TL: For those mathematically challenged, Lyle’s technically the ninth generation. The first section (First Generation on the ToC) is about Lyle figuring out what he wants to do in life.
Former Fiancée Novem
I turn my eyes to the girl sitting across from me on the cart.
As I glanced at her, I saw her look at me too. Our eyes met, and both of us turned away.
“Hahaha, ah, such innocence.”
The middle aged peddler laughed as he looked over at us.
Her name was【Novem Forxuz】.
Her hair was done in a side ponytail, and it suited her long light-brown hair quite well. I’ll bet there’s some provisions for travel inside of her leather, rectangular bag.
Perhaps she chose something easy to move in, but she wasn’t in a dress, as I usually saw her.
She was wearing thick-soled boots, and she looks like a taller older sister of her usual self. Her reserved expression showed signs of tension for the first time today.
I ask in a voice low enough so that the peddler wouldn’t be able to make it out.
“How did you know? Also, trying to follow me; are you sane?”
“… Am I a bother?”
The girl giving a troubled expression was from a Baron’s house.
Naturally, with me being of Count Status, the arranged marriage wouldn’t work out status-wise. But the Forxuz House was one that had served the Walt House for many generations.
The marriage for the girl that held that title, when proposed to my parents, was accepted when I was thirteen because it was a pain for them to deal with.
Ordinarily, it’s the house of higher status that brings up such talks, or at the very least, they study the house that proposed it.
“Wrong. I was kicked out, you know. Following someone like me is something only a fool would do.”
Following someone who lost everything will be of no profit to either her, or the Forxuz House.
For a proper noble, the best interest of one’s house should be one’s priority. There are those who aren’t normal like that, but those ones are the minority.
And I couldn’t think of Novem as one of that minority.
Since our ages were close, we often saw one another.
I also have some memories of us playing together.
But from the point where my parents started neglecting me, I don’t remember us ever talking much. It’s because to earn my parents’ praise, I desperately immersed myself in nothing but training and studies.
“Yes, it is a bother. And here I thought I would be living a lone and free lifestyle from here on.”
If I say something harsh to her, she may turn back. Thinking that, I voiced something that wasn’t on my mind.
Novem was never a romantic dreaming girl, and even if you compare her to the Walt Family’s precepts, she was definitely a passing bridal candidate.
“… I deeply apologize. But I have decided to marry Lyle-sama.”
To the girl giving a smile, I delivered some crucial information.
“I have no such will. I’ll become an adventurer, and live a willful life being waited on by women. Being driven away by my family actually makes me feel relieved.”
The worst sermon. With this, Novem should be tired of me.
As I thought that, I looked down. I didn’t want to see Novem’s scornful face, but as I decided that wouldn’t advance the conversation, I looked up at her again.
“Don’t worry, it’s something I arbitrarily decided for myself. Even if we don’t marry, please allow me to serve by your side.”
I put my face in my hands.
“What about House Forxus? You’ll make your parents sad.”
As I brought up her own home, Novem offered a response full of self-confidence.
“Don’t worry about that part. I’m the second daughter, and my brother is the one succeeding the house. I even have an elder and younger sister, so my parents sent me off saying that it would somehow work out if I alone was freed of obligations.”
(The hell’s wrong with you, Mother and Father Forxuz!?)
My head was starting to hurt.
Even if you call her a side-liner, Novem’s still got decent looks. To add onto that, she was strictly disciplined, and quite refined. Even if she doesn’t say anything, I’ll bet there were marriage proposals to her.
It’s possible she could have even gotten married off to a Viscount’s family.
Having finally gotten the happiness she wanted, it’s a waste if she were to render it futile for my sake.
Simply because I had known her from my childhood, I wanted her to be happy. But the individual’s own will was quite rigid.
(Come to think of it, she had those stubborn parts back when she was small too.)
“… Just do whatever you want.”
AS I turned my face away, Novem put her hand to her mouth, and smiled.
“Then I’ll do just that.”
As if he had heard our voices, the merchant spoke up.
“It sure is nice to be young. That alone is a fortune, you know.”
It sounds like he heard all that quite clearly.
My face turns red from embarrassment. But at that time, I heard a voice.
『Oy, oy, you’re quite loved, ain’t ‘ya, kid.』
I heard a voice with a teasing tone. I looked around.
On top of the cart, there was only me and Novem. The Peddler was holding the reigns upfront. Around our wagon, there were similar travelers and merchants out searching for work, but they weren’t at a distance where a voice would reach.
“Novem, did you hear anything? A voice that seemed to be trying to tease?”
On my question, she shook her head.
“I-I apologize… I didn’t hear it.”
As she apologetically lowers her head to me, I tell her not to mind it, as I survey the area once more.
The voice sounded male, and it was quite a firm one at that. But while I can see some males here and there, there’s not at a distance where it would be that clear.
