As countless battles with the Alva raged on around them, a group of several people ran through the city. It was Kain, Ein, the master of the Dark Green Bear House, Arnold, his wife Prim, and his daughter Ripley.
Kain and the others had succeeded in persuading Arnold, who was initially reluctant to leave his shop unattended, to join them, and they were currently fleeing to safety.
Reina’s plan was to take place “after” this fight. Until then, Kain was to help as many people as he could.
「I hear all kinds of horrible noises from all around… The last attack wasn’t this bad, was it!?」
Kain and Ein couldn’t answer Arnold’s question, as they weren’t here for “the last attack.”
However, they could imagine how different it was. Last time, the Staves of Light Chivalric Order must have been here to defend the city. The Alva are resistant to physical attacks, but they are weak against magic attacks. Because battles with the Alva naturally turn into magic-based fights, without any powerful magic users, it was only natural that there would be a huge difference in fighting power.
The moment he saw the Alva up ahead, Kain activated his magic sword of light. The sword, harnessing the power of light, cut straight through the Alva’s fireball, disintegrating it into pieces.
There were piles of scorched bodies lying around the Alva. As Kain caught a glimpse of these in the corner of his vision, he firmly gripped his sword.
Even the Alva could tell that Kain was not just an ordinary human. It carefully kept him at a distance, storing its magic power as if it were about to unleash a powerful magic attack.
However, as it was distracted, the Alva failed to notice the girl that had disappeared the moment Kain cut apart the fireball. Suddenly, a short sword appeared right behind it, ready to swing at the Alva’s neck.
As a dull sound rang out, the Alva’s head flew through the air. Shortly after, its body was reduced into black dust.
「Well that was pretty boring. Let’s hurry up.」
As Kain shifted his gaze over to the massive pile of burnt bodies, Ein gently poked his head.
「It’s inevitable that people will die in battle. There’s no reason for humans to be an exception to that rule.」
After a silent prayer, Kain started to lead the group again, but suddenly, he heard Ripley’s frightened voice from behind him.
「Why… why did this happen? Why do the Mazoku come to attack Elarc…? Is it really because, as you said, Celis isn’t recognized as a true ruler?」
「Ripley, we don’t have time to…」
Ripley’s yell resonated through the air, cutting Prim off as she tried to scold her. Without thinking, Kain and the others stopped in their tracks, turning around to face Ripley.
「…But, not even Raidolg will save us, no matter how much we’re attacked! Just because Celis is a mixed-blood that not even Raidolg will acknowledge, everyone is going to…!」
Mixed-blood. That was a derogatory term targeting halves and quarters. It was a term that came not from the subhuman theorists of the St. Altlist kingdom, but from the pure-blood supremacists. The idea was that “each race created by the gods is beautiful because they are all unique, and to interbreed between races was to go against the will of the gods.”
Existing in parts of the Cylus Empire and the Jiol Forest Kingdom, it was a horrible aspect of humanity that was born from the existence of many different races. In racially diverse nations such as the Canal Kingdom, there were many people with mixed blood. Because of this, ideologies like these shouldn’t exist in the Canal Kingdom, but there were very few people who respected every race equally, and, just like darkness, ideas like these spread throughout its people.
「Kain, you think so too, right!? If not for that, this wouldn’t have…」
Kain fell silent. Even when he opened his mouth, he still couldn’t bring himself to answer her question.
「…Let’s hurry up. It’s dangerous to stay here.」
Saying this, he started walking again.
Ein watched him in silence. She took a quick, scornful glance at Ripley before hurrying after Kain.
「Ripley, right now we have to…」
Arnold tried to calm Ripley. They walked together, trying to keep up.
They heard a loud roar resonate through the air, along with terrified scream, as if someone had just died. Somewhere in the distance, a house was covered in flames, and from somewhere else, they heard another scream.
Still, walking through all of this, Kain and the others finally arrived at the Elarc Defense Chivalric Order Station. There were already many people gathered at the nearby park, which had been designated as an emergency shelter. Many of Ripley’s friends were there, and they ran towards each other, greeting each other with a tight embrace.
「I’m sorry that you had to go through all of this trouble.」
「No problem, please don’t worry about it.」
Saying this, Kain smiled at Arnold. Then he turned around, starting to walk away in the opposite direction. Arnold, who had thought that Kain was going to stay as well, called out after him in panic.
「Huh? W-wait, where are you going? It’s dangerous out there!」
「We’ll be fine.」
Seeming to understand the situation, Arnold pulled back his extended hand, balling it into a fist.
「…If we meet again, I’ll treat you a meal.」
「If we get the chance, I’d be happy to join you.」
Saying this, Kain and Ein walked away from the shelter. As they walked in silence, Ein talked to Kain in a low voice.
「Hey… do you really like the princess that much?」
Kain’s attitude towards Ripley before had been clearly unusual. It must have been because of what Ripley said. To Ein, it was just a bunch of meaningless nonsense, and she didn’t really care if that was what all of the other townspeople thought as well, but… Kain had definitely seen it in a different way.
「Umm… no, it’s not anything like that.」
Ein nodded. She had no intention to ask anything more than that, so she ran along in silence, trying to end the conversation.
However, what Kain said next stopped her from doing that.
「I just thought that… a true utopia doesn’t exist, after all.」
As Ein listened with a puzzled expression, Kain stopped in his tracks, turning around to face her.
「Yeah. I had heard that the Canal Kingdom was a beautiful kingdom where no one ever discriminated against each other. So, I thought that once this civil war is over, that the kingdom would return to such a state… But, that’s just what I hoped.」
A kingdom where even ordinary girls refer to people as “mixed-blood” was far off from what he considered to be a “utopia.” Therefore, prejudices like these must have been prevalent even before the civil war started, even if people were just reluctant to express it directly.
However, the civil war had succeeded in drawing out the darkness that dwelled in the bottom of everyone’s hearts. It was revealing their true selves.
So the result was that there was discrimination all along. At the very bottom of the word “equality,” that was all there was. Maybe, at the beginning, it sprung out of a seed of darkness that someone brought in, but now, there was no going back. That was all he knew.
「But… Ein, you too… Even the Mazoku saved that child, but… speaking as though all Mazoku are the same…」
It appears that the “resentment” part of Kain’s “despair and resentment” partly had to do with Ein.
「It’s idiotic. There’s no point in listening to the words of people who can only see things in black and white. They’re less valuable than a goblin’s nails. Don’t let yourself get upset by something so stupid, it’s a waste of time.」
Kain looked discontent with the fact that his worries were seen as nothing but ‘a waste of time.’ Ein turned him back around and slapped him on the back.
「After all, we’re about to get ourselves involved with people even more idiotic. You better start working on hiding your emotions.」
「I guess you’re right, but…」
Talking to each other, Kain and Ein continued on their journey towards East Elarc.