After turning the tables on the divine knights from Zayin, we dug graves for them.
Thinking just leaving them as is was too harsh, Thelma-san proposed it. Because they were doing their jobs as knights of Zayin, and were men of her country.
Hearing that, the Sixth spoke.
『Reasons aside, leaving them will leave evidence behind. Why not cremate and or bury them? Ah, make sure you collect their equipment.』
Arms, luggage, and horses. After collecting up their belongings, we gave them proper burials. So as not to give any divine knight comrades out to investigate any information on us. At the same time, it would to gain a favorable impression with Thelma-san.
I mean, we had to earn their trust in the timespan before we reached Beim. While it wouldn’t be enough to oppose Celes, the current me didn’t have the leisure to be picky about my means.
I needed Zayin’s power.
After we buried them, former Holy Maiden Thelma-san offered up a prayer, and gave us her thanks.
“On top of risking your lives to fight them, I thank you for going along with my pleas to such an extent. I do think you have your dissatisfactions with it, so I shall be putting an extra on your reward.”
It appears she was taking my sentiment into consideration. But I shook my head.
“You sure are kind. But the initial proposed sum will do just fine. That was the contract we signed. Just think of this matter as a freebee.”
“You have my gratitude. I heard that many adventurers were of a rougher sort, but it looks like there are splendid ones around as well.”
Next to Thelma-san, Gastone-san looked on with worry, and lowered his head to me.
I answered him with a smile, and looked up at the sky.
With the attack, and the cleanup, it had begun to grow dark.
“We’ll have to camp here tonight. If we rush, about two days to Beim? Let’s prepare for tomorrow, and get some rest for now.”
Internally, I thought.
(I have to gain her trust in two days, divulge the plot to retake Zayin, and have her become my, ‘just cause’… That’s quite a high hurdle.)
While I grumbled about it, it was the ancestors’ proposal. In order to gain more power, there wasn’t a better idea around, so I went right into putting it to practice.
But I also thought I wasn’t suited to the task.
(Hah, is it going well?)
Seeing Thelma-san and Gastone-san give their earnest thanks, my heart began to hurt.
Within the Jewel.
The Sixth’s room of memory.
While everyone was falling asleep, I consulted with the Sixth Generation Head. While holding a halberd, and fighting him, that is.
When I did a horizontal slash, he judged it, and dodged by a small margin before repeating a series of thrusts on me.
『Hmm, so what was the problem again? You feel like you’re deceiving them, and it’s a load on your mind?』
I avoided the thrust, regained my stance, and got my breathing together.
“Y-yes. Rather than deceiving, I’m using them, and how should I put it…”
He put his halberd over his shoulder, looked at my face, and touched his left hand to his chin.
『Feeling guilty? Well, I guess there’s really no helping it on an emotional level.』
I undid my stance, and let the halberd clasped in my right hand fade away. The Sixth pierced his own into the ground, and sat on the spot.
I sat as well.
『Lyle, your field of vision is narrow. Try getting a greater outlook.』
“Field of vision, is it? It’s best I don’t joke around saying I can perceive every part of my surroundings with the Second’s Skills, isn’t it.”
The Sixth showed his teeth, and grinned, before talking to me.
『Right. Not that sort of vision. Just how will your actions resound into the future. And what each result of your moves may bring… consider what might happen if you do nothing at all, as well.』
The Sixth put it simply. Celes wasn’t the only reason. He told me his take on why Zayin couldn’t be left as it was.
『There’s a blatant issue with its governing system, and the surrounding countries are making good use of it. I’m sure Zayin makes use of it in its own way, system, but at this rate, all that awaits it is ruin. It’s been three hundred years since the unified continent under the Sentras Kingdom collapsed… Now they’ve all gotten themselves together, and it’s about time they put an end to all the constant warfare.』
That wasn’t wrong, but I questioned as to whether I should be the one to do it.
I didn’t like how it felt like I was using Celes as an excuse to take advantage of them.
