The Lifeform Known as a Feudal Lord.
『I was an only child.』
Within a gloomy atmosphere, the Fifth started talking.
Within the Jewel, everyone from the Second up was sitting around, and listening to him. Only the Fourth was acting awkward, as he incessantly pushed his glasses up and down.
『Not happenin’. That ain’t happenin’.』
He looked towards the Fourth with quite a stiff face.
The Third spoke.
『I was the second child, but brother died, so I became the heir. I think I explained that, right?』
All of us directed our eyes at the Fourth.
Unable to bear it, he finally opened his mouth.
『M-my wife was still quite young. See, when we were first introduced, she was still in her early teens. Even when I was in my thirties… our ages were separate enough for us to be parent and child.』
As he moved to make an excuse, the Sixth responded.
The Seventh too.
The group that didn’t care about such age differences continued to pressure him.
The Second was more concerned about the fact that his eldest son had died.
『And wait, before thinking about raising the Fifth safely, shouldn’t you have considered the possibility of his death? It’s not rare for our like to fall in skirmishes and other petty squabbles of the like.』
The Fourth raised a powerless voice.
『No, I am repenting it, but after the Third fell, his majesty, you see, he kinda called out to me and…』
According to the Fourth’s explanation, the family began to receive preferential treatment on various fronts due to the Third’s achievements. No one would think of directly opposing the family the crown felt a sense of debt to.
And during the Fourth’s time, they were able to use those merits to rise to Baron status.
The Third threw down his life for the crown, and contributed to his victory, so the Walt House began to receive the treatment of a sort of direct vassal to the throne of Bahnseim.
The Seventh spoke.
『The Third died young, so there’s no helping the fact the Fourth didn’t have any siblings. But the Fifth being an only child means…』
IT wasn’t just for diplomacy through marriage, but if they wanted to build up favorable relations, it would be best to have a brother, or sister, or two. If there was a branch family there to support the Walt House that had suddenly expanded in scope, the Fifth’s position may have been firmer cemented.
“It’s that, I see. He was called the manwhore of the family, but it was actually for the House’s sake.”
As I said that, the Fifth nodded.
『That’s right. Even I only wanted to have a single wife. It sounded easier. And also… do you think I could love all my children equally when I had numbers surpassing thirty? There were some sons I sent out to harsh environments. There was even a daughter I sent in place of a hostage.』
The Fourth’s time was nice.
The royal family looked out for him, and I’ve heard that the king was the one who found a bride for him.
But once that ruler stepped down, it seems the timespan before the Fourth retired was terrible.
『I can’t trust any one of them. All of the nobles around kept trying to pick fights. There were even times they impersonated bandits to raze my villages.』
A blue vein popped up on the Second’s forehead.
『You did get back at them, right? You didn’t leave them looking down on you, right?』
There, the Sixth spoke.
『During my era, we somehow able to put the surrounding powers on the defensive, and we were able to begin our offense,.』
The Fifth’s time…
No, in the time from Third to Fourth, it seems there were few reliable retainers to be found. During that time, the Forxuz House didn’t betray, and remained loyal… did they not have ambition?
The Fourth’s excuse…
『No, look… from my side, I couldn’t find a wife because of those strange precepts.』
As their status had only just risen, the Walt House would have to have taken in the daughter of one of the same rank, or one higher.
But when the Fourth stepped down, the surrounding Viscount Houses had built some distance from them.
『If I had any siblings, it would have turned out differently.』
As the Fifth stared at him intently, the Fourth shut his mouth.
The Third spoke.
『That shouldn’t be. She was still able to give birth, right? And wait, what about the possibility of a mistress? You were a Baron House, right? How about welcoming in an illegitimate from the surrounding houses as a second wife? You had plenty of options, didn’t you?』
『No~ my wife was a bit of a crybaby, and…』
『Don’t screw with me, you bastard!!』
AS the Fifth jumped at the Fourth, no one moved to stop him. More so, they seemed to think it natural for him to be hit.
I did have knowledge of these sorts of matters, to an extent. In truth, when the adequate age came, it wasn’t strange to be arbitrarily married off, or something of the sort.
I didn’t have time for that, so I never really thought of marriage.
Just getting my parents to turn my way… that’s all that was on my mind.
