By the time Ilya was able to focus in on objects based on their category, the operation had gone into cleaning up the monsters left in the arena stage.
In the end, the cooperation forged through skill triumphed over one that was brought about by instinct.
As her mind relaxed, Akradist came to mind. She decided to expand her Clairvoyance to Akradist. The amount of information she received was overwhelming, so she filtered out everything aside from Lunéville and Akradist.
After an instant, she returned her awareness. The group she had sent had successfully removed the Sacred Tool from the Divine Beast’s mouth, meaning that the problem was resolved.
Meanwhile in Lunéville, another problem came up on the heels of the previous one: the monsters brought to the arena had drawn in the monsters around the area, and new monsters were closing in.
Ilya shot to her feet, trying to chase away the butterflies in her stomach. She walked down the stairs to report the news to Hector, with Haku tottering behind her.
Haku peeked at Ilya’s face, trying to make sure she was okay. Ilya broke into a smile, touched by the hatchling’s concern.
She picked Haku up and walked down the stairs, where she ran into Hector.
At that moment, the last monsters at the arena had been taken care of.
All that was left was to find and take care of any that had escaped the arena.
But taking into account their exhaustion, she decided to count out the patrol group and the transport unit.
Ilya decided to invite Hector to her private quarters on the second floor to discuss the issue.
“The arena has mostly been secured, and all that’s left is to clean up the rest.”
“I see… and the casualties?”
“There were several injuries of varying severity among the patrollers and the reinforcements, but no loss of life.”
Hector leaned back in his chair, relieved by the news.
“I guess that’s a silver lining.”
“It is indeed.”
There there was still much to be done.
Hector’s face hardened once more, urging her to continue.
“Right now, there are several monsters headed towards Lunéville.”
Ilya took a sheet of paper out from a drawer before writing out which monsters were attacking and what their movements were.
Fortunately for them, the monsters were the slow type and there weren’t any villages in their path. That meant that as long as they were prepared, it wouldn’t be too hard to deal with the monsters.
Hector relaxed slightly after coming to the same conclusion.
“Perhaps it would be best for us to counterattack only after our preparations are complete so that they don’t continue summoning more reinforcements.”
“That’s true… But even if they call more monsters, it’ll take time, and the root of the problem has been taken care of. So now, the priority should be on eliminating the monsters as soon as possible.”
“We’d also have to choose the right people.”
With the discussion nearing an end, Hector took a deep breath.
There was a tinge of a resigned smile on his face. Ilya wondered if Hector himself realized he was smiling.
“Monsters sure are troublesome things. The more people there are, the more they bare their fangs. They mutate and call more of their kind over. We can’t study them in enough detail.”
“Yes, they truly are troublesome.”
Those were the strengths of monsters, beings designed to be the antithesis of other living things.
But at the same time, without such traits at the very least, they wouldn’t be such a menace to life.
“But we can come together to defeat enemies stronger than us. In that way, the whole group is greater than the sum of its parts. That ability, I believe, is a more troublesome characteristic.”
Cooperation was what had allowed Lunéville to continue to survive such threats.
“Yeah… that is indeed true. Unfortunately for the monsters that came to save their kind, we are also trying to protect our kind.”
How like Hector to put it that way. I couldn’t say it better.
A faint smile appeared on Ilya’s face.
But on the other hand, a slight disagreement could quickly turn trust and friendship into suspicion and hatred.
If, in the process of figuring out through trial and error, people ended up quarreling, Ilya couldn’t just intervene as she did with guild commissions.
I hope they don’t do anything rash.
With her [Detection], Ilya had caught a glimpse of what the human supremacists were trying to do. That knowledge led her to make a silent prayer.
On an island in Akradist.
The currents were made to prevent anything from drifting onto the island. In addition to that, there was an illusion spell to conceal the island, and a curse to disorient anything in the air. Lastly, the inhabitants coordinated with the sea creatures to defend the isle.
Ilya and Siren, the queen of the merfolk, had worked together to create a paradise for the merfolk of the island.
Since then, it had been many years since even a single outsider had set foot on the isle.
“Welcome, Partia-sama, Gabriel-sama.”
As Siren welcomed them to her domain, the fairy and the demon boy gasped in admiration at the merfolk all lined up in a row. Their feet appeared to double as fins in the water.
Siren boasted dazzling silver hair, and clear aquamarine eyes.
But beyond her physical appearance, the air of majesty she projected erased any doubt that the two stood before the queen of the merfolk.
“She looks like Ilya.”
Gabriel’s remark provoked a response from none other than Queen Siren herself.
“I knew it! I knew you were Ilya-chan’s friends.”
Gabriel let out a stupefied voice, seeing the imposing aura around the queen dissipate in an instant. He looked up to see a slovenly smile plastered on her face.
“Q-Queen Siren. C-Couldn’t you just keep it in just for a bit more…?”
“But I don’t wanna~! Ilya’s friends are my friends too! No way I’ll act like they’re strangers!”
