44: Repent, Etoile!


The last day of the festival.
The sky was cloudy in the morning.
Even though it looked like the sunshine would still continue for a while.
I judged that there might be someone with the ability to call forth storms around.


The ships were gone from the port.
Instead, a high podest was erected with the seats for the nobility facing the harbor. A lot of people were gathering around the harbor.

In front of the embankment that protected the harbor stood a lighthouse like a white tower.
At its base, the nun Fal and the slim boy with the blond hair Lionel were chained up. Also Jean.
The former two didn't look frightened as if they've already resolved themselves.
Jean trembled and cried while his fat body was shaking.
The chain was custom-made, so it can't be withdrawn as usual.

I was hiding behind a building facing the harbor. Of course, I used "Clairvoyance" and "Attentive Ears".


The ceremony proceeds according to schedule.
The music of the orchestra ended and Frank held a speech.
Followed by Princess Etoile.

"You should be honored to be invited to this wonderful event. That you all are able to enjoy this event is solely due to my popularity. Please enjoy it to your heart's content."
"......."
With a *para para*, only sporadic clapping echoed.
Etoile didn't seem to be pleased with just this and she glared an the crowd with her violet eyes while grinding her teeth in vexation.

I'm thinking. Just how far has your arrogance to grow to give such a speech.
--She committed the sins to make Celica cry and to try to kill her, the sin to insult a god and the sin to look down on all citizens.
There's now way to forgive her.


Then, the orchestra starts playing again.
Different from the previous days, they play a heavy and majestic tune.

The sky gets darker and darker and the waves that receive the wind are getting higher.
It was a bad wind and it didn't seem to obey me.


Then, from the open ocean that could be seen from the harbor, something rose like a mountain.
The watching crowd is overcome with trembling.
"What is that!?" "Hii, it's scary" "Th, that is--!"
The raised water fell down and what was revealed was a gigantic, probably 20 meters tall squid. The tentacles are even longer, two or three times the size of the body I think.
It is black like the darkness and blood red lines are glowing on its body.

*Hii!*, screams rise from the crowd.
"It's a squid! It's Evil Squid!"
"No way, from the Four Heavenly Kings himself!?"
"AAIEEEEEE!"
Evil Squid comes closer while everyone is screaming.


--Then.
It passed the lighthouse.
"Uwaaaaa! --Eh?"
Jean, who is crying is so surprised, that he looks twice.

Fal is afraid.
"Hii, It's scary after all..."
"Uwaa, he's huge"
Only Lionel was calmly gazing while he inserted the key into the hand chains.

"Huh?" "Why?" "Isn't this strange?"
Confused voices could be heard from the watching crowd.


Evil Squid lifted his whole body, entered the bay and exposed the muddy eyes at his lower part. One eye was wearing a huge monocle.

A harsh and loud voice hits everyone's ears.
"Fuhaha! Foolish humans! I already know all your plans!"

The people's fear reached it's peak.
"He comes here!"
"Let's run!"
"We'll be killed!"
The people begin to escape in all directions.


Evil Squid's monocle glows red.
"The one I really should kill is-- found you! This fellow, kukuku!"
His eyes caught Etoile on the podest.

Etoile, who is in the front row on the wide podest stands up with a stiff face.
"Wha, what the hell is the meaning of this!? W, We have to escape immediately."
However, the podest is high. It's hard to get down. The stairs are crowded by the nobles.
Moreover, Etoile is wearing a dress that's difficult to move in.
So it begins with a situation she can't escape from.

--Just a planned.


And then, Evil Squid's tentacles are fired from below the water surface.
They aim straight at the podest.
Etoile opens her eyes in fear.
"Kyaaaaa!!"

*doo!--baribaribari!!*

The first half of the podest was pulverized under a violent thunder-like sound.
"Hiyaa! Someone, someone!"
Etoile stretched out her hands for help from her close aides.
However, the aides cling to the balustrade with all their might, neither the butler nor the guards will help her.
--Even though their eyes met.

"This is...!"
With an unbelieving expression, she falls together with the crumbled wood.
With a splash, Etoile fell into the water.
From above, a pillar is falling down at her.


I put my hand out of the building's shadow.
"-- 'Gale Palm'"
The falling pillar is blown away. Etoile is saved.
--Don't think that this will be over so easily!

Etoile swims in the bank of the harbor but she can't climb the vertical high wharf. She only clings to it like a cockroach.
She desperately screams.
"Someone, someone, help me! What are you doing, hurry!"
But the people were escaping in fear of the demon, so nobody tried to help her.


Evil Squid comes closer while laughing.
"Despair, cry and scream even more! Just why do the screams of the people feel so good-- hmm"
A tentacle as thick as a log stretches out.

