A strange sensation, which was somewhat hard but warm, passed through his cheeks. And then,
“Hm, should be fine.”
Such a voice reverberated inside his head.
(What…. I haven’t died yet?)
Right after he opened his eyes slightly, Raibach coughed and choked repeatedly.
Despite him choking, Raibach somehow managed to open his eyes. As he did so, the faces of unfamiliar witches unfolded before him.
At his shout, Kay, who became surprised, released him unintentionally from her grasp, making his head fall straight down on top of a stone.
Folding his knees and arching his back, Raibach tried to hold the back of his head using his hands, but they wouldn’t move freely.
“Awawawawa, what the heck is this, awawaawawa, what’s happening, awawawaawa—”
Raibach attempted to move his body by kicking and struggling, but his limbs still wouldn’t regain their freedom. It felt as though his ankles and wrists were tightly bound by rope-like things.
“Are you in pain or in amazement? Decide which.”
Hearing a voice pouring from above his head, he looked up with teary eyes.
For a while, he and Kay stared at each other from close range.
Raibach screamed with a loud voice, making her lean backwards in astonishment.
Raibach tried to escape desperately, but it shouldn’t be possible with his limbs restrained. In the end, he would just tumble heavily onto the river bed.
With a stone from the river bed cutting into his body, he completely recovered his senses thanks to the pain.
Raibach stopped moving around and looked around his surrounding, trying to confirm the situation.
He was situated on a bank with the flowing stream most likely being the Schweiz River. Since the area was rocky and the river was narrow, unlike his previous location, there was no doubt about this one being upstream. And then, the ones looking down on him were three witches.
Conducting a quick survey from that little information, Raibach reached a conclusion.
(In other words, I was caught by the witches. Because of that, my body is tied up with their magic and thrown down on the river bed…… or so I think?)
As one would expect, Raibach, who had plenty of battle experience, could still judge a situation with composure, despite finding himself in peril.
Releasing all the strength in his body, Raibach fell on his back and observed the three witches, who looked down on him, once again.
(So these are…the witches? Looking closely, they seem to be different from what I’ve thought.)
The three girls in front his eyes appeared to be quite dissimilar from how they had been commonly portrayed as ‘vicious and inhuman’.
(Speaking of which, aren’t they just normal girls? Even if they can use magic, they look no different from normal girls.)
The figure of his long deceased daughter resurfaced in his mind.
(Were she to be alive, that girl too would probably be around this age and appearance.)
Being immersed in a sentiment that wasn’t appropriate to his situation, Raibach ceased any thought of putting up resistance or attempts of escaping.
“You’re, witches, right?”
Nonoel and Kay looked at each other’s face.
A moment later, Kay, who had returned her gaze to him, responded:
“Is that so? Well, guess that was an obvious thing. Still…..”
“Why are you asking such a question?”
“….You look different from what I had imagined.”
“What kind of imagination was that?”
“I’ve heard stories about you being atrocious, heinous, wicked, and brutal existences, which made me think you’re indeed fearsome in appearance. Like the ones with a mouth splitting til their ears, narrowed eyes, and protruding fangs.”
The three of them bent backward without realizing.
“It’s cruel, right?”
“Indeed, that’s cruel!”
“When I look at you from a close range like this, you certainly have unusual hair color and clothing. Still, your look is no different from that of normal girls.”
“Not just our looks but our insides too are similar to normal girls, you know?”
Raibach’s eyes stopped at Kay’s right hand.
“I guess, you can’t call that normal.”
“Ah, no, this is….”
She released her magic.
The metallic-like luster vanished and her skin color turned back to normal.
“What’s more, this is….”
Raibach tried to put up both his hands.
String-shaped cords, which couldn’t be torn off no matter how much strength he applied, coiled around his wrists.
“Is this magic as well?”
“Yes, that’s… true.”
“As one would expect, witches aren’t common beings, I guess.”
But, not feeling any disgust or contempt toward his tone of speaking, the three of them looked again at each other’s faces.
“Then, what do you plan to do with me from now on? If I’m going to be killed either way, it would be nice if you could do it using painless and instant methods, so as to ease my death, but well…”
“We won’t kill you!”
