TL: This one has a really slow start, but it does get rolling, it seems.
Former Noble Lyle
The me in the mirror had my blue hair hanging down.
The me in the mirror had a severely worn-out face. There were some places on the bandages that were soaked in blood, but the wounds had already closed.
Perhaps the burnt parts had been treated with special medicine, but they had faded.
“How does it look, young master?”
As I turn around to the voice that called out to me, I offer my thanks to the old man.
“Thank you, it’s much better now.”
The old man was the one who lived in a hut on the side of the courtyard, the gardener. It seems he has family, but after his wife died, he started living alone inside of the hut.
On the wide grounds of the estate, the hut that was tucked away in quite a hidden place was apparently a repurposed baggage shed.
“That’s good. You were in quite a dangerous spot there. If I was the estate’s doctor, I would beable to treat you a little more gently, but…”
This apologetic old man was, despite his demeanor, a former soldier. Perhaps he had some knowledge on treating injuries, but he had healed me up quite skillfully.
Anyways, more than the man’s knowledge on treatment, my most pressing matter was…
“… I’ve been completely abandoned by my parents. Hahaha, I can’t do anything but laugh about it.”
Looking at me raise a soulless laugh, the man…【 Zell】 lowered himself into the chair in the room. Being over seventy, he lived by maintaining a portion of the vast yard.
There are several gardeners in service to the house, but the only one who lived isolated in a hut was Zell. I had heard my parents talking amongst themselves about having trouble trying to get the man who served from my grandfather’s generation to vacate the place.
He had carried my wounded body here, and had nursed me over the three days I had spent sleeping.
I sit on the bed, and give my thanks once more.
“Thank you for saving me, Zell. Although I don’t have anything to give you in return.”
Seeing me return a joke, Zell let out a deep sigh.
“I’m relieved you look fine. But the state of this manor really has been strange lately.”
The reason Zell let out a sigh was due to how the state of affairs of the mansion had completely changed over the past five years.
I occasionally thought it strange as well, but even so, there are some things you can’t understand if you’re always in the midst of them.
“There’s this time’s case with the young master, but making the young miss the heir… If we asked the previous generation, I wonder just what he would say in his rage.”
My grandfather, 【Brod Walt】, was a strict noble. He held the court rank of Count, and governed land as a provincial noble.
That means he also held an army.
The Walt House is one that serves as an advisor to royalty. In grandfather’s time, he was often called to the imperial capital to speak with his majesty, the king. Father often bragged to me about it.
But he was also an exceedingly rigid person.
He was strong in battle, and one who poured his effort into his territory’s internal affairs.
The next generation’s king also considered him a leading noble of Bahnseim. He was just a little to soft on his grandchildren.
His first grandson, me, was quite spoiled by the man.
“I only have a kind impression of him, though. It’s just that I don’t know how I’d face him now that I’m not succeeding the house.”
I had betrayed the expectations he placed on me. Thinking that, I felt all my diligence up until now to have been in vain.
Now, I’ve already lost everything.
“Yound master… don’t corner yourself too much. You’re still young. Please live the rest of your life facing forwards.”
“Thanks, but I have no goal. Up until now, I’ve only ever aimed to become a good lord. Now that that’s gone, I’ve no idea where to go. I’m deplorable, right?”
As I smiled in self-derision, Zell stood up, and proceeded to the kitchen to prepare something to drink. I covered my face, and began thinking of what to do from here on.
“I can’t stay here anymore. I’ll have to find somewhere to go.”
From the time I started being taken care of in Zells house, I was able to take off the bandages by the fifth day.
I wonder if he had used some expensive medicine, but my recovery was fast.
But being taken care of by him for so long leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Also, I was driven out of this estate.
I may bring trouble to the man who’s sheltering me.
And during our evening meal, I brought it up as Zell was conversing with me. What he was describing was a scene where my grandfather raced across the battlefield, and about his actions in the imperial capital.
I remembered the stories he told on our third day’s dinner as I spoke.