Deciding he wouldn’t be able to convince his pouting queen, the merfolk who appeared to be the prime minister looked to Helly, who was standing near the guests.
Helly nodded in reply, and presented a letter to the prime minister.
When the prime minister saw the signature, she immediately handed the letter to Siren.
“Queen Siren, as had been previously stated, they cooperated to cure the Bahamut, and also escorted your humble subject here. In accordance with the great deeds they have done for us, we must rewar— ”
“Ah, wait a minute.”
Gabriel interrupted Helly. Partia also stood up from Gabriel’s shoulder, her chest held out in pride.
“We’re fine! Ilya already gave us our reward!”
“Oh, is that so~?”
The fairy’s boisterous remark made Siren bring her hands to her cheeks with awkward smile.
Seeing the clamor arise in her court, she clapped her hands.
“Then let us have a party to celebrate Mut-chan’s recovery! How about it, you two?”
“Um, but we were… ”
“It’s fine. Does Ilya-chan not always say rushed soup makes for a poor soup?”
The two guests could only look back at Siren in confusion.
“Oh? Have you already been to the beach?”
Yet again, no response.
Was this what they referred to as someone going at their own pace?
Unable to turn down the queen’s invitation due to the circumstances, the two of them ended up attending the impromptu banquet.
There were fruits and vegetables harvested from the isle and seafood dishes using the merfolk’s special techniques and knowledge. Even Gabriel, despite his experience with the most exotic delicacies from all around the world, couldn’t find the words to describe how delicious it all was.
Siren had been seated on her throne at the beginning of the banquet, but as the party went on, she ended up singing raucously with her subjects, making her way to Partia and Gabriel.
“Are you enjoying the party?”
“I-It’s not bad!”
“Heehee, you look cute even as you pat that food baby of yours.”
The queen giggled, dodging the blushing Partia’s furious blows. A lively ditty could be heard from the other side of the room.
“If that wasn’t able to satisfy you, I suppose there’s no helping it…”
The two immediately sensed the queen’s change in mood.
Partia didn’t see any hostility from the queen, and Gabriel’s caution turned into confusion.
Siren smiled wryly at their reactions.
“I apologize for the slip of the tongue. Allow me to thank you yet again for escorting Helly here.”
“I-It was no problem at all! Onee-chan paid me to do it, after all!”
Partia responded in a fluster due to the queen of the merfolk bowing to her.
“That is true. That is why, I would like to give you some information.”
“” … Huh? “”
Siren looked downwards as she began to speak.
“Deep below, where the light does not reach, there is a temple in the east. Six serpents guard a piece of the seed that dispelled an ancient curse that sleeps inside. That is the legend passed down among our people for ages.” 1
“What does that mean?”
“Hmm… Are you sure you want me to say?”
The impish smile reappeared on Siren’s face.
Partia, although irked by the smile, mulled over the words she had just heard.
Where the light does not reach… serpents… temple… an ancient seed fragment… ancient… ancient language?
“An ancient curse, like yours, Partia.”
Gabriel noted, calm and collected.
Partia looked back at Siren.
The queen merely smiled back at her, not saying anything more.
So Partia decided to ask a question.
“Why did you tell us that? What do you know about us?”
“Hmm, I wonder?”
Irritation bubbled up at Siren’s elusive answer, but disappeared when she saw the letter Siren held up.
It was the letter Helly handed to Siren, so the sender could only be one person.
“What? You didn’t have to return it… ”
Her voice trembled, as if out of rage. However, it was a different emotion.
Partia suddenly looked up and yelled.
“Next time we meet, I’mma be so big you’ll be surprised!”
Her exclamation drew the attention of the merfolk around the halls.
Realizing what she had done, her face reddened again, but for yet another reason. She quickly hid behind Gabriel’s back.
Gabriel smiled at how adorably she had acted.
“Do your best.”
The sight of the two brought a smile to Siren’s face. She could see why Ilya decided to lend them a hand.
Wondering what was going on, the partying merfolk approached Partia, but ended up pushed away by the commotion.
Siren offered to help Partia find the temple the next day, but the other merfolk around her quickly objected. So Siren quickly offered to send other merfolk with Partia, but the fairy declined.
Partia could cast a spell to breathe underwater, and Gabriel claimed that he could spend a whole day underwater if he put his mind to it. Unable to directly support them, Siren made do with giving them hints of where the temple was to at least make the search easier.
“Looks like they’ve left.”
“Looks like it~”
Since the cooperation of the merfolk were needed to leave their island, Siren watched as a few of her subjects pulled the boat, carrying the guests away.
Partia and Gabriel were searching for a stone slate that was said to be in the temple.
They may have deliberated over their intents, but Siren thought it was just like Ilya to always stubbornly let others decide what they wanted to do.
One of her subjects spoke up, concerned by their queen’s distant gaze. Siren turned around and smiled.
