The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Decision Time ⑦
Author’s comments: I took a mini-hibernation yesterday (about 17 hours). Shun’s perspective.
……What, should I do?
No matter how much I thought about it, no answer came out. Demon King Ariel. Pope Dustin. I heard each of their views. The views of the representatives of the two powers who are battling over the fate of the world. Regardless of what views they had on such an important occasion, almost as if they had arranged it in advance, both of them only made short remarks. However, within those short remarks, just how much emotion was invested? Even me, a reincarnator who should be half an outsider, could sense just how much was involved. Both of them… have resolved themselves… to such an overwhelming degree.
I don’t know what fate brought this about, but I hold a key that could make a significant difference in this battle. It wouldn’t make nearly as much difference if I took the Demon King’s side, but if I took the Pope’s side this key would help them greatly.
……On an emotional level, I want to be on the Pope’s side. For me, to go as far as wishing for the deaths of all the people I’ve met in this world, isn’t something I can ever imagine doing. However, after hearing the resolution in the voices of the Demon King and the Pope, I can’t help but wonder if it is even okay for the likes of me to get involved in their battle.
Part of it is that I am a reincarnator. The Demon King and the Pope have been fighting all this time in this world. In addition, even if they don’t remember it, the people of this world have been repeatedly reincarnating here all this time. Regardless of how the battle is concluded, us wet-behind-the-ears reincarnators shouldn’t be participating in this battle, right? I fear that’s the case. I’ve started to believe… that if I’m so wishy-washy and uncertain, that maybe doing nothing is in fact the correct answer.
「Uncertain, aren’t you.」
At that moment, Katia came over.
「That’s right. I’m extremely uncertain.」
「Why not try talking about what sort of things you are uncertain about. There are times when simply talking about something can help you straighten out your thoughts.」
「……True, I guess.」
Being told so, I began to falteringly discuss my thoughts. The ordering of my explanation was all over the place for a start, and since I was just voicing whatever came to mind, I think it was hard to make sense of it all. Even so, Katia listened to my entire story without rushing me.
「Hrm. In short, on an emotional level you want to side with the Pope, but you are having second thoughts because you lack resolve, right?」
「That’s a blunt way of putting it, but yeah.」
I can’t help but smile wryly in the face of Katia’s frank assessment. In the end, I do lack resolve.
「As the Hero, as the one to succeed Julius-nii-sama, I will inherit Julius-nii-sama’s will. At least, that was my objective. However, my vague sense that by fighting with the demons I could achieve that objective, was presumptuous. What was special about Julius-nii-sama, was that having determined it on his own, he always kept to the justice that he believed in.」
No matter when, Julius-nii-sama was a hero that I could admire. That wasn’t just because Julius-nii-sama was strong though. That wasn’t just because he was cool though. It’s because, more than anything else, his resolution was dazzling. That strong will, something I never had, is precisely why I admired him.
「At a time like this, I’m sure Julius-nii-sama would come up with his own answer, even while uncertain. For me, that’s impossible to emulate.」
In Julius-nii-sama’s case, just what kind of answer would he give? I don’t know. I don’t know, but I’m sure he’d come up with an answer, and then go fight. Maybe in Julius-nii-sama’s case, rather than having given up on that third option like I have, he would have made every effort to save everyone. Whether or not it was possible to achieve, I’m sure Julius-nii-sama wouldn’t have given up to the very end. Compared to me, there’s a huge difference.
「I am shallow. Whether it’s compared to Julius-nii-sama, or compared to the Demon King and the Pope……」
Saying so, I hung my head, breathing a huge sigh.
「Even if you are shallow, does it really matter?」
While I had fallen into self-hatred, Katia declared that quite indifferently.
「Shun, you consider things like resolution and will to be important things don’t you, and in practice there is nothing wrong with that.」
「However! To take some kind of action does not require you to exaggerate things to such an extent you know?」
「”I want to do that”. “I want to do this”. Sure, such feelings are trivial and shallow. Even if they are shallow, does it really matter? In the first place, consider those like the living witnesses of history and true heroes. What is so strange about such people having extraordinary resolution and will? Compared to them, everyone else would look shallow.」
「That, that might be true……」
「If it could be assumed that it is wrong to take action unless you have a heavy will, then that would mean that it would be wrong to take action for almost all the people in this world.」
「Isn’t that a groundless argument?」
「Maybe it is.」
On spontaneously objecting to Katia’s argument, Katia readily accepted that.
「However, put aside the argument about having a heavy will etc – just because you are a reincarnator it does not mean that you cannot participate. Kyouya and the others are boldly participating in the Demon King faction, aren’t they.」
Now that she mentions it, that’s right. In the Demon King’s faction are Kyouya and Negishi-san, as well as Wakaba-san. From what I have seen, those three have taken up central positions in the Demon King faction. If I consider that, then it would be wrong to state that reincarnators mustn’t participate in the battle. However.
