This is a rough translation of the last chapter of novel 11. There are probably a bunch of mistakes here, eep! I just continued on after the coffin part because it was so interesting. I haven't read the rest of the novel, so there are few plot things that won't make sense and that I can't explain yet. (Though I'll try my best to clear up stuff if you have questions.) Basically, Yuuri passed out in the previous chapter, and he wakes up in the coffin with Conrad. They're making an escape, but Conrad is still with Dai Shimaron at this point.
There's also another ConYuu-ish scene toward the end, and overall it's got some...very interesting dynamics between Josak, Conrad, and Yuuri.
My throat and the back of my eyes really hurt.
It's just like, right before you come down with the flu, one of the symptoms is that the pressure in your eyes increases. My mother says that it's because too much blood is flowing in the capillaries around the eyes that it feels like there's smoke in them and you can't stop tearing up. At this time, it'll hurt too much to open my eyes, but I can't keep them closed, either. If I keep my eyelids shut like this, I'll definitely fall asleep.
That's why I've made up my mind to open my eyes.
I had no idea it would be darkness all around, or that the ceiling would be unusually low. It kind of feels like there's not enough air in here.
My right hand is still a little numb; I can't feel anything when I try to wiggle my fingers, as if it's not my own hand. When I could lift it with great difficulty, I hit a wooden board. The impact caused some joints to creak, but luckily it doesn't seem as if there's anything wrong with my bones. If I had broken them, I probably couldn't even move a centimeter. This is considered great luck in the middle of really bad luck.
"Are you awake?"
Perhaps he felt me moving around, but there was suddenly someone next to me, speaking softly. I was just thinking that I should say that, though it's a bit of a tight squeeze in here, it's also quite warm, so there must be someone leaning against me. Looks like I don't have to worry about being the only person in this cramped place.
"What is this place?"
"Inside a coffin."
"Oh, no! I've kicked the bucket!"
The shaking of his abdominal muscles hits my elbow, so I immediately know that he's holding back his laughter.
"So that's why the ceiling is so low, and I'm sharing a coffin with you... How did this happen? What - aren't there enough coffins in the world anymore?"
"It's not like that; you're not dead!"
Then why am I in a coffin... Before I can even speak, the back of my head smacked against the wall. Our wooden crate is swaying a lot. Could it be that we're being transported somewhere? I almost bit my tongue.
"Why is it swaying?"
I can hear the dialogue coming through from the other side of the wooden boards - it's Seisakoku's language. A man with an extremely arrogant, loud tone is blaming another person.
"That's probably a guard on patrol. It's also possible that he's here on an inspection. If the coffin is opened, please try to play dead."
"Got it, I'll try to play dead. Whoooooa, that's not right. Even if that's what you say, the problem here is that this is a coffin designed for one person, and there are two people in it. How can that look normal?"
"Josak is in the coffin before us, so it'll be all right. Shh! Don't speak!"
Right now, I can hear rustling cloth and hinges creaking. The coffin in front, where Josak is lying in, is being opened. Good luck, Josak!
The quieter it is, the more I want to sneeze. Luckily, I don't have allergies, and there aren't any flies or mosquitoes buzzing around in this tiny space. But, what's giving me trouble is that I'm going to hiccup. Even if I want to hold my mouth shut with my hand, that's not possible because I can't move my hands. Just as I couldn't hold it in anymore, a palm that wasn't mine pressed against my throat and mouth. The coolness of the touch suppressed the urge to hiccup.
As I hold my breath, I finally hear the sound of the neighboring coffin being firmly shut, and the cloth covering the coffin is put back in place. Now there's a loud wailing coming from outside, but I know that it's just the sound of the examiner puking his guts out after he saw the corpse. Suddenly, I want to laugh instead of hiccup.
They saw Josak pretending to be dead. How depressing was his expression as he laid in the coffin? It looks like Gurrier is truly a star actress.
After a while, as the cargo carriage started to slow down, we both let out a long sigh of relief at the same time.
"Good, it looks like they fell for it."
"How in the world did this happen? Why are we together in... Didn't I fall from the balcony?"
When that last thought came to me, everything gradually fell into place in my mind like a chain reaction. I also remembered that I'm not on polite terms with Lord Weller.
"I'm strangely uninjured after falling out of a window and onto the stones of the courtyard. That's way too lucky."
"You fell into this freight car! You just made it into a bale of hay."
What, so I don't get to rank among the people in the exceptional narrow escapes TV program?
"Gurrier and I jumped down soon after. Fortunately, we found you before the city guards, but because there was nowhere to run..."