“Ilya might be coming to make the barrier, so we gotta do some major cleaning up!”
“”” Huh? … Huh!? “””
The word cleaning made the merfolk begin to whine. And then, their brains processed the beginning of the sentence.
In part due to the laid-back nature of the merfolk, they were quite willing to leave things a bit messy
However, the overly diligent and cleanly Ilya would most likely to try to clean up the dirty beaches and houses.
That would mean less Ilya had less time to spend with Siren.
One by one, the merfolk began cleaning up. Siren smiled wryly at the thought as she turned towards the sea.
She was no longer able to see the small boat, and could only sense the merfolk she had sent returning to the island.
—I may not be able to promise it, but will try to come.
That one sentence made her heart jump for joy. Making her subjects mad at skipping, she went to clean the remains of the party from the day before.
The chaos had finally calmed down, seven days after it started.
At least, on the surface.
“The human supremacists’ goal, you say?”
Frank and Hector nodded at Ilya’s question.
The three of them met to discuss future plans in light of the information from the young human they had caught.
According to him, the monsters had begun mutating over the course of a week.
They had figured out from an investigation that reached Lunéville a few days ago that it would be fine as long as they captured the monsters within two weeks, so they decided to re-investigate, taking into account the reason for the discord.
Nine times out of ten, this sort of thing would be the work of demons.
Demons could use [Spirit Sight] to tell who held malicious intent towards whom.
It wouldn’t be surprising that they had taken advantage of the young human’s emotions.
What she didn’t understand was: why Lunéville?
Even though they would be weakened during the daytime when the Light Source was strong, they’d let the monsters go out of control without confirming the result. There was no way the scheme wasn’t related to the Evil God.
“Honestly, the supremacists have been becoming more active lately. This past incident was just to create unrest, preventing us from getting the full picture.”
Ilya became dejected at the thought of the hassles that were to come. Hector furrowed his brows.
In the end, the information they got wasn’t enough to get them to the mastermind, but at least they had a lead to follow.
Ilya tried to think up a way to advise them that fell within the scope of common sense.
“Currently, of all the countries in the world, only the Sacred Reinhardt Empire supports human supremacy.”
“Are you saying that Reinhardt is sending terrorists?”
“Not at this point, but… I did hear that they were considering cooperating with the terrorists.”
The vice-branch head addressed his superior without a title, but instead as Frank, a sign of their intimacy.
However, from how Frank appeared to be lost in thought, he still kept some of his most intimate thoughts from anyone but Ilya.
Possibly in order to observe Ilya’s attitude, the report was full of uncertain points, leaving any course of action as an open question.
“Were they aiming to prevent the guild from gaining power by closing the arena?”
“The more diverse and tolerant countries might have been aiming for the less-established Rondéville… no, that wouldn’t… ”
Going down rabbithole after rabbithole, the two guild officials went from one idea to the next.
Judging that their discussion wouldn’t end any time soon, Ilya decided to pour them some more tea to change the mood.
“Once bitten, twice shy. That’s how it appears to me.”
Ilya’s words surprised them.
It had been right under their noses all along. The two exchanged sheepish smiles.
“That is true. Right now, all we can do is prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”
“Yeah, there’s no need to overextend ourselves. We just need the strength to protect ourselves.”
Happy that it was over sooner than they’d anticipated, the two officials exchanged strained smiles before smiling properly to Ilya.
Lunéville would be fine between the management of the two of them.
They made her feel reassured.
(… Strength to protect, is it?)
She repeated the words in her head.
“Ilya, could I have a— what’s wrong?”
Ilya smiled at Frank before pouring him another cup.
If demons or the Evil God decided to mess with her town, not even she would keep still.
(The strength to protect… that sounds like a good goal.)
Ilya’s smile widened further as she dove into the conversation, taking in the pleasant atmosphere.
Ele5’s TL note: Yo, Elephant No. 5 here, I’m a TLer from another site, that just wanted a change of pace to relax from the grind of my own series. But then I chose the wrong series for relaxation ;p… Dang, this series was really hard to translate… good thing I only volunteered to do one. The author’s wordings are either advanced wordings that I’m not used to, or they’re just weird wordings. I can’t tell which one at my exp level. Other people with more TLing experience do seem to think it’s a weird author situation though. GCR is hard to TL. I could have read through and gotten the sparknotes gist of this part in less time than it took to TL it. (but to be fair, I was also dealing with university stuff as I TLed this) For those curious, I started doing the TLing for this in February. In that time, Ziru’s been able to release much more… makes me look bad, right? Though if we cut out all the procrastination time, I’d say it would have taken me the equivalent of week of a part-time job to finish this? I wasn’t keeping track. (disclaimer: I am by no means the fastest TLer around, but this was just hard.)
Ziru’s TL note: Heya. I just did some TLC and light rewording for flow. And yeah. GCR is stupidly hard to TL. Major props to Ele for even willing to give it a shot! o7