What’s more, I had the impression that the voice had come from somewhere much closer.
(A hallucination? Am I still tired? … Come to think of it, I’ve ben finding it hard to get over fatigue lately. Is it because my wounds aren’t fully recovered?)
I recall that it seemed vaguely familiar as I look up. As I traced the roof of cloth the peddler had put up with my eyes, I shut them.
As long as I’m the only one who heard it, then it may just be that I’ve been mentally pressed.
“Are you alright, Lyle-sama?”
As Novem sounded worried, I opened my mouth. As I was about to tell her I was fine, I heard another voice from close-by.
I could hear it quite crisply, but Novem didn’t appear bothered by it.
『For him to have someone like that at his age… I can’t be anything but jealous.』
『You sure went through a lot, father.』
From a sitting position, I raised myself, and looked around. Novem looked shocked.
“What’s wrong, Lyle-sama!?”
But the surroundings hadn’t changed in the slightest.
“… It’s nothing.”
As I said that, I thought.
“Hmm? Am I really that tired? … I guess I’ll sleep for now.”
After arriving at the rest town, we consulted with the peddler, and got him to agree to let us accompany him tomorrow as well.
Perhaps it was a seasonal occurrence, but the town was quite lively.
After confirming the peddler’s departure time, me and Novem went off inn-hunting.
But there, a problem emerged.
“There’s only one room? Two are impossible?”
After the inn’s owner confirmed the fact, he immediately told us it was impossible.
“There are too many people this time of year, so we can’t be putting a single person to a room. I’m sorry, but if you’re acquaintances, can you both put up with sharing a room?”
I turn to Novem.
She had chosen to follow me, but being in the same lodging as her was something I wanted to avoid.
As I was taught as such, I was bewildered on how to deal with the man.
But Novem simply told him it didn’t matter either way, and paid for it. She handed him some copper coins in exchange for the key.
Before I could ask her if that was alright, the inn’s owner spoke.
“The room is on the far side of the second floor. The room number is on the paper attached to the key. Oh, right, breakfast and hot water’s free, but we don’t do dinners, so you should probably find somewhere to eat before you leave your luggage.”
I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘before you leave your luggage.’
(If there’s a key, then wouldn’t it be better to just leave it? I’m a separate matter, but Novem’s carrying a travelling bag.)
She was carrying some heavy baggage, but I thanked the owner anyways.
“Thank you. What should we do about the key?”
“You’ve already paid me, and I’m not going to play oblivious about it later. I’ll hold onto it, so take this note with you. If you give it to whoever’s here, they’ll hand over the key.”
I had some questions as to why we needed to carry out this exchange, but Novem dragged me out.
We exited the inn, and got to looking for food at a nearby place that I couldn’t whether it was a bar or restaurant.
There were many people on the roads, and it really was a noisy town…
『… Wait a second, isn’t this kid really too wet behind the ears? He’s way too oblivious to how this world works.』
『It’s because he’s a Count! It’s because Lyle’s going to be a Count in the future! 』
『Well, it’s true that he’s been rich from the moment he was born. He’s a tried and true pampered brat.』
Within the clamor of the crown, I heard a clear voice again. It definitely sounded close, and my name was even brought up.
“Are you alright, Lyle-sama? Your complexion is a little pale.”
My impatient voice came out quite loud. It sounds like Novem didn’t hear anything. The voices started coming again.
『And wait a god damn moment… go take the girl’s bag’s already. You’re pretty much empty-handed, kid. You truly are inconsiderate.』
『Count, was it? I guess the child of something like that turns out like this. He’s on the side that’s used to getting taken care of.』
“… What did you say?”
I heard it again. And it’s coming from really close to me. What’s more, each and every voice is different. There are multiple of them.
In order to not trouble Novem, who looked worried, I opted to ignore them. But it really is wrong for the girl to be carrying along a heavy bag while I don’t have anything.
“Y-yeah… Novem, isn’t that heavy? I’ll carry it.”
Saying that, I took her bag. While she insisted that she would carry it, I took it slightly forcefully as we entered the restaurant.
But then they came again.
『He should’ve taken her hand, and escorted her.』
When we entered the place, I heard a voice like that. An image of me offering my hand to her flashed across my mind for an instant.
(No, wait, we’re already in the store… giving her my hand now holds no meaning.)
As I was lost in thought with my hand extended, I was left in a flustered state in front of her.
As if she sensed that, Novem took my hand.
“Lyle-sama, that seat looks open, so can I trust you to guide me there?”
“Ah, eh… y-yeah.”
As I escorted her the short distance, Novem offered a final thanks.
“Much appreciated, Lyle-sama. Um… ah, excuse me.”
Saying that, Novem went and called over the waiter to order without hesitation. She asked what was recommended from the menu, and ordered two portions.
