The first night after arriving at the imperial capital.
I absentmindedly sat on the frame of the window, and stared outside.
The moon was pretty, and I just wanted to stare at it.
The Third called out to me.
『You seem to be quite lost in that. Was parting really that painful?』
I hung my head, and smiled a little.
Looking into the room, Novem and Aria were sleeping in the same bed. We did consider booking two rooms, but there wasn’t anywhere with such vacancies.
If we had one more person, we probably would have been allowed to book two rooms for two each.
“Yes, it sure is painful. I mean, he left just after he acknowledged me.”
As I said that, the Third abandoned his teasing tone.
『As long as you remember him, the First will be delighted. More importantly, it looks like you’ve become just a little more decent of a man as of late.』
“Just a little, is it?”
As always, his evaluations are harsh. I smiled.
It’s just that in my inner most thoughts, I did agree with him. Of all things, his evaluation of me was likely higher than my own.
『Right, just a little. But you definitely are maturing. The First’s actions weren’t a waste. Be relieved.』
Meaning the ancestors wouldn’t forgive it if I continued to be indecisive after the First left.
“… Even now, I have no idea what it is I should aim for. I mean, Aria was left to me, and I plan to look out for her one way or another. We’ll surely part someday, but I’ll make sure she can stand on her own feet before that.”
『Oh? Were you not opposed to Novem’s harem plan? Even when it was something you should have been overjoyed with as a man… well, it’s not like I don’t get where you’re coming from.』
Truly, if you’re a man, then dreaming of harems is natural.
But if you asked me if I really want one, the answer is vague.
I’m suspicious of whether or not I can even bring happiness to Novem alone.
She had sold all the furnishings prepared for her wedding to raise funds for me.
When will I ever be able to repay such a debt?
“For now, we’ll just see the world as adventurers. And while we’re doing that, the answer may come up… There are just too many things I know nothing about.”
As I said that, the Third agreed.
『Humans have nothing but unknowns. Even if they act like they know everything, that’s surely a lie. That’s why there’s no way but to spend your whole life learning it. There’s plenty of wisdom you won’t find in a book, and I agree with your opinion, Lyle.』
“Thank you, Third Generation.”
There, the Third cautioned me.
『Whoops, looks like we talked too much. The princess is waking up, so let’s bring the conversation to a close here.』
The Third closed his mouth, and Aria woke up.
She raised the upper half of her body, and the the red gem dangling from her neck looked as if it were letting off light.
She called out.
“… You were still awake?”
She looked quite sleepy, but her form was also quite defenseless. She rubbed her eyes, and looked in my direction.
While thinking it would be nice if she looked at me as more of a man, I looked back, and saw there was no helping it given the person I was anyways.
She left the bed, and drew near me.
And she turned to the pendant on my neck.
“You have a number of Skills too, right? As I thought, is that an heirloom of sorts?”
As she stared at my blue Jewel, I nodded.
Rather than concealing it, it looks like she thought that it was hard for me to use them due to my frail constitution. Even if I had a blue gem hanging from my neck, she didn’t think I could make use of it.
“… It’s something that’s been passed down through the heads of the Walt House. A precious heirloom.”
She lowered herself into a nearby chair, and touched her own red gem.
“I see. Even when I also have one, it’s complicated to use… They were apparently all the rage in the past, but now that the technology to make them has been lost, they’ve fallen out of production. But since they’re heavily unbalanced, they’re not too sought after.”
Magic Tools made their appearance, and the gems that had been used up to that point were soon abandoned.
It was because there was no choice on the Skills in a gem.
It was looked on as merely a device to record the Skills that manifested in people.
I’m not sure if she’s in a good mood or something, but Aria was talking a lot today.
“I just remembered something. You see, this red gem that’s been passed through the Lockwarde family women, it actually has quite an interesting story behind it.”
As I showed some interest, she began to talk.
It started with a single woman, who married into the House.
“When gems first started spreading, there were only ones without anything recorded on them.”
The First learned that later, and I remembered him regretting it.
When you look back at the Walt House’s start, it’s just a funny story at this point.
“And my ancestor that married in, you see, she brought it with her. But the Lockwarde House already had one. So they didn’t know why she brought one herself.”
When that woman came in with her red gem, the Lockwarde House already had a gem in their possession.
Since using multiple ones at once would cause problems, the gem stayed with that woman.
“And so, that ancestor made it so that the gem was to be passed down to the Lockwarde Family women. Along with her own story of failure.”
“And that’s interesting?”
“Rather than interesting, perhaps a little tragic? Before she married, it seems my ancestor had a person she liked. For that person’s sake, she paid a large sum, and bought the gem.”
Hearing up to that point, it looked like it would turn into a drama.
From the flow of the story, it sounded like her husband, and the person she liked were different people.
“This isn’t going to have a punchline, is it?”
As I said that, Aria told me to wait for the end.
“You see, that ancestor was quite bad with words, and she couldn’t convey her feelings to that man. What’s more, they had never even talked once! She would just occasionally see him from afar, and she was satisfied with that. Don’t you think that’s foolish?”
On that, I wasn’t really sure how to respond.
I do find it off that she never even called out to him, but I guess the First Generation was in a similar situation.
“… Well, it is a bit questionable.”