"That time, was your sleeve rolled up by any chance, so that your arm... What's going on? Since when were you the type to get a tattoo just because it's fashionable?"
"That's not it!"
According to Conrad, as soon as the owner of this carriage saw the scar on my left hand, he drove us, along with the straw, to an inconspicuous place. Then, at that place, we met up with a funeral services organization and they took over, pretending to transport the deceased out to the countryside.
The young woman who said the name Benila as she carved a hexagon into me with her short nails - it couldn't have been some kind of passport, could it? I never expected that it would serve that kind of purpose. Anyway, the shape of it kind of looks like a diamond.
Like before, when we were preparing to embark from the castle, in the courtyard there was a boy drawing on the ground. He was also loudly singing a familiar song. What song was that? What's the name of that song? Josak hadn't heard it before, but Conrad and I had an impression of it.
"That's right, Conrad, that song..."
"Because there were only two coffins, but three of us, we had to share. Do you feel uncomfortable? However, if it was me and Josak, we wouldn't even fit... What were you saying just now?"
"No, it's nothing."
"Moreover, if Your Majesty tried to share a coffin with Josak, the coffin lid wouldn't fit correctly because of his biceps. Although Josak was opposed to it, we finally decided on this."
At this point, a soft knock came from the other coffin. It was the sound of someone using a finger to tap the inside of the coffin. I also hit the board to my right to respond - don't worry, I'm all right.
Lord Weller's voice sounded very surprised. Because it's pitch black inside and I can't even see his face, I can only use his tone of voice and body temperature to guess.
"Is there something you wish to say to me?"
"I was only wondering if you were going to kill me."
The other's breath immediately stopped.
"Josak and I were both thinking the same thing."
The heartbeat under my arm starts to get faster.
"Something like that actually happened out at sea, so..."
"It's all right now."
In a voice that was so quiet that I couldn't tell if it he was breathing or speaking, he continued to say:
"There's no exit here, I won't push you."
"Never mind, it's nothing. Anyway, I know this is not the time to invite domestic troubles."
"Ah, domestic troubles..."
Before these domestic troubles, I didn't know whether I could consider him my comrade. We're Shin Makoku's representatives; Lord Weller is an emissary from Dai Shimaron. Not only that, but not long ago, he was even protecting Saralegui, who had been separated from his trusted subordinate.
His nationality and his stance regarding Shou Shimaron's King Saralegui and the Emperor of Seisakoku's little brother Yelsi, both are different from ours now.
"Perhaps you don't consider me to be your comrade."
Hearing Conrad murmur these words, I thought to myself, "Ah~ That's actually not wrong." From the time he wouldn't take the hand I held out for him, I had already prepared my heart to accept that he will never return to my side. So, for me, the words that he's saying are really unexpected.
"Listening to the manner in which Saralegui speaks, it appears that he wants to keep you by his side. No matter how he thinks, he's still a seventeen year old young man. Traveling with you, someone who's not only the same age, but also shares the same position, must feel good. He appreciates you very much."
"Appreciates... When I almost died at his hand?!"
If we're talking about winning someone's friendship, that's a horrible way to do things.
"Because he was waiting, waiting for you to kneel before him and beg for forgiveness."
"As if I would become someone like that."
He chuckles, but then immediately recovers and adopts a solemn tone.
"Please promise me one thing."
"Promise you something? Depends on what it is. I won't do it if it's an unreasonable request."
Conrad shakes his head. His bangs keep rubbing against my cheek.
"This has to do with your safety. If those brothers have you trapped..."
He paused, and the rhythm of his heartbeat sped up to four beats per measure.
"Please do whatever you want to do. Don't hold back because of me or Gurrier. That guy won't kill you, he definitely won't. Although he looks at others as if they were nothing but insects, he's different with you. He won't want your life - Sara won't harm you."
"Because he appreciates me? Oh, that's rich!"
I close my eyes to reduce the pain. I keep blinking - tears are slowly trickling out around my eyelids.
"If he appreciates me, then shouldn't he also appreciate you? Not long ago, you were responsible for looking after me, and in that bedroom you were even acting as his living coat hanger! How could he hate Lord Weller, huh?"
"But I know too much now."
I didn't ask him about what he knew.
Shou Shimaron's King Saralegui plans to make contracts between Seisakoku and Shin Makoku that will be favorable to himself, and then he'll use that huge combined force to take control of the world. In his grand plan, there is no Dai Shimaron. Rather, he considers Belal's Dai Shimaron to be an enemy nation.
