Monday, September 18, 2023 @

Volume 2 Chapter 32 Verdict

 When I absentmindedly turned on the TV in the morning, my drowsiness disappeared as I read the big letters on the screen: "Large Number of Unconscious People in the Middle of the Night, Cause Unknown," "Upper Part of Building and Road Surface Collapsed, Possible Meteorite Impact."

 It seemed that last night, two separate incidents had occurred simultaneously at the exact same time. One involved several people fainting and collapsing for unknown reasons, and the other saw the upper part of a building collapsing due to some mysterious cause.

 Scary stuff. You never know what can happen in this world.

 That aside, I wondered why my call history on my phone was filled with calls from Kagami-san. I thought I had informed her about the events of last night over the phone. Did I make a mistake by ending the call right after asking her to take care of the aftermath, saying something like, "Even magicians can't handle everything, you know⁉ Do you really understand that⁉" I should apologize and bring her a nice gift the next time we meet.

 As I stared at the TV with a distant look, I was interrupted from behind.

 "Good morning. What are you watching?"

 "Good morning. It's nothing important."

 I quickly turned off the TV. When I turned around, I saw a lavishly dressed girl in an apron.

 "Is that so? Breakfast will be ready soon."

 "Oh, thank you. I'm starving."

 Setting the dishes while exuding an incredibly newlywed vibe was none other than Princess Kanami herself. By the way, most of the footage shown on the news earlier was the work of hers. Although it was due to circumstances beyond her control, it wasn't something she needed to actively share with the public.

 "Is Lisha still asleep?"

 "She's still sound asleep, desu~wa. Using too much magic power last night seems to have affected her."

 "I see, it must have been nerve-wracking to use Sanctuary."

 Normally, I would tease her for being a sleepyhead, but I should refrain from doing so today. Thanks to her, the damage was minimal.

 As I thought about that, Kanami stared at me intently. It's embarrassing to be stared at like that.

 "Why are you so energetic, Yuusuke-sama? You were covered in wounds all over your body yesterday."

 "Well, I healed after a good night's sleep."

 "I see..."

 She looked at me as if she couldn't believe it. What's with that look?

 Well, even though I said that, I'm still far from fully recovered. I should be completely back to normal after another two days of rest, so I'd like to take it easy for a while.

 As I was about to start eating the breakfast Kanami had prepared, the intercom rang.

 Huh? It's still early for visitors. Could it be Kagami-san? Did she come here in a fit of anger?

 "Shall I get it?"

 "No, I'll go."

 For a moment, I considered pretending not to be home, but I didn't know what would happen if I got caught later. So, I reluctantly headed to the front door.

 I must be prepared.

 "Sorry, Kagami-san! I sincerely apologize for what happened la..."


 When I opened the door, it wasn't Kagami-san who stood there.

 It was a stunningly beautiful woman in white skinny jeans and a black shirt.

 Who is she? I don't know any mature beauty like her.

 At first, I genuinely didn't recognize her, but then I saw her white hair neatly tied up. There's only one person who would come to our house with such hair color.

 "Uh, was it Irial-san?"

 As I mentioned the name I learned from Kanami last night, the beautiful woman nodded slightly.

 No mistake about it. Although she didn't have armor or a spear, this person was the Winged Guardian.

 But seeing her up close like this, she's astonishingly beautiful. Her ice-blue, almond-shaped eyes and the powerful aura that could make even Matsuda swoon were quite something.

 "Who are you?"

 Irial-san looked at me with a puzzled expression. Right, from her perspective, I'm just a weirdo who hangs out with Lisha without being a magician.

 "I'm Yamamoto Yuusuke. I'm with Lisha and the others for a reason. What can I do for you?"

 When I inquired, Irial-san narrowed her eyes. We had gone together to rescue her sister yesterday, but afterwards, we went our separate ways by her choice. From her perspective, she had just been in a life-and-death battle with her opponents until recently, so I could understand her feelings.

 Irial-san seemed like she wanted to say something, but she opened and closed her mouth several times.

 ...I'm getting hungry.

 "Big sister, what are you doing?"

 I heard a somewhat high-pitched voice.

 It was a girl's voice, but it felt more youthful than high-pitched.

 When I looked down, a girl with white hair and ice-blue eyes peeked out from behind Irial-san. She shared the same characteristics with Irial-san but had shorter hair that reached her neck and rounder, larger eyes.

 She's cute, with a small animal-like charm that's incredibly endearing.

 However, the girl stepped forward and began speaking cheerfully, contrary to her appearance.

 "I am Yunea, a Spiritual Maiden (Woman) at the Holy Goddess Church. I heard that we received a great favor from you from my sister last night, so I came to at least express my gratitude."

