“So, in the end, why is it that you did those things, Subaru?” Emilia asked.
“I already told you the complete and utter truth. If there were to be another reason… Wait, could it be that the evil loli over there… messed with my mind…? You evil little girl!”
“You made a fool out of yourself, and now you’re just shifting the blame to another, I suppose! You’re the worst! The absolute worst, in fact!”
“Shut it! Can the words of a loli who drinks during the day even justify anything?! Aren’t you seeing and hearing lots of things wrong by getting drunk? In the first place, at what age is it hunky-dory to drink alcohol in this country?!” While he was having a spit-flying shoutout with Beatrice, he directed that question at Rem out of reflex, who was standing nearby.
Not shaken up one bit by the sudden change in subject, Rem gave a polite curtsy and asked, “What do you mean by ‘honky-dory’, sir?”
Seeing her skillfully tilt her head as she remained in her curtsy, Subaru scratched his head. “Oh, hmm… You guys aren’t even sure of the meaning of that, huh? Wasn’t expecting that, so I guess I’ll have to explain! It means something like ‘alright’.”
Comprehending what had been said, Rem and Ram shared a look.
“After you turn 14 years old.”
“When you turn 14 years old.”
“Are y’all serial?”
“It means ‘Are you telling the truth?’, ‘Are you being completely serious?’, or ‘it’s mega amazing, isn’t it?’.”
The two of them gave a synchronized bow, as if they were impressed. In other words, when put into practical use… “Serial, is it really honky-dory to drink alcohol when you turn 14!?”
““That means, ‘Seriously, is it really okay to drink alcohol when you turn 14?’.””
They managed to do a perfect translation here, their intention of coming to a mutual understanding having come true.
The three of them spontaneously looked at each other out of joy, and with their hands raised, shouted out:
They high fived each other one after the other. And then they started moving around in a circle, their hands still touching.
“…Have you finished your little performance, I wonder?”
“What do you want? You’re such a killjoy, you drill loli.”
“Hush with that lili, in fact! What the heck is up with you, I wonder!!” Beatrice leaned back into her chair and crossed her arms, looking quite angry. Subaru figured she was already through arguing with him, seeing as she chose to remain silent. He then saw Puck on top of the dining table consoling her, so he decided to let the little cat deal with her.
And then he once again faced the silver-haired girl, not having settled a single thing so far.
Perhaps because of her mood, she looked at Subaru with her white eyes filled with a chillier intensity than before, and—
“The fact that you’re cute, even when you look at me like that, should be considered a crime...”
“…Sigh. Now I’m starting to figure out how I got involved with you, Subaru. All I need to do is pay no attention to the jokes you look like you tell everyone, and then just get to the point, right?”
“I feel offended when you think I crack jokes to everyone! I’d only say such a thing to you, Emilia-TAN! I’m being serious! Totally serious! Suuuper duuper SERIOUS!”
“Yes yes, just forget it. Let’s just get to the point, then.” Clapping her hands to reset the conversation, Emilia then quietly returned to her seat.
With no choice but to follow in her stead, Subaru settled back down, but while he was doing so, Roswaal said, “Though we strayed away from the subject quite a bit, nevertheless, let’s just get to the point, shall we? Is that alriiiight with you, Subaru?”
“Weeell, based on how my head hasn’t already flown off my shoulders, I’m going to pray for it to be nothing bad.”
Roswaal whistled at Subaru’s words. Emilia looked just as caught off-guard as him, since she assumed that Subaru had been acting in such a disrespectful manner in order to feel out their intentions, but they were looking way too much into it.
Of course, he had just been spitting out mere eloquent nonsense.
Subaru had put himself out there first, before they could figure it out and expose him, making sure to overwhelm them with the way he acted. He figured that if he took the initiative during the conversation, he would be able to decrease the chances of it being led in a dreadful direction.
“Alright, I suppose I’ll make my guess then. So you brought up the whole talk about Emilia-tan being a candidate to be queen, right? I guess there’s some type of connection here?”
“Really, are you a pervert, Subaru? Or are you not?”
“Those two choices are pretty extreme, you know!?”
With wide-open eyes, Emilia gave a light-hearted apology by saying, “Sorry, sorry.” While Subaru was genuinely offended by that, Roswaal followed up after her apology. “Nevertheleeess, your guess was right on taaarget. The tale about her being a candidate to be queen from before is quiiite related to what shall become of you. —Lady Emilia?”