So, in regards to Dai Shimaron, Shou Shimaron already has domestic troubles. The situation is very urgent.
"So that's how it is. Saralegui plans to betray Dai Shimaron. But wait, knowing of this, you..."
"I'm sure Saralegui does not intend to let me go back alive."
"Won't let you...live... Ah, that hurts!"
A severe shake almost made me bite my tongue, but then the carriage stopped on some soft ground. Looks like this is the place where the funeral services guys open the coffins. I close my eyes first so the bright light won't blind me, but I guess it wasn't necessary. It turns out that it was already night.
"Andrew-- Poggi Poggina--"
"Oh~ So there it is, there's the tomb."
"Take a stroll, Benila, take a stroll."
Benila is a guidebook?!1 Seisakoku's language is really hard to understand.
"Young master, it's good to see you well! Really, you've been so rash even since you were a child."
Josak gets off the carriage and hugs me tightly. Although I'm being flung back and forth by him like a shotput, I can still hear Conrad step onto the soft, wet ground and speak.
"We've finally escaped. It hasn't come to being buried in this graveyard."
He looks at the toes of his boots, then lifts his head to look around at all the gravestones. The cemetery is full of mold, and the wind blows mercilessly over our hair and cheeks.
I don't have any adjectives in my mind that are suitable for this situation, so I just couldn't help but say, "Really? You must feel very empty, Lord Weller."
Josak lets out a surprised sound.
"Isn't that right? Not long ago, you two were still so close. Didn't you even bathe and sleep together2... I didn't see it, so I'm just guessing. And he's so pretty and cute, too. Today you've suddenly become a different person... How can I understand what you're thinking? You've done a total 180! I also... Why do you guys have that kind of expression?"
Josak and Conrad are both looking at me like they've just been punched in the stomach and had the wind knocked out of them. Gurrier's mouth is even partly open.
And after I especially expressed concern for them, they really have no manners.
"But anyway, here I'm the only king."
I toed the soft ground.
"It's okay if you call me Your Majesty sometimes."
...If I keep kicking, I'll probably dig up some bones.
Lord Weller still hasn't returned to his previous self? To return to how things were in the past, simple and happy, is most likely impossible. But at least now in Seisakoku, the three of us are comrades.
I don't need to guess; I suspect I've hurt him.
But what made me even more surprised, when I discovered the reason, was that my mind is a lot more relaxed than I had thought.
Suddenly, a dog's bark sounded in the distance, and the indistinct light of nearby torches appeared. Is it the soldiers tailing us? Or is it a guard on patrol who noticed something strange? Whatever it is, we can't stay here long. We have to find a way out; run somewhere to hide.
"Hurry, light the torch..."
"If we light it, we'll be discovered."
"Your Majesty, look!"
Josak points at the sky.
"Don't we also have the moonlight?"
I don't know what to do. A shadow darker than night flitted across my vision. In this cemetary, so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, there are other people besides us.
The shadow gave a brief, piercing whistle to the pack of dogs, making them even more excited.
That shadow lifted up its right hand as we passed by. Was that a signal to the dogs? We don't even have time to hesitate; we can only follow them. The leader is entirely shrouded in a cloak, but judging from the petite figure, I think it's very likely that this is a woman. If that's the case, then in this pitch black graveyard, we've met a life-saving goddess.
When we, because we climbed a wall, jumped over a ditch and ran for our lives until we couldn't catch a breath anymore, the goddess finally stopped moving. This is a place that stinks to high heaven, like a bog of some sort. Although there are two or three temporary dwellings set up, no matter how I look at it, this is uninhabitable.
There's light coming from the little huts.
Illuminated under the flame, I can finally see the appearance of our savior. Hidden under the leather cloak is the old lady who we met in the palace at dusk.
"I hear you're looking for Benila?"
She lifts up my sleeve, taking a look at the hexagonal mark that the girl on the freight carriage carved into me, then gave a satisfied grunt.
"I don't know who gave you this, but this is the symbol of the resistance. I am Benila!"
She says she's Benila?!
That's the important noun that was in Jason and Freddy's letter, and also the name that the girl on the carriage told us. I never thought that we would have met by chance, or actually that I would ever meet what I couldn't even figure out was a person or a place.
We're really lucky. I want to forget how I almost died a few minutes ago, and just raise up my hands in joy. If it wasn't for the fact that this is the woman we met before, I would run over and give her a hug.
However, with that face and filthy gray hair peeking out of the cloak, it really looks like the old lady rolled around in a cart full of manure. Did Jason and Freddy want to tell me that for some reason or other, this old person is in danger?