 "Oh, thank you. I'm Yamamoto Yuusuke."

 "Nice to meet you, Yuusuke-sama. I'm sorry to bother you, but are Kanami-sama and the others at home?"

 Since I had seen her face yesterday, I immediately recognized her.

 She was Irial-san's little sister and played the role of a "key."

 I wonder if it's a tradition for people with connections to the Holy Goddess Church to become "keys," just like Lisha.

 "Yeah, they're here. Please come in."

 I directed the latter part of my response towards Irial-san, who was still looking stiff.

 With that, the four of us squeezed into our small room. It felt like the fantasy density here was so high that it might as well be Asteris, with three-quarters of the room occupied by people from another world. By the way, the Saint, who could be considered Yunea-san's superior, had been moved to the bathroom with a blanket and was sleeping soundly. Since there was no place for her to sit even if she woke up, I hoped she would continue to sleep for a while.

 Sitting down, Irial-san looked around the room with a curious expression. I wonder if she's interested in the room of someone from another world.

 "Is something the matter?"

 "No, it's nothing."

 "Is that so?"

 Why is she speaking so formally? I felt like she used to have a more brash attitude. Maybe it's my imagination.

 "So, what brings you here so early in the morning?"

 I could sense a hint of irritation in Kanami's voice. She probably didn't want the breakfast she prepared to get cold.

 But since they were also participants in the God-Demon War, exchanging information was important, so there was no helping it.

 While I was thinking about that, Irial-san and Yunea-san suddenly did something unexpected.

 Both of them bowed deeply, with their foreheads touching the floor. Irial-san began to speak in a heavy and solemn tone while maintaining that posture.

 "I want to express my gratitude for helping Yunea in this matter. What I did cannot be forgiven, but please, if nothing else, spare Yunea—my sister. Everything was my decision, and she knew nothing about it."


 In response to Irial-san's heavy and rigid voice, Yunea-san lifted her head.

 "I'm sorry! It's because I showed a weakness that my sister... I'll accept punishment as well. You can use me in any way you want, so please spare my sister's life!"

 "...I see."

 So, that's why they came.

 Betraying humanity and siding with demons is a grave crime, one that would typically result in immediate execution without much thought. Moreover, Kanami, a member of the imperial family, was here. She couldn't allow them to dismiss their crimes in front of her. Kanami bears the most significant responsibility, one she has carried since the moment she was born, and she would not let that go easily.

 Well, I guess there's no helping it.

 "Kanami, I'll step out for a moment."

 When I said that and looked at Kanami, she nodded slightly.

 I left the three of them and headed outside. The morning sun was dazzling, and I couldn't help but feel the fatigue from yesterday settling into my body.

 Mistakes aren't tolerated on a battlefield where lives are at stake. And if it's an intentional betrayal, it's even more severe.

 There's plenty of room for sympathy towards Irial-san and the others.

 I'm not used to handling this kind of aftermath; I'm usually all about the fighting.

 I wonder what she would do in this situation.

 Born into the royal family and having experienced the battlefield, she had always handled negotiations and post-battle matters that we weren't good at. I found myself sighing as I dredged up memories from the past.

* * *

 The atmosphere in the room grew heavy. The steam from breakfast had dissipated, and a stifling air weighed down on Irial and the others.

 They were like condemned prisoners kneeling on the executioner's block.

 As Irial lowered her head, a sharp metallic sound reached her ears.

 "W-wait a moment!"

 "Stop it, Yunea!"

 Irial instinctively shouted, stopping her younger sister.

 Yunea fully understood what was now directed at her sister's head. Kanami's fingers rested lightly on the trigger of the gun pointed at her white head. In this tense atmosphere, any small trigger might cause her fingers to move. She spoke:

 "I said it last night, didn't I? Treason must be met with death. And my belief in that remains unchanged. I didn't shoot you last night because someone else didn't think that way. If that person gives their permission, I'll personally blow your head off."

 "...That person?"

 Irial instinctively questioned the words she had heard last night. Kanami's actions displayed a high level of dignity, even in the midst of battle. It was similar to nobles who occasionally came to the church for worship. But maintaining that dignity even on the battlefield was exceptionally challenging.

 With her status and noble upbringing, Irial must be a significant figure who had been cast aside. Who could the person she respectfully referred to be?

 However, that question had been a mistake.

 "Such a fool."

 A terribly cold voice emanated from Kanami's mouth. The ease and casualness of a warrior vanished, replaced by an imposing voice filled with royal authority and power.

