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Me and Airi were silently eating dinner in a restaurant while a pianist was playing music.
“I-Imperial Princess Airi, this is today’s relishes.”
The waiter lines up the food nervously.
The reason is most likely the brooding face of Airi.
It has already been 10 minutes, but Airi has barely spoken anything.
“Excuse me~…Airi-sama?” (Eugene)
“…Call me without honorifics like in the past.” (Airi)
When I spoke to her, she muttered this back.
“Uhm…so, Airi, what did you call me here for?” (Eugene)
“What? You plan on leaving immediately after business is done?” (Airi)
“No, that’s…” (Eugene)
“Then, you don’t need to hurry and ask!” (Airi)
She faced away with a ‘hmph!’.
(…The issue of my childhood friend having become a pain of a woman.) (Eugene)
“You must be thinking I am a pain of a woman, right?” (Airi)
“No, no, there’s no way.” (Eugene)
“It was written on your face.” (Airi)
She easily read my thoughts.
She hasn’t changed on that front.
“This here is a soup made of Pearl Turtle.”
The next dish was brought to us while we were having that talk.
Are we having a full course here?
There’s no such refined food in the Dungeon City and the Magic Academy. The food when I was in the military school was also simple.
I couldn’t tell what’s the etiquette here, so I peeked at Airi and copied her.
The next dish came eventually.
Grilled white meat fish with vegetable sauce.
Airi uses her knife and fork elegantly, beautifully cuts it up, and brings the food to her mouth.
Even that gesture of her brushing her hair to the back of her ear had elegance to it.
“Eugy, you won’t eat?” (Airi)
“I-I will.” (Eugene)
Airi urged me on when she noticed my gaze.
I brought the food to my mouth in an unpracticed fashion.
(Uh, so tasty…!) (Eugene)
It is a taste I have never had before, but I can tell it is delicious.
Airi is drinking a glass of grape wine.
I had a sip too. It was completely different from the cheap 300G wine that I ordered at the bar in the Dungeon City.
I don’t get drunk easily, but my tension lessened because of the alcohol.
When I looked, the face of Airi had softened somewhat too.
I was going to ask her about the main topic here, but…
“Oh…what a rare pairing. So you have come too.”
We were suddenly spoken to from the side.
I faced that way and there was a man with a high class atmosphere looking down at us with a haughty attitude.
I remember that face of his. I immediately stood up and greeted him.
“Crown Prince Ashton, it has been a while!” (Eugene)
The first son of the Emperor and the first place in the throne succession.
He is more than 10 years older than me and Airi, so he had already graduated by the time we were in the military school, but since I was often together with Airi, we met each other a number of times.
He is a Grand General which is one rank lower than the highest commanding rank, Marshal.
He is popular within the army and he has plenty of achievements in solving disputes that break out often around the borders of the Blue Waters Federation. He is without doubt the closest to becoming the Emperor.
“No need for the stiff greetings, Eugene. It has been a while. Excuse the intrusion for a bit.” (Ashton)
“Nii-san, isn’t it rude to talk to us while we are in the middle of a meal?” (Airi)
“Don’t be like that, my little sister. I am worried here. The day after tomorrow, in the resealing of the Great Demonic Beast, your platoon will be serving as the role of bait. That’s not something you make royalty do.” (Ashton)
“Father agreed to it. You have no say in the matter here!” (Airi)
“Airi! Bait…?” (Eugene)
“Did you not hear about it, Eugene? In that case, please stop the insanity of my little sister.” (Ashton)
“It is not insanity!” (Airi)
Airi slammed the table lightly and the tableware clanged.
“Even the Imperial Sword-sama was worried, you know? He was worried since the situation ended up like this because of the information he brought.” (Ashton)
“Pops, huh.” (Eugene)
In the eyes of Pops, Airi is a disciple of his that he pampered like a daughter. There’s no way he would be okay with her getting used as bait for the Great Demonic Beast.
“Sorry for the intrusion. That’s all I wanted to say.” (Ashton)
Crown Prince Ashton left with his footsteps echoing in the place.
Looks like he didn’t come here to eat, but to talk to Airi.
But that was not what’s most important right now.
