|Author: Hayaken||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2,520 characters|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1,156 words|
|Editor(s): Hydra, Lilith|
Something is wrong with Ripple——?
After hearing the news, neither Inglis nor Rafinha could relax and enjoy the food. They shoved as many serving as they could into their cheeks and left the banquet hall in haste. The group followed Eris to the audience room. Ripple was there, or so it seemed. As soon as they arrived, they were greeted with numerous Magic Stone Beast corpses littering the place.
「… This is where the main battle took place, huh.」
「Yeah. There are quite a few——」
「Still, they did a great job suppressing it. As expected of the official Knight order.」
Here was the Royal Castle. The heart of the Kingdom. Naturally, Knights of the Imperial Guard were picked from the top of the crops. Since it was a surprise attack, many of them were injured, however—— The tense atmosphere still decorated the room. Everyone was encircling something in the distance, cautiously observing whatever it was beyond the human wall.
There was Raphael in the middle of the circle. There were also Prince Wayne and several Highlanders, prominent with their stigma. Raphael must have rushed here to guard them.
「Lady Eris——! How were the other places?」
Raphael recognized Eris, then called out to her.
「I don’t think there’s any problem. It looks like a good number of them showed up in the big room downstairs, but these girls took out most of them.」
「I see. As expected of you three.」
「How’s the situation here?」
「No change. Still in stagnant activity.」
Raphael’s gaze was directed to the center of the circle, where Ripple lay unconscious. She was not merely asleep, apparent with the ominous-looking hemisphere made of black light enveloping her body.
「W-, what is that——」
The area around Ripple appeared hazy, like a wavering mirage. It was easy even for Rafinha to grasp that this was not a simple matter in just a single glance.
「The space is contorting…? It’s obviously not a natural phenomenon, is it?」
「Could it be that this ominous light brought the Magic Stone Beast——?」
Eris nodded at Leone’s words.
「Yes. When she suddenly collapsed and wrapped up in that light, the contortions widened and Magic Stone Beasts poured out… We suppressed them, but we’re completely clueless of the situation—」
The last time a Magic Stone Beast appeared, Ripple’s condition crumpled as well.
Was that a premonition of sorts? Just what is happening?
「No way. You mean a Hyrule Menace summoned Magic Stone Beasts and attacked us…」
Voices of doubt rose amid everyone in the scene.
「Could she have betrayed us for the Ironblood Chain Brigade…!?」
So long a precedent in the shape of Leon existed, the Knights couldn’t be blamed for being skeptical. Perhaps the thought also crossed Eris’ mind. She didn’t refute the statement and just let it pass.
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If so, then I shall be the one to be the voice of reason, thought Inglis, but then——
There was already someone who raised their voice, reminding the rest that the world wasn’t as simple as a jigsaw puzzle.
「Wrong! Miss Eris and Miss Ripple will never do that! Not only did Miss Eris try to stop Mister Leon back in Ymir, but she also helped us! All of you should have known better that they are good people, shouldn’t you? Miss Eris and Miss Ripple have protected this Kingdom and the people time and again as Hyrule Menaces. Please, just believe in your own partners!!」
Of course, there was nobody else who would stand up and say such things except Rafinha. If being a good person was a qualification to be trusted, then Leon was also a good person himself, and so her argument was as loud as it was unconvincing. One also might say it was truly childish.
However, that was precisely why she shone so brightly. That pure innocence of hers was nothing short of genuine. Inglis couldn’t help herself but be endeared by Rafinha. Just how would she grow from now on? She was looking forward to it as she continued protecting her from the side.
「… Of course we know that. What you say is true, but still——」
One of the Knights responded like so. With a plop, Eris put her hand on Rafinha’s shoulder.
「Don’t be mad at them, they have their reasons. It is their duty, after all. They must be aware of dangers all the time. We just need to show them by our action that we’re not guilty.」
Said Eris nonchalantly.
Rafinha was a bit peeved, perhaps thinking that she was scolded.
「But, well, let me say my gratitude. Thanks.」
Looking at his little sister, Raphael then whispered to Inglis.
「… Phew. Rani’s a stranger to reservation; she sure made me nervous. They would take it as me favoring her if I covered her, so I couldn’t open my mouth carelessly.」
「She is always like this, you know? No matter the place, no matter the opponent. That, I think, is what so great about her.」
「If that’s what you think, Glis, then I feel relieved.」
Then someone stepped into the middle of the circle. It was a young man, a Highlander with how a stigma was embedded on his forehead.
「I agree with her opinion. Hyrule Menaces are Guardian Deities who descended from the sky to the ground. If you don’t believe in them and join your hands together, it will be hard to continue living on this land in which the Prism Flow poured upon. These girls were originally people who lived in Midland too, and they sacrificed themselves to become a Hyrule Menace in order to protect Midland. I wish nothing but you to understand their very root.」
Was this young man the new Special Envoy that had been mentioned earlier? If that was the case, then his first impression to Inglis was that he was intelligent, temperate, but also strong-willed. She had to say that he was totally different from his predecessor.
「Then, you were once a Midlander too, Miss Eris——?」
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That said, Ripple had also subtly hinted at it in her previous statement once.
「Lord Theodore. I am not comfortable to talk about the past——」
Eris seemed not too keen to touch her past, however.
「Forgive me, I didn’t think of your feelings. At any rate, until we have a solid clue, please continue putting your trust in them. Their existence is also proof of friendship between the Highland and Midland. Naturally, I will also help clarify the situation. This will be my first assignment as a Special Envoy.」
「Theodore. Have you any guess?」
Asked Prince Wayne within the circle, watching over the scene.
「I can’t rashly conclude it, but I’ve grasped the gist of it. Perhaps it’s linked to the circumstances of us Highlanders.」
Replied the Special Envoy Theodore with a bitter smile.
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