(I’m not wrong, am I? Is it really alright to get Zayin and Lorphys involved in this mess for my sake?)
There, perhaps the Sixth sensed some hesitation in me, as he stood and changed the surrounding scenery. We were within a representation of his memories.
So it was a place where he could change the scenery at will.
『Don’t worry so much. Then how about I show you a good example?』
And there, I found the urban lands of the Weihs Territory governed by the Walt House.
It was smaller than it was when I was driven from my home, but I could see the same traces.
I followed him in standing, to see a young man get punched out the door of a small bar.
The one hit through the air had his long red hair swept back. The figure of the Sixth in his younger days.
The look in his eyes was even sharper than it was now, and he gave off quite a thorny impression.
“Um, this is?”
『… A memory from when I ran away from home.』
And the young Sixth Generation Head… Fiennes stood, and shouted out as if he were a roaring beast.
『Don’t f*ck with me! Lower my head to that asshole? Not on the death of me!』
Walking out the bar was a large man, with a bald head, and magnificent goatee. His shirt was pushed out by his sheer muscle, and he looked formidable at but a glance.
Perhaps he had really fought his way through war, as there were numerous scars on his arms and face.
『… Kid, I don’t give a damn how much a tab you rack up drowning your worries at my place. Run wild all you want. Punch me, and see if I care. But that man… I ain’t gonna take any insults at Fredricks-sama.』
Lifted up by the collar, Fiennes glared, and spat out his saliva.
And I watched it.
“… Is that the bar’s owner?”
The Sixth nodded embarrassingly, and scratched his head as he explained.
『That’s right. He let me drink on a running tab. I heard about it later, but apparently the Fifth’s men would come by now and again to pay it off. Only learned that one when I’d earned enough to pay it myself.』
Speaking nostalgically, he looked upon the fight of Fiennes and the large man. Fiennes sent a punch, and perhaps he had his share of training as well, as the barkeeper was sent flying off his feet.
The town’s residents gathered around, and looked at Fiennes…
『Even when he’s that man’s son…』
『It’s that pattern where the parent’s proficient, and the child’s no good.』
『Will the Walt House be alright?』
Just looking at the reactions around, it seems the Fifth had quite a favorable impression. He was famous for being a womanizer, but it seems he was loved by his people.
When Fiennes mounted the man, and began punching him left and right, the scene turned gray, and its time came to a stop.
The Sixth spoke to me.
『To me and my brothers and sisters, he was the worst father there was. His attitude without any emotions or interest pissed me off. But the people loved him. Why do you think?』
I gave a simple answer.
“Because territory management doesn’t have anything to do with the lord’s family problems? No, but it does bring about problems with succession, so…”
There, the Sixth showed another scene.
In it, stood Fiennes, all beat up from a brawl. An old couple was calling out to him. The sky was dark, and perhaps it was winter, as Fiennes looked quite cold.
『… You’ll get sick if you stand out here. Our house doesn’t have much, but won’t you step inside?』
Perhaps Fiennes realized that he was going to freeze to death at that rate. He accepted the couple’s good will, and entered the house.
They gave him a warm welcome. They prepared a bath, and a splendid meal. To that old couple, they must have been doing their best for him.
So Fiennes ate, and slept in a warm bed.
And the Sixth watched the scene with nostalgia, and embarrassment.
『It was always nothing but failures. Lyle, you see, I… was an incorrigible fool. I snapped and left the house, ran rampant, and had to be saved by someone else. It was always a repetition of something like that.』
When I heard that, my words wouldn’t come out.
I thought he was a little delinquent-esque, but he really was a full-blown delinquent. As I felt myself surprised he was able to return to the House safely like that, the Fiennes began to speak.
Fiennes was in the middle of breakfast.
『… Why did you save someone like me?』
That impudent attitude of his wasn’t something that should’ve been directed at the ones who saved his life. Even so, the wife seemed delighted.
