Without the liver of a Lyk Skull Bear, Elyse will die. However, our one opportunity at getting this liver has been taken by someone else.
What exactly should I do in this situation? I looked back at Max to find my answer.
“I…treasure Sophia with all my heart. I will do anything to protect her.”
“Does that mean…you’re declaring war against us?”
Max took a few steps away from me and Melissa placed her hand on her weapon.
I shook my head and gave Max a bitter smile.
“If Sophia could find happiness by me committing such an act, I’d gladly do it, but I know that won’t be the case…. So I won’t attack you.”
“…what do you mean?”
“I told you before. I will protect Sophia.”
I don’t need to kill them to take the liver.
If we kill the bear, they can’t bring it to their benefactor alive. Even without resorting to that, I can still use the power available to me as an earl to pressure them into giving us the liver.
There are many other ways for us to get the liver.
We’ve already gone through so much just to get here and there’s always the possibility the liver escapes our grasp again.
I’m worried that Sophia will blame herself. And I can say from personal experience, that nothing is as horrible as losing a parent.
After all…Sophia killed her father for me.
Of course, this led to things improving for us overall. However, if I had handled things better, she never would’ve had to do that.
Sophia was the one forced to carry such a heavy burden….
I regret ever involving Sophia in that matter. Even though I’ve gotten past the heartache I felt back then, the guilt has yet to completely disappear.
I don’t want Sophia to experience that sorrow ever again.
— So, I may have to break my promise with Sophia.
It may make her sad and she may call me a liar, but I know that will be better than having Sophia do something she’ll regret.
“I promise I won’t harm you.”
“…that’s nice, as long as it’s true.”
Max, who had been silently watching me, slowly removed his hand from his weapon.
“Of course it’s true. Besides, we have them with us.”
I pointed in the direction we came from. Remy and Daniel were approaching us.
Daniel…. Well, Remy trusted me and joined as our guide. I can’t betray that trust.
“Remy…and Daniel? Did he really take up your request?”
“No, we just happened to meet him in the forest.”
“Hmm. Well, this must mean you really won’t harm us.”
“Of course we won’t…. Though, I realize you won’t believe me just like that, so we’ll be leaving.”
I said this and turned away from Max and walked to Sophia.
“…Sophia, I’m sorry.”
I’m not going to make up any excuses. I gave up when I could’ve saved Elyse. I bowed my head deeply and waited for Sophia to speak.
“…Leon onii-chan, raise your head.”
The words that left her mouth were little more than a faint whisper. I lifted my head, afraid of what I might see. Sophia’s face was filled with anguish.
“Leon onii-chan…this is terrible.”
I have no excuses. All I can do is apologize. However, Sophia shook her head as if that’s wasn’t what she meant.
“I’m not a child anymore.”
The words that left her mouth weren’t what I was expecting. Why is she saying something like that now…? I was left confused by her words.
“Umm…I understand that.”
“You don’t understand and that’s why I’m angry!”
I was left speechless as Sophia suddenly yelled at me.
“…of course, I want to save my mother! But I would never want you to kill someone to save her. I’d never blame you, onii-chan!”
I was finally able to understand what she was saying.
Sophia knew what I was considering doing and she was angry that I thought she’d hate me if I didn’t do it.
“Good. I’m glad you understand. Besides, I was the one that didn’t make it in time.”
It’s likely that the roar we heard earlier came out when Melissa confronted it. Therefore, none of us could have got here in time.
So, it’s not Sophia’s fault…. However, I’m not sure that will comfort her, so I didn’t say anything.
Instead, I came up with another plan.
“Sophia, let’s continue our search for a Lyk Skull Bear.”
“Eh? What do you mean? The Lyk Skull Bear spotted in the forest has already been captured.”
“It’s too early for us to give up.”
When I was locked away outside the Grances mansion, there were many times I could have given up. I never did and that’s what got me here.
Even if this creature is rare and one is only spotted every few years, there’s always a chance another can be found. If we don’t give up, we can still find one.
“It’s just like Leon said. It’s too early for us to give up. I’ll cut down this entire forest to find another bear.”
“Aren’t elves supposed to protect nature?”
“I don’t see a problem if it’s for Sophia.”
“…I guess so.”
If it means protecting Sophia’s happiness, I’d happily cut down an entire forest or two. We’ll rush through the forest, cutting down everything we come across until we find that bear.
I might have to pay Crane a substantial amount of reparations but…. Who cares? If I don’t spend money in a situation like this, what’s the point in having it?
“We’re not going to give up! We’re going to search this entire forest until we find that bear!”
“Oi, oi, I can tell you’re all motivated, but we haven’t finished speaking yet.”
I turned around to see Max standing there.
“…what do you mean?”
“As we told you before, we’ll bring this bear to the client as a favour for what he’s done for us, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get the liver. I’ll mention to him that you are in need of the liver.”
“That’s greatly appreciated, but…is that okay?”
I was surprised to hear an offer like that from Max. I thought there’d be no room for negotiation considering they declined a thousand gold.
“Don’t get me wrong. I just said I’ll mention it, the rest is up to you.”
“I know that…but you don’t stand to gain anything, do you?”
“I told you, we’re doing this to repay our benefactor. It could also be good for our benefactor if he meets with you.”
Is he trying to say I should offer his client the thousand gold?
If their client refuses my offer, Max will be able to tell if I’m trustworthy based on how I react.
“…unless you plan on attacking our benefactor.”
“Did you read my mind?”
“No, it was just a guess.”
I’m not sure what the right choice is. However, meeting this benefactor could be the only way we get a liver.
“By the way, what would you have done if I actually attacked?”
“I was worried about that, but I had a feeling you weren’t that type.”
“Why would you think that?”
“I can just tell. I’m a good judge of character I guess.”
Why does this guy believe in me when moments ago I was considering attacking them? I’m desperate to protect someone I care about, but for me to consider that…. I’m not a good guy.
Well, I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to negotiate with their benefactor so I’m not going to argue.
“However…I’ll tell you again that our client wants this bear alive. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the liver you want.”
“Yeah, I understand that.”
“Then, we’ll return to town and report our success. I’ll tell our benefactor about you…. What will you be doing?”
“Oh…if you’re going to tell your client about us, we’ll return as well.”
“If so, why don’t you come with us.”
“Sure, that sounds good.”
Obtaining the liver was temporarily put on hold and we decided to return to town together. It’s slim but there is still hope remaining.
By the way —
Eh, wha–? There are buildings in the forest!?”
“Is this a bath!?”
Max and Melissa were amazed by our magic on the trip back home.