“Had we simply planned to kill you, we wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of catching you.”
“Is that so?”
Raibach breathed a big sigh.
“So I’ll be tormented to death? Indeed, a horrifying end.”
“We won’t be doing that either!”
“You mean it?”
“….No, there seems to be one person capable of that, but at least, we won’t do such things.”
“Then, what are you going do with me?”
“We thought about discussing that matter with Naga-san first, and so we wanted to bring you with us. Still…”
“Naga? Who’s that?”
“No, Naga-san is Naga-san. But the meaning behind his name appears to be ‘Dragon King’, you see?”
“Na….Naga?” [TL: written as the Dragon King]
Raibach widely opened his eyes, as if not believing the words he had just heard.
“Naga-san is a human guy and a member of our household. No, to begin with, it’s not clear to us whether or not we should call him ‘human’.”
(Oi, oi, what’s the meaning of that? Naga-san [TL: Same as above]…. What’s wrong with the overfamiliarity in that name?)
“Yes, it was thanks to Naga-san’s tactics that we were able to repel 2000 of your soldiers.”
“There’s no reason for us to lie at this point.”
Raibach wasn’t directly involved with the battle, but he was still related to it since he led the supply troops. That’s why, he knew more than enough about his friendly troops suffering an utter defeat from the hands of ‘the witches who resorted to an unheard of style of fighting’.
(If there’s someone like the Dragon King, then certainly, it wouldn’t be strange for the witches to change their fighting style…. no, I still can’t believe it.)
“We are going to discuss your matter with Naga-san. It would be much appreciated if you could follow us obediently, but….”
“…….Will I become prey for the Dragon King? Am I going to be munched on by him starting from my head?”
“Ha? No no, what are you talking about? Naga-san won’t devour you. If they’re young girls, he would most likely do so, however….”
“Really? So the Dragon King prefers young human girls? Well, guess that’s understandable.”
Raibach felt a small relief inside his heart.
Therefore – While being unaware that he wasn’t understanding their conversation, Kay replied.
“Follow us obediently. If you decide to pick a fight or run away, I’ll have to bring you by force.”
Kay, who peered at his eyes, continued to speak.
“It would be quite bothersome, and you also probably don’t want to suffer, right?”
Raibach exhaled a sigh once again.
“Yeah, I’d hate that. Understood, I’ll follow along.”
Looking down on Raibach, who folded up his arms, Kay groaned lightly.
“What? Is something matter?”
“No, how should I say, I think you’re also different from what I had imagined about humans.”
At Kay’s words, Nonoel and Ixine slightly nodded.
“While we are at it, what kind of human did you picture me as?”
“Look. Don’t humans detest the witches just like snakes and scorpions? In that case, they wouldn’t even bother to lend an ear to us. Despite that, I thought it was strange for you to talk with us that conventionally.”
“Even among humans, there are different people.”
“Hmm, is that so?”
For some reason, Kay watched Raibach with a face showing curiosity.
“Ah, that’s right. What’s your name?”
“Me? I’m Raibach.”
“I see. My name is Kay. It’s fine for you to call me Kay for now.”
“O….Oh, you mean it?”
“And then, here’s Nonoel.”
Being pointed out, Nonoel moved swiftly behind Kay’s back as if trying to conceal herself. With only her face peeking through, she said with a small voice:
“This person here is Ixine.”
“Uhmm, I’m Ixine. Nice to meet you.”
“It’s Raibach. Please treat me well.”
“Well then, let’s not waste any more time on chit-chat. Ixine, gallop back first and inform Hari-nee and Naga-san.”
“Hm, that’s right. Got it. Then, I will return back ahead of you.”
Saying so, Ixine returned to the place where the horse was tied up.
Kay who saw Ixine off with her hand, finally turned around.
“Then, shall we go ahead, Raibach?”
(You’re going to address me without any honorifics? Well, it’s not like I’m in a position to complain since I’m your prisoner, but even if you’re witches, your girlish appearance and age give off a very bad feeling.)
“Can you stand up?”
“Hm? Yeah, more or less…”
Raibach cast down his gaze to the water strings that bound his ankles.
