The arbitration proposal was settled, and a preliminary announcement was made, marking the end of this mission for now.
The formalities would likely be handled by the civilian representatives, but it was crucial to let the public know about the end of the war to prevent unnecessary casualties.
Around the stage where the declaration was to be made, people were gathering, and while there was no sign of weapons, Imperial soldiers were on guard, adding tension to the atmosphere.
The Imperial Army’s general, who was to join me on stage, had arrived abruptly two days ago, displacing the negotiators who had been working tirelessly up to that point.
We had endured many hardships together during the negotiations, so the sudden change was frustrating, but if this is what the negotiators agreed to, there was no choice but to accept it.
This morning, I couldn’t help but notice that Naruhito seemed unwell. His eyes barely opened, he was lying under a blanket, looking as if he might disappear at any moment. When I offered him water, they mumbled something indistinct.
Hitachimaru had handed him a candy, but his arm wouldn’t rise.
With a heavy heart, I proceeded to the stage. As I ascended, the crowd fell silent. Most of them were likely Imperial citizens, but I couldn’t discern whether their reaction was one of welcome or opposition when I took my position.
Suddenly, a small figure from the crowd rapidly approached with impossible speed. They leaped with incredible agility, and just as they did, Hitachimaru’s gun fired. One person fell.
Another shot resounded, following the sound of a broken window from the building behind. A falling Naruhito.
As I noticed Naruhito’s gaze fixed on the Imperial citizen next to me, I instinctively shouted to stop Hitachimaru.
“Hitachimaru, don’t shoot!”
Kicking while airborne, Naruhito fell on top of the Imperial Army general. I heard a dull sound, perhaps a few bones breaking. The general, vomiting blood, uttered with difficulty.
“Why, why… Why did the Combat Doll attack me?”
Blood dripped from Naruhito’s nose. He clenched his right hand and punched the man, instantly vomiting stomach acid profusely. It was an incredibly odd situation.
I lifted the stiffened body and called out to him.
“Naruhito, Naruhito. Pull yourself together.”
“… Naruhito, is this guy doing something?”
Seeing him nod, Hitachimaru shot the Imperial Army general without hesitation. Then, Naruhito slumped, losing all strength.
A hushed murmur swept through the crowd, and then… It’s gone… Freedom…
In my arms, Naruhito smiled with relief. Crushed candy raining down from his right hand.