The manor stood atop the hill that overlooked the village. The manor was designed differently to the other houses they saw on their way. The manor itself had 3 different buildings lined up in a triangle connected by corridors, with a large building in the middle of said triangle.
The dignified looking structure was the inner shrine, where sacred rituals and ceremonies to bond spirits took place.
After parking the car, Shuuya led Basara and the others down a long corridor. Basara could feel the air around him being purified with each step he took. It meant that they were closing in on the most sacred of places within this holy area.
But something was off.
As he trailed Shuuya, there was a nagging feeling at the back of his mind. The Hero Clan gets their power from signing pacts with the spirits and mythical creatures. So more than anything, the Hero Clan is careful not to corrupt or expose the spirits and the creatures to any impurities.
When the Hero Clan attacked Mio that one time, the reason why Takashi and Shiba set up a dimensional barrier to create a copy of the city, was to keep the fight away from the forests and nature where a lot of the spirits reside. That was the lengths they are willing to take in order to ensure that the spirits aren’t corrupted.
Yet, the place they were heading to now, “The Ceremonial Chamber” was one of the most sacred sites in the Village. Of course, by going there, the sheer sanctity of the chamber may be enough to seal away Takigawa and Mio’s power all together. But it will also mean exposing the chamber itself to demons, which will threaten its sanctimony.
If they were using the chamber to accommodate the Hearing Officer from the Vatican tomorrow, Basara would understand the reasoning for using the Ceremonial Chamber. But if it’s just to repress Mio and Takigawa’s demonic spirit, then they could have easily set up a separate holy dimension elsewhere.
Then why would they use the chamber?
Because the elders have other plans. That was the only logical conclusion that Basara could think of. And whatever that other plan was, they were about to find out.
Mio let out a slight gasp and Basara turned to see her worried face.
Of course she was afraid. She was nervous when she visited the Demon World. But back then, they knew that they had their supporters within the Moderates Faction. But now? Mio was going to face people who didn’t see Naruse Mio. She was going to engage with people who only see her as the daughter of the previous Demon Lord, Wilbert. And to top it all off, she was about to see them in the most sacred location in the Village.
In contrast, Takigawa looked just like he always did. His life as a spy, always slipping behind enemy lines sure have prepared him for moments like this. No wonder both Ramusas and Leohart put so much faith in his abilities. But it would be nonsensical to expect Mio to display the same amount of calm.
So Basara put his hand on Mio’s shoulder and gave her a small reassuring grip and a thin smile. Without saying anything, he told her that everything was going to be alright. And just like that, Mio’s nerves disappeared, and she returned a smile of her own.
“Are you guys ready?”
Basara and the others nodded to Shuuya’s question, and he turned to face the double doors at the end of their path.
“Please excuse me. I have brought Toujou Basara, Naruse Mio, and the one who calls himself the special envoy.”
With the command from the raspy voice from across the door, Shuuya pushed open the double doors and they made their way in.
Mio was taken back by the Ceremonial Chamber. To keep its sanctity, there was not a single window in the chamber. Nor were there any lights or candles. Yet, there was a warmth and glow in the room.
Mio saw the source of the warm glow of the room. She saw some items places in the four corners of the chamber. And one of them, she definitely recognized. The long white spear was the weapon used by Hayase Takashi to try and kill her.
The tranquil way it lay in its corner was very different to the out-of-control spear she remembered.
That meant that the other three weapons lying in their respective corners must be “Suzaku”, “Seiryuu” and “Genbu”. Judging by the layout of the room, the weapon to the left of Byakko should be Suzaku, with Genbu to the right. And Seiryuu across the room on the other side.
The sanctity of this chamber was most likely brought from the existence of the four weapons. And it would explain why spirits found it easy to relax and sign pacts in this chamber.
Surprisingly, even with her demon blood, Mio didn’t feel like the chamber was rejecting her. Although the large room did have a slight chill in the air.
In front of them, sitting on a slightly elevated platform, were three old men. The one in the middle was the one who spoke. The old men were exactly like how Basara described them to be before they arrived at the Village.
They were the Three Elders who governed the Hero Clan of Japan.
Which would mean, that it was these three men, who drove out Basara and Jin from the Village 5 years ago.
Mio cares very deeply for Basara. And no matter the reason, she just couldn’t find it in her to trust these men who made Basara suffer so much.
But that being said, if Basara was never driven out of the Village, the two of them would have never met. And even if they did meet, if the circumstances were different, they may have even been enemies. The irony of all of this might just be something she can never really figure out.
However, it wasn’t just Basara and Mio. All of them were raised in the most ironic of situations. Sisters who live with the outcast and demons while serving the Village, a succubus who had to betray her master in order to save her own mother, a daughter created by a monster who now lives as a maid.
And it is because of such ironies, that they are all able to live together. Overcoming many trials together and surviving together.
But what if this was the trial, they couldn’t overcome? What if the Village didn’t accept them for what they were? Mio was lost in her nervousness when she was interrupted.
“What are you doing just standing there? Come here.” The Elder on the left spoke in his rough voice.
Shuuya approached the platform then sat on his heels right in front of it. Mio and the others also walked towards where Shuuya was sitting.
“Well, you lot should take a seat as well. You must have been tired from your long trip.”
With that, Mio and the others all sat down as well, with Basara sitting between Yuki and Mio, and Kurumi sitting next to Yuki. While they all sat on their heels in the polite Japanese manner, Takigawa opted to sit with his legs crossed on the floor.
Mio hissed at his rudeness.
“Let him sit as he wishes.”
The elder ignored Mio’s hiss and looked at Takigawa.
“You must be the special envoy from the Demons that Shuuya spoke about. I heard that the two factions decided to send you here. They did…strongly insist.”
While the elder spoke in a joking manner, it was nothing but, and suddenly tension in the room became thick.
“Yea well, both Basacchi and the old man there said the same thing too. But ya know, I’m just a lowly henchman. The higher ups wanted me here so here I am. If you guys wanna complain, please direct your anger their way.”
“Well, depending on the contents of your top-secret document, we might just do that.” After saying so, the Elder in the middle turned to Mio.
“So you must be the daughter of Wilbert.”
Mio couldn’t say anything. For she saw in their eyes, something very cold. When Elders in the Hero Tribe assume their position, they are given a name for their position. The Elder in the middle must be “Fuji”, and the Elder on his right being “Kumano” and the Elder on his left, “Atsuta”. Their names are chosen from the 3 mountains of Japan where the gods are said to reside.
Ancient China also worshipped 4 different gods. When their culture came over to Japan a long time ago, Japan also started to worship the 4 deities from China. And they are now represented by the 4 weapons in this very chamber.
It was no accident that 3 Japanese gods were chosen along with the 4 Chinese gods. By having even and odd numbers, there are no power struggles between the two groups, which means that any additional dimensional barrier created by the gods will not negate each other. Further to that, together they form the number 7. 7, as is displayed in the number of days, holds a very special power on its own, and it was this type of power that led to the powerful barrier protecting the Village.
Mio maintained her silence as she stared at the Elders. While she could not hide her nervousness, she wasn’t scared. After having faced the likes of Ramusas, Leohart, Belphegor and Zolgear, she has built up some tolerance towards things that scare her.
And of course, she has Basara with her. Yuki and Kurumi too. And Zest and Maria were not too far either. So there was nothing to fear.
As if to see through Mio’s strength, Fuji spoke up. “Ahh… I see. That’s how it is.”
He stroked his beard with his right hand.
And with these words, the meeting began. All the Elders faced the man sitting next to Mio. “It’s been a while… Basara.”
“Yes, it’s nice to see you sir.”
Basara bowed as he greeted the Elder. Then Atsuta and Kumano also chimed in. “I guess it’s been 5… no, 6 years.”
“We were receiving reports, but you look like you’ve been doing well.”
“…Yes I have.”
Basara was controlling the way he spoke. Not just to show politeness to the Elders who he hasn’t seen in a long time, but also to keep his own feelings in check. There will be nothing gained by having the Hero Clan as their enemy.
But there was indeed something strange.
While it was strange enough that the Ceremonial Chamber was chosen for this meeting. But there was a more pressing issue.
Where were the guards?
If they were to count Yuki and Kurumi on Basara’s side, the Hero Clan only have the Elders and Shuuya. And while the chamber will negate a lot of attacks, that still didn’t remove Mio and
Takigawa as threats. And with Basara’s Banishing Shift was the very reason he was driven out of the Village in the first place.
There is absolutely no reason as to why they wouldn’t have guards. Especially with the Elders being unable to fight. This wasn’t because they were powerless however. After all, they did rise to the position of Elder through their strengths. It was because their powers being used to uphold the various dimensional barriers to protect the Village from the outside world.
But that meant that the only one capable of fighting was Shuuya. Of course, Shuuya was no pushover. In the war he was second to Jin in strength, and that was the reason for their close friendship. So, they had to avoid fighting Shuuya at all costs. But Basara knew that Shuuya had taken a back seat from combat ever since he lost his eye in the war, the eyepatch on his left eye a testament of his loss.
The worst-case scenario for the Elders would be if Basara and the rest all decided to attack them at once.
While Basara had no intention to do that whatsoever, was it really wise for the Elders to leave Shuuya as the sole individual responsible for their well being? In order to maintain the dimensional barriers and to protect the Village, the Elders are supposed to prioritize their own safety foremost. But currently, the only ones in the chamber were the Elders themselves and Shuuya.
In that case…they must have prepared some sort of “insurance”.
And so, Basara started to think of the various plans he would have made if he were in the Elders’ shoes.
“You don’t have to be so alert.”
Fuji spoke as if looking right through him.
