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Chapter 94: Strategic Retreat

 

[N POV]

 

“Ugh…” As Claude opened his eyes, he could see Isolte sitting beside his bed. opened her eyes wide, surprised that Claude had at last awakened from his slumber.

“Claude!” Isolte cried in joy and hugged him tightly.

“Whoa, you’re bolder nowadays, my dear.” Claude was astonished by the change Isolte had undergone. She had always denied his advances and even attacked him in the past. But now, she’s blatantly hugging him in bed.

BAM!

“Claude is awake!” Mike suddenly intruded into the room, and smashed open the door. followed by Ash, Oga, and C behind him.

“You’re awake! At last! Damn bastard, there’s too much work for us to handle alone,” Ash grunted while complaining about the increased job he needed to do in Claude’s absence.

“I’m glad that you’re alright, master Claude…” C said, looking at the couple still hugging on the bed.

Isolte started to be aware of her surrounding and threw Claude away in a fluster. Meanwhile, there’s a person prostrating on the ground.

“I’m sorry for my mishandling!” Oga shouted, putting his head on the floor to show how much he regretted the mistake he made, which resulted in Claude’s misfortune.

Looking at Oga from above, Claude asked, “What mistake did you make?”

“My mistake in handling the Bandit, Furk, creates a nuisance towards you. There’s also our inability to protect you from Kalman III… I am ashamed of my powerlessness” Oga said, looking up at Claude’s eyes.

A wisp of flame appeared in Claude’s surroundings, and a small ember flickered, releasing a voice that said, “Nope, that’s all the brats’ fault.”

Everyone was surprised by the sudden miracle, and their brains stopped working for a while.

Ignoring that, the ember continued, “First, let’s check on the situation. Dealing with guilt is too troublesome for us, and I want to check if what I think is true or not. ”

“Right, Mike, let’s start with my recent arrival…” Claude said, asking Mike about the current condition.

Scratching his head, Mike was still focusing on the talking ember. “Right, 3 months after you’re losing your consciousness, and about a quarter of our business went downhill. If this continues, we’ll go bankrupt within 5 months to a year”

Receiving the report, Claude asked for better information on the paper and asked again, “Is that the only damage?”

“Obviously not… While knowing that you’re injured and still unconscious, several bastards wanted to get our business, but were dealt with by Emporio and the other Water Emperor affiliated with our group, though our contract was already done for. Isolte helped in saving us in the end. ”

“Thank you, my fair lady…” Claude said, while take a hold of Isolte’s hand and kiss the back of her hand.

The girl was embarrassed but didn’t refuse the act.

After reading the report in his hand for a while, Claude took a glance at the ember and said, “Yep, definitely true.”

“I’m never wrong,” the ember answered.

“So… What’s this ember, and why do you act normally with this? ” Ash asked from the side, keenly curious about the talking ember.

“Oh, my power has evolved. This is Fred, my 2nd incarnation” Claude blatantly said, summarizing the information in a single sentence.

“Incarnation? What’s that?” Isolte asked, and keep her eye on the floating ember.

“Well, we’ll talk about it later. Now, let’s deal with the matter surrounding Arbalest.” Claude stopped Isolte’s question and glanced at Oga.

Oga was aware of what Claude meant by that, and stood up from the position. He’s aware that being excessive will only get him Claude’s ire.

“Everyone can have a seat, since it’d be a long conversation.” Claude said, and waited for them to sit down.

The chair was moved closer to Claude’s bedside, and they gathered around Claude in a half circle. With Mike across from Claude and Ash beside him,

Oga and C stood behind them, looking at the sudden meeting they never expected to see. Currently, they are in Millis HQ. As this is the place where C reigns in, he should be included in the conversation. He’s also the leader of the Central Division, as he’s the one relaying the important information towards the other divisions.

While Oga is there as the felon, waiting for the verdict on his crime,

Seeing that everyone’s on the best track of mind, Claude nodded at the ember, which is Fred Alphonse’s instrument to reach the outside world.

“First, let me introduce myself… I am Fred Alphonse, Claude’s 2nd incarnation. I’m Claude’s Mentor in Enchantment and non-combat related matter” The ember introduced itself towards the other people in the room.

For those that already understand Miko’s ability, like Ash and Mike, they are surprised by the appearance of Fred. while others, such as Isolte, C, and Oga, are still unaware of this. They are shocked by the news and can’t figure out what the ember meant by what he said.

“Is this ember a will-o-wisp?” Ash suddenly asked, fully aware that Claude’s former incarnation was already dead.

“Huh, now that you mention it…” Claude snickered at the thought, and was burnt by the approaching ember. “Chill, Fred. I’m just joking. ”

“And you think it’s funny? We’re having a serious conversation here” Fred said firmly, and glared at Ash.

“I’m just curious…” Ash said, while shrinking in his seat, fearing the ember that suddenly grew larger.

“Now, let’s just return to the topic.” Fred said, and returned to his previous position, and continued, “For now, you need to halt everything Arbalest is currently doing, and disband the group.”

That sudden remark surprised all the people in the room.

“I see that it’s a sudden remark. However, Arbalest can’t do anything else in this situation. No matter what, the money you spent on the region was too much, and there’s no way you could receive the cash back within 3 years. This fact alone should make you aware that, even if you can stay alive for now. It’s only a matter of time until you guys get decimated or devoured alive by the people that kept an eye on you… ”

Fred stopped talking at this point. As he already pointed out the main point of what he said, the ember flickered again.

“Ah, my time’s up. Claude will provide further explanation. So, I’ll leave it to him. You got the gist already? We’ll continue our conversation later. ”

With that, the ember vanished.

The others looked towards Claude, asking what had actually happened.

 

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Mushoku Tensei FF Chapter 94: Strategic Retreat

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