“Right! And so a few years passed without her being able to hand it over, talks of marriage came, and she wasn’t able to refuse. So all she brought with her was the red gem she bought for that man. Even when she heard that the man wanted a red gem, she was never even able to talk to him.”
A small question popped up in my head.
I was a little curious about the man that woman had fallen for.
“What sort of person was the man?”
“I don’t know the specifics, but it seems there were a lot of youths who rushed out to reclaim land. It seems that man headed a pioneering corps, and went far away from the capital. When my ancestor heard that, she bought this to at least be able to convey her feelings in the end, but she was never able to hand it over. She’s too hopeless, isn’t she?”
Could it be? I thought, so I decided to ask.
While there should be plenty of men out there who fit the description, I couldn’t stand by without confirming it.
“D-do you know that person’s name? Perhaps appearance!”
As I drew closer, Aria seemed surprised.
“Appearance is beyond me… if it’s his name, then…”
She probably never thought I would show this much interest. Aria seemed a little perplexed.
And with a gesture as if to try remembering, she voiced the name.
“I believe it was Ballze or 【Basil】 or something like that. He was the third son of a Knight House, and it was love across rank, it seems. I mean, it looks like my ancestor was the daughter of the baron at the time, and perhaps even if she called out to him, nothing would come of it. Her name was 【Alice】.”
It looks like her feelings did go through.
I found myself unsure of what to say.
If only one of them had called out… but if that happened, then neither me nor Aria would be born.
Having heard the story, the Ancestors let out their impressions.
The Second was blunt.
『They’re both idiots.』
The Third as well…
『How should I put this, perhaps it really was 『Fate』. He never had the opportunity to hear it to the end… how should I put this, if you ask if it’s fitting, I guess it is fitting of the First.』
The Fourth was a little regretful.
『While I do feel it’s a little sad, I’m a bit envious.』
The Fifth was cold.
『Well, it wasn’t fated to be. If it was, they’d have ended up together.』
『Even if love across status comes to fruition, whether that will bring happiness or not is…』
The Seventh was similar to the Sixth. But slightly different.
『It all depends on the circumstances. If that woman called Alice had many sisters, perhaps she would have been allowed to chase after the First on his journey. They had just gotten themselves out of an era of chaos, and it probably wasn’t a time so set in ranks as ours. If he was to become independent, then marrying wouldn’t have been too bad of an option.』
Imperial Nobles, unlike provincial Nobles, didn’t command too much military force.
They lived by receiving money from the palace.
I can’t say which is better, but in a position like that, it would be important for them to have connections with the provincial Nobles as well.
(So there really was a chance for them to be together… truly, perhaps my meeting with Aria really was fate, Founder.)
As I was thinking about such things, Aria called out.
“What’s wrong? Suddenly making such a sad face… while it may be sad, it’s a cautionary tale for the Lockwarde House’s women. Make sure you get your feelings across clearly, is the moral. But there’s also an official stance. Do that in order to be a warrior woman, they say. It’s just that, these sorts of womanly worries have an underside to them… isn’t it strange?”
“… Haha, the gap really is large.”
I thought it would have been better if only she brought it up earlier, but I realized that nothing could be done even if she did.
It’s something that already passed long ago.
Seeing me act differently than usual, she brought forth a question.
“Are you really alright? You’ve been acting a little strange for a while.”
“No, I was just thinking of how fate really exists.”
She was making a puzzled face, so I continued.
“You see, my family, the Walt House’s founder… his name was Basil Walt. In order to reach the side of the woman he liked, he went off to become a feudal lord.”
Hearing that, Aria opened her eyes wide.
“Eh, do you mean…”
“It looks like neither of them were able to call out. It’s just that, he gained himself some land, and was doing his best in preparation to confess to her.”
The story of a man who, for the sake of a single woman, joined a dangerous corps, and cut down the monster-infested forests.
“When he finally returned, the girl he loved had already been married, it seems. Her name was Alice-san.”
Having heard that, Aria looked like she was grasping for words.
And after a while, she opened her mouth.
“I wonder what it is. I’m simply not sure what it is I should say. But if fate really does exist somewhere out there, then perhaps the fact that we met is also some sort of destiny.”
As she said that with a bitter smile, I nodded.
“That would be nice.”
I removed my gaze from Aria, and looked up at the moon.
Looking at that round moon, I thought if only I could bring this story to the First Generation… and found my incessantly mulling self to be a little pitiful.
I shook off the feelings, and looked at nothing but the moon.
The words came out naturally.
“The moon sure is beautiful tonight.”
For some reason, Aria’s face was flushed a little.
The Fourth spoke.
『The bastard did it. He unconsciously did it!!』
The Fifth raised a questioning voice.
『What is it? You’re being loud. What’s so strange about the moon being beautiful?』
The Second was the same.
『Yes, today’s moon really is shining nicely.』
It seems that the Fourth was pissed off, looking at us.
『Why don’t any of you notice it! Lyle, you like books, right? Haven’t you ever read of something like this? Never!?』
While thinking he was being noisy, I said I was going to sleep, and headed for the bed.
(No, what’s so wrong about the moon being beautiful? I mean it is, isn’t it?)
But this time, Aria started gazing up at the moon.
(So she wanted to look at it to? No, I guess that’s fine… I’m going to sleep.)
“I’ll be off to sleep first. Good night.”
Without meeting my eyes, she muttered in a small voice.