“Oh, is that so? Nonoel, you can remove them.”
Uhee? – Removing the bonds on his ankles, Raibach gave out a voice which could have equally been from astonishment or admiration.
Heave-ho – Raibach stood up and stuck out his bound wrists.
“I’m going to be like this…for the whole time, right?”
“Well, I thought it would be nice if I wasn’t.”
“Then, you should give up and walk with us. If you try to escape, Nonoel will bind your ankles once more. Speaking of which, perhaps it would be better to constrain your neck too?”
“Yeah, I won’t. To begin with, I don’t think it’s even possible for me to run away from you.”
Nonoel, who heard their conversation, felt it was strange.
The fact that a human and witch could talk casually, judging from her common sense, was an unthinkable thing.
(No, well, it might be that Kay is just a bit eccentric among all of us. She would start talking even with Naga-san in an overfamiliar manner. However, I wouldn’t imagine for this human guy to talk this carefreely with us. I don’t think it’s due to Kay’s speaking style, but I’ve always believed all humans detest the witches.)
Raibach’s speech and conduct was an unexpected and refreshing experience that made Nonoel a little bit happy.
(Could it be it’s possible for both the witches and humans to understand each other……?)
Nonoel considered Naga as someone exceptional. Also, the fact that he fell from another dimension without being bound by this world’s ties of obligation, customs, or common sense was the reason he could give them a fair evaluation. This is what she thought. Nevertheless, looking at this man called Raibach, especially as somebody who wasn’t just an ordinary man, but an enemy soldier, Nonoel actually felt that not all the humans are hostile against the witches, or that they shun them.
(Could it be that such a day might come?)
She carried that wish inside her.
(No, I wonder about that. If I was to say such lines around Ane-sama, she would most likely chuckle at me saying it’s an empty dream, whereas Yuki would abuse me by saying ‘you traitor!’. Despite that…)
It may be that Naga’s evaluation wasn’t due to him coming from a different world, but instead due to his own viewpoint and way of thinking, just like this person, called Raibach.
While walking behind Raibach, who was led by Kay, Nonoel felt that their small light of hope had, yet again, shone a bit brighter.
With Naga supposedly being in the 1st fort, Ixine galloped while aiming for that place.
Kay and Nonoel, who were bringing Raibach with them, walked toward the 1st fort as well.
It wouldn’t take them long if they were to dash, but when it comes to taking along a prisoner, only walking was an option.
With Ais being forwarded by Harrigan after the latter had received a report from Ixine, the three of them linked up with Ais on their way and finally reached 1st fort just before the sunset.
Witnessing a small fort dyed in the color of the sunset and enclosed by a wooden fence in front of his eyes, Raibach had a strange feeling while reflecting on the few days he had spent here before.
(……So it’s here? Good grief. Somehow, it feels a bit nostalgic. I suffered a defeat by trying to attack this place, was demoted from being a company captain to a commander of the supply troops, and was then reinstated as a captain. Considering all of that, to think I’m here now as a prisoner of the witches. My life has changed drastically over the past few days, which makes me want to laugh.)
Once Ais and Kay talked with the witches on security, Naga and Harrigan appeared in front of them, having been brought by Ixine.
“Oi, Kay, so you managed to catch a soldier from Kasandora’s army?!”
“Ah, umm, actually it was Nonoel who did it, but…. Look, it’s this person I was talking about.”
Seeing Naga who came out of the fort, Raibach became surprised.
(So there was a man among the witc– wha, speaking of which, is this guy the rumored Dragon King? Rather than the Dragon King… he looks no different from a normal human. His attire is certainly unusual, but…… Not to mention, he gives off a distinct feeling from us.)
“Oh! So this guy is the captive?”
Naga walked straight toward Raibach.
Raibach was a bit taller in comparison with Naga.
(Watching him like this from a close range, as expected, his appearance is strange. His sword is inserted near his waist, and its shape itself is different too. Still, assuming he’s the Dragon King, he is indeed young.
Such was his first impression towards Naga.
On the other hand, Naga thought.