*bann!*

It hits the wharf next to Etoile. Small debris scatters.
"Noooo!"
Her face becomes stiff in fear and she desperately tries to climb the wharf with her nails. The smashed part is easily to climb and her fingers reach the top.

But she's a spoiled princess after all.
There was no way she could lift her heavy, soaking wet body while she was trembling in fear.
It's even more impossible when she's hasty.
She was like a rat that fell into the water.


Etoile's face distorts while she screams.
"Why is it meee! Someone hurry and help me--!"
However, because Evil Squid comes closer, the people are disappearing from the harbor.
Her voice vanishes in vain.


"Kukuku, come on, let me take a better look at your face!"
With a *shururu!*, the tentacles flew.
They accurately aimed at Etoile.

Etoile turned around while raising a shriek.
"Noooooo! Please, someone--!"

--*Giann!*


A sound of something hard colliding with something soft echoes.
It's a gleaming sword. The tentacles are blown away.

I stood on top of the wharf that Etoile clinged to.
An expression of relief spreads on her face for a moment.
"Y, you are the hero! Hurry up and help me!"
She clings to the wharf with her delicate body while her white dress and red hair are drenched.


I looked down with a smile.
"Why? I'm not a hero, was it? I don't have any reason to help people."
"Wha--! To whom do you think you are owing the position of a hero. Listen up and help me!"

"--You, still don't seem to get the situation you're in."
I talked to her while dodging the thick tentacles.


At that time, a reliable and clear voice echoed in the distance.
"Look, the hero protects the princess!"
It was the voice of Celica who blended into the crowd.

The people who are watching from far away at a safe location can't really see the situation.
"Oh..." "He protects such a princess?" "Although he should just let her be eaten... he's a real saint"
Everyone believed in Celica's words.


Meanwhile, at the wharf.
The attacks of the tentacles increased in intensity.

A tentacle hits the wharf.
Fist-sized fragments are flying and directly hit her head.
"Ouch! *A--gulpgulpgulp*"
Etoile was struck at her head with momentum and she fell into the water.

Because of the pain, she crawls up in tears.
"Wha, what do you... I'll apologize... so, now help me!"
"You won't listen, huh?"


*Ginn gann*, I continue to flick the tentacles away.
But one of them hit the top of the wharf. The crumbled wood is blown off.
Her hands that clung to the edge of the wharf at great pains, are hit by the fragments.

"Kyaa! --*gulp*"
With a *bashann*, she fell into the ocean again.

I wonder whether she now understands her position when she's crying with a *ueeeeee*.
However, I still won't help her.
Her eyes were full of hatred while she looked up at me.


Evil Squid talked as I continued to dodge his tentacles.
"To handle my tentacles... You, by any chance are you a hero?"
"What would you do then? I don't really have time to spare at the moment to be your opponent--I'd actually be happy if you'd cooperate."
"Heh, a sinner and a hero. Isn't this just right, kuhaha--I can finish all the work in one go. Now die!"
Five tentacles came flying at me while he laughed.

I make the sword shine blue and deflect them all.
But, it didn't cut.
"Is that the power of water? You idiot! Water doesn't have any effect on me. How long will you keep up your futile struggle? Fuhaha, please entertain me more!"


He attacks further.
I continue to divert the tentacles that are thicker than a persons body.

However, one of the them hits Etoile who's at my feet.
She screams and fall into the ocean again.
"Hiyaaaa! *gulpgulp*--...help me, help me!"

The rat is trying to climb the wharf with its claws.
Her dignity as a princess is finally peeling off with her face disheveled and tears spilling from her eyes.


While I was repelling the tentacles I took a glance at the lighthouse.
Lionel had removed the hand chains and had unfastened the restraints binding Fal and Jean.

They got on the nearby hidden Ieturia and Dhalia's backs and escape.
-- Well done. You did it without fear, Lionel.


When I looked back to my feet while sweeping away the tentacles, I glared at Etoile who was trying to crawl up.
"'Help me', you say? Who are you asking for help? Why doesn't anyone come to your aid? Isn't it because you're a large cut from a beloved princess?"
"A, are't they are afraid of the demon?"

"You're wrong. It's because of your usual behavior. You're always looking down on them, despise them and behave arrogant. That's why no one comes although I defend against the tentacles. I guess they wish for your death. You're not worth it to put their lives on the line."

Etoile's face is distorted by suffering from the shock.
"Uuuu! Such a..."

"Listen well, a princess isn't loved for being a princess but she is loved back by everyone she loves. Who have you ever given a reason to love you? Haven't you just tyrannized the people with your arrogant attitude? You're no different from garbage."