「With those three, it sure seems like they’ve fully prepared themselves though.」
Especially Kyouya. When I think back on Kyouya, a bitter thought pierces my heart. Perhaps when Kyouya told me that I had an empty sword, it might have been a bigger shock that I had realised.
「We might be reincarnators, but right now we are living in this world and are inhabitants of this world. Therefore, you do have the right to participate in the battle.」
「That’s also right, I guess.」
We too, are now living in this world after all.
「In the end, it is a waste of time to consider stuff like whether your will is heavy or light. In the first place, it is something that cannot be seen, so only the individual themselves can determine how heavy it is. So all that matters is – what do you yourself want to do in the future.」
「What I want to do huh.」
「Yes. And also at times like this, in our previous world this was a common phrase.」
I raised my head and looked at Katia’s face.
「It is better to regret doing something than it is to regret not doing something.」
On her face, was a smile somehow like that of a child who had just carried out a prank.
「Therefore, I have chosen the path of doing something I could regret.」
「……? What do you mean?」
「If you use Appraisal on me, you will understand.」
When I was told that, I tried activating Appraisal while tilting my head in confusion. And then.
As soon as her status sprung up before me, something felt really off. The number of her skills… was awfully small.
Then, when I saw what one of her few remaining skills actually was, I raised my voice in shock a second time.
That was one of the Ruler skills in the Seven Virtues group.
「You know what my unique skill is, right?」
At her words, everything came together. The name of Katia’s unique skill is “Transition”. It’s a subtle skill that she had lamented she would never have a use for. The effect of that skill is that it can reduce skills into skill points. In short, it was a skill that allowed you to redo your skills. However, the reduction efficiency was not 100%, so it had a trap in that the more you used it the greater the loss. So Katia decided to seal off the use of this skill, never using it once. However, looking at her situation, it’s obvious at a glance what she has done.
「You used Transition huh.」
「Exactly so. Due to that I have lost most of my skills though.」
Katia’s skills were almost entirely gone. All she really has is Chastity, along with the associated skills that are gained from the title. Every last one of her status value enhancement type skills have gone, so her status values have also fallen somewhat. Even so, with her average values easily exceeding 1000, she wouldn’t come up short against the average soldier though. However, in the battles ahead, those status values might as well be nothing. Even if I was in perfect condition, I’d probably still be just a hindrance after all. So in comparison to that, Katia would be……
「You’re going then?」
「Indeed. I do not want to see my family or servants or my friends all die you see.」
While I was being so wishy-washy and uncertain, Katia made her decision it seems. I see… that’s right. I slap my cheeks with all my strength. I’ve fired myself up.
「I too, while shallow in my own way, better take action huh.」
Whichever option I choose, there will be pain involved. Whichever side wins, I’m sure I’ll look at that pain and regret it. And, if I chose neither option, then I’m sure I’ll just continue to be wishy-washy and uncertain over not having made a choice. Then, let’s go with it is better to regret doing something than it is to regret not doing something.
「In the first place, I don’t even know if I’ll be of any use when something happens.」
Maybe I’ll be reduced to ashes before I can even reach the innermost place on the lowest layer of the Elro Great Labyrinth…… Or rather, I feel that the probability of that is higher. My feeble strength will likely be of little use in battle. But.
「Let’s give it a go.」
If you decide to do it, then do it. Maybe challenging it with this feeble strength of mine, is right in line with my shallow will.
「I shall be relying upon you. I am merely a feeble young lady now that I have lost almost all of my combat strength.」
While saying that, Katia snuggled up to me.
Just as I was getting flustered, BAM, the door was flung open.
「You’re stealing a march on me, Katia.」
「This is first come first served you know.」
In order to stop Sue who truly seemed wrapped up in killing intent, I had to take action.
“Empty sword” – this is a bit annoying since it’s a reference all the way back to “Elf Village Battle 11”, a whopping 299 chapters ago, though from Shun’s perspective it would only be a few days ago. This is how Kyouya’s line was translated at the time – “How light. Do you seriously think that you can cut someone with such a sharp sword?” However, instead of “sharp sword” the meaning in context is more like “empty sword”, with “empty” meaning “free of content” or “empty headed”. Kyouya is really referring to the attitude behind the sword rather than the physical sword itself. This is also what Kyouya is getting at when he says “how light” – he’s referring to Shun’s strength of will.
“Transition” – yes, D really went there. In Japanese, Katia’s unique skill name is “転換” (tenkan) and “性転換” (seitenkan) is “sex change”. A more common translation of this word is “conversion” or “transformation”.