The Second took charge of the situation.
『Let’s put the man punching his father aside, and just leave it as we successfully made connections with the surrounding area. We married them into our family, or sent off brides and grooms to them… Since our lineage was a good one, I doubt they had any complaints.』
The fact that they were getting well-disciplined children of good lineage was probably a good thing for the other side as well. It’s not like there’s no problem about it, but for the Walt House that hadn’t an ally to be found around it, it was a firm way to stabilize itself.
The Sixth spoke.
『They were all of reliable lineage. The problem’s was the inclination the house started to take. When he crushed other opposing houses, he would gather women who had no crimes themselves. He’d investigate, and call them over… no matter how much money we had, it wasn’t enough.』
It seems he expended quite a sum of money, but the Fourth’s stock was able withstand that. Just how much did he save up, anyways?
Out of breath, the Fifth took his seat again. The Fourth corrected his glasses before sitting as well. His clothes were torn up, but he didn’t seem to be injured.
(Well, it’s not like they’re living flesh or anything.)
Inside the Jewel… I’m in a state where I’ve brought nothing but my consciousness into here.
And the ancestors were nothing more than memories. Their memories retained their hearts, or so the premise seems to be.
(Just how was a gem like this made?)
If it was just going to record Skills, then a method like this would be unnecessary. To me, hearing them talking all at once isn’t really a problem, but a normal person would probably have gone insane by now.
I was on the verge a couple of times. But how many years has it been since I’ve found embarrassment from being teased by my relatives?
『I had no affection for any of them. Birth my children. That’s all I wish for, I proclaimed.』
With a mournful tone, the Fifth said that.
I thought he was nothing but a cold person, but it seems he did think back on it.
『My first son frickin’ went out to become a delinquent, and the fights among siblings just wouldn’t come to an end, and… the only thing I had to sooth me was my pets.』
“Um, I think the Fifth just broke.”
I remember the events that transpired in Dalien.
There was a monster with the form of a rabbit.
Every time I took one down, he screamed out to stop me. While I was thinking of how strange his tastes were, the Sixth shouted out over being labelled a delinquent.
『If you’ve got over thirty younger brothers and sisters, of course, you’d race out towards delinquency! What’s more, you doted on your pets more than you children… did you know, Lyle?』
“What is it?”
『The Fifth was feeding a young divine beast called a Qilin.』
The Fifth responded.
『Oy, don’t call it feeding, or something low like that. That one was my family!』
The Third spoke.
『Why not treasure your original family first?』
I put my hand to my chin, and tried to remember.
Qilin… a horned, scaled horse-like creature. They’re also called dragon mares, but to differentiate them from monsters, they were often classified as divine beasts.
Before Magic Tools made their appearances, divine beasts were the aspiration of nobles. Qilins, fabled to even be able to run across the sky were said to make an entire clan prosper for generations to come if you owned one.
There are even knights who’ve dueled over the ownership’s of them.
For the Fifth to have had one…
“Huh? But if it was a young one, then isn’t it strange that I didn’t see it at the mansion? Divine beasts are blessed with longevity, or so I’ve read.”
A hundred years or two was normal for them. The one who was feeding… no, raising that beast, the Fifth, smiled.
『It’s because it was injured… after treating it, and getting its strength back, I naturally returned it back to nature. Its comrades from its herd came to reclaim it… that one, at the end, it gazed so regretfully at me… even when I urged it to go out already, it kept looking this way.』
Upon seeing the Fifth break out into tears, everyone present drew back.
The Sixth shouted out.
『Can you even understand my feelings!? Everyone suddenly placed expectations on me when my old man got himself a Qilin, and you went off and returned it to nature… how do you think I felt when I heard that!? You could have presented it to the royals! Just keeping it around would be enough.』
Having such a rare animal would have been beneficial for the Walt House’s sake…
I also drew back at the Sixth’s words.
The Fourth looked at the Fifth as he spoke.
『Oy, you… you’re the worst.』
『As if you should be the one to say that!!』
『And that’s your fault, isn’t it!!』
Seeing the Fourth and Sixth shout at one another, I whispered to the Seventh seated beside me.
“So, who exactly is at fault here?”