“It is true that we have had our ‘disagreements’ in the past… and it is true that we have invited you here to this place. I can understand that there are a lot of things that are going through your mind at the moment.”
“But I hope you believe us when we say that we no longer have any intention to draw our blades on you.”
“Well…at least for now. If the situation arises, that will be a matter for then.” Kumano chuckled at Atsuta’s joke at the end before staring at Basara.
“It’s been 8 months since you and Jin took in that girl… and your circumstances have been changing and we too, have been adjusting to your situation.”
“We have been receiving reports from Yuki and Kurumi. But living with you and spending time with you, their feelings are bound to become softer.”
“And so, for things to continue, we decided that it would be for the best if we saw for ourselves how you guys are, in order for us to pass any judgement.”
Basara nodded in understanding. Of course, he wasn’t just going to take what Fuji just said with open arms. He was certain that the Elders were definitely plotting something from this. But he will find a way out of this.
Atsuta took over from Fuji.
“Well then… why don’t you tell us about the things that have happened so far? The things you’ve been doing since you left the Village and how you’ve been living your life.”
Per the request of the Elders, Mio and Basara spoke about their past. Yuki Nonaka, stood beside Basara, listening to their story. About how Basara lived after being driven out of the Village. How Mio grew up as a human and being loved by her parents.
The Elders simply nodded while they listened. They didn’t say anything, but their eyes were sharp, and they were analyzing each and every word to make sure there were no holes in their stories.
Yuki already knew all this. Not only her, but Kurumi, and Zest and Maria as well. After all, they were a big family living together in the same house. Just because the problem at the Demon World was solved for now, didn’t mean that they wouldn’t have to face any challenges in the future. So, in order to deepen their bonds and get to know each other better, the girls have all told each other about their story and their background. And that indeed gave birth to the strong bond that they all shared.
“And so, last summer, my father told me that he was getting remarried and that was when I met Mio and Maria for the first time.”
They finally got to the part where they met. From here on out, they will have to be careful on what information they disclose. After all, there were some things that were best kept away from the Elders. But Mio and Basara will never mix in a lie. They will simply omit some parts of their story.
Basara did not want to betray the Village. While it is true that they did ostracize him, and it is true that many in the Village do hate him, for Basara, the Village was still the home that he grew up in. And it was still very dear to him.
But they did have to cover their tracks. Since the moment they were summoned by the Village, Basara and the others got together to discuss what they will omit from their stories. What they decided not to disclose was Basara and Takigawa’s various dealings, the Master-Servant contract between Basara and the girls, and about the identity regarding Basara’s mother.
Yuki and Kurumi also made sure to not cover these topics whenever they made their routine reports to the Village. After all, there will be suspicion placed on them if their reports and the stories here didn’t match up.
“…And that is a summary of all the things that occured.”
Basara finished by talking about the peace treaty between the Moderate Faction and Current Demon Lord Faction in the Demon World. He also told them that Kurumi and Yuki took part in the fight as members of the Moderate Faction.
But this was something the Nonaka sisters have already informed the Elders about. They reasoned that taking part in the fight in the Demon World, will end the conflict there and will prevent demons from coming to the Human World to try and hunt down Mio. They made sure to emphasize that they fought in the battle to represent the Hero Tribe and to ensure that the Human World was kept away from danger. And they also made included that Mio has better control of the powers she inherited from Wilbert and even suggested that, while they wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that she be removed from the watchlist, but have Kurumi and Yuki continue to observe her.
“…. I see.”
Kumano nodded in understanding.
“I think I have a clearer picture of your situation now. And if the two factions in the demon world did indeed sort out their quarrell, it would explain why they sent their special envoy here.”
Atsuta also chimed in.
“If what you say is true and they are indeed moving towards peace, that would be a historic change for the Demon World.”
While stroking his impressive beard, Fuji looked Basara in the eye.
“So then Basara… how would you assess your involvement in the two factions finding peace?”
The trap has been sprung.
Basara knew that this question signalled the start of the true intention of this meeting.
What Basara and the others accomplished was no small feat. Peace between two opposing factions in the Demon World does not happen often. But this is not an accomplishment they can just brag about here in the Village. For the Village, the new peace treaty between the two factions would only increase their threat to the Human World.
While Basara and Yuki made a claim that ‘resolving the dispute in the Demon World ensured that Mio Naruse would not be targeted in the Human World’, there were those in the Hero Tribe who believed that the best strategy would have simply been to watch the two factions destroy each other. Some even suggested having Yuki and Kurumi sabotage the peace by fanning the flames of war between the two factions while they were there.
However, that would mean supporting the killings and fighting between Demons who bore no threat to the Human World. Encouraging such actions will definitely lead to ‘corruption’ and will risk their relationships with the spirits and gods they have signed pacts with. The very reason they agreed to Wilbert’s peace treaty to end the Great War was to ensure that they didn’t ‘go against peace’ and risk angering the spirits and gods who did not wish to see a world in conflict.
Of course, Basara could use that as his defense. He could say that they were respecting the wishes of the previous generation by maintaining the peace. But by doing so, and legitimizing their actions, they would be ‘making excuses’ and ‘going against’ the Village. That was a position he didn’t want to put himself and the others in.
“I cannot say for sure how much of an influence we had on the peace treaty between the Moderates Faction and the Current Demon Lord Faction. All we did was fight to keep our way of life and our peace.”
Basara was very careful with his words. He made sure that there was no lie in what he said. “But you could roughly estimate your influence, can’t you?”
Atsuta didn’t let him off the hook however.
“As you surely understand, the peace treaty between the two factions is very concerning news for the Village. We just want to make sure that we understand everything that took place and all the options that were considered.”
“While that may be so, the actions we took were to protect Mio and our livelihood in the Human World. It will not be a fair assessment for us to compare our independent actions to the overall peace process as it was never our intention to bring the two factions together. That was simply the result of many different events.”
That was Basara’s angle: That their actions were taken independently without any intention to influence the outcome.
“Ah, well we don’t mind if it’s not a fair assessment. You guys were right there in the turning point of history. Don’t think over the details too much and just tell us how you felt.”
Basara knew that the Elders were leading them into a trap. He could see the various escape routes being cut off in the argument. He knew that if he were to speak based on how he felt, they would use what he said against him down the road.
When he was wracking his brains for an escape, his eyes glanced towards Takigawa and an idea popped in his mind.
“While I understand… we are currently joined by the special envoy sent by the two factions of the Demon World.”
Takigawa was taken by surprise with his sudden inclusion in the conversation.
“We just overcame the whole situation between the Demon World and Mio. If I were to say something here that causes a misunderstanding, we will risk having some new problems on our hands.”
Basara knew that the Village wouldn’t want to risk having any disputes or misunderstandings with the Demon World. Especially with the Hearing Officer from the Vatican arriving tomorrow.
“Perhaps you do have a point…”
Fuji gave the impression of agreeing, before turning to Takigawa.
“Then let me ask you special envoy… how would you assess Basara’s contribution towards the two factions finding peace this time around?”
Basara bit down on his tongue. They got him. If Basara was to say something, there would be a risk of him offending the Demon World, but if a demon himself was to say something, there will be no risks.
“Hmmm… his contribution huh…”
Knowing Basara’s situation, Takigawa feigned boredom while analyzing the question. If he was to say that Basara did have a big part in the two sides finding peace, the Village will use that as a reason to prove Basara’s closeness with the demons. On the other hand, if he were to say that Basara’s actions didn’t do anything to affect the outcome, the Village could press him as to why he didn’t take any measures to sabotage the peace. It was a loaded question designed to implicate Basara regardless.
But Basara had faith in Takigawa’s aptitude.
“As I said before, I’m just a messenger. I can’t speak for the Demon Lord or the Moderate Faction. If I were to say something here and you guys took it the wrong way, I’ll have a lot to answer to once I get back. If you guys really wanna know, you guys could always meet up and discuss with the higher ups of the Demon World.”
And just like Basara, Takigawa found a weasel his way out of trouble. “I see. Sorry for pushing that question on to you then.”
Fuji backed down. While he could interrogate Basara with further questions, that kind of disrespect to Takigawa will have its consequences. Consequences he cannot risk to shoulder. Basara made eye contact with Takigawa and he saw what he was saying with his eyes: “You owe me.”
Basara conveyed his thanks with a look then focused on the situation at hand. By now, it was obvious what the Village is trying to do by implicating him. The only reason Basara got off this time was because his relationship with Takigawa was kept a secret.
But one thing’s for certain. The Village did not see Basara in a favourable light. But if they did see him as an enemy, they wouldn’t have invited him all the way out here. Instead of doing something so troublesome, they could have just launched an ambush.
Or was it that they were afraid of angering the gods and spirits? They have already tried to assassinate Mio once, only to fail and put her on watch again. Unless they can prove that Basara and the others were a threat to humanity and the world, killing them would most likely ‘corrupt’ the relationship the Village had with many of their gods and spirits.
Basara had to control himself. There was just so many ways this meeting could go wrong and so many things he had to consider. But he has to keep his cool and find an opportunity to end all of this.
“Well then, allow me to change the question a little bit.” It was Kumano who spoke next.
“Knowing that Demons are no longer coming after you for now… what do you all hope to achieve? And what is the future that you envision?”
That was a question they knew they were going to be asked. And they did prepare for it. Even to the point of choosing who would answer the question.
In a quiet, yet strong voice, it was Mio who answered.
“I wish to live with Basara.”
That was Mio’s answer to Kumano’s question. And it wasn’t something they made up. That was her putting out her real feelings on display.