(I see. Certainly. it’s as they say. Despite him being brought along to a fort of the witches, this sort of composure doesn’t appear to be same as that of an ordinary soldier.)
Naga judged with a calm attitude.
“You…Your name…Wha…is called?”
There were some difficult to catch words, but Raibach understood.
(Is he talking with our language…? No, rather than talking, it feels as though his words are reverberating inside my head.)
“Umm, I’m Raibach. Raibach Lantier.”
“Is that so? My name is…… Naga.”
(Is he really the Dragon King? Or perhaps, he’s just referring to himself that way…?)
Naga who gave his name, talked to the witch next to him.
“I can’t ask him while standing, so how about we enter inside, Harrigan?”
The witch replied.
“I guess that’s the only option.”
(Huge, and by that I mean various things.)
Concealing his amazement inside his heart, Raibach ran his sight indirectly over Harrigan.
“Ah, Hari-nee, Yuuki isn’t here, right?”
Once Kay asked.
“Ah, that’s lucky. Were we to take this man in front of that girl, she would make a fuss while shouting ‘kill kill kill!’.”
Ahahaha – Harrigan laughed.
“If it’s her, she will most likely do so.”
“Oi oi, you, I don’t think it’s something to laugh about.”
Raibach retorted without thinking ahead.
“Hahaha, certainly… it isn’t a laughing matter… I guess.”
“You too! I told you it’s not something to laugh about!”
He also retorted at Naga.
Because Naga and Harrigan directed their sights at him, Raibach shrugged his shoulders in a hurry and turned his face away.
“Should we first let him rest inside a room? He must be tired from all the walking to this place.”
Raibach became astonished at Harrigan’s words.
(To think that the witches would be considerate about my fatigue. I thought they would put me into a room for interrogation without any arguing, but…. Or maybe they’re going to drive me into a dungeon?)
True – At Harrigan’s words, Kay nodded.
“Raibach, come this way.”
She showed him a building inside the fort.
“What’s that? That girl, Kay, has she already started to call him without honorifics? Certainly, she will try to be familiar with anyone when coming in contact. Well, guess that’s her main forte.”
As Naga muttered so, Ais nodded with a slightly glad expression.
“Well, shall we go too? I’m looking forward to what he has to offer.”
Naga, Ais, Nonoel, and Ixine reentered the fort.
Naga, Harrigan, Ais, Kay, Nonoel, and Ixine had gathered inside a single room of the residential building. Obviously, Raibach was also there.
Besides them, there were also other witches inside the fort, like the sisters Linna and Linne, Cu, and Harlequin, stationed at their posts.
Raibach was released from Nonoel’s water binding, however in turn, he had his wrists and waist tied up in ropes that were linked to Ais’ wrist.
By the time Nonoel released Raibach, Kay whispered silently into his ears.
“That Onee-san, you see-”
Kay pointed at Ais while speaking.
“Unlike her appearance, she’s incredibly scary, so you better not make her angry by any means. If she delivered a single hit to your body, you’d die from having all your bones smashed, or your internal organs ruptured. And if you’re hit in the head, it will blow up together with your neck, you know? I’m neither joking nor trying to threaten you, but giving you honest advice.”
Having an awfully loathsome face, Raibach nodded in agreement.
“Ugh… you mean it? Understood. I’ll pay attention to that, but…”
“You’re surprisingly kind, aren’t you?”
“Hm? Is that so?”
Kay, who tilted her head in wonder, turned her face back with a cheerful smile.
“Well, isn’t it fine? If you’re aware that I’m kind to you, you better repay it properly.”
(This girl…. Somehow, it feels like talking with my daughter’s friends. It makes me want to believe she isn’t a witch.)
At any rate, Raibach didn’t feel like running. Even if he tried, he would most likely not manage to do so from the witches. Were he to be caught, they would certainly kill him this time. Rather, it was much better to remain a prisoner.
What’s more, it didn’t seem like he had to worry about being tortured for the time being. And more than anything, being able to talk with the witches was, surprisingly for Raibach, somehow a little bit fun.
(I wonder if I could have talked like this, were my daughter still alive.)
Is what he thought.
