In the back seat of a coupled carriage headed away from Centralle, I looked over the rows of empty seats, before turning my eyes to the shrinking city that had yet to lose its enthusiasm.
Drinks being tossed around left and right, the festival of Centralle wasn’t anywhere close to its conclusion.
Of course, this carriage was supposed to be fully booked.
But having been hit with the wave of high spirits washing over the capital, a large majority of them decided to extend their stays.
As a result, it was if our party had booked out the whole place.
Watching the walls surrounding the city, I clenched the Jewel.
He royalty of Faunbeux…
… Lianne had already taken her leave.
(We’ve been in her care. I hope she stays well.)
We were barely able to converse at the time of parting.
Because she had been much too sorrowful for that.
I heard the Thirds voice.
『Lyle, by the time you return, I’m sure…』
As I continued paying mind to nothing but the scenery behind us, Eva called out.
“… Just looking out at the imperial capital. I’m making an oath to myself to return someday.”
Saying that, I went and took my seat, and Eva sat beside me.
“Hm~ then I guess that’s fine… right! Before I join in on all this, let me hear the story. The tales of the supporting cast are important as well, and learning some more will let me put more emotion into my song!”
To her full-on grin, I directed some cynicism.
“It isn’t that interesting a tale.”
“Eh? Even when you only experienced your first Growth in Dalien, you kissed an Automaton to life in Arumsaas, and you swindled a noble out of his money in Centralle? Look, I already know that much, so what harm is there in telling me the rest?”
“Who spread all of that!?”
I put Eva and her smile aside, to look at the other members of my party seated around.
Monica waved her hand at me with a grin. Aria’s shoulders were shaking ever-so-slightly.
She’s laughing. She’s desperately trying to hold it in.
Novem looked a little apologetic, and Clara hid her face behind her book.
Miranda blew me a kiss, and Shannon was blatantly chuckling to herself.
“You guys are the worst! Why divulge that of all things!?”
On my words, Aria spoke.
“Don’t make such a fuss. Eva said something about having to know this and that if we were going to be comrades. See, some of your actions were so strong that it just kinda slipped.”
Don’t just play it off as slipping!
Eva was happily taking memos.
“Oy, this isn’t going to show up in the song, is it?”
“Eh? No, I haven’t the slightest. For now I’ll just see it through to the end, and it all depends on how I determine its importance. That being the case… how about you tell me the tale of Lyle known to no other. To me alone!”
With those final words, she grinned at Aria.
(Meaning, she’s pretty much threatening me to include all that in her song if I don’t talk…)
Everyone made irritated expressions all of a sudden, but Novem alone looked a little triumphant.
As my childhood friend of sorts, Novem knew more of my younger days.
“I’ll at least go this far. Now just say it already. Out. With. It!”
On her urging, I thought a little.
And if she was going to sing of it anyways, then…
“I’ll speak, but before that, you have to promise me something.”
“What? If it’s something like, ‘even if I tell you, you can’t sing about it,’ I refuse.”
I shook my head.
“It’s the opposite. There’s a story I’d like you to sing of.”
“A story I don’t know? I do consider myself the knowledgeable type, so if it’s one you know of, I think I might as well. Or could it be you’re requesting a composition?”
“The ancestors of the Walt House. You don’t know them, right?”
Confirming she really didn’t know, Eva nodded. But perhaps her interest wasn’t piqued, as she showed some clear disapproval.
“Those sorts of stories usually have lots of exaggerations tacked on. There are quite a few who ask for the stories of their predecessors turned to song. In order to make their houses look bigger.”
I gave a sincere smile, and spoke.
“Yep, I’ll bet. But it’s not like I’ll only be telling you the good stuff about them.”
Hearing that, Eva nodded.
“That so? Then tell it as it is. What sort of ancestors did you have?”
“There are seven of them, but let’s see… how about I go in order?”
And so I told the tale of our founder.
… Within the Jewel.
The Third was quite vexed.
『Now about the matter of Lyle turning our lives tales to song.』
The Fourth nonchalantly…
『Does it really matter?』
To a man who didn’t seem to understand, the Third yelled.
『Based on how Lyle feels, our stories will be set in history’s stone for years to pass! It’ll be the worst if something strange is tacked on! As if you can understand the feelings of a man who’s supposed to have died a man of valor!』
Holding his head in both hands, the Third flailed about. Those around looked at his with fed-up expressions.
Letting out a sigh, the Fourth spoke.
『Now then, how about we get some other opinions?』
They didn’t really mind that Lyle had chosen to fight Celes.
But his method of doing so was- as of yet- unclear.
The Fifth put some sound argumentation to mouth.
『And wait, if we don’t know the present situation, then saying we’ll make countermeasures is… like how other countries are faring, and their relations to Bahnseim, there’s quite a bit.』
『Well all they can do for now, is collect information, as they increase their capital and train themselves, I guess.』
The Seventh nodded.
『To go up against Celes herself, they’ll require an elite female force of those resistant to her influence.』
Gather soldiers to make an army.
Perhaps create a large mercenary organization, and use that to challenge Bahnseim.
With assassination, even if he won, Lyle would lose his chance to stand on the front stage.
『If there’s nothing to do for now but sharpen the few soldiers they have at present, then the problem to consider is just what sort of victory they’re aiming for.』
After winning, what did Lyle plan to do?
If played poorly, all that was left would be for him to be offed himself.
Of all else, Lyle was of the same Walt House as Celes.
The one who, of the five ancestors remaining, had come out with the highest standing, the Seventh, gave his forecast.
『First of all, whether Lyle will be standing at the head or not is essential. If he leads the charge and decides to retire afterwards, the country will divide into warring states, I’ll bet. If he plans to put someone up on the pedestal, they’ll have to be someone with enough charisma and ability to govern a large nation.』
How would Lyle go about it.