“Zell, I’m thinking of becoming an adventurer.”
“An adventurer, you say? It’s true that some noble who don’t succeed households go of to become adventurers, but you have both magic and knowledge. With that skillset, government work is always possible.”
I shake my head from side to side.
I may bring trouble to whatever service I’m employed in. The Walt House is a large one, and it has influence befitting of that.
If it’s just at the level of threatening my employers, then that Celes would probably do it easily.
“I’ve lost everything. I just thought I would get something from scratch with my own hands.”
“… I… see. If that’s the young master’s desired path, then so be it.”
“According to your stories, famous adventurers aren’t troubled by money, right? I’ll definitely repay this debt someday. At that time, I’ll come back a splendid adventurer.”
“Hahaha, I’ll be waiting for it, young master.”
Zell laughed in a loud voice.
I wonder if he’s just going along with my joke. Naturally, in the depths of my mind, I truly didn’t think that the occupation of an adventurer was something that easy.
Even if I look like this, I was raised to inherit a ruling position.
As a Feudal Lord, I knew painfully well just what the existences called adventurers were. They challenged the unknown, and returned from labyrinths with great treasures.
If you asked, kids would probably call them their aspirations, but in reality, they were just a gathering of ruffians.
If you wanted to call them mercenaries, it would be more than fitting. Those mercenaries could calmly assault villages to plunder their food stock.
Besides the part where they deal with monsters, adventurers were nothing but a troublesome existence.
However, it’s not like all of them were villains.
Famous adventurers could work with the government on favorable terms. For those that run mercenary brigades on the side, they could be hired for large sums of money based on their skill.
“But an adventurer, is it? It sounds like the free city of【Beim】 would be a good place to set up shop.”
I gave an honest inquiry at Zell’s words.
“Beim? I believe it was a lord-less city run by a system of merchants, correct? It’s a trade point between numerous territories.”
“That’s exactly why. It isn’t managed by a country, and it’s an easy land to thrive in for adventurers. Or course, that can also be said for criminals.”
There are plenty of adventurers who turn into criminals. When that happens, they get banishment notices from the adventurers’ guild, and become wanted men.
But once they fled to the trade point of Beim, no country could openly try to hunt them down. I had heard stories of it, but I’m a bit hesitant to aim to settle in such a land.
It appears Zell sensed my sentiment.
“I don’t think you need to pay too much mind to it. As long as you don’t venture into places where those sorts gather, you’ll rarely get tangled up in their affairs.”
“I-I see. I thought the imperial capital would be a good start in and of itself, though…”
Even on the Walt House’s territory, there’s an adventurers’ guild. But my father, the feudal lord, could interfere with that one, so I must avoid it at all costs.
If I wanted to stay within the country, I would have to pick a place without father’s influence. If you think about it like that, the capital was the natural choice.
“Among the high ranking nobles of the capital, there are plenty of houses that are involved with our own. It isn’t a bad option, but I can’t say it’s the best for you.”
“I see. But I don’t have the travel expenses to reach Beim. Also, I also want to see just how far my current skill level will reach.”
Heim was the city of merchants. At the same time, there are plenty of adventurers there seeking employment. To summarize, if you aren’t capable enough, you won’t be able to survive.
“Truly. Then perhaps stopping by the capital first may be your best bet. I won’t recommend staying for long, though.”
“Where is there besides the imperial capital?”
As I had the opportunity, I enquired further. Having run around the battlefield alongside my grandfather, I thought Zell would know of various lands.
I had never conversed with him before, but when I tried it, he was an old man who told interesting stories.
“How about the city of【Dalien】 near the capital? It’s not a hard place to live.”
“Dalien? I’ve only ever heard the name.”
“As a territory, their development is behind ours. In that regard, it may be easier to find work there.”
“Work? You don’t mean monster extermination?”
As I said that, the corner of his eyes sharpened as he seemed mildly amazed.
“Well, it seems you don’t often hear of how society works over here, young master. There’s no helping it, so let me explain.”