(Then, speaking of which, I wonder what kind of questions I will have to answer. It’s not like I know anything of great value.)
Raibach, who felt a bit tense, was made to sit on a folding stool placed near the wall, and surrounded in a half-circle by the rest of the people. Naga sat was in front of him, whereas Harrigan was on Naga’s left, with Ixine being on the furthest left. Similarly, on his right side, Ais and Nonoel sat.
Naga began to speak.
“Well then, I’m not fancy of tedio….talks, so how about we go strai…to the point? Yo…., kno…something about Fort Ein, right?”
As one would expect, some words were hard to catch, but Raibach could still understand what he meant.
“I do possess the knowledge, but….”
“Do you als… know wha.. inside the fort?”
“Then how about, yo….tell me something about it, like its territory?”
“…..Why are you asking me such things?”
“I’m thin….about capturing that fort.”
Raibach became at loss for words, and the interrogation stopped for a while
Naga looked at him with a bit of a curious expression.
“What’s the matte…? Why are you tha…surprised?”
Being thrown a question, Raibach finally gained back his senses.
“Ummm…. Dragon King, I wonder if it’s fine for me to ask you something.
“I don’t mi…d”
“Is that so? If that’s the case. I’ve heard that there’s about 20 witches on this side, but is that true?”
“That would be Harrigan’s clan, you see. Since, this time, we have received a support from anot…household, the number has increased a bit. It would probably be aroun… 40, 50 people.”
“N, No, saying probably around, and on top of that, 40 to 50 people. Right now, there are as many as 300 guards stationed inside Fort Ein. Just how on Earth do you plan to capture it?”
“I wanted to consider that after I have ques…you for some information on the fort’s interior.”
“What are you talking about…. In the first place, do you think I’d leak out such information?”
Naga’s expression turned into an unexpected one.
“So yo…are not going to tell us?”
Once he was told so, Raibach responded in a yelling manner.
“Don’t be silly. I may look like a single person with no family or relatives, but I’ve got friends in that fort. Knowing that they might be killed, there’s no way for me to spill the beans. Don’t try to torture me or do anything similar to that, or I’ll pass you false details.”
Listening to his words and observing his expression, Naga made a decision in the end.
“This guy, isn’t he quite a formidable man? He looks to be someone worthy of being trusted.”
“It’s just reasonable for you to be concerned. But, you don’t have to go that far.”
“W, What do you mean?”
“We are thinking about capturing the fort without making any casualty among your soldiers.”
“Wha? You can’t be serious! Do you think I’d believe such nonsense?!”
Because Raibach lifted himself unintentionally Ais put herself on guard, however, Naga held her back and leaned forward. He fixed his eyes on Raibach’s face in front of him as if looking into it.
“You too, do you think I’m talking nonsense?”
Being seized by Naga’s gushing spirit coming from his whole body, and scorched by a strong-willed light dwelling inside his eyes, Raibach became unable to move.
(W, what’s, this bizarre force coming from this guy?)
“During the previous battle, we had to do things like that, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to repel the human army. After all, it was 20 against 2000 people. Still, I was reluctant about using that method since there was a chance for the witches to die. For the sake of our future, I’d rather prevent as many sacrifices as possible.”
Was it due to Naga’s words being filled with vigor? Or perhaps, him getting used to conversing with Naga? Raibach became able to grasp his words clearly.
“F…Future? What do you mean by future? And why do you want to take over Fort Ein?”
“It’s the first step toward establishing the country of the witches.”
“The country of the witches? What do you intend to do once you’re done with that? You mean to say, that the witches are trying to rule over humanity?”
“No, I don’t. In the end, we want to create a world where humans and the witches can both coexist. This is what I mean to say.”
(Is this guy, a fool? There’s no way for such a thing to happen. Is he serious about that?)
Not trying to hide his thoughts of being utterly amazed, Raibach opened his eyes widely and gazed at Naga. Perhaps, there was a hue of contempt displaying in Naga’s expression, however it didn’t look like he was making fun of Raibach or bragging about anything.
If it was true, then he was honest. Naga was honestly talking about creating a new world.
Raibach could sense the magnitude of Naga’s caliber, the difference which separated him and that person.
