s custom, and something that had carried on for many years.
A complaint from Rudel wouldn’t get anywhere.
“If you don’t want to, you could just not.”
Sakuya was a holder of a young soul. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. She offered Rudel such a simple answer.
Giving a bitter smile, Rudel replied.
“If I could do that, it would be so much easier. I’ll prioritize the mission.”
‘Cleo will die.’
Sakuya had taken a liking to Cleo.
The girl had sung to her in her pretty song voice. It had to be a talent bestowed on Cleo from the heavens.
(If she wasn’t born as royalty… no, there’s no point thinking of possibilities.)
Rudel also admired her song.
“… It’s a mission. Tomorrow, we will guard Cleo along the way to the destination point.”
Alongside Nate, Aleist listened to Emilio’s story at the inn.
“What’s with that… what the hell’s with that!?”
Standing from his chair, Aleist raised his voice. That was simply how terrible the contents he heard from Emilio must have been.
“Senpai, how about we calm down.”
“Do you think I can stay calm!? Destroying a whole country for personal grudge is crazy!”
The one surprised at Aleist’s outburst was Emilio.
Nate wasn’t making the best face either. But it wasn’t as if she was particularily angry.
What Emilio told them of was the starting point, an incident ten years prior.
“The person he liked was offered as a sacrifice? And because Cleo’s mother made it so, he had the girl live a miserable life in the castle? She’s his own child, is she not!”
What Aleist learned was the fact Cleo’s birth mother wasn’t the queen. And Emilio’s identity was a prince of this country.
At present, he was officially dead, but even so, he was a male who carried the blood of the king.
Of course, Emilio himself was raised in the slums, but that wasn’t to say he would’ve been better off if he stayed.
“I didn’t think you would get so angry. But now you understand, right? Cleo must not be led to the altar. The shackles on that ancient weapon are growing weak. If she’s taken there, that excrement will use her to set it in motion and destroy this country. And that isn’t all… if it loses its restraints, it’ll head to other countries as well.”
An ancient weapon, that was the identity of the guardian deity.
Who made it for what? At this point, even the royal family didn’t have the answer to that one, said Emilio.
But giving it a shape through the volcano’s energy, it was bound and used as a weapon.
“I don’t know its exact value as a weapon. They say it once had the dragoons step down, but seeing how we didn’t go on the offensive ourselves, it must have some limitations. What’s more important to Celestia is its byproduct effect of controlling the volcanoes.”
The main worth of the ancient weapon lay in how it stored up energy from the volcanoes, preventing eruption. The fact that cities could be built so close to active volcanoes was because of its grace.
But living so close to volcanoes carried just that many risks. And if there was a means to control those volcanoes?
The answer was simple.
The royal house of Celestia presented sacrifices to keep it under their control.
“A woman of the royal line, rather a blue-haired woman is necessary. Presenting the women to maintain control over it is how this country works.”
A question came to Aleist’s head.
He tried asking.
“Wait a second. Does this country have the necessary craft to keep it under control? And why does it have to be a blue-haired woman?”
But Emilio’s answer…
“Like hell I know. It’s been like that for a long time. There are some records of trial and error, but they concluded someone from the blue-haired tribe that used to inhabit these parts is necessary. Cleo’s part of the tribe, the royal line took in their blood to make a show that they were performing their obligation to the people… this place can go to hell.”
At Emilio’s words, Aleist didn’t know what he should say.
(What’s going on? And presenting a sacrifice lets you control the weapon? I don’t get it.)
In place of Aleist’s worries, this time Nate asked.d
“So you intended to create chaos by calling in Courtois and Gaia, and use the mess to flee over the border? That’s quite the grand scheme you have there.”
To a fed-up Nate, Emilio cried out.
“I didn’t have any time! It took quite the effort to become a knight, and when I was finally high up enough to approach her, Cleo was going to be offered as sacrifice! I’m hanging by a thread here, you know that!”
Emilio had become a knight to save her, but by that time Cleo’s sacrifice was upon them.
With no time to spare, he did all that was within his power. Of course, that ended in failure.
“… By the way, after you saved that Cleo-san (?) What did you intend to do? Played poorly, and wouldn’t you have an uncontrollably rampaging ancient weapon on your hands, or something like that?”
Emilio didn’t shy back from Aleist’s question.
“Who knows? That’s none of my business. Why should I care about the people who affirmed our sacrifices and killed our clan generation after generation for their own sakes?”
Aleist grasped Emilio’s lapels and lifted them up.
Nate breathed a sigh as she mediated and had the two sit.
“Give it a rest already. This talk isn’t getting anywhere. Senpai, endure it. And Emilio-dono, don’t rile him up. You know full well your time is limited.”
On Nate’s words, Emilio lifted his hips.
“Then you’ll save Cleo!?”
She shook her head.
“We are not here to save her. Courtois shares a border with Celestia. And Gaia’s special forces are moving around. I don’t want to give them any information. Good grief, if you just called us alone, it would’ve been so much easier.”
As Nate spilled complaints, Emilio averted his gaze.
He was just a little ashamed of his lack of foresight.
“So anyways, what are you going to do, senpai? I’m going to go ahead on my own from here on out, but you’re free to participate. Ah, but! If you help out, you’ll raise my affection points!”
Nate touched a hand to her face, taking a pose as she sent a glance at Aleist. But Aleist handled brushed her aside and looked at Emilio.
“I have a condition. I don’t want to have any casualties. I want to make it so the princess can be saved, and no one has to die after that. If that’s how it’s going to be, I’ll provide as much help as you want.”
At the condition Aleist presented, Emilio looked amazed.
“Are you stupid? If something like that was possible, someone would be doing it.”
“Senpai, you’re so soft. Though I do like that part of you.”
Ignoring Nate’s statement, Aleist looked at Emilio. At his serious gaze, Emilio violently ruffled up his own hair.
“Tsk, we’ll have the residents evacuate. I don’t know if the ancient weapon can be stopped, after all. Rather, even I can’t tell you what’ll happen if the sacrifice isn’t presented.”
“That’s way too conceited! After the princess is gone, won’t someone else just take her place.”
As Aleist said that, Emilio’s expression turned serious.
“… The one selected as sacrifice has to be a woman of appropriate age. They can’t be too young or too old. Right now… the only candidate is Cleo.”
Emilio seemed hard pressed to sat it. Hearing that, Nate’s expression turned somewhat grim.
“There’s definitely something wrong with the organization of a country that can’t even secure a backup, but personally speaking, I do feel a little sorry.”
Aleist recalled how the blue-haired Nate had been mistaken as someone concerned on the main road. She had denied it herself, but was she perhaps related?
“A-anyways! My condition for helping is making it so there won’t be casualties! I won’t let up on that!”
At Aleist’s words, Emilio offered some cynicism.
“Not even the unit from Gaia, and those that get in our way? No casualties at all is impossible.”
Losing his momentum, Aleist looked at Emilio’s expression.
It looked just a little sad, but it was a smile that had a tint of joy.
“Well, black knight, was it? I want to borrow your strength, so I’ll try to keep casualties to a minimum. Oh, that’s right… I do know some people who might help out.”
Aleist tilted his head.