V2 Chapter 73: To Demon Island

Having obtained the permission to pass through the Demon Gate from Emperor Amadeus II, I said my farewells to the Emperor and Prince Shion, and left the imperial palace with Baron Jeed, who serves as the prince’s mentor.

The sun had long set due to our extended conversation with the Emperor.

Upon returning to the Baron’s residence, I explained the situation to Claira who had been waiting there. We were all set to go to Demon Island, but the truth was, we had only arrived at the capital today. Even so, leaving the capital immediately and heading for Demon Island through the night would be tough. Claira had just recovered from her illness and even Clau Soras needed rest.

Passing through the Demon Gate was merely a waypoint. The real challenge was exploring the inside of the Demon Gate, and overexerting here would come back to bite us. Rushing things always brings trouble.

Thanks to Baron Jeed’s kindness, we stayed the night at his residence. The next day, we departed the capital with the sunrise.

Our destination was a harbor town where we could catch a boat to Demon Island.

As I mentioned when we returned home before, there are only two boat departures to Demon Island each day. And one cannot get a ticket for the boat without passing the Mitsurugi family’s screening.

We could totally ignore all of this and head straight to Demon Island on Clau Soras, but we’ve received special permission to enter the Demon Gate from the Emperor. There’s no need to cause unnecessary trouble by acting rashly. Same goes for everything else.

The question is whether we can pass the Mitsurugi family’s screening. But I am not worried about this at all.

I glanced at my finger, which now bore something that wasn’t there until we arrived at the capital.

A ring that signifies official status — a signet ring.

It’s something that a king or noble gives to an emissary as a proof of identity. However, the power of the signet ring bestowed upon me directly by the Emperor of Adoastera is not something that can be compared to ordinary signet rings.

In fact, as soon as we arrived at the harbor town and showed the officials the signet ring, they fell over themselves to arrange our boat tickets.

“Ah, the signet ring of the Emperor really is miraculously effective.”

I smirked mischievously, looking at the two boat tickets in my hand.

Then, Claira, who stood beside me, spoke with a tense expression.

“Um, Lord Sora. Is it really okay for us to head to the island like this?”

Hearing her words, I squinted at the face of the silver-haired Warrior.

I assumed she was excited about finally being able to rescue her brother as we were on the brink of reaching Demon Island. But it seemed like that wasn’t the case.

While thinking that it was not as if she hesitant about going to the island at this point, I looked at the other party’s face. Noticing my skeptical gaze, Claira hastily raised her voice.

“Ah, by ‘as is’, I mean, is it okay not to hide your face or dye your hair?”

“Oh, that’s what you meant.”

Understanding Claira’s anxiety, I gave a slight nod. For the Mitsurugi family, leaving the island is a serious crime. Even with the miraculous Signet ring of the Emperor, it can’t make the crime of desertion disappear.

Claira, with her characteristic appearance of white hair and red eyes, must have intended to disguise herself as another person to pass through the dangerous gates. Even if her true identity were to be discovered, she could deflect any scrutiny behind the authority of the emperor – that’s what she must have been thinking when, out of the blue, I made no attempts at any such preparations. This probably prompted her to seek confirmation.

To this, I responded simply.

“Don’t worry. You’re fine just as you are.”

“Is, is that so…?”

“Yes, it is. So, hold your head high and be confident.”

Upon hearing this, Claira’s eyes widened in disbelief.

While watching Claira, I reflected on the current situation.

As I had thought before, the fact that Claira was able to reach Ishka without ever being attacked by pursuers means that I cannot take this incident at face value. Most likely, the Mitsurugi family deliberately overlooked Claira’s desertion. Indeed, even in this port, which could be called the Mitsurugi family’s backyard, there is no sign of pursuers.

There’s no doubt that the Mitsurugi family used Claira to summon me. Last time they lured me with the “anniversary of my mother’s death”. This time, it became “Claira’s desertion”.

I don’t know who came up with this strategy, but it’s most likely a ploy to use my power, who had defeated the demon gods. Klimt was ordered to “defeat Azuma, the King of Kijin” as a condition for saving his sister, so I presume they’re going to tell me something similar.