『With this, we will finally be able to pay off our debt to Fredricks-sama.』
『We’ve troubled that man far too much.』
Fiennes spoke unpleasantly.
『That damn old man?』
『Yes. Our village burnt down, and he made it possible for we, the survivors, to live on here.』
『He rushed over to save the village. Yet we could only speak ill of him… I’ve always regretted it.』
Fiennes looked a little surprised, but his attitude instantly turned sour.
『That’s because that’s his job, dammit! It’s all that damn old man’s fault for not making it in time! You lot are being fooled!』
But even after hearing that, the old couple smiled.
『You’ve got me there. But that man was kind. So kind it was even pitiful to watch.』
The memory footage cut off, and we were in the yard once more.
“The scene’s changed again.”
There, the Sixth let out a sigh.
『As if I could show you any more embarrassing sides of me! Next is a memory from after I returned. Well, I guess this one’s also an embarrassing one, but…』
In front of the mansion stood some troubled soldiers. A ragged Fiennes before them, they seemed to be hesitating on whether to let him in or not.
The path to the entranceway opened up, and from it the Fifth… Fredricks walked out. I could see Fiennes’ mother beside him.
Fiennes’ mother ran over to her son, and with all her might, delivered a slap unto his face.
His upper body swayed with the force, and next she used the back of her hand to hit him the other direction. Seeing that, I thought.
(Huh? She looks kind, but she’s ridiculously strong, this person!)
『Stupid son of mine! Running out the door, and coming back in such a pitiful state! Just how much do you plan on making me worry!?』
Seeing the woman continue a series of slaps, I drew back a bit. I mean, Fiennes was becoming even more ragged than he was before.
Fredricks also looked as if he was retreating a little.
With his face battered so much, Fiennes’ cheeks swelled, and he looked quite pitiable.
『… My mother’s palm you see… it resounded in my heart, but it also resounded in my skull and bones. In various ways… it really hurt.』
Fiennes’ large body froze up under his mother’s scowl.
Seeing that, Fredricks sighed, and spoke.
『Hah, go get in the bath, and change out of those clothes. Once you’ve eaten and slept, come over to my place. If you make up all you’ve gotten behind in while you were away, I will accept you as my successor.』
Saying that, he turned, and returned to the mansion. The gatekeeper soldiers lent their shoulders to the unsteady young Fiennes, and carried him along behind.
And shedding tears, Fiennes’ mother followed along her son.
“… You were forgiven?”
『Yep, forgiven. Well, I complained about this and that to my brothers, and shared some sarcasm. The worst was when Milleia asked, ‘has your head cooled down yet?’ Her lecture made me quite sad.』
It seems the Sixth was quite a siscon.
Ahem, he purposefully cleared his throat, before speaking to me.
『Well, if you’re asking what I’m trying to get at here… right, even if you think you’re doing good, it may not be so in the eyes of another, and even if you know you’re doing wrong, some might see it as you doing good. There’s also the fact I wanted to show it to you some time around.』
He showed his embarrassing memories, and acted ashamed of them.
And he muttered to me.
『Yet I could only ever fail. In the end, I was a worse man than my father.』
Before we were to depart, Gastone-san and Thelma-san brought a single young girl over to me.
Her name was 【Aura】.
Gastone-san’s party had supported her in becoming the next Holy Maiden, and she was one of the candidates.
Her brown, long hair curled so much I felt that any more, and drills would naturally start to form. Her modest chest was, unlike Thelma-san, wrapped in the simple black uniform of a consecrated virgin, and not emphasized in the slightest.
A perfectly level body.
When they brought such a girl over to me, Clara stood, and took Eva and May out towards Porter’s loading tray.
“I’ll go check up on Aria-san.”
Seeing the three of them part, Thelma-san spoke.
“It seems they’re being mindful of us. But it is for the better.”
And Gastone-san explained the situation to me.
