Astonished, Taiyou certainly did not think in the slightest that he would hear that name here.
Juunishima. An island with the third-largest area in Japan, possessing a population of a million people while for some reason being classified as a village; a bizarre municipality. According to what he had heard, the village headmen, the Juunishima family had control over the island’s political authority. This province, with feudal lords that lead a population of a million people had developed in an individual manner like the Galapagos, or otherwise was a region that was left behind.
He had gotten involved with Juunishima prior to this due to the sister trio, but they had reached an amicable settlement and had assumed that they wouldn’t meet again with the island’s people. To think that he would once again be coupled with a person with that name in this fashion.
Grimacing, terrible guesses floated through Taiyou’s head.
「Why has Juunishima…Have they seriously came for Kohaku-san and everyone because of the blood soul――」
「Wrong, thaaat’s not under our jurisdiction.」
「Then…what is it?」
Through the wagon door that was left slid open, Anna left her long feet dangling, sitting down on the seat. This was the kind of behavior prone to vulgar mannerisms, but it was an atmosphere that fit the person herself very well.
「What actually was under our jurisdiction from the beginning was this girl.」
Saying that, Anna put an arm over Pochi’s shoulders.
「That’s right. Strictly speaking, it would be more correct to say that we were searching for this girl’s mother. Back from ten years ago.」
「For Karina-san? Why would you-」
「Because this girl wished for it.」
「Are you saying that she’s not her mother?」
「When we began searching, this child was still in the belly, after all.」
Recalling Pochi’s situation, he was taken aback. Around the time when Karina had been washed ashore, Pochi hadn’t yet been born.
「Even so, what exactly are you saying about her?」
「A candidate for the next family head; to make her an emblem.」
At the name that he had mentioned with his spinal reflexes, Anna, who had been laughing until then, suddenly narrowed her eyes.
――Slipping up, Taiyou cursed his own carelessness.
The fact that Youran and Taiyou were connected was probably not known amongst the Juunishima. Whenever she would show up where Taiyou was she would always sneak in, sporting a disguise that resembled what she called prosthetic makeup. Not only that; she initially had given an alias name known as「Yurikago」.
Above all, she…had said that. She had even requested him to do things like kill her if necessary before anything was detected. With Taiyou unconsciously blurting out her name, it felt like everything had been exposed.
He prayed that she would ignore the name that he unintentionally let out, but Anna didn’t overlook that.
「If you know that girl…I seee.」
Anna was content after thinking about it briefly. Urging himself not to reveal any more faults, Taiyou proceeded to forcibly change the topic.
「More importantly, why Pochi? What’s the reason why she’s going to be a candidate for the next family head?」
「It’s her lineage, duh?」
「That’s right; this child is descended from the Juunishima originator, you see.」
While Taiyou was astonished over the shocking truth, Anna laughed derisively, looking up at the sky.
「Some ten years ago, one female escaped from Juunishima. The woman was equivalent to the legal wife…as far as status, and was pregnant with the head’s child. Thanks to that child, the woman had a higher amount of authority, but for whatever reason that woman vanished before the child was born.」
「I learned of that name just yesterday. Until then, to us, she was always Suzuki Yuko.」
「What do you mean…Ah.」
「That’s right; the woman was in hiding for a long time. Using an alias, not appearing before people. She didn’t even get a birth certificate for the child that she had birthed. The only information gleaned from the people from the surroundings was about a young woman. That’s why we would always search but never reach that place.」
Taken aback, Taiyou fearfully looked at the fallen Kohaku.
The reason why Anna was here, right now, was――
「That’s right; we cast a net, you see. For Karina…Suzuki Yuko. She was skilled at continuously cutting off her whereabouts from the public, as well as erasing her footprints prior to her death so that we couldn’t reach her even if she had died. No matter how much we searched, there was no way to search for her from our side. However, if reversed, it was possible.」
「You cast a net, waiting for the other party to come out――」
「That’s exactly right; well, it’s like the story of the Stump and the Rabbit. Waiting in vain, the people in charge did change several generations, however.」
Anna said, smiling broadly.