Benila...hope. The letter said, "Benila hope."
"Old lady...sorry. Ma'am, you're Benila?"
Hearing me correct myself, she let out a laugh that was bolder than most women.
"It's fine! Young people, it's fine if you call me an old lady. No matter how you look at it, I'll never be a wholesome young lass, just a dirty old person. And weren't you the ones who rescued our comrade's child? Thank you. You have my gratitude. You are truly good people."
Josak's face hasn't looked so good for a while now. He just keeps scratching his head, not adding anything to our conversation. Why is he like that? What we've said should have touched some subjects that were enough to provoke some interest in the unmatched sex-related way his mind works, right?
"Your appearance is obviously that of foreigners, but you've unexpectedly turned up here. But unless you have official status, or are dependent on bribes, there's no way you can leave this island to go inland. There's no way you could be..."
As the old lady takes off her cloak, she vigorously puts her hands on her hips. She turns and cracks he joints so loudly that it scares the three of us witless. Just seeing that petite body stretch, she's actually not humpbacked. It was only the outfit that made her look that way. But if I assumed she was young just by that, I would be wrong.
Because her face, neck, and arms are all full of wrinkles that are so deep they look like they were carved in with a knife. Judging by her face, she should be around 70-something years old, but with the brisk pace at which she walks, and the lively way she speaks, she doesn't seem like an old person at all. Also, she runs very fast. Where in the world can we find a 70-something granny who easily jumps over tall walls?
"The rumored Maou's group of people?"
"How did you know about this?"
"What are you asking me?"
Benila gave me and Conrad a mischievous wink.
"Even if it's a trash heap or a toilet, they're all places where one can hear the latest gossip! And what's more, I have contacts in the palace -- our parents were all slaves. Oh, right, right!"
She used extremely bony fingers to feel around in the bag by her waist, very carefully taking something out. From its shadow, it looks to be about as big as a 500 yen coin.
"First, to return the thing you dropped. This demon stone pendant is yours, isn't it?"
On her thin, wrinkly fingers hangs a leather cord, and she raises it to let me see the blue demon stone. That stone, bluer than the sky, is glittering before me.
"Ha! Found it! This is great! I thought I'd never find it again, and it's here!"
"Of course it is~ After all, it's an important thing. It must return to its true owner! 'Letting all things return to their original ownership, moreover, to their owners' hands' was my job in the past. But the me now, is just a lowly cart-pulling old woman..."
"Return to their owners' hands..."
I thought it over for a while, and was preparing to hand the demon stone over to Lord Weller. But before my hand could even move, Conrad already had his hand folded firmly over mine, and was gently shaking his head.
"Ah-- That's right."
Josak skillfully cleared his throat to interrupt us. However, his speech was not aimed at Benila, but at me.
"Young master, you're speaking in that foreign language that I can't understand again. What language is that? Old Calorian? If it's no trouble, would you translate it so Gurrier can understand? And what the stiff-backed old madam said, too, can you translate that?"
"Eh? We were just talking like normal, weren't we, Conrad?"
Lord Weller, who had become silent, just briefly said, "Hazel..."
It's another person's name. He scrunches the scarred eyebrow, and the space between his eyebrows wrinkles exactly like his older brother. Josak and I, who have nothing to do with that name, can only stand to the side and watch.
"Hazel Graves, how can you still be here?"
Assorted Notes and Thoughts:
1) "Take a stroll" is apparently the name of a series of tourist guidebooks.
2) Ahem. This line originally confused me to no end, but now I believe it's referring to Conrad and Sara. O_O; Oh, Yuuri... You're growing up so fast... Well, while he literally says "sleep together", that's kind of ambiguous. I don't know if Yuuri meant it as in "sleep together" or "sleep together as in doing the funky monkey".
...Hey, did anyone else notice how Yuuri seemed jealous of Sara? It almost seemed like part of his hostility was because he felt that Sara had stolen Conrad away from him. Or am I imagining things? (Nah, Yuuri is soooo jealous. 'Cuz Sara's so "cute" and "pretty", right? That comment was directed at Sara, right? I thought it was Josak for a while, but that didn't make much sense, haha.)
I should really start at the beginning of this novel, but what's here is really interesting. Josak seems to have been completely absorbed into the harem, now. Yuuri isn't creeped out by his crossdressing anymore, has gotten really close to him - much closer than we see in the anime. I guess his wonder-biceps just took some time to get used to, but Josak is now definitely a potential love interest?
Meanwhile, Conrad and Yuuri? Teee~nsion. Aaa~wkward. But still with that undercurrent of luff.