Etoile, who knew that she wasn't loved by the people cries even more.
"I'll reflect on that later, so... help me"

"Haa? You can't be trusted. When I think about the humiliation you gave to Celica!"
I continue to repel the tentacles.
By the way, the squid's tentacles increased. There are now seven.

*go!*

The tentacles are crushing the wharf. Debris hits Etoile's head.
"*Guhyaa!*!
Her head is hit, and again, she fell into the ocean.
Her long red hair is swinging as she climbs up while she cries with a *sniff sniff*.


"Wasn't it the same with Celica? Isn't the reason why to treat her badly because of jealousy? Aren't her style and intellect the real cause? Weren't you jealous because she was more popular than you?"

Etoile makes her pale lips quiver as she speaks up.
"Th, that's right... I hated her the exact moment we met. She's just detestable for how she makes everyone love her."

"*Hmpf!* You still don't know your place! I'll make you repent for making my precious Celica cry and for trying to kill her."
I shout while I'm still repelling the tentacles. The number of attacking tentacles has gone up to eight.


I then swing my sword horizontally to receive the tentacles. That way they are smashing into the wharf directly next to Etoile.

"Biyaa!"
Etoile is made flying by the shock-wave and falls into the ocean.
She sluggishly puts her hands at the wharf's edge but she already doesn't have any strength anymore.

Probably because she has drunk quite a lot of water, she coughs with a *gulp gulp*.
"I understand. I'll apologize. I'll apologize, so now help me..."


"Your way of speaking is still unacceptable. --Isn't it 'please'!"

When I yelled at her, it made her boggle and the she slipped from the momentum.

She's grasping for breath while she clings to the edge of the wharf with her slender fingertips.
Her red hair is sticking to her cheeks while she looks up at me with teary eyes. She speaks with a weak voice.
"Pl, please. Hero-sama, save me somehow, please..."
"You can't say whatever you want with that mouth!"

Etoile's face distorted in shock. Her noble radiance went to smithereens.
"Such a...I'll say that I'm sorry, so...forgive me already..."

"Then swear"
"...swear? What...shall I swear?"


I strain the corner of my mouth and laugh. I put force in my gaze while I look down at her.
"That you'll apologize for everything you've done until now to the person you hate the most in the world, that you will believe in me and love her!"
"Eh?"

- Then.
Suddenly the attacks from the tentacles ceased. No, it became only one.
The eyes are staring at me in keen interest. The monocle glows.


While I easily repel the monotonously attacking tentacle, I looked behind me and said.
"Celica, it's your turn."
"...Yes, Keika-sama"

Celica appeared out of the shadow of a building.
The wears a silver breastplate above her white upper clothes. Her blond hair sways divinely.
While her red skirt was waving, she elegantly walked to my side.

She looked saddened down at Etoile, who was dirty all over and sopping wet.
"Etoile-sama..."
"There's no need to give any honorifics for this fellow-- Rather she should call you appropriately!"

"Ehh...understood. No, I understand...Celica, sama"
"Right, well then, please say it."


Celica was looking down at Etoile, who clung to the wharf.
Etoile looks at Celica with a pale face. She tries to say something but her bloodless lips are only quivering.
She tried again after taking a deep hyperventilation-like breath.

"Ce, Celica...sama. S, Sorre--ee! Impossible!... Why do I have to apologize... isn't she at fault for being born..."
Etoile looked up Celica with her violet, teary eyes.

Celica's beautiful face is distorting from the words 'fault for being born', that are denying her existence completely.


I shoot a glance of godly coercion.
"What was that!? You're still blaming others at this point?! Just how rotten is your heart! ...You should just die after all!"

As I shouted, the tentacles flew at their own discretion.
The wharf is hit and shakes violently.

"Gyau...!"
The blasted fragments hit Etoile's face and she fell again while her nose is bleeding.


She rose to the surface under the sound of the gushing water.
She wasn't moving for a moment while she was floating as if she had fainted.
She hastily raises her face and she is repeatedly weeping with a *aah, ahh* that comes out of her open mouth.

She doesn't have the strength to swim anymore. She beats the surface with a *splash splash*.
As I cast a magic for attraction, a tentacle comes from below and lifts her up. Then she is pushed to the wharf.
However, she couldn't even realize the fact anymore that she was saved by the demon and clung to the wharf with empty eyes. Her red hair sticks to her cheeks.
She looked just like a dying insect.


Etoile is clinging sluggishly to the wharf like a zombie while I speak to her.
"What are you doing? Don't you want to be saved? Well, since you're a princess to whom nobody has any respect for, I guess it can't be helped. Please be eaten by that squid."
"Iyaa...don't say that...I'll do it, I'll do anything, so..."