She pointed to some things, and asked whether they were fine with me, and I merely affirmed without any idea of what I was going to be served. There, I heard the voices again.
『Hey, isn’t this guy a bit of a wimp?』
『It’s because he’s oblivious about the world. Well, he does have some unreliable spots too.』
『Here, it’s fine because the girl’s being considerate, but a normal one’d dump him, right?』
As my evaluation was steadily dropping, I thought to myself.
(Just what is it with this situation!?)
After returning to the inn, I accepted the hot water the owner had prepared for us.
Apparently, I was to wipe my body with the hot water in the bucket.
“There’s no bath?”
Novem answered my question.
“Even in this rest town, there are some places that offer it based on price, but it’s standard to simply wipe down your body with hot water. Even in inns with baths, there are few with public ones for guests to use freely.”
“Really? I heard in town that there were some private rooms with baths, though…”
Novem had a troubled face as she dipped the towel in the bucket, and wrung it out. She had me take off my clothes, and started wiping me down.
“Inns that have private baths are ridiculously expensive. They’re at a level where they charge silver coins per night.”
“I have some silver, though. Novem, are you sure you’re alright without a bath?”
As I said that, she cautioned me.
“That’s no good, Lyle-sama! From now on, money is going to be scarce. If you don’t economize when you have the chance, it’ll run out before you know it.”
As she scolded me, she finished washing my back, and moved to my hair. After lifting the bucket over my head, Novem gently poured it over me.
I heard a fed-up voice.
『Oy, spoiled brat, when your body’s clean, leave the room at once.』
“What’s wrong, Lyle-sama?”
I heard a threatening voice, so I started looking around at once. As my hair was wet, water flew around.
『It’s no good, this kid… he doesn’t notice it at all.』
『I don’t think there’s too much of a problem, though.』
I reassured a worried Novem that nothing was wrongas I waited for my hair to be washed, and put on my clothes after.
I wanted to change them, but I was unable to replace anything but my undergarments.
“Then I’ll be using it next, alright? Umm…”
She seemed to want to say something.
“Y-yeah. I’ll be leaving then. I’m just outside the door if you need me (Why do I have to get out?)”
“I deeply apologize.”
Saying that, I left the room, and found a chair in the corridor. As I sat on the creaking wood, I didn’t hear anyone talking to me.
“Is it really a hallucination? And wait, today’s already…”
As I was sitting, my eyelids began to feel heavy. Like that, I closed my eyes. Perhaps because my body had been cleaned, I felt relieved.
『Wake up, ‘ya bastard!』
I heard an angry voice, and when I opened my eyes, I was in a different place than before.
“Eh, w… what?”
What’s more, there were people around me. A large, circular table extended before me, and seven other individuals were seated around it…
Each of them held a different shape, and they were all faces I had some recollection of. Where did I see them? As I thought that, I noticed a man wearing beast skins as a vest.
His arms were thick like a log, and his hair was unkempt. Around him were men that seemed to be of better upbringing. All of them ranged from their late twenties to early thirties in appearance.
I turned my attention to the savage tribesman-like man before me.
“Hmm? Could it be that voice was…”
『That’s right, that was us.』
Among them, there was a man I had a clear recollection of. Unlike in my memory, he was quite young. However, his atmosphere hadn’t changed.
There, was the youthened form of my grandfather. His spine was straighter, and his body was much more firm than I remembered.
『You’ve grown this big… I’m happy for you, Lyle.』
His atmosphere was still that of a welcoming grandparent. The other individuals lined up seemed resentful, or uninterested, or just fed up.
As they looked at me, it seems they each had their own evaluations.
My grandfather spoke up.
『Do you guys have any complaints to voice against my grandson!?』
The one to return an answer was the savage-styled man.
『Of course I do! What’s with this frail pansy!? There’s no way in hell my bloodline would produce a man as wimpy as this!』
I couldn’t grasp the situation. And since my grandfather’s here, couldn’t this be a dream? As I thought that, a different one let out their voice.
『No, isn’t it fine like this? And wait, More importantly, there’s something I’d like to ask. Um~ Lyle, was it? I’m your great grandfather.』
The red haired, and slightly wild-looking man had a tidy appearance. But his clothing was slightly worn down.
I remembered the portraits inside my own home. Those picture of each preceding generation of family heads were stuck up around the manor. A few of them gave off quite a different impression, but most of them were reminiscent of them.
The irritated savage spoke up.
『You sure are slow on the uptake! Li~sten~ here~. We’re yo’ goddamn ancestors!』
Sitting next to him, a man in hunter-esque clothing softly mumbled.
『You may not want to accept it, but this one’s the provincial nobleman, the founder of the Walt House. Ah, you don’t really have to respect him or anything.』
I’ll bet that I’m currently making a quite a pathetic face right now.