Zell began explaining just what it was that adventurers were. According to my mental image, they mainly dived into labyrinths, and occasionally fought on the battlefield as hired swords.
But according to him…
“Adventurers are ones who can accomplish any sort of job. At the start, they did carry out monster extermination, and challenging labyrinths, but it turns out there were a lot of odd jobs to be had. Most youngsters there take on misc tasks to earn up money to purchase the necessary equipment.”
“I-is that so? But there must be people who specialize in the odd jobs too, right?”
“Things like that are managed by the guild taking applications, and paying for services by the day. Well, it’s just like an employment service. Like that, the guild looks out for the citizens around it. Of course, you could just call it earning through physical labor.”
Zell described the face of adventurers I didn’t want to hear about. As I thought, there’s no guarantee that everything will work out smoothly.
“But by doing those menial jobs, adventurers prepare their equipment. It’s not always a bad thing, so finding fault in it would be more troublesome to the adventurers themselves than the guild.”
“Is that how these things work? I’m none too knowledgeable.”
To me, who was raised with the sole purpose of ruling, there’s no doubt it’s a world I can’t even imagine. For some reason, Zell seemed just a little bit happy.
“What is it?”
“Nothing. Well, I’ve been serving since the time of the previous generation, but I never thought I would get to talk with the young master like this. It’s because the current head had been born into a Count’s family.”
During my grandfather’s reign, the Walt House finally reached counthood.
The generation before him was badmouthed quite a bit for expending a lot of money to buy vast expanses of land, it seems. Even now, my father speaks of it with regret.
Father’s grandfather- my great grandfather- was apparently a person who resorted to quite some underhanded methods.
From a start like that, Father was raised up as the head of a Count’s house. My grandfather had started out as a viscount, but he still led an army, and had fighting experience.
I guess Father never had any contact with Zell.
“… By the way, young master, have you experienced anything strange while in my house?”
“Something strange? No… ah!”
I was about to answer ‘Nothing’ to his question. Compared to being driven out of my own house, I feel that everything else generally didn’t mean anything.
But there, I remembered.
“An abyss of death? I think I heard my grandfather’s voice. A nostalgic tone… but there were other voices as well. I may have just been dreaming, though.”
Saying it was just a dream, I started to eat again.
With his eyes wide open, Zell continued to look at me.
The next morning.
I put on the clothes I borrowed from Zell, and wore a cloak over that.
“It’s clothing that my son left behind, but the build should fit well enough.”
“I’m truly sorry for all of this. I’ll definitely repay this debt.”
I said an apology, but Zell shook his head.
“No, you’ve done more than enough. Also, young master, take this.”
Saying that, he handed over a leather bag. In the bag that could fit in the palm of my hand, I found some coins.
“No, taking money from you is a bit…”
To me, it looked like a small sum, but it was probably different to Zell. I understand that our sense of money is completely different, so I refused to take it. However, Zell pushed it at me.
“You’ll definitely find it necessary. What do you plan to do without a penny on you? Also, if you plan to return it at some point, just think of it as an investment.”
Having been told that, I said my thanks, and accepted it.
“S-sorry. Really, about everything.”
“It’s fine. With this, I’ve finally been able to fulfill my promise to the previous head.”
As I tilted my head, Zell presented a small wooden box to me, and opened it up. In it was a blue gem.
Silver decorations were applied all around it, and at a glance, I could tell that expensive craftsmanship had been put into it.
“No, there’s no way I could take something this…”
“This was the previous head’s, no… an gem that’s been passed down through each generation of the Walt House. It was crafted with an extremely scarce metal, and forged by a renowned blacksmith. A famous artisan applied the finishing touches.”
I looked at the gem that was about two centimeters across. It had been fastened to a necklace.
“My grandfathers? I do remember him having something like that, but shouldn’t my father have received it?”
“The previous head tried adding more ornaments onto it to make it more fitting of a count’s house, but his passing came at a bad time… When the gem was to be embedded into it, I departed to confirm it, and from there, I took it back. However, I wasn’t able to get an audience with Maizel-sama.”
