Pumpkin Scissors – 23
At the relief station where the 3rd Section had fed the peasants, Stekkin scoops up some of the remaining food from the bottom of the pot, but Mercury suddenly appears to eat it. Hunks is here with the dog and notes that everyone should have been back a while ago. Before Stekkin can explain what happened, he pats her on the head and suggests that they should go straight home once in a while. Back at the mansion, Alice is locked in her battle with the Loderia bodyguard and has to use the scent of Oland’s jacket to remind her of the 3rd Section so that she’s not fooled by the marsh illusion. One of the commoners gets restless watching the duel and is ready to interfere, but Oland steps in to stop him. Despite seeing how frightened the other bodyguard now is, this commoner man tries to get his friends to gang up on Oland, but they question the justice in such an action. This starts to create a rift between the commoners as some start to wonder if they’re doing things the wrong way. Because of this, Oreld comments on how if they had wanted to kill Paul, then they shouldn’t have talked about justice. Marquis Paul then wonders why they hate him if he only embezzled money. He didn’t kill anyone, and he finds it hard to believe that they would be envy his getting to eat delicious food enough to want to kill him. In response, Oreld explains that the money embezzled would only lead to an extra grain of wheat for each citizen, but that grain could allow a slightly longer life. This way, they could hear one more word from their child and with that one word, they could have regained their footing. Oreld then questions Paul about how many grains of wheat could have been bought with the money that he played with.
Looking out the window, Machs notices that the road lights in the distance are turning off one by one. He suspects the 1st Section is involved and wonders if they would comply with the conditions Leonir set on the duel. What he doesn’t know is that down the road, Hunks has been stopped by some members of the 1st Section. He’s really just acting as a distraction while Mercury quickly scales the wall and heads for the mansion undetected. Hunks then returns to the truck where the two captured commoners are being held and explains that the 1st Section’s siege is set so that no one can run away. Stekkin remains upbeat because Alice and company are there and because Mercury must be bringing them some secret plan, but Hunks only reveals that he almost forgot that the 3rd Section isn’t limited to Alice as the right solution. At that time however, it is Alice still dueling the Loderia bodyguard, but her body is getting tired. After watching her fall to her knees and then struggle back up, Leonir secretly picks up a normal knife and keeps it concealed behind his back. He is surprised to see Alice suddenly switch her sword to her left hand, but this allows her to deflect her opponent’s machete with his own power. While still using the same power as before, Alice is now able to use her sword to throw off the machete’s trajectory. After her opponent recognizes the sound of their swords meeting, Alice explains that her grandfather was given three rewards by the previous king for helping to suppress a Loderia civil war. One was the title of Noble Flamme and another was the sword named Noble Flamme. The third reward came as a result of her grandfather lamenting that he had no choice but to cut down some young soldiers who attacked him: it was the king’s own defensive sword technique, the main gauche.
Using this technique, Alice is able to ward off every single machete attack, and she attributes her success to how she’s able to move freely in front of her men. Everyone, including Leonir, is shocked to see this fight that is now more like a dance. However, Alice doesn’t feel that a defensive fight suits her, so she goes on the offense with a series of quick stabs with her left hand. She follows it up with a right-handed strike that catches her opponent off-guard and causes him to lose his weapon. He expects to die when she next stabs him, but she actually just punches him. With a newfound respect for someone he now considers to be the Noble Flamme, the Loderia bodyguard acknowledges Alice’s victory. According to the terms Leonir laid out earlier, this means that the nobles are safe and the commoners can leave without punishment, but one of the commoners still insists that they kill nobles. When this man takes it upon himself to attack Alice, Oland steps in to protect her, however Mercury jumps in first and steals the man’s knife. Receiving the notes that Mercury was carrying, Oreld and Machs find out that the police have the place surrounded. Thus, even if they could get the commoners to put down their weapons, no one can go home now, and Machs suspects that the 1st Section is going to rush in without any intent of rescuing anyone. Also included are official arrest authorizations, but they’re not for use by Alice, they’re for Oreld and Machs. Knowing that the commoners are now back to being ready to attack, Alice challenges them to come despite her own exhaustion.
Alice’s fighting is nice to watch and all, but I’m a bit underwhelmed at where this story is going because there’s a distinct lack of Silver Wheel involvement to make it more interesting. Even the 1st Section is sitting off somewhere getting ready to strike, but nothing big has happened yet. And there’s just no way everything can be resolved with only one more episode, especially if they’re going to continue following the manga as they have been doing. I’m going to refrain from calling it all disappointing until I watch the final episode, but the prospects aren’t great based on what the preview shows.