“I wish to continue living with Basara and the others just like we always have… That’s my goal… that’s the only thing I wish for.”
“I was raised in this world as a human. After my parents were killed and meeting with Maria, I was faced with the reality that I’m a demon. But I still wish to live as a human, and this is the world that I want to live in.”
“I just want to live normally with Basara and Maria… with Yuki, Kurumi and Zest…. That’s all.”
A deafening silence followed Mio’s declaration. No one spoke a word. Mio gripped her hands into fists on her lap. She said everything that she had to say. She didn’t ask for anything more. Just what she really felt from the bottom of her heart. She prayed that her feelings reached the Elders.
“Well then… how can you prove that you are saying the truth?” Fuji’s words broke the silence.
“It is easy to say things. But how can you prove that your words are not lies and that you don’t have any other motive?”
Kumano followed with his input.
“Or, how could you assure us that your feelings will not change down the road?”
“Even if it may be the truth now, people’s feelings change… you might change in the future and pose as a threat to the world.”
“I mean, have you all considered the current strengths you possess?”
Atsuta cut in with a biting tone.
“Naruse Mio…You and that demon Zest are both S class mages. That succubus Maria is a sub- S class, with Yuki and Kurumi also being around the same.”
His eyes then shifted towards Basara.
“And Basara… when you were still in the Village, people were praising you as the ‘prodigy’ but you lacked any real combat experience. That made you a B rank at best. And even when you defeated Takashi, we still only considered you an A rank.”
“But currently, you are a S rank, and one that is far stronger than Naruse Mio. The growth that you all went through in this short amount of time is simply incomprehensible. And your immense strength is a threat. All of you together are way past the point of us simply keeping tabs on you.”
There was nothing Mio could say against that. She was prepared that her feelings might not have reached them. She knew that no matter what she said, some in the Village would not accept her simple because she was the daughter of Wilbert.
But their strengths were not because of their desire for fame and fortune. They had to get stronger in order to survive. But if the Village was to reject this, how exactly were they supposed to have survived all this time?
Mio bit her lip in anger. She really had no response to the questions.
“Why remain quiet? Are you not saying anything before the words from before were simply lies?”
Atsuta didn’t hold anything back in his interrogation.
A tear was about to form in Mio’s eye. For the Elders have rejected everything. She simply tried to convey her honest and true feelings. But they swatted that away in an instant.
She just felt so weak…
She knew that the longer she held her silence, and if she was to shed a tear, the Elders will use that as evidence against them. That they would determine them a threat that must be exterminated.
So, she had to speak. She had to say something.
It was at that moment when Mio spoke up, that she heard someone else speak up. “Sir Elder, could you please take back what you just said?”
It was Basara.
The piercing gazes of the occupants in the room all focused on him. For up until now, Basara had maintained a very polite and professional tone with them. But his current tone was anything but gentle.
Just like how Atsuta cannot overlook the rising threat of those living in the Toujou household, Basara too couldn’t just oversee what he said to Mio. Basara knew all about the girls in his care. That’s why there was no way he could forgive those who denied their past and how they grew up.
“You’re telling me to take back my statement?” Atsuta snapped at him.
“Trusting someone’s feelings only comes from those who trust each other. And the future is full of different possibilities. It would be impossible to guarantee and make promises based on that.”
“You were the one who asked us questions, yet to refuse to accept any of our answers and reject them. Is that a worthy behaviour of someone in your position?”
He took a breath.
“And in this chamber of all places?”
Just as he said that, the air in the chamber started to thicken. This was the judgement by the gods and spirits who reside in this room. The ‘corruption’ has started.
The Elders could logically understand the situation, but they couldn’t come to terms to it. They should know about this Ceremonial Chamber more than anyone. But they could not understand why there was corruption taking place inside this chamber.
Of course, they wouldn’t.
The Elders do not know that Basara is able to borrow, and is contracted with, Hasegawa, an ex 10 God. Further to that, they spent a year together, in a different dimension, on their hot spring trip, so currently, the blood of Raphaeline, his mother on the God’s side, coursed through his veins as strong as ever.
Which all meant that Basara was under the divine protection of 2 individuals of a Togami class. And their positions were far higher than that of gods, including the 4 Gods, residing in this current chamber.
So that is why Basara remained non-confrontational with the Elders up until now. If they were to fight, the corruption from such an encounter won’t just threaten the chamber but the very Village itself.
But Basara cannot let this meeting continue in a way that will lead to the end of the peace his family was striving for. And in order to keep that peace, he decided that it was okay to let a little bit of corruption run through the chamber. There was no way the Elders would allow for corruption to remain in the Chamber of Ceremonies. And if they were to realize that it was their own words and actions that caused it, it would lead to a big shift in their behaviour as well.
“But as Elders, it is our responsibility to make sure that our Village is safe. It’s only natural that we eliminate or weaken anything that threatens the Village.”
Basara did not back down.
“It’s ridiculous to expect absolute certainty for our futures. And if it is the Village’s responsibility to eliminate anything that might become a potential threat in the future, what’s the Village’s proof that they will continue this?”
Fuji spoke up to retaliate against Basara. “Our history is our proof.”
‘Our ancestors have been protecting this world from the very beginning and our Village has been protecting this country as well. And it will remain this way in the future as well.”
However, Basara saw the weakness in that point raised by Fuji.
“But isn’t that based on our past accomplishments? How is that proof, or guarantees the Village will continue to protect this country?”
“That’s because when we say ‘future guarantee’, we do not refer to it as the 100% you see in statistics and data. It depends on whether we can entrust the future to you.”
This was Atsuta trying to define the word ‘absolute’ to legitimize their argument.
“For centuries, the Hero Tribe has been protecting the Human World from Demons. Our history and track record is the very proof we need that we will continue to do so in the future.”
Basara paused. Not because he didn’t have anything to say back. But because he finally understood their angle. The Hero Clan has a record of protecting the world. But Mio does not have any record of her not being a threat to humanity. And in fact, after inheriting Wilbert’s power, there have been a number of assassination attempts on her life. Basara could see that they plan to argue that Mio’s existence itself is a threat if people come and try to attack her.
Basara turned to see Mio’s defeated look as she kept her eyes on the floor. And so, he placed a hand on her shoulder and shook his head when she looked his way.
Of course, there was the risk of people making an attempt on Mio’s life in the future. They can’t rule out the possibility of someone trying to do so.
But that was the same for the Hero Clan. While they preach about absolute guarantees based on their past accomplishments, they refuse to accept Mio’s words because she lacked any past records.
So Basara took a deep breath and looked at the Elders in front of him.
“Well…. If we’re talking about past accomplishments… how would you explain the tragedy from 5 years ago?”
Basara’s words could have frozen the air in the room.
“How can the Village guarantee that there won’t be another person like Seito-san, who will go berserk with rage, and a person like me who won’t be able to control their power?”
This was Basara’s last resort. To use his own tragedy as the piece to break the ‘logic’ of the Elders.
“Last time, you were able to keep the casualties and damages to within the Village, but there is no guarantee that the next time something happens, it will be conveniently within the barrier of this Village.”
“How dare you… Basara, do you plan to abandon your responsibility for your crimes?” Atsuta spewed in anger.
“No, not at all sir. I am to blame for that tragedy and I do not plan to run away from it. It is something I will have to shoulder for the rest of my life.”
Basara took a breath.
“But if you all say that any future you create is based absolutely on your past accomplishments, then you will be sidelining that tragedy to ‘something that just happened.’”
The corruption in the room became thicker still. But that was not because of Basara. What he said were his true and honest feelings of regret. The spirits and the gods have understood what he just said and have even sided with him. So, any further disputes by the Elders will only worsen the corruption.
“So, could you please take back what you said?”
There were two things that the Elders would have to retract. The first would be their denial of Mio’s future plans. The other, being the idea that they can just ignore the tragedy from 5 years ago and claim that the future of the Hero Clan shines brightly with absolute confidence.
In order to stop the current corruption in the chamber, they would most likely have to retract both statements. The Elders knew that the tragedy in the Village must never be forgotten, so it will be relatively easy for them to retract that statement, but they can’t show weakness in retracting their statement regarding Mio’s future.
But Basara did not specify which statement they had to take back when he made his request. But that was the beauty of this strategy. Even if the Elders didn’t know what they were retracting, doing so will win them back the favour of the gods and spirits and the corruption in this room will most likely disappear. But if they were to not retract either one, the corruption will only worsen. That meant that the Elders will have to retract both in order to appease the gods and spirits.
“Yes. Please excuse me for my behaviour as well.”
Basara answered almost immediately, which felt very strange for Kurumi. But then she saw why he quickly forgave Fuji. The corruption had disappeared. And it all started to make sense now. The reason why Basara immediately accepted Fuji’s apology was to remove the corruption right there, and not show the Elders what the source of the corruption was. And that would help prove that Basara and the others did not come to the Village to fight against them.
Fuji took a deep breath of understanding, before asking.
“So, let me ask…what is it that you guys wish for?”
“Exactly what Mio said before. That is what we all wish for. But we unfortunately don’t have any proof to show how serious we are, but if you give us the opportunity, maybe we can discuss on how and what we can do to build a case for our goal and to provide proof for the Village that we won’t turn into a threat.”
The keyword here was “discuss”, not “tell us”. That splits the power balance between the Village and Basara and the others, while also making the Elders partially responsible for any outcomes as the outcome will be the result of their discussion.
Kurumi was shocked. Basara had completely outsmarted the Elders and only leaving them the option to accept and discuss with Basara, or else they annoy the spirits and gods any further.
“I see, well then…”
Just as Fuji was about to finish what he was saying, the door to the chamber opened.