(The Dragon King, who commands the witches, and me, who can’t even fulfill my duty as a Captain. Is it natural for there to be such a difference between us? Despite that, saying he wants to create a world where both humans and the witches can live together….)
What they both looked at was far too divergent.
As well as Naga’s range of vision.
And even their aims were contrasting with each other.
(If I were to say, unlike me, who can only think within my own scope as a captain, this man possesses an overhead view, just like a bird flying at the highest altitude, and can grasp every position and movement of his enemies and allies. Is this how it feels?)
Raibach, who had devoted himself to military service, suddenly thought that way.
“……Hey, you, Dragon King. Do you honestly believe it’s possible for you to create such a world?”
“Ha? No, obviously, we should be able to do so. That’s because I’m going to live together with the witches too, and I’m not a witch myself, you see. There’s nothing that should be impossible.”
“No, you’re most likely the Dragon King, rather than a human.”
“I may be holding a grandiose name like that, but I’m actually a human, or at least an existence that’s closer to a human than that of a witch. Still, it’s not like I feel any sort of inconvenience from that, you see.”
“You as well, haven’t you been walking together with them before reaching this place? Did you feel anything unpleasant? You were able to hold a conversation with them, right?”
Kay smiled at Raibach as soon as she noticed his glimpse.
He turned his face away in a hurry.
“….There was no such thing, but…”
“Right? Be it humans or the witches, both sides can understand with each other in a proper way. If that’s the case, then creating a world where they both can coexist isn’t far from reality, and we may be able to live together. Unless you see it for yourself, you shouldn’t decide on your own.”
At Naga’s words, Raibach kept silent.
Certainly, Kay, Nonoel, and Ixine, whom he had met before, were far removed from the human’s concept of ‘vicious and inhuman witches’. Rather, they appeared to be more like girls no matter how you looked at them. Were he not to consider these three as peculiar and extraordinary witches, Raibach felt he could agree with Naga to a certain point. And looking at the other witches, such as Harrigan and Ais, it was all the more reason for him to believe they weren’t extraordinary.
In addition to him being taught a biased belief, and their appearance being far different from what he had imagined before, Raibach became confused and perplexed.
“Then, shall we return back to our topic?”
“Eh? W, What was that again?”
“That’s why, I’m telling you we want to capture Fort Ein. Of course, without making any sacrifices on either sides. Furthermore, we need some information about its interior. So the talk was regarding whether or not you would provide us with any information.”
“I’m not fully sure about that myself, but even if you gain the information, it’s impossible to seize that fort with just 40-50 people.”
“Have you forgotten we were able to defeat 2000 people from your army, even though we weren’t supposed to win?”
“No wa….t, that’s true. In other words, this time do you have a secret plan as well?”
“I wouldn’t go so far so far as to call it a secret plan, but I think it’s feasible to do so since we have magic here.”
“If you attack using magic, there’s no way for you to avoid casualties!”
“Honestly, there won’t be any. As long we follow my plan, neither humans nor the witches should suffer casualties.”
“T, Then, how?”
“I can’t tell you much regarding our magic, but how about we assume there’s one that can immobilize people? If you use it, there will be no need to fight. With that, we can boldly march into the fort from the entrance and tie up the crippled soldiers.”
“Hm… does magic like this really exist?”
“Indeed. However, for that to happen, we have to decide on the right place. And to do so, it’s necessary for us to know, in advance, how it looks inside and where the guards are deployed. Because of that, we are questioning you.”
Naga, who finished talking while brimming with self-confidence, pierced Raibach with his gaze.
“If you don’t pass us the information and force us to use violent methods, both sides will suffer losses. However, there might be more on the human side. I’d rather avoid that scene this time.”
Naga’s promise about not creating any sacrifices among the guards was a pretext for him to quickly get hold of the fort with no injuries. Nonetheless, he wasn’t bothered with that.
“W….Will you let me think for a while?”
“Fine. Still, we don’t have all the time in the world. Give me a clear reply within the next couple of days.”
With that the interrogation concluded.
Rather than saying interrogation, if one was to say, the content of their talk was far closer to a conversation.