She shook her delicate and soaked body and came before Celica's feet.
Etoile furrowed her deep brows so far that her eyes are practically closed and strains her heart.

"I...! I'm...sorry! --I-, is this OK!?"
She immediately looked at me.

While I hit the tentacles hard, I said as if spitting out.
"What are you doing? Shouldn't you apologize to Celica for everything you've done until now and love her?"


Etoile looks up at Celica again with tears in her eyes.
Her well-shaped lips were already purple from the drawn blood.

"Celica, sama...you, really...uu--please...help alreadyyy...."
She hides her face.

I'm glaring at her in disgust.
"You really don't want to say it, huh? Or--hmm? You want to become feed for the squid?"


At that time, with a *Shuuu!*, the tentacles came flying from the sky.
They only hit a place slightly away, but Etoile is tingling with fear.

Etoile shakes her head. Her red sticky hair swings like seaweed.
Her face became crumpled from a combination of water, tears, fear and pleading.
Neither anger nor contempt, nor any fragments of pride can be seen in her violet eyes anymore.


She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, looking like she's resigning.
Her tears were trickling down.

"Ce, Celica-sama... I am, sorry. The one who told that you're a sinner was me. The one who gave the command to present you as a sacrifice in the northern forest where no one will come for help, was also me. --Because, Because! The subordinates, the nobles and even my father! Everyone was just like 'Celica-sama is like a princess should be', 'You should follow Celica-sama's example', 'You're a great deal away from Celica-sama'! If only you wouldn't have been there--uwaaaaaaaaan! I'm soryyyyy! I'll do anything, so please forgive meee!"

Her confession and weeping remorse echo through the gloomy harbor.
"Are these, your true feeling?"
"That's right! Really, I'm sorry! --Aah, just how did this! -- When we first met you were beautiful-. ...although I thought we could be friends-! --Uwaaaaaa!"

The last part didn't really become words anymore due to her crying.
As Etoile's delicate limbs are shaking, tears are flowing while she's crying aloud.
She was crying like a child while she looked up at me with teary eyes. It is an urging gaze.


-- Excessive tenderness switches to hundredfold hatred, huh?

I nodded and said.
"The real you without any disguises suits you quite well. Your honest wish, I'll grant it! Fine, I'll save you!"
I stretched my hand out and pulled Etoile onto the wharf.
The water drips down.

Then Etoile grabbed the hem of my clothes with her shivering hands and clung to it like a dog.
"Hero-sama, I'm sorry for everything...! From now on, I'll love Celica, my subordinates, all the people from my heart. So, ..., please help me! --Aa. Please don't abandon meee!"
After that she couldn't bring out any words anymore as she was crying aloud while her whole body was cramping after she had strained it.

Watching next to me, Celica's eyes looked sad as usual.
"You seem to think that I did too much."
"...Yes, a little"
"But, I have to go at least this far. Otherwise she'll go back to the way she was once enough time has passed. Also..."
"Also?"

"I'll never forgive anyone who bullies my cute Celica!"
"...Keika-sama"
Celica looked slightly troubled but her cheeks were blushing.


At that time, Evil Squid who was watching the situation spoke to me.
"How you exposed the secrets hidden in the innermost depth of her heart and the cruelty with that you accurately crushed it, it was so enjoyable that even I got thrilled ...can I ask one thing?"
"Yeah, sure thing. Thanks for your cooperation midway."

"You... are you really a hero?"
"Of course, I'm without a doubt a hero."
I raised the "Proof of Hero" from my chest.

Evil Squid growled with a *gununu*.
"You, why don't you join the Demon Lord's army? You are as cold and brutal as anyone in there. You also have the ability to defend against my attacks. Fittingly, one of the seats of the Four Heavenly Kings is vacant, so if you join I'll promise you the highest reception. You'll have money, authority and slaves at your free disposal. How about it?"


I wryly scratched my head.
"It can't be, you're directly recruiting me to be one of the Four Heavenly Kings?"
"Ke, Keika-sama..."
Celica worriedly held the sleeve of my clothes.

"Be at ease, I already decided on the answer. --Sorry, Evil Squid. I'll refuse!"
"Is that so... too bad"
He raised his thick tentacles out of the water.


"Celica, evacuate with Etoile"
"Understood, Keika-sama"
Celica helps Etoile up and lends her shoulder to her while they walk.
As if she is hugging her to restart the friendship after ten years, Etoile clings awkwardly to Celica as they walked away.

I turn to Evil Squid.
I held my sword and spoke up.
"Well then, let's start!"
"That's just what I want!"

Evil Squid's monocle glows red. With all his strength, he sends ten tentacles flying at me.