Warning: This chapter contains intense scenes. Reader discretion is advised.
I took refuge in the restroom to regroup and come up with a plan.
My biggest mistake this time was coming as “Maito.”
I should have disguised myself as someone like Rosemary. What was I thinking?
Well, I guess it’s convenient in some ways for people to recognize me as someone from another world. It makes it easier for them to approach me and has its advantages.
Moreover, it serves as a threat, showing them that I possess unknown combat abilities, especially in situations where I might get separated from President.
If I go back to the gentleman from earlier, I’ll have to continue posing as Maito. But… being Maito would be more convenient in some situations.
Especially if I want to make contact with Fukuyama-kun…
Based on everything I’ve heard so far, the situation unfolds like this:
Someone is trying to manipulate or gain influence in other countries through successful investments.
Fukuyama-kun is the one who approached with the investment proposal.
Adding my interpretation, it would go like this:
Fukuyama-kun is somehow raising investments to somehow manipulate the country governed by Itoigawa-senpai.
I think he might have made contact with the former king in some way. Considering the connection between the temple and the hero, it’s not strange to think that he had contact with the royal and noble families through the High Priest.
Moreover, we should consider that Fukuyama-kun is capable of “transferring” or something similar without using any equipment. There’s a significant possibility that he possesses skills we don’t know about, such as being able to warp to places he has never been to before.
Well, all this is just speculation. My interpretations are heavily influenced by my own biases.
Acting based on speculation would be foolish. I need solid evidence for that. Hence, I should be the one to act.
President can’t move. In the first place, there’s a high chance that Fukuyama-kun would escape the moment they encounter each other.
I wonder if Utagawa-san has ever met Fukuyama-kun before. If not, I could ask her for help, but… I think it’s better if I handle this.
In President’s words, it wouldn’t be rational.
For that, what I need is… courage and thick skin.
In the worst case, I can pretend to be drunk and clueless about everything.
Alright, I’m ready.
I’ve tied up my hair and put on light makeup. And I’m wearing heels, dressed in a style completely different from my usual look.
I’m betting on Fukuyama-kun’s preconceptions, my acting skills, and my “silly” demeanor.
…If worst comes to worst and I’m found out, I’ll just pretend to have amnesia or something like that. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.
With a bit of blush on my face for the “disguise,” I pretend to be a bit tipsy and return to the venue.
The Nice Middle-aged man from earlier, with a smile on his face, beckons me over, and I respond with a smile as well as I head towards him.
Of course, Fukuyama-kun, who was there, is taken aback when he sees me. Well, it’s natural to be surprised when someone you thought was dead is suddenly standing in front of you.
“Are you feeling okay now?”
“Yes. I rested for a bit, and I’m feeling better now.”
“I’m glad to hear that… Oops, I apologize for the late introduction. This is Lord Fukuyama. Like you, he’s also from a foreign land… Do you know each other?”
Before Fukuyama-kun can react, I immediately reply!
“…Uh, were you a first-year student?”
“Eh? Um… I’m a first-year student, and I didn’t recognize you. You must be a senior, right?”
…Now then, I have no way of knowing what exactly Fukuyama-kun was thinking at this moment.
But I think, just maybe, he thought… maybe.
…That I was, my own sister. Yeah, that’s what I think he might have thought.
“Ah, um, could it be, you’re Maito-san’s sister!?”
Yes, yes, yes! Got him! Hook, line, and sinker!
“Eh?! You know my big sister?
Of course, I don’t have a sister. I don’t even have a younger sister. I only have two big brothers who are unnecessarily huge.
I try to act more sister-like as I respond, and Fukuyama-kun starts stumbling over his words in an amusing way.
“Oh, uh, I see, Maito-san has a sister.”
…The conversation isn’t flowing smoothly. But that’s fine. It’s better this way. A conversation that doesn’t flow smoothly is more advantageous.
“Um, Fukuyama-senpai, right? Um… do you happen to know anything about my big sister?”
When I ask that, Fukuyama-kun, as expected, seems to have difficulty finding the right words. Hahaha, get more flustered, flustered.
“Eh, well… I haven’t met her yet, I think.”
Tell me a lie, you rascal.
…Well, yeah, it’s not easy to say, “Your sister has passed away.” Yeah, it’s probably the right judgment.
Fukuyama-kun looks a bit disappointed, and he hurries to console me. Well, yeah… he’s not a bad person either.
Just a ridiculously stubborn idiot who doesn’t listen to others.
…But you know, people who don’t listen to others can be worse in nature than those who listen to others.
“By the way, Fukuyama-dono, why don’t you talk to her about that investment? She seems like a clever person. It could be a valuable encounter for you.”
There we go, there we go. Nice, Nice Middleman!
“Investment? What’s that, Senpai?”
“Oh… Well, you see, our group seems to have caused some trouble in another country.”
Nice Middleman brings me another drink, and I pretend to take a sip while listening to the conversation.
“Maito-san, do you have any skills?”
It seems a bit awkward for him to call my name, probably because he thought I was dead.
“I think they used that skill for mischief. One of the students took over an entire country located in the sea southwest of here.”
…Oh really? I see, I see. Yeah… So what?
“I heard that story from the original king. I want to help him, but even if the king is restored, the problem won’t be solved. It seems that all the nobles in that country have been brainwashed.”
Yeah, I know. The queen corrupted all of them, I know.
“So I thought maybe we could remove those nobles from their positions and replace them with proper ones, but it seems that we need money for that.”