Father is also busy.
Because of that, unless it’s an extremely urgent matter, even one who serves in the house may be unable to meet him. Even more so that it was the source of some of his worries, Zell.
From the wooden box, I took the gem and chain.
The gem… an item that’s manufacturing process had been lost in the passage of years was one that held a memory of an individual’s skill. The specific details were lost when the world changed over to simple Magic Tools, and forgotten.
The Number of Skills that can manifest in an individual was always one. While they could hone that skill over their lives, it was impossible to increase their numbers.
The gem held a memory of such a skill, and made it so that others could use it.
“And I doubt I’ll be able to ever give this to the current head, Maizel-sama. This may be my selfish decision, but please take it, young master… Lyle-sama. That way, I’ll be able to repay my debt to the late Count.”
I hung it around my own neck, and gripped the gem.
“… I’m truly thankful, Zell. I’ll definitely come back some day to repay you.”
“I’ll be waiting, Lyle-sama.”
Saying that, I departed from Zell’s hut.
In the past six days, Zell felt the room he always thought was small had suddenly gotten wider.
In the past, the house he lived in with his family was also the place the previous family head Brod would stop by to hide out and have a drink.
Looking of the picture that had gotten sketched in town of his wife, he whispered.
“Hey, honey. With this, it feels something’s been lifted from my shoulders.”
He lied down on the bed, and pulled over the blankets as he closed his eyes.
“But for him to have the same preferences as Brod-sama… that man also liked that stewed meat.”
What Zell remembered was the time when his house was still lively.
And he remembered how he handed off Brod’s gem that had been passed down in his family for generations. Brod was even older than him, and in the end, he was bedridden.
The weakened form of the man whose dignity was Zell’s aspiration brought tears to his eyes.
“Even if he knew he wasn’t going to be around when the finishing touches were put on it, why did he leave it to me… but now, I’ve fulfilled my duty, Brod-sama.”
The memories of when he was young, and running alongside the man on the battlefield revived within him.
“But it truly is a blessing that I was finally able to give it to Lyle-sama in the end… Honey, I’ll be off to you soon.”
After a single deep breath, a peaceful smile broke out on the old man.
Having left the mansion and arrived at the city that was built around it, I talked with a peddler along the walls that surrounded it.
Noon had passed, and if I was able to hitch a ride on a travelling cart, I would be able to get to another town to rest.
“To a rest town? That’s fine by me, but we’ll be arriving at night, and there’s no telling if there’ll be rooms open, you know. I have some connections to get me a place, but this time of year’s going to be quite crowded.”
The peddler indicates his disapproval, but to me, this was a land I wanted to depart from as soon as possible.
“That doesn’t matter to me. Can you give me a ride?”
“I don’t care either way, but can you fight? If you can’t then since you’re going to be using my cart, I’m going to be charging.”
On the merchant’s question, I created some flame in the palm of my hand.
I had lost my sabre, but I can still use magic. With this, I’ve proven I’m at least strong enough to fend for myself.
“How surprising. If you’re a magician, does that make you a noble? No, looking at your attire… Oh my, that’s an unnecessary inquisition on my part. Understood. If you’re going to put my cart as a priority, and guard it carefully, I won’t charge a fee. No, more so, based on what happened, I may even end up paying out.”
The middle-aged man displayed the palm of his hand, indicating his acceptance of me riding along.
“Thank you. It’s about after the rest town, but…”
There, a voice rose up to break me and the peddler’s conversation.
As I turned around, I saw an individual I knew relatively well standing there.
“U—um, please take me as well!”
A girl with her side ponytail as her defining characteristic.
The girl hanging her head in embarrassment’s name was【Novem Forxuz】
(TL: I, in all honesty, don’t know how to romanize フォクスズ to make it actually look plausible.)
A girl of a Baron’s family.
Also, I’ll tack a ‘former’ onto it, but she was the girl who was once my fiancee.