 "I'm astonished by your ignorance and foolishness. You clearly have no understanding of even these circumstances. Such a dull mind is hardly necessary. I could easily take your head right here."

 In that moment, Irial understood that she had unwittingly provoked Kanami.

 For Irial, "that person" was evidently of great significance.

 Despite regretting her choices, Irial lifted her head. She thought, "I don't care what happens to me, but I'll do anything to save Yunea."

 As she raised her head, she saw Kanami pointing a gun at her. And entirely unnoticed, another presence had entered the room.

 By the window, bathed in the morning sun, stood a figure in silver armor that gleamed smoothly.

 Emerald light radiated from the eyes, and it surveyed Irial and the others with a piercing gaze.

 The identity of this mysterious Silver Knight, the one who had effortlessly subdued the demons that had overwhelmed Irial, was unquestionably formidable.

 Indeed, she had wondered about it. If this figure was a guardian, then where was the "key"?

 The only thing that was clear was that the Silver Knight was the most powerful presence among them all.

 Unbeknownst to her, sweat had formed on Irial's slender jawline.

 "'Lower your gun.'"


 Without any protest, Kanami immediately lowered her gun.

 Indeed, this Silver Knight must be the "person" Kanami had mentioned. While Irial had speculated about it, she had no idea who he, or perhaps she, was.

 In a voice that resonated deep in the gut and carried an undercurrent of magic power, the Silver Knight spoke:

 "Guardian, why do you bow your head?"

 "That's... because I betrayed the Goddess."

 "'Betrayed'? That's not accurate.'"

 Irial's words were interrupted as the Silver Knight asserted so.

 Yunea's eyes widened in surprise, and Irial continued to look up at the Silver Knight, saying nothing.

 There was only emerald light in the depths of those cheekbones. No emotion could be discerned from the flickering light.

 "'In battle, it's a matter of winning or losing. Kanami, what is defeat in this battle?'"

 "Well, it's losing the 'key,' desu~wa."

 "'In that case, any action taken to prevent the 'key' from dying is not betrayal. If, as a result, you achieve the greatest victory without anyone dying, what's the problem?'"

 Initially, Irial didn't understand what was being said. But after a moment, she began to grasp the Silver Knight's point.

 Ultimately, if the action was taken to win, then it wasn't betrayal.

 Certainly, there might be some validity to that perspective, but Irial had chosen Yunea over humanity without a doubt. It wasn't for the sake of winning the God-Demon War but because she didn't want her sister to die.

 The Silver Knight was well aware of such things. The momentary relief was immediately shattered by the Silver Knight's words.

 "'If I were to blame your shortcomings, it would be for your weakness.'"

 The words were like a sharp blade that pierced through her chest. Sometimes, the truth came with intense pain.

 "'If you want to protect something, then weakness is a sin. No one else, but yourself, will judge you for all eternity.'"

 "...Yes. I will never forget your kindness."

 "'Regardless of the reason, if you obstruct us again, I will cut you down.'"

 Yunea seemed to understand the meaning of these words, as her face brightened and she lowered her head again.

 "Thank you!"

 Her younger sister's joyful voice. Irial deeply engraved the Silver Knight's words into her heart once more.

 They were fortunate this time. A strong human had come to their rescue, and that person was a person of integrity.

 Two miracles had overlapped, without which Irial and Yunea wouldn't be here now.

 They needed to become stronger, and quickly, to ensure that this smile would never fade.

* * *

 "Thank you!"

 A voice of joy echoed in the room.

 Without revealing my name, I had established my position through a display of violence, and now I stood here. My heart ached at Yunea-san's pure and innocent smile. I hadn't done anything to deserve gratitude. It was merely a calculation of gains and losses, and I had made the judgment that would benefit us the most.

 I glanced at Kanami, and she nodded slightly.

 That's right, killing Irial here wasn't the best course of action. In a war where replacements were scarce, the value of a Guardian was significant.

 So, the outcome had been predetermined from the start. It was just a matter of how to get there. This time, Kanami had played the role of the villain for us, and I had taken on the role of the advisor. A charade where we juggled our true feelings with appearances.

 To say that weakness was a sin, it was quite the statement. I had committed far graver sins than Irial-san, that much was certain.

 As I spoke, I realized how deeply my words cut into my own heart. It was my weakness that had caused countless lives to slip through my fingers. But even so, in this situation, I had to speak up. I couldn't afford to lose Irial-san now. It might not be a perfect score, but maybe it was enough to avoid failing. Eris would probably have some harsh words if she were here.


 Looking out the window, the sky was painfully clear and blue. This battle was more exhausting than any other. Right now, I just wanted to take off this armor as soon as possible and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

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