This experience provided Raibach with a huge impact.
Harrigan and Naga decided to confine him inside a small room.
“Is it okay to leave him without anyone watching? Even if he’s tied up, the walls in the room are just single-layered. Don’t you think he might be able to break through them? Shall I keep an eye on him?”
Once she expressed her concern, Naga uttered something unexpected.
“It’s okay. But, just to make sure, I’ll stay together with him in that room.”
“Eh? Are you sure?”
“In whichever case, there’s no way for me to sleep with you guys in the same room. Or perhaps, you’d prefer to sleep with me?”
“Ah no, as expected, that’s a bit—”
“That’s right. Were I to sleep in a separate room, we would be occupying 2 rooms. It will be much more efficient for me to sleep in the same one with that guy. I may be troubling you, but please prepare bedding for 2 people.”
“I don’t mind that, but, I wonder if he won’t start acting violently.”
“As long as his legs and arms are bound, there should be no problem. Even without it, that guy doesn’t seem to have any intention of running away.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. He doesn’t appear to have a strong grudge against the witches. Perhaps, him not having a family or relatives in Kasandora is also one of the main reasons for that. Well, if you still insist on helping, I won’t reject it, but…”
“Then, I shall assist you a bit. Is it fine, Harrigan-nee?”
“If you want to do so, then fine. However, don’t cause any commotion. Got it?”
“I’m not like Ais, who would do that when getting drunk.”
Ais cracked a smile.
“Well well. I wonder, what’s the meaning of that, Kay-chan?”
Ais’ face was smiling except for her eyes.
“Ah…. ummm, nothing in particular. Yes, not at all.”
Being aware of her sight, Kay’s forehead became covered in a cold sweat.
Still…- Ais, who was grinning, stared at Kay for a while; nevertheless, the latter soon shifted her gaze.
Ahead of her, there was Raibach sitting in the corner of the room.
“That’s a bit strange, isn’t it? I’ve always thought that every human would loath us and keep their distance. To think that such people still exist.”
That’s exactly what I think – As soon she uttered that with a small voice, Naga said so while nodding in agreement.
“Since there are guys like him among humans, perhaps our wish of creating a world for humans and the witches isn’t just a pipe dream?”
“True. I’ve got the feeling it’s fine to place our trust in what Naga-san says.”
“Oi, wait a moment. Ais, do you mean to say you haven’t been trusting in my words until now?”
”Eh? Honestly, I’ve been doing that all this time, you know?”
Naga made a pathetic expression.
“No, just now, you….”
Or, maybe not… – As he was about to say, he changed his mind.
“Whatever. I’ll be sleeping together with him in the same room, so fret not. I’ll let you know when he’s in the mood for speaking.”
“Yes, understood. But before that, let’s have dinner. I’ll make a portion for him as well. Kay, I’m going to call you once I’m done, so please bring it to him, okay?”
Naga and Kay brought Raibach into a plain-looking room that resembled a storage shed. Having done everything he had to do, Naga removed his sword from his waist belt, pushed away a mess on the floor into the corner, and spread out a quilt in an open space. Then, he sat on it and leaned his back against the wall.
Next to him, Kay also sat down.
Owing to the fact that Raibach was tied up in ropes and fastened to a pillar, they didn’t have to fear an attack by him, even if they decided to nod off.
Not being mindful of Raibach’s presence, Kay spoke to Naga.
“Naga-san, shall we continue our talk from earlier today?”
“Ah? What talk?”
“That’s why, I’m telling you it’s the talk about the witches not knowing their fathers.”
“Ahh, that’s right, you’ve mentioned about it before. Oops, my bad.”
Naga took a short glimpse at Raibach, and shook his head in agreement.
“Let’s do it on some other occasion. This may be not something a human should hear, right?”
“I guess so…. Still, if that’s the case,”
“Is there something that troubles you?”
“Not really, but I thought it would be nice to chat since we have some free time.”
“Free time? Seriously, you are….”
Naga put a wry smile on his face without realizing.