『… I don’t really want to say it, but it’s the responsibility of the late Third Generation. It’s because of that man that the Walt left their names in history, but at the same time, their sudden rise in status increased the scope of the House’s authority just as suddenly. Well, if you’re asking who was in the wrong… pretty much everyone.』
Problems left by the parents were solved by the children.
That’s what these heads of history put to practice.
Looking at them made some sorrowful feelings surface, but at the same time…
“It’s that. Every era has its problems.”
『Right. There were quite a few in my time, you know… You may have it easy, but the Walt House is right in the center of a mountain of problems right now.』
Hearing that from the Seventh, I tilted my heads, and wondered whether that was true.
As I failed to comprehend it, the Second spoke to me with a fed up expression.
『Lyle, you may have been driven out of the house, but the Walt House currently has a ticking timebomb in its midst known as Celes… isn’t that a huge problem?』
I was satisfied with that answer. I guess there is a number of things I’m not seeing as well.
(… But isn’t it fine to leave Celes as is? I mean, I’m leaving the country, and all.)
Am I being much too naïve?
Having challenged Arumsaas’ labyrinth, I took along Aria, Novem and Clara.
This expedition was just to check how far the four of us could go alone. We came with the intention of spending three days, and two nights.
“Lyle-san, there is a party of adventurers trailing us from behind.”
As I strained my ears, just as Clara said, I heard the sound of footsteps from behind.
“Perhaps they’re under the assumption we are taking the shortest route? I mean, we did make it all the way to the fortieth floor and back in a week. It isn’t strange for them to think we have a Skill like that on us.”
It isn’t the best of feelings.
Trailing us from behind was, in the first place, a breach of manners.
Even if we ask the perpetrators, they’ll likely something like they were coincidentally choosing the same path at us. Their excuse was so clear, I could already see it.
Also, if they followed behind us, they would be able to avoid battle.
It’s a form of harassment within the labyrinth.
Aria opened her mouth.
“What should we do? We’re trying to see how far we can get with the four of us, right? Should we convey the message that we’re not using Skills?”
Clara shook her head.
“It’s best not to get involved with adventurers who know full well they’re not following the proper conduct. In the worst case, they might attacking us.”
Within the labyrinth, adventurers could kill one another.
It was a common story. They lie in wait for those that were returning after slaying hordes of monsters, and snatch their earnings off of them. Those sorts of people definitely existed.
Of course, adventurers who dived really deep in…
Had a high likelihood of meeting them on the way back up.
As I kept watch of behind, Novem raised her voice.
“Lyle-sama, footsteps from the front.”
I immediately reached for the mace at my hips as I looked ahead. Clara was lighting the way, but all I saw was a few monsters moving ahead.
I can’t clearly determine their numbers, but more than that, I couldn’t even confirm what sort of enemy they were.
(Just without Skills, I become this anxious, I see.)
What magic will Novem prepare? Will I have Aria go out front, or will we whittle them down, and leave the finish to her?
Even if I had to make an instantaneous decision, if the enemies didn’t approach any closer, I wouldn’t be able to decide.
Based on what I could see of them, I issued orders.
“Novem, knock them off their feet with wind. Once she’s used that, Aria, go up front! Clara, stay on standby.”
I gave out the orders, but the party’s movements seemed dull. The amount of luggage on each individual was high. The amount Clara could carry herself was limited. At the same time, collecting monster materials and magic stones was her job.
We can’t have her fully loaded from the start.
“W-wait a second!”
Aria immediately rushed forward.
“What are you doing!?”
As I said that, I put a halt to the magic gathering in Novem’s hand. I had her stand as Clara’s guard, as I rushed out front with Aria.
While she swung her spear, she offered an excuse.
“Last time we were fighting this same opponent, you had me rush out front, didn’t you!?”
“That’s because we noticed them too late last time! Right now, we had time for Novem to prepare her magic, don’t we?”
My panic made my tone stronger than intended, and Aria’s movements slowed.
As it felt as if I had been shouting at her, she shrunk back. I didn’t have the time to tell her I wasn’t actually angry, so I went to face the enemies up front.
If it’s just fighting, I don’t have a problem, but if I have to do it while giving orders, it’s completely different.