“Of course, I will be the judge of whether your conditions are apt or not. If you can’t convince me, there will be no agreement.”
Basara looked back towards the voice that echoed through the ceremonial.
As he did so, two people with looks he wasn’t familiar with stood a step away from the door.
One of them was a man who wore a dark navy suit. The other, was a woman who wore a gold- designed cloak long enough to reach her ankles, her face covered with a white hood. Basara narrowed his eyes as he saw the design of her shining emblem.
Without a mistake – it was the emblem of the << Vatican >>. Furthermore, despite being shadowed by her cloak, she was armed with a sword. Basara could make shape of it right away. And then, she probably noticed the same thing of him. On the upper stage – on its side, Shuya was silenced,
“I can see you’re the inquisition from the <<Vatican>>… But I have heard that you were not supposed to arrive until tomorrow?”
“—So that our plan could go faster, we had been told from the top”
The woman said, as she walked up gracefully.
There’s a thin, calm smile upon her lips.
“I think this is improbable but… It’s so before our present hearing, those here in Japan aren’t holding a covered-up discussion for your own conveniences.”
At those words, Basara understood the goal of the <<Vatican>>, which did not have conclusive evidence.
…The subject of this proceeding is both us and the << Village >>, huh…
Of course, it wasn’t as if they had optimism that it had nothing to do with them but, …Damn, even though it’s just a little more…
Without thinking, Basara clenched. The meeting with the elders had been brought to a good conclusion here; the path for the argument to be concluded was being opened… Just a little more. They’re not decided at the worst possible time. If the proceeding opened here, the talk clumsily turned around – at worst, their united talks with the elders could be completely turned over.
As the <<Vatican>> woman saw Basara grinding down the back of his teeth.
“Please don’t make such an awful face Basara… Just as we are meeting again after a long time” “Eh–?”
At his confused tone the woman walked over and stopped by him.
And then — she took off her hood.
The figure underneath was of brilliant blonde hair and translucent emerald eyes. From her calm manners, he had thought that she was an older woman, but she was younger than his expectation… She was most likely around Basara’s age, a beautiful young girl.
— That girl had said ‘meeting again after a long time’.
In Basara’s past, when he had contact with the << Vatican >> would have been before he was expelled from the village – that means, at most 5 – 6 years ago.
There was a time when they exchanged combat tactics with other districts, including that of the << Vatican >>. At the time, Basara and the rest were still small, so they didn’t go overseas but from one of the << Vatican >> units that came, there was a girl that was about their age. From the form of the girl in front of him, Toujou Basara was able to see a vestige of the girl he met in those past days,
As Basara dumbfoundedly spilled out the name of his childhood friend from overseas, “Yes… So you do remember me”
She said, happily, the girl – Celis nodded, she then moved her eyes to those beside him,
“Yuki and Kurumi too, I’m glad you all seem well”
To that Celis who’s smiling,
“Celis-nee, it’s you…?” “Why… Are you here?”
At this unexpected timing, to be able to meet again put Kurumi and Yuki to confusion first. To that, Celis gave a sigh.
“All of you are too surprised… Well, it can’t really be helped” Because
“There’s a lot to talk about – a lot between us”
Celis said, her eyes glazed with nostalgia. The meanings of those words were in regards to, the tragedy that happened when they were apart, and how that changed their standing and relationships. The tragedy that happened in this Japanese << village >> was told to the other Hero districts too.
Celis too knew – what happened in this << village >> with Basara. But,
“…I apologize, but first I must do my work”
Saying that, Celis faced the elders directly. Then, she put her hand on her chest. “Greetings to all three of you elders… So, just in case, I shall introduce myself once more” A pause.
“Celis Reinhardt. Coming here on the behest of the Pope from the << Vatican >>”
Then, indicating the youth behind her with her eyes.
“This is my aide, Cleo Angeles” “…”
At Celis’ introduction, the youth named Cleo just gave a silent nod.
“As such – the two of us shall perform the hearing here for everyone here”
She said, a loud declaration.
So then, with the Vatican officer intervention, the discussion was rushed to a new place.
In the midst of that, Toujou Basara refrained his remarks, and waited for the words Celis would choose next.
…First, to know the goal of the << Vatican >>.
The possibility for this kind of situation had been in the corner of his mind since he had heard from Shuuya that a car was bringing the hearing officers to the << village >> from Shuuya. However – this time, his opponent was the << village >>. Still holding on deeply to the trauma of the tragedy, no matter what, his consciousness would be concentrated in front of nervous eyes. He also didn’t regret having retaliated on the elders’ unreasonable pursuit of Mio, and he did not think that was a mistake.
He had lacked a little cool. — That fact was undeniable.
In one on one debate, there are times where feelings would go through, but that was a no go with a discussion with the three of them. If his reasoning was agitated, it could have an opening for it to be stabbed by logic. He must not turn both the << Village >> and << Vatican >> into his enemies, avoiding a 2-on-1 confrontation.
…On top of it.
How Shuuya had leaked the coming of the << Vatican >> party to Basara and the others, there’s a chance that the elders don’t know that. Even if the elders might know, it was unexpected that the hearing officer would be Celis. In other words, they could play dumb, stunned at this opportunity.
More than anything, Celis’ declaration of earlier just now. Although she had said ‘for everyone’, the statement was issued right after her greeting to the elders. Of course, it could be pointed to everyone here, but so to say, the elders know that her real role was to intervene on behalf of the << Vatican >>. In that, just as Basara determined to wait,
“It’s been a while, Miss Celis… For you to be the hearing officer from the << Vatican >> was a surprise”
The one who sparked that was Kumano.
“A hearing in regard to us, that is quite unsettling… Furthermore, coming earlier due to the possibility of us carrying out an unjust discussion, we have only heard that officers from the
Vatican would come, without knowing the intention. In this, we would have no way to hold any of such.”
“Yes… That’s why, as I have mentioned, I too think it is improbable.”
To Kumano who had a nasty smile surfaced on his face, Celis replied with once more, a calm smile.
“So then – let us ask the details behind our hearing.” This time, it was Atsuta who had asked aloud.
“Why did the << Vatican >> decide this was necessary?” To those words,
Celis let out Mio’s name quietly. “—?”
Beside Basara, Mio gulped down in surprise, looking at Celis. Having her name said out like that – that’s a natural reaction. But on the other hand, Celis, without looking at Mio, continued to fix her eyes on the elders.
“No, more than simply her, all of Basara’s group that had included Naruse Mio” Upon saying that – she said decisive words.
“We know that currently, the << village >> in Japan had been monitoring them but — the Vatican determined, that there’s a problem with this decision.”
The words Celis said was more than enough to tense up the whole place.
The face of Mio beside him paled, Yuki and Kurumi’s expression crunched up, “…”
Toujou Basara thought of the meaning of Celis’ words calmly.
…Which was it?
She said it vaguely, on whether or not the brunt of the problem faced their side or otherwise.
That being said, as a result of being silent to this point, the flow which had taken a bad direction was irreversible, and there’s a danger his chance to strike would disappear.
Therefore, Basara decided to move before it was too late.
“Celis… Is the << Vatican >> thinking it’s reasonable to erase us?”
As he asked with a soft voice, Celis turned to him,
“–No, I do not mean to say that. In our judgement, we see you monitored as more reasonable than erasure…. Although the rank for that is definitely a Special S”
With these words, Mio sighed in relief, for the time being.
— However, Basara’s face was still stiff.
The words earlier, still did not contain Celis’ – << Vatican’s >> intention.
“We would be thankful if you could tell us, how you agreed with our decision to monitor them, but there’s still a problem with it. If it was just the difference between S-class and Special S- class, they would not send a party from overseas, I’m sure”
“Yes, of course… Although monitored, there may be problems that arise that required it to be switched to erasure, and depending on the situation, assistance may be required”
Celis responded to Fuji’s words.
“However, unfortunately, presently the Japan << village >> does not have a fighting power that would be effective to just deal with the Special S-class that is Basara’s group… We << Vatican >> think so, and we question your decision”
At those words of Celis, …So it’s like that.
This was the point of agreement. And, at the same time, it strengthens Basara’s conviction. The << Vatican >> was not aiming at them – but at the << village >>. At the very least in this case, they were not on a lone struggle, cornered by both the << Vatican >> and << village >>.
This close-to-call situation continued. Depending on the flow of the talk, it would not be strange for them to be sparked up.
To the Basara, who watched over this with worry,
“…There’s concerns on whether our fighting power is not effective towards Basara’s group?”
“Rather than a concern, it would be more appropriate to say there’s a suspicion”
At the words of Atsuta, which is laced with anger, Celis answered, her gaze looking upward to the right.
What those emerald eyes were looking at was one of the ‘Four Gods’ — The spirit spear “Byakko”.
“A few months ago… You had decided to switch to erasing Naruse Mio from monitoring her, and it seemed that it was with Takashi who wielded the spear “Byakko”.”
It wasn’t odd for the << Vatican >> to know about the usage of “Byakko”. It couldn’t be helped, that the usage of one of the “Four Gods” out of the village would disrupt the village barrier.
Therefore, there needs to be an explanation for the reason the village dealt with the outside – along with a legitimate one to use “Byakko”. With this, Celis narrowed her eyes and she looked at “Byakko”.
“And then… After that, you quickly returned to monitoring” A pause.
“For “Byakko” to run reckless, and on top of that with Basara’s group… There’s no more shameful result than this failure”
Atsuta replying, but quickly swallowed his words.