“Lyle-dono, we are headed for Beim in order to allow the Holy Maiden Candidate Aura to flee. I’m sure you understand that our lives are in danger in Zayin. And having appraised your skills, I have a request to make. Could you offer shelter to our Aura-sama?”
Saying that, I looked at the girl called Aura. But when our eyes met, she averted her gaze.
Thelma-san cautioned her.
“Aura, you’re being rude.”
But Aura was…
“I’ll have to decline. While he may be my life’s savior, that was simply him working off his pay. I cannot bring myself to trust this adventurer; what’s more, if we get all the way to Beim, I’ll have you all let me free. I’m no longer relevant to the Holy Maidens, or the temple, or even Zayin anymore.”
Seeing her turn to return with those words, the Fourth let his voice from the Jewel.
『The long-awaited Holy Maiden Candidate doesn’t seem up for it. If she’s going to be like that, even if you persuade her, you won’t be able to put her up top. Though mr. lyle would surely be able to do something about it~.』
I ignored the second half of that, and looked at Gastone-san.
He looked quite apologetic, so I asked his situation.
“Putting Aura-san’s guarding aside, what will you two, and all the others do?”
Thelma-san hung her head, put her hand to her chest, and opened her mouth.
“We are all too involved. The next pursuers or perhaps the ones after will get to us eventually. To be quite honest, I never thought they would try to kill us so seriously. I was naïve.”
Gastone-san as well.
“She may be trouble. But Aura-sama isn’t a Holy Maiden or anything; she’s just a girl we lifted up. At the very least, I want her to find a different life, and find happiness of her own.”
From within the Jewel, the Sixth spoke.
『That’s wrong. The moment they lifted her up, she became just as involved. There’s no putting a stop to that one anymore. She’ll be targeted without a doubt.』
Both Gastone-san and Thelma-san were kind at heart. But as they were, there would surely be some things they wouldn’t be able to protect.
(… So that isn’t enough.)
“Do the two of you plan on dying?”
Thelma-san shook her head. Her expression looked a little clouded to me.
“I’ve no intentions to die. But no matter where a former Holy Maiden such as myself were to go, I’d cause nothing but trouble. In that case, I’m thinking to find a home as far as I can. Gastone and the others are the same.”
I corrected my posture in front of the two of them. And I spoke with a serious expression.
“So you’re running away? I’m not sure it’s my place to say, but as things, are, Aura-san’s life will be targeted again. Rather than a former Holy Maiden, wouldn’t Aura-san be the greater threat to our enemy?”
Gastone-san looked quite troubled. He really was tired, and perhaps that was what was dulling his field of vision. Stuck in a corner, his mind felt cornered as well.
The Third spoke in an aloof voice.
『Oh? It looks like Lyle’s hopped on board. Was it because of the Sixth’s persuasion? What did you tell him?』
The Sixth made it short.
『We just talked a bit. Reminisced a little.』
I looked at the two before my eyes.
“If things keep going at this rate, won’t Zayin go through some horrible times? With Lorphys attacking, masses of uninvolved civilians may end up dead.”
Thelma-san looked down, and spoke regretfully.
“I understand that. But there is nothing left for us to do. Overbearing as it may have been, the Holy Maiden status was formally conceded. Gastone was driven out of his High Priest role as well.”
Gastone-san spoke to me. His small and slender fingers formed a fist.
“It’s not like we cast it aside because we wanted to. It’s just that there’s nothing we can do. We’ve no power left to hold back the divine knights or the other high Priests!”
I carried myself boldly. And I told myself.
(No, it’s possible. I’m able to do it.)
Pushing my right hand against my chest, I unreservedly spoke with confidence.
“No, it’s possible. With the two of you, of course, and Aura-san… with the Holy Maiden candidate’s power, we can take back Zayin.”
Thelma-san raised her surprised face.
“T-take back? Lyle-dono, what are you saying? Zayin’s rule has been officially succeeded to the new Holy Maiden…”
“And isn’t that where the problem is? A needless war is to break out, and she’s trying to kill the Holy Maiden candidate, along with the rest of you. Am I wrong?”