…The conversation continued.
In short, including some speculation, it seems to be like this:
“Fukuyama-kun is talking about a plan to replace the nobles, just as Itoigawa-senpai mentioned. He wants to team up with the former king to carry out a noble replacement operation.”
That’s what I think.
Everything has two sides. From the perspective of the former king, that’s what it looks like. He was dethroned and his country taken over by a mysterious woman with strange powers.
However, labeling the former king as a tyrant or the incident with the female students being in danger as merely Itoigawa-senpai’s perspective, I don’t have enough evidence to conclude that the former king was evil. From his perspective, it might have been a bolt from the blue.
Nevertheless, if I were to intervene, I would choose to help Itoigawa-senpai. There are situational reasons to support her, and I also trust her more than Fukuyama-kun.
…Is that unfair?
Continuing to endure the relentless drink attacks from the Nice Middleman and going along with Fukuyama-kun’s conversation, I found out that he possesses a skill similar to an upgraded version of “transfer.”
He probably used this skill to appear in various places before. I knew it.
Then I heard about the new nobles who were forced into the underwater city and the ones who turned traitor, and ultimately, the plan to defeat the “evil” queen. He’s also gathering forces for that purpose.
Alright, now I have all the information I need.
I should have enough time to come up with countermeasures.
“Oh, by the way, Maito-san…”
“Yes, what is it, Senpai?”
“Where does Maito-san live now?”
…Where am I currently living?
“Why do you ask?”
…Our secret technique of miscommunication strikes again.
“Eh? Well, it’s just that, if you’re interested, would you like to come to where I am?”
“Where is Senpai now?”
“I’m in the southern 2nd district of the royal capital. I do hold a noble title. Until recently, I was at the temple, but the Demon King’s forces attacked, and the High Priest went missing. I’m staying in the royal capital to search for him.”
…Yes, that Demon King is me. And the High Priest isn’t in the Royal Capital, he’s in a shrine.
“So, what do you think? Want to live together? There’s an empty room.”
I can’t just reveal my current location, but making something up would be troublesome later.
Now, what should I do? Maybe I should go for the Suzumoto-style machine-gun miscommunication talk, but just as I was considering it, the sound of a piano sharply echoed through the venue.
…Ah, Pachelbel’s Canon. The touch of the piano is still strangely sharp.
Fukuyama-kun, who instinctively looked for the source of the sound, was dumbfounded.
I knew it already, so I’m not particularly surprised. Besides, I already know who’s playing it.
…President apparently learned to play the piano until middle school.
He can still play to some extent, it seems.
…To some extent? Something like this.
I have to admit, I’m impressed by President. What an elegant way to provoke Fukuyama-kun. Just by performing a single piece on the piano, he managed to provoke an attack from Fukuyama-kun himself.
Fukuyama-kun grabbed a knife from the nearby cutlery, activated his “Energy Sword,” and lunged at President.
President, with a surprised expression, turned around. Yes, I know it’s an act.
From the shadows behind President, a figure dressed in jet-black attire emerged and swept Fukuyama-kun’s legs. Then, the figure disappeared back into the shadows. Not many people could see Hariu, I suppose.
“You scoundrel! Take this! Hyah!”
“I won’t let you! Hiyah! Hiyah!”
“He’s tricky! Die!”
And as Fukuyama-kun fell down, the poison enthusiasts, no, the eccentric members of the nobility, took the opportunity to throw decorative test tubes or vials at him from somewhere.
Ah, that’s right. They usually keep those poisons carefully tucked away and hardly ever use them. But now that they have a reason to use them, of course, they will.
But Fukuyama-kun is also an otherworlder, after all. He instantly warps behind President and raises the knife to strike him.
President, at a disadvantage in close combat, quickly distances himself and seizes the opportunity for Hariu to strike from the shadows. President follows up with his own attack.
It seems that the delicate line between not wanting to kill Fukuyama-kun and not holding back too much is making the battle challenging for both Hariu and President.
One reason President cannot move freely might be the fear of causing the mansion to collapse if he uses earth magic.
Hariu’s combat style is more about disruption, ambushes, and delivering a single deadly blow, which puts him at a disadvantage in a chaotic melee like this.
…However, I never expected Fukuyama-kun to relentlessly attack President and Hariu with poison still affecting him. Moreover, each strike is deadly serious. He’s here to kill, no doubt about it.
…Should we retreat? Ideally, Fukuyama-kun would withdraw, but it seems that’s not going to happen.
Alright. I signal President and Hariu to come over, and when they both approach, I’m about to use “Trans…
Suddenly, I feel a hole in my left chest.
Ugh… The bleeding won’t stop. It must be the knife from the “Energy Sword” flying at me. I can see the knife stuck in the wall behind me… Ah, this is undoubtedly my lung, and maybe even my heart, that got hit and destroyed.
Oh no, the wound… Looking at it, my head starts to feel dizzy. My vision is tilting 90 degrees.
With a hole in my lung, I can’t breathe properly. I can’t even make a sound.
How could you do this, Fukuyama-kun! I gaze at him with fading eyes, my thoughts filled with frustration. He looks at me in shock, then starts trembling… and screams.
Then, it seems like he warped away and disappeared.
“Maito-san! Maito-san! Can you use ‘Transfer’!?”
President takes off his coat and presses it against my wound.
Oh, right. If I don’t “Transfer,” I won’t be able to reach the healing area. Okay, I’ll… “Transfer,” “Trans…