When “Byakko” ran reckless, it was within a barrier in the city. Of course, when one of the “Four Gods” was taken out, The Vatican tracked the wave of it to watch over “Byakko”, foreseeing that the power of it weakening and a possible “reckless” running of it – and Basara’s group convergence with it was something they should know. Of course, with the << village >> not reporting their own blunder, and that of Mio’s state being returned to being monitored, as they should with appropriate reasons.
Celis had some ability as a hearing officer. Whether it’s to perceive the waves given off by “Byakko”, or he doesn’t know if she could communicate directly with “Byakko”, but she must have some way to know the truth of that time. As such, with someone with that ability, any excuses would have the opposite effect.
To Atsuta, whose rebuttal was sealed,
“Yuki’s actions were affected… but even so? If you’re going to use that excuse, then that does not just say about your decision to send Yuki to monitor to begin with, but also for her to return to it after – returning to a misleading situation. That evidenced your lack of understanding on the situation.”
She said, with a cold tone of voice.
“Fact is – you had previous records. We admit you had drawn the army of the previous demon lord Wilbert, and brought it to a cease-fire. Because of this, we the << Vatican >> had tolerated the monopoly of supervision and management over Jin-san who’s touted as the strongest and his only son Basara.”
But, said Celis.
“On the tragedy five years ago, you had kept it confidential without consulting the other districts… Saying you’re not done handling Basara or Jin-san, you here, not wanting to call upon us in your weakened state, giving us the finished post report.”
“–With Basara and Jin, expelled from the heroes” At those words
Silence descended upon the ceremonial. It occurred, as everyone was at a loss for words – Even while embracing their bitter thoughts, each had their own feelings. The sadness that was born from that tragedy, and the resentment that came with it. As an outcome, they could no longer accept the being that caused it, or even looked at him. Ever since that day, they all lived
with a sense of loss and crushing despair. Losing an important person – an irreplaceable person, is like that. And then,
Celis, whose remark caused the silence, also diverted her eyes in sadness.
That expression was not one that came out with ill intention or callousness in her remarks. Celis understood what her words had meant to the people here. Even so, there was still anguish for the person who had said that.
However — Celis continued on her responsibility.
“As a result of the determination to expel Basara… Jin-san too had held suspicion for the << Vatican >> and other district representatives, taking a distance from us. Though the Vatican archbishop had offered protection, Jin had seemingly said, “If you come close to us, you will cause hostility”
“My old man saying that…”
What Celis said, was a truth Basara didn’t know. …Old man.
Toujou Basara thought of his father who’s far away. Recently, Basara had just heard of the hopes and expectations, along with what they’ve given for him. Raphaeline who had risked her everything to birth him, Sapphire who lived away from her standing — and Jin, who raised Basara with the thoughts of his two wives, must also have things he could not take that happened as a result of that tragedy. In front of Basara who was quieted,
“However, if the << Village >> had cooperated with the << Vatican >> on seeking a judgement, when it wasn’t in this complicated state, it wouldn’t have gone to this…. We do think that. And it would be best not to repeat the same mistakes. So then, as to not get the worst results in leaving it in your hands, we had decided to move more aggressively”
Celis Reinhardt declared to the elders.
“The << Village >> was to give up all authority and responsibility regarding Toujou Basara and his monitoring, for this to be given to us – that is, the consensus the << Vatican >> had come to.”
At Celis’ announcement, the elders made a dark face as they were pushed to silence. Following where their eyesight had landed,
Toujou Basara’s conviction was further deepened. The underlying aspect of the << Vatican’s >> intervention this time, was to force the leadership struggle within the << village >> through the matter of Basara’s custody.
Originally, in this home of the hero clan – was under jurisdiction of the main church European based << Vatican >> but, due to the achievement of Jin in the previous war, they have come to a ceasefire with the demon realm. In according to that, the authority of the << Vatican >> in the Heroes’ << Village >> was a mere facade. With this matter, they aimed to dispel that.
The << Village >> won’t just accept that with a “yes, we get it”. Even if they may be able to accept the << Vatican >>’s ambition, for them to recognize the << Vatican >>’s request, there was a chance it might snowball into more. If they don’t handle it well, not the << Vatican >>, but other districts may put the << Village >> under siege.
In the worst case, it’s not impossible for the << Village >> to be dissolved and absorbed into the << Vatican >>, putting Japan under the << Vatican >>’s direct jurisdiction.
“Hmm… We understand the << Vatican’s >> criticism of us. It is an expected move with regards to us in this situation.”
But before that, said Kumano.
“Since the rationale of the << Vatican >>in worry over our fighting power… In that case, do you have what’s needed to respond to Basara?”
“Yes. It is possible. Within our secret military’s hearing officers are those enrolled as S-class Holy Knights.”
Upon hearing the situation calmly stated by Celis, “…Basara, is that so?”
Mio who was beside quietly whispered to him. Basara said “yes” with an affirming nod, the “<< Vatican >> had collected those with powerful abilities from various hero territories”
Jin had also been affiliated with the << Vatican >>, as he heard from his pillow talks during his time within the barrier with Hasegawa. Though that being said, Jin who tends to act on his own, eventually collided with the upper levels of the << Vatican >>, eventually returning to the Japan << Village >>, but Raphaeline had known of Jin from that time and the story held interest.
“…That’s some great confidence you have”
Said Atsuta at Celis words. “But, how would you?” Are you planning to appoint those S- class officers here in Japan?”
“No. As you know, Europe is the region that has lots of areas that border on many alien worlds, especially that of demon world. The numbers of missions too are incomparable to here… At this point in time, it isn’t realistic to devote the manpower of the S-class officers here”
“Hmm… In other words”,
At Fuji’s words, Celis nodded a “Yes”,
“Hand over the custody of Basara and the others – the << Vatican >> will monitor them” At those words,
“— Wait, Celis”
Basara interrupted without thinking,
“Ah, what is it Basara? Might you have objections?”
Celis looked at him with an elegant smile. While her facial expression and tone is calm, it carried a pressure on Basara. In a roundabout way, the smile tells him that he doesn’t have a choice. Because the heroes had overlooked it, it was placed as ‘monitoring target’ rather than ‘erasure target’. It could be said they had purposely overlooked it. And then that decision, depending on how the correspondence goes, could possibly switch to ‘erasure target’.
…This is bad.
The negotiations with the elders had been effective, but to the center of it, during the “Ritual” of the village, the situation of the hearing officers from Vatican arriving had complicated the matters.
If corruption happens in this place, the elders would be held responsible.
The home-court advantage could be used by the opponent instead.
— However, the Celis who had come from Vatican wasn’t using that hand.
For starters, management of this place wasn’t under the << Vatican >>, and no matter how corrupt this place would be, it’s still possible to push through with differences in their opinions.
The elders had lost this debate. To further fight the << Vatican >> risked the << Village >> being attacked all at once.
…No, even before that.
The criticism Celis stated of the << Village >> was legitimate from the standpoint of the << Vatican >>. Even if it’s just backdoor political speculation, that doesn’t matter. It was likely that Celis who was here doesn’t doubt her own sense of justice. She surely believes taking Basara to the << Vatican >> is the best choice. Straight on, the point of naivety – precisely because of this did the upper levels of the << Vatican >> dispatch Celis in this particular instance. On the other hand,
Basara, took a cursory glance at Cleo at behind Celis. “…”
Celis appeared in the ceremony, Cleo had not said a word. Nothing could be read from his expression, and in a way he’s more eerie than Celis was. He had been said to be Celis’ aide, but whether that’s true or not remains unclear. It wouldn’t matter if Cleo was just a decorative figurehead, but alternatively it was possible that Cleo was who’s truly involved with the upper levels of the Vatican and was sent to closely watch the situation. It’s best not to show poor actions.
They had fought to achieve peace. This time too, their objective for coming to the << Village >> was to put an end to their observation. That goal had gone a step further. But — Even as an ‘observation target’, for them to be taken to the <<Vatican >> was further away from the peace they wished for.
If the intervention this time had a hidden underlying motive for the << Vatican >> – one couldn’t think that they would stop with taking Basara to the <<Vatican>>. It’s likely the upper echelons of << Vatican >> would conspire by making use of Basara’s presence. Being monitored by the most powerful force among the heroes, an unfamiliar situation – this adverse situation makes it uncertain whether or not they could secure Mio’s safety.
That being said, the situation was sealing their path to rebuttal. Thus,
…To overcome this situation.
While thinking of this, Toujou Basara saw, The Vatican intervening in the issue between Basara and the << Village >> tilted the flow of the problem to allow outside presence leaning towards the Vatican.
Takigawa Yahiro. With that, Takigawa glanced at him.
After shooting an unpleasant look, he scratched the back of his head. “Ahh – What to say, sorry to bring this up”
Saying that with a tone mixed with a sigh, his sight lands on Celis.
With that remark, all attention in the room turned to Takigawa Yahiro. …Aah, how troublesome…
These things are not originally Takigawa’s role. Without leading, moving behind the scenes, unseen till the end – however, achieving maximum results.
Precisely that, is what’s sought after by Takigawa as a spy. He had learned much from the course of it, one of which was not to do extra things. Gathering attention on himself now was absurd. To add to it, Takigawa was putting himself on the stage of ‘politics’, which he hates. Furthermore, was an opposing hero clan, the place their home — right at the center. Since Takigawa had decided to act with Basara’s group, the word expelled had been floating within his mind.
…This really was an unnecessary risk.
To add to it, as this was a problem that deeply involves Basara’s group, it could also be forced on Takigawa.
If Basara was correct in theorizing that Ramsus is Wilbert, a father would not allow Takigawa to risk his precious daughter, and not completing his duty as a special envoy, that beloved psycho woman of Leohart would kill him with a smile.
