Develop 222

Chapter 222 Duties of a Ruler and the Crimson Embrace

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 I was in the underground of a frontier settlement, to be precise, inside a separate space created underground.

 ”I need to expand this area a bit more… Alright, is this good enough?”

 I expanded the alternate space while pouring my Origin into the magic circle carved into the ground.

 After finishing the expansion in front of me, I released my hand from the magic circle, stood up, and surveyed the space I had expanded.

 ”It still feels insufficient, but I can’t afford to consume more Origin considering defense needs.”

 Rubbing my sore waist from bending over for a long time, I opened the entrance to the alternate space and stepped outside.

 I emerged onto the streets of the commercial district, now devoid of people, giving it an eerie silence akin to a ghost town.

 ”Alright, I’m done with preparations, now I just have to go back to the mansion and persuade everyone.”

 As I said that and took a step forward, a warning bell rang from the defensive position.

 The way this bell was ringing wasn’t a signal to start defending, but a signal that a group of monsters approaching the settlement had been spotted. Knowing that we still had some time left, I hurried back to the mansion.

 Upon returning to the mansion, I found the people who had heard the bell taking shelter inside. As I approached, Diana, who was directing the evacuation, saw me and ran towards me in a furious manner.

 ”Neil-sama! What in the world were you doing!?”

 ”Uh, sorry! I just had something I wanted to do…”

 ”Well, you should explain properly first before doing anything like that!”

 As I apologized to Diana, Lewya popped up from behind the furious Diana.

 ”Since Neil suddenly disappeared and hasn’t returned, it was tough to calm Diana down, you know? Luckily, Wen saw Neil entering an alternate space, so we knew you were still within the settlement. Otherwise, Diana would have gone searching into the forest.”

 ”I’m really sorry about that.”

 ”So, now that you’ve returned, does that mean you’ve finished what you wanted to do?”

 ”No, it’s not that I finished what I wanted to do, but rather, what I wanted to do in order to do what I wanted to do is finished.”

 ”So, there’s still a possibility for Diana to explode further from here. Well, I didn’t expect Neil to silently hole up in the mansion either. So, what do you plan to do?”

 Despite Diana’s frightening gaze, thanks to Lewya guiding the conversation, Diana seemed to at least be ready to listen to me, and I explained what I had been doing while silently thanking Lewya in my mind.

 I left my paperwork behind and headed to the field to listen to the earth spirit’s story, wanting to confirm if using that sword would not implicate Wen.

 As a result, while she may be blamed for providing protection, the spirits would not bear responsibility for how humans choose to utilize that protection.

 Although this resolved my biggest concern, not all my worries were gone.

 The sword repaired by Wen had such tremendous power that I had always avoided using it casually. However, now that the time had come to use it, I lacked confidence in controlling its immense power on the spot.

 My lack of training in controlling it could potentially lead to disastrous consequences, even blowing away not only the monsters but also myself and the settlement. I deeply regretted not training to control its power, but I sought a solution from the earth spirit, albeit somewhat uncertain.

 It is important to understand that once protection is given, it does not mean that one can unleash maximum power anytime and anywhere.

 The situation involves various factors such as environment, distance, and the type of spirits. In the case of the wind spirit (Wen), its protection weakens as the distance from the main body increases.

 Therefore, the solution proposed by the earth spirit is to use it in a safe way at a location away from the settlement with reduced power, which involves an outrageous strategy of confronting the monsters in the forest before they reach the settlement.

 ”It’s no good! I can’t allow Neil-sama to take such a dangerous action!”

 ”Diana would say that. Don’t worry, even I don’t intend to go to such extremes. It’s meaningless if I can’t unleash enough power to blow away the horde of monsters, even if I can use it safely with reduced power. So, I’ve also been thinking of another plan as a last resort for when the situation becomes really dangerous.”

 ”Another plan?”

 ”Using a different space.”

 After listening to the earth spirit’s story, I decided that unless something extraordinary happened, I wouldn’t be able to use my beloved sword. So, I came up with another plan.

 I decided to expand the secret underground space in the frontier settlement that I had been using as a shortcut and turn it into a trap.

 Unlike a pitfall, I didn’t need to prepare an actual hole, nor did I need to hide it. Once someone fell in, escape would be impossible unless I made an exit.

 Normally, the ground looked ordinary, but with just my will, I could create an entrance to the otherworldly space and drop monsters into it.

 To avoid this, one would have to fly or read my mind.

 ”Ah, I see, a trap using interdimensional magic, huh? Quite the idea. But can you really open and close the entrance repeatedly? Wouldn’t you have been completely exhausted just from opening it once when testing it?”

 ”You know I was experimenting with interdimensional magic back at the training grounds at first, right? Thanks to getting used to handling it there, I don’t get as tired as I used to.”

 However, creating an entrance to another space with Origin is more difficult to control than magic. If I try to create one away from me, the limit for now is about 40m, and I can’t do sneaky stuff like that from a safe distance.

 At the very least, I have to be inside the defensive perimeter for it to work.

 ”I’m not saying I want to go out to the front lines and fight. I want to support those fighting from the top of the defensive wall. Please, Diana, let me go.”

 ”Neil-sama… I――”

 It was when Diana was about to say something to me, who expressed the desire to participate in the defense.

 Lucena-san could be seen coming from the direction of the mansion.

 ”Diana, Lewya, what are you doing there ――Neil-sama, you have returned.”

 ”Yes, I apologize for causing concern.”

 ”I was not worried at all; I believed that Neil-sama would definitely return. More importantly, Neil-sama, evacuation is underway, and non-combatants have already been evacuated.”

 ”Um, well…”

 ”I understand.”