「In that sense we have gratitude for you all; because you investigated regarding this girl, because you did us the favor of searching for Suzuki Yuko, we were able to fulfill our task of ten some years. I feel like sending you a letter of commendation, if anything.」
「Meanwhile, I feel horrid.」
「Well, it wasn’t your guys’ fault. You did truly brilliantly in your performance of investigating that woman; if we hadn’t been involved then that would’ve been a case of the very best move that I’d even want to teach to my subordinates. You were just unlucky.」
「…Taking Pochi, what do you plan to do taking her with you?」
「Said I’d make her into an emblem, duh? In short, having her do things like ride in a palanquin, you know, the political kinds of stuff. Just like that implies, we’ll treat her courteously like a princess so relax.」
Grimacing, he shot a glance around him.
The four girls: Kotone, Suzune, Kazane, and Aoba were fainted in agony, occasionally leaking pained moaning voices. Upon reaching Kohaku, she was lying face down, not moving an inch.
One step away from those girls, Anna’s subordinates were enclosing them, actually in a situation of taking hostages.
Shirokiyami, whom he had hoped to be his joker, was made powerless, and had disappeared unawares. No matter how much he looked around, he couldn’t locate her appearance anywhere.
Blocked in every direction, this was a situation in which Taiyou had absolutely no alternative.
「Now then, what shall you be doing?」
「What shall I be doing? Are there even two or three routes that I can choose from?」
「So you can speak coldly after all. To think that a boy like you could make such a voice.」
Slightly surprised, Anna said shortly afterward in an impressed voice.
「Relatively the kind of guy I am, I’d say.」
「I didn’t expect that.」
After being impressed, her voice had changed to a guarded tone. She slightly moved her body, hiding Pochi.
Whenever rage occurred within Taiyou, by nature his emotions would turn around and calm him down. Right now was no different, and his voice became composed only due to becoming filled with indignation.
However, this being her first meeting with him, Anna seemed to have decoded it differently. Even if he had to abandon the girls, Taiyou would recover Pochi. She wasn’t sure how serious he was, but since the possibility ran through her head, she inserted herself in front of Pochi.
That was favorable in many ways, so taken in, Taiyou carelessly took a light step forward.
It was a bluff. However, her voice began to sound slightly impatient for the first time since meeting him.
「Wait, so do you not care what happens to the girls?」
「If I apologize then they’ll forgive me; I’m sure of it.」
「Even if it’s made clear that you abandoned them?」
「Yeah, if I apologize.」
Taiyou continued to take light steps across the unpaved ground.
At first it was nothing but a bluff, but gradually, he began to feel that this was definitely the way to go.
Even he behaved recklessly here, Kotone and the others as well as Kohaku would surely forgive him. If anything, they were the kinds of girls who would get angry at him for abandoning her.
（What about Aoba; she might not be okay with it. Actually, taking her parents into consideration, they’re definitely on this side・・・・probably.）
Thinking of Aoba, Taiyou felt something steadily growing in his chest.
A natural smile unfolded from the corner of his mouth.
Anna’s face became stiff. She appeared to be atmospherically pressured by Taiyou’s smile.
「You don’t seem to be lying, huh…」
「Apologizing itself is surprisingly difficult, though.」
「This is unexpected. You guys!」
As Anna gave the command, the burly subordinates took Taiyou’s wives hostage and gathered in front of the wagon, forming a wall of people.
Taiyou had said that he would abandon them, and she also felt that he wasn’t lying. Even so, she would undoubtedly use whatever could be used.
During the time that the men held the hostages and were defending, the wagon door was shut, suddenly taking off and leaving elsewhere.
As they left, his eyes met with Pochi looking out from the window. Gagged, her wet eyes pointed toward him, seeking help.
His chest stinging, guilt and anger equivalent to that rose up.
He gathered them up and shoved them deep within his heart.
Right now, was not the time.
While thinking that, he lightly, lightly walked.
Facing the human wall, walking toward the burly men.
The men all had eyes of resolution; eyes that conveyed their decision of being prepared to stop the remaining Taiyou, even at the risk of their own lives.
A valiant effort from the enemy, is probably what Kohaku would have said.
Inhaling and lightly gripping his fists, he freed his heart.
The next instant, Taiyou, who had ferociously broke in, thrust his fists into one of the men’s faces, drilling him, and he was flown some ten meters away.
That, became the signal for the outbreak of war.