It was the worst situation. Not to be self-pitying, but they had reached the point of which they could run.
As the three elders of the Japan village basked upon the sight of the Vatican holy knights who serve as hearing officers, Takigawa thought back sadly to his own standing.
“On such a sacred place, it’s not just for any demons. More so, while it’s on Naruse Mio’s escort… We now, are talking about an extraordinarily important circumstance. Don’t interrupt unnecessarily.”
Came Celis’ misunderstood statement. …Well, it couldn’t be helped.
How Takigawa goes along with Basara’s group was something Shuuya and the elders were aware of. But even now in the situation of Basara’s return to the << Village >>, Celis couldn’t have understood Takigawa’s standing. With that, Celis had said “more or less” with a cold gaze fixed upon him.
“To disregard Naruse Mio and come crashing in… It’s the same as smearing mud on her face” Rebuking him, Takigawa laughed as he moved his sight over to Basara.
“–Basacchi. Sorry, can I go home?”
“I understand your feelings, but do your job Takigawa…”
Basara sighed, and then.
“Celis… He’s not looking down on Mio. He’s an envoy from the combined forces of the moderate faction and the current demon lord faction. Bringing here, a secret letter from the two forces”
“An envoy… If I get it right, your name is ‘Takigawa’. I see… From the report you’re a spy who works with the demons.”
Celis, who finally understood said. The daughter of the previous demon lord Mio, wasn’t a existence the heroes as a whole could ignore. There’s also Basara to consider, the information raised by Yuki and Kurumi to the << Village >> would be shared with the << Vatican >>, and it’s possible that they picked up information about Takigawa as well.
…In any case.
Assessment of Takigawa wasn’t likely to be good. On this, or on his secret cooperation with Basara in the demon world, knowing of Belphegor coming out bit by bit.
That being said, those being exposed was bad for Basara too — if the Vatican knew of this, they could be more extreme in their advance.
…Well, in general.
As they didn’t know how far has Celis understood of Takigawa, it’s best that they do not run their mouths more than necessary. As Takigawa tells himself that,
“— So then, what do you want to say?”
At Celis’ question, Takigawa nodded with a “yes”,
“Like you have your duties from the Vatican, I too have mine in bringing secret information for the higher ups. I want to finish that up and get rid of this uncomfortable feeling but… Before I could, you and those elders started on about the Vatican. Badly timed with this place, if the discussion further deepened, I’ll just get into more unnecessary things… I’m not fond of it going there. As your discussion seems like it’ll get more complicated, I want to finish my job and go home”
It was just as Takigawa said that, he took out the secret document inside an envelope from near his chest.
“This secret letter I’ve been entrusted with is addressed to the hero clan, but it’s meant to be given to the elders of the Japanese << Village >>… As to prevent any alteration of its content, I am supposed to open it and read it out loud before I give it over to you.”
“It includes Basacchi, so it could be unsightly, and it seems like this could be a bargaining chip… Though I’m pretty reluctant as a special envoy, I want to open this in front of everyone to avoid involving you in more problems… What do you think?”
As Takigawa said that, he held the secret letter between his finger,
“…. If you say it, I don’t mind”
As to not show an aggressive agreement, Basara first nodded.
“Yes, I too do not mind…”
Celis approved once more. So then,
“The elders don’t mind, either right? You wouldn’t want to have any more misunderstandings about the << Village >> hiding things after all”
Not forgetting to stab in the nail on the three elders with a calm smile.
…It’s done well, regardless…
Having it said like that, it’s wasn’t possible for the elders to refuse. If they try to hide the content of the secret letter, this fact may be exploited by the << Vatican >>. For that – as them being partnered with the demon world behind closed door, and if they modify the content this time too.
Exploiting the opponent’s weakness is standard for politics. To prevent this, it’s important not to make such a hole to begin with. This was something the elders who were long involved with politics know better than anyone. With that,
“…We understand. We have no objection to this”
With the approval of Fuji, the intention of the situation had been agreed on. With that, Takigawa, “—So then, I’ll go on ahead”
Saying that, he used his spiritual pattern to open the envelope’s password. With that, the seal wax emblems of the moderate faction and the current demon king faction glowed blue and black respectively – with that, the severely shut off secret letter was opened.
And then, Takigawa open the folded letter.
“Aah – “We, those who proudly live as demons—”, I can just skip this part right? For all our sake’s, I’ll get straight to the important part”
“I think expressing the content properly is a special envoy’s job though…” Said Celis with an exasperated expression.
“No need to act so elite, just excuse me from having to say all these meandering political greetings… You’ll confirm the content in writing later anyway. If you want to read some formal political greetings, you can go read it yourself later.”
Saying that with a snort, Takigawa,
“Let’s see. With the death of previous demon lord Wilbert, the ceasefire condition of the last great war had been a mere facade, the moderate faction and current demon lord faction both want to offer a truce once more to the heroes… Something like that”
“Hmm…. I see” “Well it’s like that”
This was within the scope of expectation. Neither Celis nor the elders showed surprise at the content Takigawa read out loud. Not saying whether they agree or disagree, was a careful fear in regard to political standing.
Takigawa who had expected as much gave a low laughter and continued to read the content.
“However… This peace between the moderate faction and the current demon lord faction was largely due to the achievement of Naruse Mio, who had participated in the war between the two factions. However, if the achievement of Mio, the daughter of the late demon lord was made public, it may cause renewed ambitions and unnecessary discord within their own camps.”
“In short, if one tried to use Naruse Mio’s influential power exclusively, it’s likely conflict would occur between the two sides once more. They matched in opinion in that fundamentally, they are not to inflict future harm on Naruse Mio. This too, extended to those close with Naruse Mio, including Toujou Basara, Maria and Zest…. And”
There are those who showed relief at that. Mio, Yuki and Kurumi, the three of them. Accomplishing their goal in the demon world, furthermore getting that commitment from the top of the two forces. There’s a realization that the fight they had risked their lives for was rewarded, on the other hand
Just Basara made no change in his expression, particularly looking at nothing. His eyes fell to the floor in front of him, deep in his thoughts.
What Basara was looking for is a hand that can overturn the << Vatican >>’s assertion that Celis takes custody of them. Now, he’s building a basis for it in his mind. If there’s something in Takigawa’s secret letter that could assist in that, it’s good. But it’s important to not just rely on an unclear secret letter, but to think of their own situation in parallel to it. Mio and the others are probably doing the same, but Basara’s thoroughness on this is almost too much. But nothing good had come to him yet. Basara’s face is yet to soften. So then,
…It must be difficult.
Takigawa made a sad smile, and his eyes fell back to the letter.
“But – the act of non-interference towards Naruse Mio must not be respected by only the demons”
He said it with a small tone of a telling smile. At the same time, “—-”
A slight change could be seen in Basara’s expression. However, this time Takigawa did not mind it even if he did notice,
“The heroes had judged that the presence of Toujou Basara and Naruse Mio is effective for the demons. Any malicious actions regarding them could interfere with this historic peace”
The terms for the new ceasefire – are for neither demons nor heroes to be able to lay a hand on their ‘sanctuary’, this is an absolute condition”
As Takigawa read that out loud,
“…—Wh, what is that!?”
Celis cried out with a tone laced with surprised and upset, but Takigawa ignored her.
“This letter will lodge a new ceasefire agreement, if it is found that the heroes made an attempt to take advantage of Toujou Basara and Naruse Mio – the combined forces of the moderate faction and the current demon lord faction must warn in advance that this was considered a serious sabotage against peace and they must declare war on the heroes based on this condition… That’s the end.”
“How dare you, such lies…!”
“Hey, hey, I opened this letter in front of everyone here. Formally, everyone here is witness to there being no fraudulent actions. If you still don’t believe it, here… Take a look with your own eyes”
“—Even if you say so!”
With her voice in a mess, Celis grabbed the secret letter.
At the same time – the secret letter was converted to a language Celis could read, her emerald eyes scanning through the words. However – it’s a waste of time. What Takigawa had read out loud was the content of the letter without a lie. With that,
Takigawa smiled at Basara’s group who looked at him with surprise.
…What, no need to worry,
With things being so dramatic and romantic, do what you can without trouble.
The secret letter had given a good situation for Basara’s group as they had left much achievements in the demon world, but also because of the affection and bonds of their blood.
…It’s not just that.
While it’s true the demons would be troubled by the heroes utilizing Basara or Mio, on the flip side, a sanctuary for Basara and Mio can be utilized and convenient for them. If everything was cleaned up neatly, that isn’t politics – a heart-warming story is just fabricated. This thing called politics, could use a useful fabricated story more than a useless truth. And then,
“This can’t be… This is…”
To Celis, who had read to the end with her shoulders trembling,
“So… What would you do? They had offered a new ceasefire. Whether you would accept or reject it, it’s best to carefully consider it”
However, said Takigawa
“If you take Naruse Mio to the << Vatican >> – at that moment, as it’s written here, would be a cause for them to declare war, right?”
At Takigawa’s words, Celis bit down on her lips bitterly. Being a hearing officer, surely, she was entrusted with corresponding authority from the top of the << Vatican >>.
The current situation had gone above the present hearing officer or the leaders of a district.
Since the decision in this case could cause an all-out war with the demons, each of the hero district’s representative should be part of the discussion. However, as it was also between the < Village >> and << Vatican >> there’s a political side to it too. The discussion was bound to get more complicated if the United States and the other districts were present. It would take time to settle their opinions too. In that time, the peace between the moderate faction and the current demon lord faction should have been settled. With this information, it would bring the hero clan to more of a panic and create more disputes. As such,
…That probably bought enough time, Takigawa thought.