(So there’s this much of a difference between setting up preparations beforehand, and making decisions in battle…)
Because I had become too used to it, the lack of Skills felt like quite an inconvenience.
The enemy before my eyes held a shield and axe that looked like they were fashioned out of metallic boards torn off the walls.
They were goblin, but they wore metal headpieces, so it was a pain to go against them.
I hit one with my after-Growth power, the goblin, shield and all, was sent flying deep into the passageway. But I don’t think that finished it.
(If it’s like this, even my Sabre would have been the better option! But it would have been a weight on our baggage, so I didn’t bring it… Aarrrgggh! Dammit!)
I withheld my urge to shout out, and swung my mace, only to have it collide with the tip of Aria’s lowering spear.
“What are you doing!”
“That one wasn’t my fault!”
Aria shouted back, but I get the feeling that her voice was shaking.
(This is no good. We’ve lost our composure.)
Just how much of a blessing were those Skills to me… the current me felt that every time I entered into battle.
Having shaken off the party tailing us, and found a room to take a break in, we sat in awkward positions.
I get the feeling she had been much closer before, but Aria took quite a bit of distance.
As I was observing her behavior, Clara called out to me.
In this room that was being dimly lit by a lantern, Novem was busy keeping watch. Perhaps tired, Aria closed her eyes as she sat.
“That previous battle was quite bad.”
“… I didn’t have any composure. This may sound like an excuse, but I think my thoughts were on the right track.”
“No, I don’t mean it like that. Your party’s coordination is one thing, but it’s mainly a problem of human relations.”
As Clara said that, I tilted my head.
“Was there a problem? I made sure to apologize to Aria after that, and it’s not like…”
Nothing happened following the battle. As I was about to say that, Clara stared at me with more focused eyes than usual.
“You don’t get it?”
“… I don’t get it.”
I wanted to offer some response, but I truly didn’t get it, so I wanted to hear whatever it was from her. She looked over at Novem.
“This is basically a party with Lyle-san as the leader.”
“Yes, it was like that from the start.”
She took off her glasses, and started wiping the dirt off of them. She began explaining.
“For a party’s leader, there are various types. There’s the type that issues orders from the back. There’s the one that cuts the path open up front. There’s the one that adapts to the situation in the center of it all. Lyle, you’re the center type. You can accomplish any role, and you’re a leader that would be able to perform well wherever you went.”
Seeing me get a little embarrassed at her words, Clara went on disinterestedly.
“… Do you understand that you could take up the front line better than Aria-san? Aria-san is amazing. In just two more years… no, even in one, I think she’ll grow quite a bit if she continues to experience many things. Her movements in the labyrinth have already become much better.”
She added on a ‘but’ as she put her glasses back on, and stared at me with a serious expression.
“The fact that Lyle-san and Novem-san are so close to her has made her develop an inferiority complex. It’s quite serious. She makes mistakes even when she has no such intentions, and you or Novem-san have to follow up for her. It’s quite natural for her to wonder whether or not she’s really needed.”
“No, but that’s…”
“If you don’t stay in the center of this party, it will dissolve. The female members don’t really get along.”
Hearing that, I shook my head.
“That isn’t the case. I mean, there’s never been a fight at the mansion.”
Clara seemed to have said that with conviction. She started talking about the parties she had seen before.
“The party I had helped before was one of people who said what they wanted. There coordination was bad in some places. How about me? How about we try a different pattern next time… I brought up such a conversation during a break. When I met them outside, they were fighting as well. But they were seriously taking on their work.”
Hearing her, I quieted down.
A party centered around me… that truly was the case. But it was also a party that wouldn’t function in my absence.
Because of the Skills, those sides had stayed concealed. When I wasn’t fulfilling the role of the perfect commander, the party’s function ceased.
(So the ancestors’ Skills were even impeding Aria’s growth.)
Comrades who don’t decide on their own.
From a state where all they had to do was listen to my command, having to make split second decisions on her own probably threw the girl into confusion.
I had forgotten how adaptable Novem was.
“Lyle-san, how about you have a chat between comrades first? What you can do, what you’re insufficient in… it’s important to see those from other peoples’ eyes as well.”
I get the feeling I had learned something valuable from Clara.
Remembering the ancestors from last time, I thought I wanted someone to say something like that.