Of course, I’m not going to nod just because they ordered me, so it’s certain they’ll bring up Claira’s innocence as a bargaining chip.

For the Mitsurugi family, Claira is now like a chain around my neck. This is why I’m not wary of pursuers.

“Anyway, think that you’ve done nothing wrong here. If you hide your face or dye your hair, it’s like showing a sign of weakness.”

“Understood. I will follow your instructions, Lord Sora.”

While still retaining a hint of confusion on her face, Claira obediently nodded to my words.

From this attitude alone, it should be clear that I have not shared my speculations with Claira. I’ve kept everything within myself.

All that I’ve mentioned thus far, is all built from conjecture derived from the situation. If my guess is wrong, the worst-case scenario could occur, where Claira could be attacked by pursuers due to carelessness upon hearing my story. I wanted to avoid that.

Also, in this case, there have been many situations where it wouldn’t be strange if Claira actually died. If successful, that’s good. If failed and Claira is lost, the intention of the one who proposed this plan, seems to be accepting of such an outcome.

This is the same for Klimt, to put it bluntly, the Berch siblings were made to be disposable pieces.

If I were to speak of my speculations, Claira would undoubtedly become aware of this. No matter how much it’s just a conjecture, it’s hard to voice out something like “You and your brother were used as disposable pieces”.

――However, who is the proposer?

I’ve tried thinking about this many times so far, but I haven’t come to a conclusion yet.

From the meanness that can be felt overall, such as exploiting a sister’s feelings for her younger brother, the first name that comes to mind is Gilmore Berch.

However, this scheme ends if I abandon Claira, it’s essentially a scheme that appeals to emotion. This point is unlike Gilmore.

The next name that came to mind was Ayaka’s. During the last homecoming, Ayaka used an old cipher to convey Claira’s plight to me. If you read deeper into it, it could be seen as a test of the connection between me and Claira.

There’s also the possibility that Ragna, who heard the story from Ayaka, plotted to send me into a deathtrap.

However, whether it’s Ayaka or Ragna, I feel like even though they wouldn’t hesitate to trap me, they wouldn’t consider using their classmates, Claira or Klimt, as disposable pieces. At least the two of them I knew five years ago, wouldn’t have thought of a scheme like this.

Lastly, the name that came to mind was my father’s.

However, there are question marks about this thought too. The idea that my father would use such petty tricks to call me over just doesn’t sit right with me.

Last time, using my mother’s death anniversary could be considered a petty trick, but at that time, all my father did was send a single letter. In terms of effort, it was something that could be done in his spare time.

In contrast, this time, the effort that the Mitsurugi family has put into this scheme is enormous. This point doesn’t seem to match my father’s style.

Judging from the incident with Klimt, it’s undeniable that my father is involved in this scheme, but if asked if he is the one who proposed it, the answer leans towards no.

“――Well, whoever the proposer is, they surely didn’t predict that I’d involve the emperor. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what they’ll do next.”

Contrary to the proposer’s intention to keep the matter within the Mitsurugi family, I forced a change in the situation by bringing in an external factor, the emperor.

To elaborate, not a single person had ever succeeded in escaping the island in the past. Yet, a young girl not even twenty years old named Claira had managed to do it, and what’s more, this had come to the attention of the Imperial Court.

The fact that the defenses of Demon Island were breached by the Kijin, and the city walls of Shuuto had been destroyed, was only recent news. The revelation of the escape from the island on top of this carried significant implications.

— The Mitsurugi house has fallen into the ineptitude of not being able to hold off outside enemies nor govern their allies within.

“This isn’t just a total disgrace,”

He chuckled, his throat vibrating with amusement.

Once this has reached the Emperor’s ears, even if you try to justify it later with, “I purposely let her escape”, it would be perceived as nothing but a sophistry to cover up the blunder.

The person who came up with this idea must be turning pale. Or perhaps they’re turning red. In any case, it serves them right. Let them reap the consequences for launching such a stupid scheme at me, along with the Mitsurugi family.

Seeing me sporting a wicked smile, Claira tilted her head in bewilderment.

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