“But… More than determining the ‘sanctuary’ status for Basara’s group, we should clarify who’s in charge of their supervision”
Even so, Celis was eating it up.
Celis Reinhardt was racking up her brain. …At this rate, she wasn’t giving up.
Once the ‘sanctuary’ for Basara’s side was determined on the demon’s side, it can’t be messed with — so in theory, it’s good for Celis to interfere before the agreement was made. Although that’s quite an aggressive interpretation,
…It should proceed in a logical manner…
Taking advantage of their opponent needing time to decide. With that,
“I see… However, while we are waiting on the verdict regarding accepting the terms for armistice this time, the current situation is correct”
A male demon named Takigawa said that to dismantle Celis’ logic.
“The Nonaka sisters from the side of the hero clan, and myself from the demon side had been dispatched for observing them… That’s the present situation, and it’s a good arrangement for both sides”
At those words.
“No… It isn’t so”
Celis was firm in not acknowledging this.
“Our concern was as we expressed. Currently the Japanese << Village >> does not have enough strength to deter Basara’s group effectively…. The ones that could fulfil that task is us, the <<Vatican>>.
That’s why they wanted to take Basara with them – continuing those words like that. “Yeah — in that case there’s no worry”
A voice with a dark smile could be heard in that place.
It did not come from outside the room like Celis did earlier. So, it was, “—”
Celis and Basara also, looked over to that side.
With that, behind the three elders — just beside the sacred objects of the four gods, a young man stood. The young man took a fruit that had been placed as an offering, a red apple in his hand, biting it with a crunch, finally meeting their eyes,
“— To handle Basara’s group. I think I’d be able to do that?” A smile surfaced on his thin lips.
— Shiba Kyouichi stood there.
The sudden appearance of Shiba was enough to change the aura of the place.
Toujou Basara felt that the ceremonial hall was now enveloped in an inevitable tension.
That was how strong a presence of this young man, Shiba Kyoichi.
At this tense aura that would make anyone hold their breath,
“…Why are you here”
Celis, obviously tense, asked Shiba,
“As per Kyouichi ‘s words, regarding hearing officer… This is the insurance we have to deter Basara’s group”
It wasn’t Shiba, but Atsuta who answered in his place. At those words,
“What kind of foolish words? More than anything, using this man… Even if you can control poison with poison, there has to be another way”
As Celis voiced to the elders,
“Poison, how cruel… Don’t you think so Basara?”
Shiba who shrugged his shoulders, asking for affirmation from him. But, “….”
Basara, without replying with anything, thought of one thing.
…As expected it’s Shiba-san
Just as one of the elders Kumano, had said to Celis’ criticism earlier. That they should be properly open regarding the Vatican’s concern that they are unable to deter Basara well enough. Due to the speed of the discussion, that matter was left where it was — but when he heard that proclamation, Basara had thought of the possibility that the elders would use Shiba as a trump card. However, even if he had prepared, for this confrontation once more, just letting one wander for a little bit would cause one to be crushed in an unfamiliar eerie pressure.
…For Shiba-san to appear this time…
Thinking of the meaning of that sent shivers down Basara’s spine. Having been read the secret letter by Takigawa, they had a reversal on the assertion of the Vatican as stated by Celis. However, with Shiba’s appearance it wasn’t possible to properly respond.
— Shiba should normally be shut up in prison. And then, the elders haven’t moved since the beginning of the meeting. They did not make any movements indicating for Shiba to appear. Of course, the possibility of them using a spiritual power to instruct Shiba to appear through a super-secret back door without anyone realizing wasn’t zero but,
It’s not that.
No matter how much Celis pressed the village, the elders didn’t seem trapped, like they still had some room somewhere. In that case, there’s most likely just one answer — Shiba was let out of prison in advance, in preparation for this meeting.
The problem was, the timing for when they decided Shiba should appear. Was it at the point Basara’s group had decided to go home, or was it during the time the hearing officers came from the Vatican, or perhaps during Takigawa, the special envoy from the demon world — it’s important to know why this risky existence named Shiba being used as a trump card for anyone.
They had heard from Shuuya that the interference of the << Vatican >> was putting the elders on edge. If that was to be believed, then there’s a high probability for this to be a measure against the << Vatican’s >> internal affairs. However,
Toujou Basara couldn’t let his guard down. Previously even with Takashi’s group as a decoy, Shiba had appeared. And then as Celis said, the << Village >> had failed to eliminate Mio even with ‘Byakko’. To begin with, the discussion that had called them to the << Village >> was the perceived danger that came with their increasing strength. In this case, they have to think of Shiba as a card against them. If Shiba was their opponent, even a slight gap could lead to death. Even just the smallest carelessness could lead to death — So,
Basara looked on towards Shiba with the utmost concerm.
“Aw, I don’t like that face. It’s been such a long time since you came back to the << Village >>… Right, Basara?”
With a mocking smile, he moved his gaze from Basara to Celis.
“And… So how is it Celis-chan? Are you not satisfied with me being Basara’s deterrent?”
Asking with a plastered-on smiling face,
“Yes… It’s doubtful”
Even as she was pressured by Shiba, without yielding Celis,
“You are someone who had always been held in confinement… Regardless of how strong you might have been in the past, there’s no guarantee that this had not decreased”
With that subduing declaration,
“Mmm, even though you say that, I’m weak… In that case”
Shiba, who pointed to himself with his index finger disappeared in a split second to appear right in front of Basara.
Just as Basara and the others gulped down, Shiba was already wearing a vicious red-black aura,
“–If you hate, hate Celis-chan”
Before those words, his right hand had swung down on Basara.
What Shiba aimed for was Basara’s throat. Sharp penetrators sucked into Basara’s throat,
However, the fingertip of Shiba was stopped before it reached him.
— It wasn’t stopped by Shiba himself.
There were three girls that stopped him.
Nonaka Yuki unsheathed her spirit sword Sakuya and broke through Shiba’s hand before it reached Basara. Nonaka Kurumi used her spirit gauntlet and projected numerous magic circles. Celis Reinhardt unsheathed her sword and pointed it directly at Shiba’s nose, the aura of the situation surrounding those three was as tense as possible.
Basara watched on wordlessly, Shiba pulled back the penetrators with his right hand. “I didn’t think you would interfere… What were you three thinking?”
Exaggeratedly shrugging his shoulder at the girls who had stopped him, Shiba said that with a bitter smile, at that,
“Just stopping your violence… There should be no problem with that”
With a cold expression, Nonaka Yuki answered, her blade pointed at Shiba.
Before coming to the << Village >> there was something Basara’s group had discussed and decided beforehand. Find a way to avoid conflicts with the << Village >> as much as possible. Secondly, for Mio who could easily be the goal of attacks and Yuki and Kurumi who may be blamed, not to lead in the meeting with elders and try to talk as much as possible through Basara. And then thirdly – if there was a problem, for Yuki and Kurumi to respond to it.
They were called for problems in regard to Basara and Mio. So then to avoid showing opposition to the << Village >>, it was necessary for Basara’s group not to show an intension of wanting to fight.
— However, even if they had no willingness to fight, there was a possibility that attacks may come on to them.
When they discussed to prepare for such a situation, it was Yuki and Kurumi who offered up their names. If was Basara and Mio – especially Mio, the situation might turn into a serious confrontation right away, however if it was Yuki and Kurumi who are members of the Hero Clan, their act are answerable to the << Village >>.
However, it wasn’t to say they want all the blame to fall entirely on Yuki and Kurumi.
It was to the end, just that this was a preferable alternative to Basara and Mio. But — even so if the other side should do so, in that case Yuki and Kurumi would move to fulfill their duty, unyielding. If it was something they didn’t start, but was to the end a defensive move, there’s little chance that they would be blamed for it.
Since the discussion started – No, since the moment they left the Toujou household even if they didn’t show it they were prepared to fight.
So then now — Yuki and Kurumi definitely protected Basara from a sudden attack from Shiba.
To say it another way, the fact they were able to respond to Shiba’s attack was as their bodies and heart were prepared to begin with. — But that wasn’t the case for Celis. Despite having been shaken by the sudden appearance of Shiba, Celis was able to respond to Shiba’s action.
…On top of it, that sword.
Celis’ sword is a special kind, combining four magical blades of different colors. It’s likely that it wasn’t a sword she received with her post as hearing officer, but with another title.
…The << Vatican’s >> Holy Knight, huh…
She was a childhood friend who had grown up far away overseas, and for sure now, she was in a position that only then chosen among all the world’s heroes could reach. While they vaguely held the feeling of that truth, now there’s no other way for Basara and the others to think about it.
The action just now – it was initiated by Shiba. Yuki and Kurumi aren’t to blame. …Essentially speaking anyway…
However, thought Basara — this was a place of high politics. As such, the justifications given may not follow justice. Basara’s worry, became true with Shiba’s smile.
“I’m only trying to show my strength. Regarding the appeal of the elders on whether I can deter Basara’s group, presenting to Celis-chan who was doubtful of how effective they could be
“My action was appropriately answering to the political will of both the << Village >> and << Vatican >>. The two of you obstructed that… I wonder if you have any objections to that?”