“What did he mean by you being the bait of the Great Demonic Beast?!” (Eugene)
“According to the information of the Imperial Sword-sama…your father, the Sacrificial Technique using inmates will fail. What’s needed are the souls of people from the Empire with strong loyalty. That’s why the Emperor recruited people who would sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Empire.” (Airi)
“And you were chosen there…?” (Eugene)
“No one raised their hand at first… Obviously. But I thought of it as a chance. If I get through this, I can raise my placement in the throne successi—” (Airi)
“You are going to die.” (Eugene)
I cut off Airi and said this.
“Do you understand what a Sacrificial Technique is? It is a forbidden technique that consumes your own lifespan. If you die, there’s no Emperor or anything to begin with!” (Eugene)
I unconsciously raised my voice loudly despite being inside a restaurant.
“…It is okay. We have asked for the help of people skilled in Destiny Magic from the Goddess Church of Caldia. They will be able to use the Sacrificial Technique to a degree that doesn’t kill us, and reseal the Great Demonic Beast with powerful magic. Also, you know that the priests of the Goddess Church can return your lifespan by doing good deeds, right? That’s why…I won’t be dying…probably.” (Airi)
“Even though the ones who prohibited the Sacrificial Techniques should be the Goddess Church… There’s users of it in the Holy Nation?” (Eugene)
I was shocked by that reality.
Does Sara know about this?
“That’s why…you don’t need to worry, Eugy.” (Airi)
Airi smiled fleetingly.
“Even if you tell me to not worry…” (Eugene)
“Hey, more importantly, tell me stories about you, Eugy. What you have been doing at the Magic Academy, and also…stories about you having two cute girlfriends… Are they really your girlfriends? You were not interested at all in women when you were in the military school though, Eugy.” (Airi)
She suddenly threw the conversation to an unexpected direction.
“T-That’s the same for you, Airi. Right now you are engaged to that Ber…-something man, right?” (Eugene)
I said that as if trying to play it off.
“Aah… Yeah. He is…well, because of my position as a royal, an adult Oracle can’t not have a fiancee after all. I had no choice in the matter.” (Airi)
Airi said this with her eyes swimming.
It seems like it is a topic she doesn’t really want to talk about.
Airi changed the topic.
“Hey, how’s the Last Dungeon?! Are the monsters in the dungeon stronger than the ones in the Empire?” (Airi)
“Don’t know about that one. I am still only in Floor 100. I don’t think they are that strong.” (Eugene)
“No, Floor 100 should be plenty enough.” (Airi)
“Still far from Floor 500.” (Eugene)
“…Are you serious about Floor 500?” (Airi)
“That’s a lot more unreasonable than my Great Demonic Beast plan. It is a legendary record that hasn’t been broken in 500 years, you know?” (Airi)
“That makes it worth the challenge.” (Eugene)
“You really haven’t changed, Eugy.” (Airi)
“Yeah. By the way, it seems like your skill with the sword has been polished. I watched the footage of you fighting the Divine Beast.” (Airi)
“It has actually been a while since I held a sword at that time though.” (Eugene)
“Eh? No way. Really?! Why?” (Airi)
“…I was rejected by a certain someone and couldn’t hold a sword the whole time.” (Eugene)
The face of Airi tensed.
Oops, the words I didn’t plan on saying ended up leaking out from me.
I might have drank too much.
“…Hmm, I see.” (Airi)
“Anything to say about that?” (Eugene)
“T-That’s not it!!” (Airi)
“Not it? What’s not it?” (Eugene)
“L-Listen to me!! Actually…” (Airi)
Airi said this and began talking.
It has been a while since I have been able to talk a whole lot with my childhood friend.
I felt like I returned to the past for a little bit.
Airi apologized to me countless times in the middle of it.
The matter of putting distance between us after the Selection Exam, about how she wanted to contact me the whole time; we talked for a long time, but the time for the restaurant to close was approaching.
Me and Airi exited the place.
Airi will apparently be participating in the Great Demonic Beast strategy meeting with the staff officers of the imperial army.
I casted magic on myself to sober up. Airi got on the carriage, and left.
“Sorry, Eugy.” (Airi)
She told me that at the end and I answered with an ‘It is fine’.
I stood in the same place even after Airi left, thinking.
Looks like Airi wanted to apologize to me.
She managed to do that and left with a slightly happy mood.
But I am more worried about what will happen in the future rather than what already happened in the past.
The words of the Crown Prince are echoing in my head the whole time.
—Bait of the Great Demonic Beast.