“Mm, I understand.”
After giving a quiet response to that call, Emilia put her hand in her pocket.
Subaru suddenly noticed that the merriness had disappeared from the atmosphere in the dining room. Though the same people were sitting around the dining table, they were now clad in a completely dignified presence.
Subaru spontaneously straightened his posture without thinking. Continuing from where she left off, Emilia brought out the object from her pocket and placed it on the table. That’s… “I-isn’t that the insignia from…?”
It was the insignia adorned with a dragon motif that had been put through the bitter experience of being stolen, courtesy of Felt, something that Subaru had finally returned to its rightful owner after coming back from three whole deaths.
The deep, serene twinkle of the crimson jewel in its owner’s hands filled Subaru with a sense of awe, its prettiness sparking his curiosity.
“You seeee, the dragon signifies the crest of Lugunica. It wouldn’t even be too muuuch to call it the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica. It is a symbol that is often found on castle walls, weapons, and armor, but that insignia is especiaaaally important. Anyhoooow…”
Roswaal paused for a second. Subaru gave him a look that urged him to go on, which he nodded to, and then he shifted his gaze to Emilia to suggest that she continue. She closed her eyes, and then said, “It is one’s qualification as a royal selection candidate. —A test to determine if the person is worthy of sitting on the throne of the Kingdom of Lugunica.”
Her declaration of the truth, said in a strained voice, made Subaru’s eyes go wide, and then his eyes once again darted towards the crimson radiance on the table. The insignia with a dragon with outstretched wings—the glittering jewel in the center of it supported the proof of her claim, and when everything that had just been said was put together… “N-No way… You lost the insignia that qualifies your entry in the royal selection!?”
“Don’t put it so disgracefully! A light-fingered girl stole it!”
“That’s the same thing—!!” With that loud shout, Subaru slammed his hands against the dining table as he rose to his feet.
The impact to the table threatened to make the tableware fall to the ground, but Rem’s perfect follow-up managed to prevent it from happening. Paying no attention to that, he looked down at Emilia. Her face was turning crimson, her eyes brimming with humiliation.
“Even if you make a face that stimulates my sadistic heart, it won’t work! Waaaait, seriously, like how the hell does this whole thing work!? If you lost it, could you just get a new one issued by a public office!?”
“Public office… I am not quiiite sure what that means, but it wouuuld be difficult to simply nonchalantly go and ask for another one, you seeee.” Gazing at the flustered Subaru, Roswaal calmly adjusted the gargantuan collar of his clothing, and continued, “A king carries the kingdom on their shoulders. It would be outrageous if they could not even protect a siiingle small insignia. Why should people think they could entrust the country to such a person?”
“That’s right. It’s like how Lord Komon always left his work to the careless Hachibe, yet he was just as careless as him.”
While the twins said the name of the mysterious person to themselves, Subaru digested everything that had happened.
The stolen insignia, their encounter in the alleyway, the fight at the Stolen Goods Warehouse, getting welcomed like this. The answers he could derive from this became united into a single one. “If the imperial guards got word that you’d lost the insignia, it’d seriously be bad. That’s why Emilia-tan was looking for it all by her lonesome, like a lonely wolf.”
“…Yes, that’s right.” Emilia replied.
“Felt was the one who stole it, but Elsa was the one who made her steal it. And she said someone had requested her to do it. So, to put it simply, someone is trying to stop Emilia-tan from becoming queen?”
“That’s probably the caaase here. If someone wanted to make you drop out of the royal selection, there is no simpler way that I can think of than to steal the insiiignia.”
After affirming what had been said, everything that had happened yesterday started to come together.
How Emilia was so stubborn; Felt and her client, Elsa. And how the value of the insignia was the direct cause of him getting into a mess and dying many times.
“Man, now that I think about it, I did a super good job! Whatever I did was seriously amazing, huh!? You were in danger of sayin’ sayonara to the royal selection, right, Emilia-tan!? And since you were about to lose the insignia, saying ‘I accidentally lost my insignia! Teehee! Sorry!’ won’t cut it, right!?”
“Wow, I couldn’t understand sixty percent of what you just said.”
“Waaaaaaaah, it doesn’t matter! What actually matters here is that, looking back, I did a super awesome job for you, didn’t I, Emilia-tan?!”