To Shiba, who’s hunting them down with a deepening smile,
“No. It’s just that my older sister and I responded automatically to your killer intent, Shiba-san, we don’t hold any ill-will to interfere with the << Village >> or << Vatican >>”
Said Kurumi after a bit. In the political arena, she demonstrated a political act. Kurumi’s remarks were meant to give legitimacy to their actions. In any case, there’s a possibility that Shiba’s incomprehensible power might be invoked without ceremony, such as that of setting a barrier. Shiba’s power is perhaps, higher than that of the “four gods”, the four godly weapons combined. Letting an attack like that pass, being careless, might mean Basara loses his life. As such, Yuki and Kurumi’s actions are implicitly, an appropriate defensive maneuver. And then,
“To begin with, in a ceremonial place like this an offensive attack can’t be used”
This too is convenient. If Shiba’s power blew away the barrier of the “Four Gods”, Kurumi could use her magic ability without restraint or if Shiba’s ability doesn’t affect it then Yuki’s “Sakuya”, even as if it’s restricted in its spirit power could be used as a normal sword.
Seeing the blade of Celis’ sword that’s derived from magic, the barrier against attacks in the ritual place might be gone. Of course, this was a weapon of a << Vatican >> Holy Knight. It’s undeniable that with its power is likely equal to the four gods, there would be effects but,
…If the barrier was gone.
Then it didn’t disappear with Shiba’s attack or when he appeared in this hall. At the timing of these two, there was no visible changes to the space of the ceremony.
As such, with the elders having decided to use Shiba as a trump card, it’s possible that when Basara arrived the barrier was already gone. Thinking about it like this, the elders had decided to leave this place unguarded. — Of course, this was all theory. Even though there was a system here for a barrier to seal offensive powers, there was no way to confirm whether it was used. Wanting to avoid confrontation with the << Village >>, they couldn’t test out their own abilities and Shiba’s and Celis’ powers were also unknown to them.
The truth was hidden deep inside. However, their political defensive game wasn’t over.
“No ill-will huh… I see. But, this isn’t a place to allow for such things. If you don’t understand that, then you have no business being here — right, elders?”
At Shiba’s words, Fuji nodded affirmatively after a short silence.
“Shuuya… Remove Yuki and Kurumi” “— Did Kyoichi not act first?”
The ordered Shuuya, appropriately questioned the instruction,
“I acted only as desired, there was no problem at all… As evidence of that, see”
Shiba, spreading out both arms,
“It’s apparent that corruption hasn’t happened in this place. It was acknowledged by the gods and spirits… My actions were legitimate”
Insisting on his being correct by having his power touch the barrier. Accepting that, “…”
Shuuya could only be silent. Shiba could appeal that his power had nothing to do with the barrier but, as this was the Shiba who was in corruption, the << Village >> had neglected to prepare insurance they would be able to suppress Shiba in times of emergency and they were admitting to this in front of Celis, a hearing officer of the << Vatican >>. On top of the accusations that deterrence against Basara being insufficient, they must avoid getting further pressed with worry with the treatment of Shiba.
“…I understand. Yuki, Kurumi, both of you put down your weapons”
At Shuuya’s words,
Yuki called out softly to him, asking what she should do. So,
“It’s alright… Thanks for saving me”
Basara said that to Yuki and Kurumi, before returning his gaze to Shiba. “Leave it to me from here”
So, then Yuki and Kurumi, were escorted by Shuuya out of the ceremonial hall. However — the man who had ran them out, Shiba, remained in place.
It’d be good if one could avoid this place being clawed in further by Shiba but, But,
This critical situation where Yuki and Kurumi had been drawn out, a development that once again had collided to a place where he couldn’t easily reach, was a situation Basara would have liked to avoid.
…More than anything.
Was this situation something the elders who had involved Shiba had thought of or was it something done by Shiba?
And then whether the situation was one where the elders could possibly control Shiba, was an unclear danger.
Drawing out the other side’s expectations and plans as much as possible. With that,
“So then… What should we do? I’m sure the << Vatican >> now recognize my ability to deter Basara?”
“Yes, of course… But despite that, I will not let it pass if you act insolently again. With this holy sword ‘Georgius’, I will cut you down”
To Shiba who once again toed the line, Celis said while sheathing her magic sword.
“Your proof had been a truth from a past problem. To start with, there’s doubt on whether or not your nature will allow you to accomplish the task set to you by the hero clan”
While there’s no problem with the power, there’s a human problem — Therefore, that judgement that his power was enough to subdue Basara wasn’t appropriate here.
“But, the elders here, had decided that I am appropriate. There’s a difference in opinion huh. The decision of the << Village >> and the << Vatican >> was split”
“In that case – whose way of thinking is right, could only be decided through a trial” “Trial…?”
To Celis who asked, confused, Shiba nodded a ‘yes’.
“Once again, where no one could interfere, I will show my power to subdue Basara’s group” In other words – a fight between Basara’s group and Shiba.
As Basara turned to object,
“Will you be quiet, Basara – This is a problem between the << Village >> and << Vatican >>. While you are definitely the person of interest, you don’t have the right to interrupt this conversation”
Shiba cut off his words.
“How is it, Celis-chan… Are you going to say no? Refusing without even testing it out, your qualification as a hearing officer would be questioned on points of fairness from below you know?”
Getting the brunt back of her earlier words, Celis’ face turned sour as she,
“That’s… If Basara purposely lost it would cause an advantageous situation on that side”
Shiba’s appearance was more over what Basara didn’t want, that much was impossible… But at Celis’ objection made to cut off Shiba,
“Hmm, I suppose that’s true… Then what would be good” Putting his hand to his chin as he thought, suddenly, in a flash “— So if Basara loses, I will kill Yuki-chan and Kurumi-chan” At those words,
Basara shouted out in a roar.
“Huh? What’s wrong Basara? I think it’s a pretty good idea. Because, in this case Basara won’t hold back right?”
“Don’t joke around, I won’t forgive such stupidity–”
At the Shiba looking blankly, Mio who had been quiet up to this point showed animosity.
“Stupidity? What are you saying? The one who’s trouble now is you Naruse Mio… The S-class you and female demon Zest who’s with you, Semi-S class succubus Naruse Maria. And counting Basara who has already been expelled from the hero clan, that’s three more S-class. And then the << Vatican >> had classified you as Special S class… This situation is serious”
Shiba threw a scornful smile in their direction.
“This could show the right way to deal with you… And then the hero clan has a duty to protect the world from any evil. They stake their lives on it. At best, for the two of them it’s time for them to pay to that duty”
“…Please wait. There’s the condition of the secret letter from the demons. Until the decision comes from all of the clans, we can’t be careless, and risk putting Basara’s group in danger”
Said Celis, attempting to keep in check the risk of war with the demons, but,
“The demons’ conditions only cover Naruse Mio, Naruse Maria, Zest and Basara, the four of them. Yuki-chan and Kurumi-chan aren’t included, isn’t that right?
At Shiba’s words, the demon’s special enjoy Takigawa could only return silence – An affirming silence.
The ones the demons disallowed from being touched were just Mio, Maria, Zest and Basara. This was Mio and the people who could constrain Mio – in other words, it’s to protect those Mio holds dear.
In that case, it should have included Yuki and Kurumi but,
For Yuki and Kurumi to be excluded from the secret letters ‘Sanctuary’ couldn’t be helped.
They’re demons, while Yuki and Kurumi are members of the hero clan. At a secret letter sealed by the demon’s moderate faction and current demon king faction, there’s no way that they could include requests regarding members of the hero clan. If that’s to spill, it would cause revolt from within both. For it to have included Basara must have been after heavy consideration.
And then, if was known that such a potentially destructive letter had been handed to the hero clan, the support for the top of the factions, Ramsus and Leonhart might waver. In that case, then the peace achieved by the moderate and demon lord factions might be broken from the inside.
Ramsus and Leonhart couldn’t have predicted what Shiba had spilled out. Instead, it would be normal for them to think that Yuki’s and Kurumi’s safety was ensured by the Hero Clan.
The trump card that was effective for the elders and Celis became scrap in front of Shiba. With that,
“…For us, to want to go that far”
Celis said with a pained expression. She too definitely didn’t wish for a situation where Yuki and Kurumi could be harmed by Shiba. Yuki and kurumi were previous childhood friends to Celis as well. However,
“Well, well the Vatican hearing officer, to be so swayed from one’s own declarations so easily, how unreliable… We need to be absolutely certain and resolute, did you not say so, so arrogantly”
In front of Shiba, there was nothing that Celis’ real feelings of friendship could do.
“For starters, you’ve been picking on our inability to respond to Basara’s group but, can we really rely on the << Vatican >> to really stop Basara’s group if it comes to it?”
“O, Of course…!”
“Then – we’ll get that proof from your hands, Celis-chan” At Celis who objected, Shiba smiled.
“First, have Basara and Celis fight, show us a win properly Celis-chan… Well, the observation of Basara’s group isn’t your personal decision but the << Vatican >>’s, if you fight against Naruse Mio the demons won’t shut up so a 1-on-1 with Basara would be good. This at the worst, would show us the << Vatican >>’s thoroughness with Basara right?”
“…If I do so, would you hand Basara’s group to us?”
Celis narrowed her eyes and replied quietly to Shiba’s suggestion. It’s not altogether a bad condition but… It had more or less reverted to the original situation. With that,
“I said ‘first’ did I not… If Celis wins against Basara, then it’s time for the << Village >> and << Vatican >> to fight, for us to fight to see whose power to subdue Basara’s group is more appropriate. At that time, it could be all out between the << Village >> and << Vatican >> though”
Celis was silent at Shiba’s words. She was likely determining the situation of the << Vatican >> and << Village >> which includes Shiba.
“In that case…”
Basara opened his mouth this time.
“If — If I win against Celis?”
“Oh no Basara, asking something you already know”
Shiba smiled at the Basara who asked quietly.
“At that time, then the << Village >> has to show to the << Vatican >> that they have the power to effectively subdue you”
After a pause, he spoke facing Basara – so naturally. “— A fight between me and you”