Will it really succeed as Airi says?
(I can’t shake off that bad feeling…) (Eugene)
This is just a feeling.
At the time when I met Cerberus in Floor 20.
Right before the Demon Lord showed up in Floor 100.
A bad feeling similar to that.
I headed to a different place instead of going back home in order to confirm this.
I headed to the church inside the forest of a public cemetery that I went to with Pops the other day.
We can only meet Mother once a year.
But she has told me it is possible to at least hear her voice.
I planned on calling her over and over until she responded, but a response came unexpectedly fast.
(Oh my, Eugene, did you miss the voice of your mother~☆?) (Laila)
The voice of an angel (mother) rang in my head.
“There’s something I want to ask.” (Eugene)
(Oh? It is a serious talk, huh. What’s the matter?) (Laila)
Mother immediately noticed something and fixed her tone.
I explained the new plan I heard from Airi to Mother who is in the Divine Realm.
(That won’t do. The chances of resealing it are most likely below half. Also, most of the people who are casted the Sacrificial Technique will die.) (Laila)
Mother said firmly.
It is my mother who serves the Destiny Goddess.
“Then, I would like to know a method to deal with this.” (Eugene)
(…Even if you ask me that…) (Laila)
“Please, Mother!” (Eugene)
“Can’t be helped~.” (Laila)
I lowered my head and her voice turned slightly cheerful.
—That day, we had a strategy meeting inside that small church all night.
I only returned the next morning.
I tried to return to my room, but I got caught by Sumire and Sara.
“Aah! Eugene-kun is returning the next morning~!” (Sumire)
“C-Could it be that he was together with his childhood friend the whole time…” (Sara)
“N-No way… Are we getting thrown away?” (Sumire)
“No, you must not say that! Sumire-chan being thrown away should be enough!” (Sara)
“Hah? I’m going to burn you.” (Sumire)
“Try and see.” (Sara)
It got dicey between Sumire and Sara.
It is the usual, but that’s why I spoke to the two in the usual way.
“Sumire, Sara, there’s something I would like to ask of you two.” (Eugene)
The two of them immediately agreed at the same time.
“I haven’t said anything yet though…” (Eugene)
“I wouldn’t refuse a request from Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)
“And so, what should we do?” (Sara)
I look straight at the eyes of the two.
I told the plan that I thought about the whole night between 3 people to Sumire and Sara.
And the place we are heading to is…
—The Einherjar Palace where the Emperor is.
At the throne room…
(I am glad I got a peerage…) (Eugene)
I managed to enter the palace just by telling them my name.
I was obviously stopped at the throne room though. I used the name of my Pops there to push my way through that one.
The throne room is the last scene for the strategy meeting on the resealing of the Great Demonic Beast tomorrow.
The last proposal will be made within the imperial army, and they are most likely in the process of getting the approval of His Majesty.
I took a short deep breath.
“Excuse the intrusion!!” (Eugene)
I raised my voice and received the gaze of everyone in the throne room.
“Eugene-dono, you haven’t been called!”
“Who are the two behind you?! Bringing in unrelated people is just…!”
People that seem to be nobles from the Empire closed in on us.
“Tell us what you want to say, Eugene Santafield.”
The voice of the Emperor echoed in the room.
Silence took over the place with that.
“Excuse me when I say this, but the resealing that will be performed tomorrow will most likely fail! This is information from the one who is the most acquainted with Destiny Magic.” (Eugene)
I said this and directed my gaze at Pops.
Pops seems to have understood immediately.
“Eugene isn’t lying.” (Jubei)
Pops reaffirmed my statement.
The people who tried to refute this closed their mouths at this.
“And so, is that all you came to say?”
“No, the main topic comes from here on.” (Eugene)
“Let’s hear it. You have a great suggestion, right?”
It seems like the Emperor has noticed my intentions here.
This makes it easier to breach it.
I take a short breath and speak.
“Your Imperial Majesty, I have a suggestion to subjugate the Great Demonic Beast.” (Eugene)
I declared this in the throne room of the Emperor.
Thanks for as many as 69 comments!
I have gotten a whole lot of opinions from the Airi reconciliation faction, break off faction, and revenge faction.
I have not counted them in detail, but the reconciliation faction felt like it was in the minority.
I feel like it might get rowdy this time too…
Please be gentle.