“I’ve got an idea. Naga-san, how about we wrestle with our arms? I may be not as strong as Ais, but I’m quite proud of my strength. Look, I’m an athletic type of person, you know? Therefore—”
Naga ran his eyes over Kay’s body without any reservation.
“You don’t really appear as such. Well, maybe you do, but–”
“I was told something rude just now.”
“Then, Kay, my dear representative of athletes. Will you take me as your opponent?”
Naga lay on his belly and put his right elbow on the floor. Soon after that, Kay moved to his front and did the same thing.
They grasped each other’s right hand.
“Come at me anytime.”
“Three, two, one, goooo!”
It was a close-fought contest of strength, but
Naga’s hand was finally pushed down by Kay’s own.
“It’s a hundred years too early for you to win against me.”
“Fine by me, but you see, it won’t change much.”
While smiling wryly, Naga kept competing numerous times.
Raibach watched them both with a dumbfounded expression.
(Those guys. Could it be they’ve been ignoring me from the beginning? Or perhaps, they are trusting me? Whichever it is, they sure have some guts. As for me, just the fact that I’m inside a fort of the witches doesn’t let me rest at ease.)
Watching, with a sidelong glance, how Kay and Naga were enthusiastically competing with each other, Raibach exhaled a sigh.
(Good grief, I wonder what fate is going to await me. It doesn’t look like I’ll be killed any time soon, but If I continue to insist about not wanting to talk, they too will eventually lose their temper. Had I known about this, I’d have long resigned from the army and become a guard of some merchant caravan. Anyway, I don’t have any family left, so travelling from one place to another while doing precarious trades would also be worth considering, I guess.)
The appearance of Raibach’s deceased wife and daughter resurfaced in his mind.
He remembered his beautiful, gentle wife together with their good-natured and cute daughter.
About the time he first married his wife.
About Erina’s birth.
About the time she turned 2 years old.
About the time she turned 5 years old.
And then, 8 in age.
Back then, his wife was still healthy.
They lived a frugal life, but despite being fairly hungry and feeling little freedom, the three of them huddled together and lived happily.
Their joyful moments as a family floated one by one in his head, and then disappeared.
However, such a blissful scene wouldn’t last forever. Raibach knew that more than anyone as he tried not to recall his memories. But, once they started to overflow, it wasn’t easy to stop them.
It happened one day when his daughter was looking after his ill wife at home. Being overjoyed and full of spirit, Raibach returned back to his city after committing a meritorious deed. Nevertheless, by the time he arrived, the city had already become scorched earth.
Some savage tribe had decided to attack when the city’s garrison was short-handed.
Invading the city, they killed, burned, stole randomly, and then escaped.
It was over by the time Raibach’s assigned troop returned.
Raibach, who was at a loss for words, looked at the city that was no different from a burnt field.
He tried to search for his wife and daughter desperately, but could find no trace of them.
There were lots of scorched corpses, lying in burned houses and on the streets, all of which were hard to tell apart. For that reason, Raibach couldn’t manage to hold a mourning for his family in the end.
Provided they were taken away as a prize, it was possible they would still be alive, even as slaves. He wanted to think that way, however, with his wife being ill and his daughter still being a child, Raibach knew the chance of that was slim.
Even now, his body would tremble and his heart would throb whenever he thought back at his despair, hatred, and remorse from that day. His mind still haunted by his regret from that time.
Why didn’t the army increase the garrison stationed to defend against barbarians?
Why did it have to be his troop that left the city at that time?
Why did he aspire to join a mission troop?
To begin with, why did he enter into military service?
Why Why Why Why Why Why! Why! WHY!
Later, Raibach would contemplate on that repeatedly each day.
Having lost his hometown and his family, he wandered through borderlands, after which he was finally admitted into Kasandora’s army. Nevertheless, he later decided not to marry and remained a bachelor.
From his eyes that looked up at the bottom of the roof, a stream of tears spilled over.
(Good grief. If I can’t even protect my wife and my daughter, then becoming a soldier is meaningless.)
Rubbing his tears, Raibach released the strength from his body and lay down on his quilt.
Before anyone could notice, Naga and Kay, who had stopped arm wrestling, looked at him with a sidelong glance. However, in the end, they wouldn’t speak to him.