Subaru was in a state of ecstasy once he realized that he had unexpectedly accomplished a great deed by doing the things he did. Then he got up again, brought his face close to the still-seated Emilia, and took excited nasal breaths.
“Fu-fu-fu, how about it, hoooow aboouuut iiiiit, Emilia-TAN. This fool right here was nice and played a preeety active role in making you happy, huh? Maaan, I wonder if I can expect a nice reward or something, really! I wonder, I wonder, I wonder?!”
After speaking like someone from Higurashi at the end of that sentence, Subaru cast his gaze down at Emilia, placed his hand below her chin, and lifted it up.
Conducting himself with narrowed eyes full of lust, he appeared as a skilled, but wicked governor. With his feel-good mood already reaching greater and greater heights, he slowly waited for the time that someone might tell him to cut it out. He tightened his abs in anticipation for this very thing. But.
“…Yeah, you’re right. You’ve been a great help to me, Subaru. So much that you saving my life isn’t enough to describe it. So… you can ask me for anything.”
“If it’s something I’m capable of doing, then I’ll do it. Err, no, I’ll do whatever I can. Because what you gave to me means just that much to me.”
The way she placed a hand on her chest, staring back at Subaru with a serious expression, rendered him speechless.
Thinking that the level of his excitement didn’t fit the mood because the conversation became more serious than expected, he removed his hand from her chin.
—Oh shiiit, I’m seriously bad at reading the mood.
Since he had become a loner due to not being able to read the mood, Subaru was pretty good at reading the ‘Mood when he couldn’t read the mood’. Although ordinary people could read the ‘Mood before it had gotten to the point where he couldn’t read the mood’, he couldn’t. The result was him constantly being unable to read between the lines with his insensitive remarks.
Now being no different, since Subaru himself couldn’t read the mood with his excitement that was out of place when it was compared to Emilia’s serious gaze, he was at a loss as to what to do.
“Hey, a girl can’t just say they’ll do ‘a-anything’, you know? You might come across a bad guy like me who just wants to... Mwahaha!”
“…Even so, that’s fine. If that’s what you want to do, Subaru, I’ll follow your lead. You can go ‘mwahaha’, ‘fuhfuhfuh’, or even if it’s a umph-umph thing, or making whoopee, I… Hic.”
“A girl shouldn’t say such obscene things! Moreover, it looked like you were about to cry in the latter half of that!” Subaru was relieved when the nearly crying Emilia hugged her own shoulders.
If she had tragically resigned herself to such a fate, Subaru would’ve had a hard time dealing with it. Of course, he would ignore the fact that they thought he would try to pull something like that, which told him they had a somewhat low opinion of him.
Subaru placed his hand on top of Emilia’s silver hair and began lightly caressing it.
Emilia was surprised by the sudden feeling of his palm, but when she saw him doing that in silence, she just remained quiet and went along with it.
Thinking her reaction was as charming as that of a little animal, Subaru turned his head to look at Roswaal.
Watching the two of them, looking as if he were having a ton of fun while doing so, Roswaal noticed Subaru’s gaze, letting out an “Oh myyyy.”, and with a raise of his eyebrows, said, “What iiis it? Am I perhaaaps interrupting something? Should we leave?”
“It’s surprising because having my first experience at the dining table would be way too abnormal. What are you gonna make me use this silverware for? You filthy, perverted nobleman…!”
“Oh myyy, I didn’t teeeell you to go that faaaar, though.”
Subaru lifted his mouth at the sighing tall man who was smiling dryly, and then, with the hand that wasn’t petting Emilia, he touched his chin.
His gesture was akin to something a young detective would do in a detective anime, with his thumb and index finger held around his chin, said, “Wait, wait, wait, hear me out, Rosy. It’s definitely true that you’re dangling favorable conditions right in front of my eyes, which is more than I deserve. It’s a situation where a carrot is held before a horse. But I’m not so empty-minded that I’d get led on so easily. I still have lots of stuff I wanna ask you before I accept any of your offers.”
“Oh-ho? Go ooon.”
“Alright then, here I go. Answer carefully and truthfully, okay? Emilia-tan is a candidate to be queen, right? So, what the HELL do YOU have to do with that?”
Subaru threw that question at Roswaal, thrusting the finger that he had previously been holding to his chin at him. The corners of the magician’s mouth distorted at that question, then changed into the form of a delighted smile.