Two hydras were just killed in an instant . Witnessing such an unrealistic scene, Elu and Lifa could not let out a word .
However, Harold himself did not seem to feel any fear, excitement or fatigue from the combat . Wearing his usual cold expression, he asked Lifa .
【”What are you doing?”】
【”Aren’t you going to pick samples from the hydra? I think that one’s corpse is the most suitable . ”】
【”―― Oh that’s right!”】
Lifa was startled for but a moment from Harold’s world, and the next instant, she stood up energetically and turned towards the hydra’s corpse while rolling her sleeves .
Perhaps she had a fast recovery, or perhaps this was the work of her unflattering courage .
Not very far from the two, Elu somehow managed to subdue his body’s trembling . Before his head could get around what was happening, his instincts drove him into a sense of fear .
He had a very hard time suppressing this .
【”I had heard the rumors but to think they were true, that strength is really something . I’m impressed】
Pretending to be calm, he called out to Harold .
In response, Harold’s expression turned to contempt .
【”The hell are you saying? As if the information you bastard caught hold on would be lacking in credibility”】
【”Whatever do you mean?”】
Elu transparently feigned ignorance . He was just interested in Harold’s motives .
From the information he had shared, it was clear that Elu was well versed regarding Harold’s circumstances . He wasn’t likely to think of Elu as some poor traveler . Moreover, so as to probe how Harold had recognized him, he dared to plainly dodge his claim .
And Harold’s next words were enough to catch even Elu by surprise .
【”Cut the crap, Giffelt”】
Harold casually revealed Elu’s true identity as if it were no big deal .
He hadn’t given him his name . And he hadn’t given him any information that would allow him to assert this .
Although Elu thought he was just shooting in the dark, Harold seemed to be confident .
【”…… Giffelt? How could a kid like me be such an important person?”】
【”Giffelt is the family name that you and your people use . And you’re qualified to be referred to as a member of the Giffelt family . Am I wrong?”】
An even bigger shock than the one before impacted Elu . Harold’s words had hit the bull’s-eye .
Giffelt was not an individual name but a clan name . Be it men, women, children, adults or the elderly, anyone could use the name as long as they belonged to the clan .
They all dealt in the information business and shared their intelligence within the family . By doing so, they made up the fictional but certainly real image of the information dealer, Giffelt .
A law had been handed down within the family to keep their existence hidden . That secret that could be said to be the most important to them .
Why does he know ? Even if he’s acquainted with another Griffelt, I don’t think they would disclose this information .
However, Elu knew that absolutes did not exist . It was a fact that Harold knew about this, so there had to be a leak .
【”Well, that doesn’t really matter . Rather, how much do you bastard know about me?”】(Harold)
Harold continued talking, as if he considered the Giffelt family’s secret to be no more than a story among others, but Elu did not perceive it that way . Harold had grasped the clan’s secret, and it was up to him to deal with that information as he deemed fit .
It was an awfully vicious threat . If Elu told a lie in this situation, what would happen when that lie came to light? He couldn’t help but expect the worst case scenario .
【”Would you believe it if I said I told Lifa everything?”】
【”Absolutely not . ”】
Harold immediately declared so .
That was to be expected . He let Lifa know that he was suspicious of the tribunal’s deliberation to lay down the conditions for Harold to come probing on his words, but still, the false truth he fed her was based on real facts . The actual truth, however, was that he had lied .
The kingdom’s tribunal held the position of a high-order state agency . Normally, even if a prestigious noble family raised their voice, there is no way they’d overrule its judgment .
And, for one who researched what happened behind the scenes beforehand, it was clear just how strange that one deliberation was .
However, if Elu had stopped there, perhaps Harold wouldn’t have bothered with it that much . The main cause behind his intervention was definitely the words “Test subject” .
Based on the official cover-up story, Harold was supposed to have escaped his execution by cooperating in a certain study .
Since he could play an important part in one of the kingdom’s projects, in the end he just obtained the position of a “Servant” to atone for his crimes .
(Maybe I rushed things a little… . )
He thought that if he used the word “test subject” and Harold was shaken, that would mean his own theory was not far from the truth . Therefore, he incited Lifa to do it in his stead .
As a result, he was hit by a counter-attack that he hadn’t seen coming .
But, Elu thought again . The fact that his clan’s secret was found out was certainly threatening, but now he knew that Harold knew . If he hadn’t become aware of that, perhaps he would have fallen into a hopeless predicament someday .
Now he had a chance to avoid that future .
【”I’ll ask again . You better hurry and answer”】
Being asked again, Elu steeled himself .
How much did he know about Harold? The question was a little vague but Elu had an idea which answer he was seeking .
Harold was likely asking him if he knew why he was called a test subject .
And indeed, Elu knew .
The information he had was unbelievable, but he was convinced it was the truth after bearing witness to Harold’s strength .
Would Harold kill Elu for knowing? It wouldn’t be strange if he did .
But he probably wouldn’t act rashly since he understood the group structure of the Giffelt clan .
Even if that information was important enough that he had to silence whoever had it, the one who had it was Elu, a Giffelt . Once it had spread among the clan, there was no stopping it .
They were both holding bombs . And they could finish things smoothly as long as none of them let them out to the public .
【”……Looks like I can no longer hide it . I’m concerned because I’ve stumbled upon some quite troublesome facts concerning you and at I’m at a loss about how to handle them . ”】
Come on, think about it Harold, thought Elu as he carefully put his words together . He had to make Harold think that there would be little meaning to killing him . He had to make him consider the risks it entailed .
【”I mean, you’ve obtained your powerful strength by cutting down your own life after all . It could be dangerous to mishandle information about such an inhumane weapon being developed . ”】
In this world, Harold’s game knowledge was an overwhelming advantage . It gave him the upper hand in most situations .