It was yet another factor that would affect it all.
『In the worst case scenario, even after victory, dissatisfaction towards the boy would grow, and that brings us to assassination…』
Displeased, the Fifth looked up at the ceiling, and spoke.
『But Hoisting up someone else is also a pain. There’s no guarantee they’ll never be charmed by Celes along the way. Even if they be of the same gender as her, do you think Behnseim would accept a queen after being put through hell by Celes?』
The Fourth brought it all together.
『For now, how about we get Lyle and co. enough ability to put up a fight. Well, as they are now, they won’t be able to get a stage to fight yet.』
There was a mountain load of problems.
But it was all based on Lyle’s decisions.
『We’ll have to train Lyle as well. If we just teach him nothing but our Skills as we’ve been doing up to now, I can’t think he’ll ever defeat Celes. Someone here will have to personally train his abilities.』
The Sixth nodded, and…
The Third suddenly cut into the conversation.
『The strongest one among us should be the one to do it. So…』
『That would be me.』
『I’ll bet it’s me.』
『You mean me?』
『Totally my turn.』
『Yep, that’s me.』
In an instant, silence engulfed the conference room, and everyone stood from their seats with smiles on their faces.
『Oy, oy, just how much do you think I’ve fought in my life? How many times do you think that incompetent wreck of a king sent me off to fight?』
Correcting the positioning of his glasses with a finger, the Fourth smiled.
『I’ll be troubled if you think my Skill is for nothing but movement. My apologies to all of you, but I don’t get the feeling I’ll lose to the Third or any other.』
The Fifth shook his head, a tired expression across his face.
『How many times do you think my land was attacked? And through it all I endured, and made a stable foundation. Bandits and soldiers, mercenaries… how many do you think I crushed?』
The Sixth laughed at the threats the others tossed out.
『I’m the one who expanded the Walt house, you know. I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t feel I’l even lose to my father, the Fifth.』
『To aid in the recovery of Bahnseim, I crossed countless battlefields. There’s no way a man who experienced something like that would ever be weak. Well, I can understand how my predecessors would like to insist that they were strongest, though.』
His parched laughter echoed through the room, and with the opening of the Fifth’s mouth…
『Cut the crap! A runaway brat should just shut his mouth! You never won out against me to the end!』
『Because I would never go all out against the elderly! You’re still dragging out that runaway stuff… want to go at it, damn old man!?』
『Think you stand a chance? I’d like it you keep the jokes to a limit, you know.』
『My thoughts exactly. Well, the Fourth was more a civil officer, so I doubt he’d understand the sentiment of us military men.』
『Ha ha ha, so you want to play soldier with those measly medals on your chest? You all seriously think all my fighting was done on a desk? Maybe it’s those naïve thoughts of yours that let Celes get her hands on the Yellow Jewel in the first place.』
『Now you’ve said it, damn glasses!』
『Don’t look down on the glasses!』
『『『I’m the strongest here!!』』』
And as all in the Jewel were about to burst into chaos, Lyle manifested.
Perhaps he had nothing to do on the long voyage, as he decided to drop into the Jewel.
“What are you all so worked up about? And wait, you’re speaking so loud I can hear it outside, you know.”
Before a fed-up Lyle, the Third withheld all he had to say about Eva’s case, and explained the current situation.
『No you see, these guys are getting worked up about who’s strongest. You can tell right away, can’t you, Lyle?』
The Seventh addressed his grandson.
『Now tell them all about my strength, Lyle. In the first place, we only became able to use magic to its fullest from the Fifth. If you think of how much of a definite form it must have taken by my generation, our difference in skill should be more than clear.』
Taking some Glances at Lyle’s face, the Seventh tried proving his superiority to the rest.
But Lyle folded his arms…
“And why did things come to this?”
The Fourth cleared his throat, and explained.
『Ah, it’s just we thought the one to train you should be the strongest among us. See, there are quite a few here that seem to misguidedly think that must be them.』
Surveying the area with a smile, he turned to Lyle and nodded.
The Sixth as well.
『You can tell, can’t you Lyle… now how about you tell them who’s the strongest?』
The Fifth too.
『That’s right. You know who’s the strongest, right Lyle?』
Lyle nodded a few times, and answered with a smile.
“Then I just have to beat all of you guys, right? Now isn’t that simple? If all of us fight, the matter should resolve itself.”
The air instantly froze, and the ancestors exchanged glances before moving to surround Lyle.
The Third places his hand on Lyle’s left shoulder.
The Fourth stood in front of him.
The Fifth, his hand on Lyle’s right shoulder.
The Sixth and Seventh circled around behind.
The Third smiled.
『I see. So you thought of us that lightly… well, I’m sure we’re weaker than Celes. But listen here…』
『You’re underestimating us too much, Lyle.』
The Fifth put some power into his grip, making Lyle wince.
『That’s right. This is a good chance, so how about we teach you a thing or two.』
The Sixth smiled.
『Then off we go. We’ll train you all together.』
“Eh? Um… it’s the Seventh!”
Lyle sought aid from his grandfather, but the man himself only smiled.
『Don’t worry. If you get injured here, it fixes itself up in a jiffy. Even if your chest is pierced through, you’ll be unharmed in reality… Now it’s been a while since I last trained you.』
He was smiling, but his eyes alone contained no joy.
“Yes, but that’s just the result, right! It doesn’t change the fact I’ll be pierced, right! Hey, wait!”
Everyone hoisted up a noisy Lyle. The fourth took the lead, and opened up one of the doors.
『You don’t have to worry too much. You’ll just be fighting a little with everyone. I’m sure it’ll be a blast, ahahaha!』
Lyle’s scream as he was lifted through the threshold was cut off with the closing of the door…