 It seemed like Lucena-san already understood what I was trying to say, as she cut me off with a firm tone.

 ”But why does Neil-sama need to participate in defense? If a ruler joins the front lines for no reason, it will only cause confusion.”

 ”Maybe it’s not necessary, but there’s a reason. With my strategies, we can reduce the burden on the fighters and minimize casualties.”

 ”That is not Neil-sama’s duty. Neil-sama’s duty is to govern this settlement.”

 ”Duty… If that duty means I should just stay quiet in the mansion like a ruler would――”

 ”No, that’s not it. The duty of a ruler is, in times of need, to evacuate those sheltering in the mansion to another space.”

 Evacuate those sheltering in the mansion to another space? I had thought that as a ruler, I’d be told to leave defense to others and just stay quietly in the mansion, so I couldn’t help but relax a bit.

 ”Right now, those on the front lines are people who make a living from fighting, people who are prepared to risk their own lives. However, those who are here in the mansion are far from having such determination. Even though it’s difficult to protect themselves in this situation, they stayed here because they believe in the development of the frontier and in Neil-sama. They are the ones who believed that Neil-sama would definitely protect them.”


 ”Even if Neil-sama were to participate in the defense, can you guarantee that not a single monster would enter the settlement, or that not a single evacuee would be harmed? Can you make sure that it’s safer to evacuate to a different space than to stay here?”

 I couldn’t argue with Lucena-san’s words at all.

 There’s nothing certain about my plan, it’s unknown how useful it will be, and it’s barely better than doing nothing.

 On the other hand, with Lucena-san’s plan, at least the evacuees can be protected, more reliably than with my plan.

 Some people are ready to risk their lives while others are not; some can protect themselves while others cannot. Although every life is valuable, as the one in charge of this settlement, it was clear which of these I had to protect.

 ”Please answer, what must Neil-sama do?”

 ”Lucena-san is right. I want to protect the people who trusted me and stayed, no, I must protect them. If we evacuate to another space, there’s no risk of being attacked by monsters. And since I’m the only one who can open and close the alternate dimension, it’s up to me. I shouldn’t be talking about joining the defense on the front lines. I’m sorry.”

 ”No, I’m the one who spoke out of turn. I’m very sorry.”

 Lucena-san lowered her head to apologize even though I was the one at fault.

 I was about to tell her to lift her head when a man rushed towards us in a hurry from the direction of the front gate of the mansion.

 ”Lucena-sama! Something terrible has happened!”

 ”Calm down, Neil-sama. Remember, you are a sl*ve of the Count Atmiras’s household, not mine. You don’t need to address me with honorifics.”

 ”Oh, I-I’m sorry.”

 ”So, have they determined the total number of monsters?”

 ”Y-yes! According to reports, there are over 500 monsters.”


 Lewya, who had been listening to the report next to us, raised her voice at the number, while Diana, Lucena-san, and I were shocked by the sheer number, though we didn’t say anything out loud.


 ”Are even the defensive fortifications in danger?”

 ”Maybe we should evacuate as well…”

 Amidst the turmoil of the “Sincere Dwarves” who had gathered in the courtyard to face the monsters that had breached the defensive perimeter without seeking refuge within the mansion, one person broke away from the crowd and walked towards me.


 ”Momoka? Why aren’t you hiding inside the mansion in the courtyard?”

 ”I had a bad feeling, but it turned out to be the right decision to wait here. Neil-sama, I need your help.”

 ”Need my help? What are you planning to do? You don’t mean to join the defense, do you?”

 I understand we can’t afford to hold back our strength against the overwhelming number of monsters, but Momoka’s plan is a one-time, high-risk attack.

 If it could turn the tide of the battle, that would be one thing. But facing more than 500 enemies is just asking for trouble; it would be suicidal, and I can’t let her join the battle in a situation like this, especially because it’s such a desperate one.

 Then, seeing Momoka reminds me that I’m not the only one who can open and close the alternate space.

 I remember when I was experimenting with alternate dimension magic, Momoka was able to use it too.

 ”You promised not to participate in the defense, right? But more importantly, there’s something I want to ask Momoka ――huh?”

 As I tried to tell Momoka what I wanted, I was interrupted by her embrace.

 Despite the suddenness of it all, I tried to ask about her intentions, but for some reason, I couldn’t speak.

 Not just my mouth, but my arms, legs, fingertips, and even the strength from the top of my head—all of it seemed to drain away, leaving me in a state where I could only stand with Momoka’s support.

 ”…Thank you, I’m filled with it.”

 Saying that, Momoka released the embrace, and I, having lost her support, collapsed to the ground on my knees.


 ”Neil! Hey, Momoka! What did you do!?”

 As I collapsed, Diana rushed over to me, and Lewya confronted Momoka.

 Supported by Diana, I mustered the remaining strength to lift my head and witnessed what happened.

 Her hair glowed like burning crimson, the eyes flickered in a pale crimson, and both the pure white hair and the deep purple eyes were completely engulfed by “Crimson.”

 ”Did she… take my Crimson…?”

 I had been drained empty of the Crimson I had saved for defense, leaving me so weakened that I could barely speak.

 It was similar to the state of exhaustion when using up magic power, but the intense feeling of emptiness was as if my soul itself had been sucked out, and my consciousness was on the verge of fading away.

 ”It’s okay, I’ll protect everyone.”

 ”Momo, ka――”

 As questions about why Momoka had taken away my Crimson and how it was possible filled my mind, I let go of consciousness.

 Neil had his Crimson drained, but it’s not like he lost it completely. It’s more like he’s been drained of blood almost to the limit, so given time, he’ll be able to use it again.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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