Although he had met with many unexpected events, it was thanks to this gift that he had somehow managed to break his death flags .
However, there were two people that he still feared despite having such an unfair technique .
The first one was the genius mad scientist, Justus Freund, the last boss of『Brave Hearts』 .
And the other was the information dealer, Giffelt, who had access to the meta-knowledge of the game .
He was especially concerned about the unknown numbers of Giffelts . Was the information held by the Giffelt limited to the scope of this world, or were they able to overlook the world from a higher ground like in the game?
He didn’t know if they were friends or foes, but there was a risk they would expose many of his secrets .
While having them as friends would be reassuring to him, he still believed he should be cautious when contacting them .
This situation was just the fruit of an unexpected development as he was carrying out a mission for Justus and he somehow ended up being asked by Giffelt to let him accompany him .
And if he had to be honest, had he met Giffelt by himself, he might have turned him down, but Harold also had to serve as a buffer for Lifa, and he wanted to know how strong she was at this point in time .
From there, Harold probed Giffelt with the ulterior motive of finding his opportunity with him .
And just now, Giffelt spoke some decisive words .
He told Harold about his sword, the one with a crystal embedded in it . He told him about how it was developed by Justus, “the weapon that turns life force into mighty power” . As Harold was shocked in his mind, he admired Giffelt even more .
(The name Giffelt isn’t for show… to think they had gotten this far…)
The version of the story that Elu knew could be considered to be Justus’ last line of defense, “We don’t need the weapon, but just in case” . That was the lie Justus had used to deceive the country’s upper echelons so that he could move Harold as he wished .
It was supposed to make it look like Harold had collaborated with the research using his own life as a form of payment so as to be spared from his execution .
However, Justus couldn’t officially announce a deal that allowed him to fiddle with a person’s life, even if said person was a criminal, so only a handful of people were told the truth .
But still, the Giffelts could be said to be quite the special group of information dealers, and seeing how they had the power to get information about national secrets, ones that concerned a weapon’s development at that, their organization had surely reached a worldwide peak .
And, the most dreadful part of that was that Justus had managed to pass under their radar . It would be considerably difficult to prevent such a man from becoming aware of a rebellion once it was put into action .
However, Harold had assumed that from the beginning . And he wasn’t over-confident enough to rebel by himself .
As things were, it was difficult for Harold to move freely outside of Justus’ directives .
That’s where his collaborators would usually come into play . And with Giffelt’s information network, he could move them more efficiently . He wanted the clan to join his side by any means .
【”…I see . So you’re in that deep, huh”】
Said Harold solemnly, seeming really serious . Faced with such an atmosphere, it felt like Giffelt— Elu’s face turned blue .
Though Giffelt wasn’t the expressive type in the game, this was convenient for Harold who could now read him ever so slightly .
【”You’ve obtained information that only a select few are allowed to know in this country . I can’t ignore that . ”】
【”… . Then, are you going to kill me?”】
【”Well, that would be the quickest solution . ”】
Elu couldn’t breath . His face turned even bluer .
【”However, I’m not planning to do anything that foolish . It’s not even worth considering . ”】
【”You have some quite convenient abilities . Why not become my subordinate and put your talents to use?”】
【”… . Could it be that you’re recruiting me?”】
【”Did you not hear what I just said? Are you deaf?”】
【”What you’re saying is, if I refuse you’ll kill me, or, or… . . ”】
Elu murmured a line that Harold couldn’t ignore . Even if he refused his offer, Harold had no intention to kill Elu at all .
Certainly his phrasing could be interpreted that way, but he didn’t want to force Elu’s hand using such an extreme case of stress interview and make his impression of him even worse than it already was .
【”It doesn’t matter to me whether you bastard live or die . If you want to refuse, suit yourself . ”】
【”… Ooh . If that’s true, then does that mean there is no risks for me if I refuse?”】
【”No, that’s not it . There is indeed a risk that you can’t overlook if you decline . ”】
【”I don’t understand what you’re trying to say”】
【”Then, I’ll explain . Don’t you seek the『Star memory』?”】
Elu’s facial expression crumbled like never before .
It showed astonishment and doubt . It was hard to describe, a sort of mix between various emotions .
【”H, how would you know about that . . don’t tell me you…?”】
【”I have no obligation to tell you”】
He couldn’t tell him that he had knowledge from the game . However, judging from his reaction, the Giffelts weren’t cheat beings who held information about the world’s Meta .
Therefore it would be slightly easier for Harold to make contact .
【”So, what will you do? Will you get one step closer to the Giffelts’ dream? Or will you let that opportunity fly over your head?”】
【”… I don’t know, it’s way too suspicious . I can’t believe this because it’s simply impossible… . . But it’s certainly true that we’re seeking that thing, no matter the cost . ”】
【”Then, come confirm my words with your own eyes . There is no trust involved in the process . ”】
In the first place, as long as he proceeded as he did in the game’s story, Elu would manage to obtain the『Star memory』for sure . Harold was just talking big .
Elu, who did not know that, agreed to Harold’s negotiations after a short silence . He kneeled on one knee and bowed down his head .
【”I’ll entrust you with my… No, Giffelt’s power . Please use it as you see fit, Harold-sama”】
【”What I want from you is not good attitude, but results, nothing more . ”】
Said Harold, with his usual arrogance, looking down on Elu who respectfully kneeled before him . But in his mind, Harold was delighted .
Giffelt had joined his side . If he combined that with his game knowledge, he just might be able to outsmart Justus .
There were several months left until the time where the game’s story began . And the foundations of his counteroffensive were steadily building up . l