“T-that’s definitely the case, but what do you mean to do in taking it back? … Taking back an entire country isn’t something to be done with these measly numbers.”
I grinned, and went on.
“Want to try betting on me? Just leave it to Lyle Walt. You’ll end up betting your lives, but rather than waiting for untimely assassination, I think this bet would be much more worth your while.”
Thelma-san sent me a look, and took a step back. And with suspicious eyes, she asked.
“… What is your goal? Using us to rise up in the world? I thought you were a kind one, but it seems I had misread you.”
It seems I’ve gotten her to harbor distrust of me.
There, the Fourth offered me some advice.
『Lyle, just be honest here. But cover up a bit of it. Right, have her misunderstand. Don’t worry, the one that makes the misunderstanding is the one in the wrong. Listen, just repeat after me…』
As I pictured the Fourth’s scheming face in my head, I followed his lead.
“What I want is (the country of Zayin under) you.”
I tried heeding the Fourth’s words, but a little while after I said it, Thelma’s face turned bright red, and she began to panic. She looked between my face and Gastone-san’s in confusion.
“W-w-w-w-w-what do you think you’re saying!?”
I as well, the moment after saying it.
(OYYYyyyy!! What’s that supposed to mean! I just gave her the misunderstanding that I was a hopeless one, didn’t I!?)
While I was troubled, the Fourth spoke.
『Don’t panic! Right now, let her misunderstand, nod, and only correct the statement once she’s lost all escape routes! You may end up the enemy of all womankind, but it’s something necessary for the current Lyle!』
The Fifth was taken aback.
『Even if you’re my own father, you’re the worst. If mama was here, she’d definitely rain you with jeers.』
The Seventh too.
『You’re the worst. You’re making me see a future of Lyle being stabbed from behind. Okay, Lyle… how about you apologize here? You can’t just leave this sort of misunderstanding be.』
The Sixth as well.
『Lyle, correct it at once. Listen here, this is no good. I’ve failed in this one before.』
『Fourth… Max, we’re going to have a long talk after this. Lyle, this is bad, so make sure you explain it, ‘kay?』
The Fourth spoke.
『Eh? Wait! I mean, after coming this far, getting another girl or two doesn’t really make a difference! And if it’s Lyle, he should be able to…』
His voice became inaudible half-way through. So I gave a purposeful clearing of my throat.
“I-it seems I’ve made you misunderstand something. To be more precise, what I want is a reliable government in Zayin, as it had under your rule. If left alone, there are too many demerits to be had for an adventurer like myself.”
With a reddened expression, Thelma took a few deep breathes, and nodded a number of times.
“R… r… rrrrright, of course! B-but if there’s a battlefield to be found, don’t you adventurers make mwahneh?”
Thelma-san bit her tongue, but me and Gastone-san acted like it hadn’t happened.
I explained my own situation.
“The Guild I am associated with is a bit of a pain. I’m sure I’ll have to start explaining from there, but when there’s a war, the quota we have for fulfilling requests goes way up. That would be quite troublesome, so I want to keep the countries in this area at peace. I have other things going on as well, but leaving Zayin as it is would be troublesome. Because from what I’ve heard, there will be many more wars to come.”
Her panic rendered Thelma-san incapable of making rational decisions.
She seemed satisfied as she looked at me, and nodded. And wait, it didn’t seem much of what I was saying was actually entering her ears.
Gastone-san was the same. He was bewildered, and didn’t try to butt into the conversation.
“Well we can talk more about my circumstances on the trip, but how about we cool our heads a bit. Let’s talk some more during our next break.”
Thelma-san’s face was still red.
“Right. That’s for the best. Otherwise, I can’t properly…”
“W-well then, we’ll come again next time there’s a break to be had.”
And they parted as if to run away.
A strange sweat had broken out, and when I moved my hand to wipe it, I felt a stare from behind Porter. When I turned, I saw a pale-faced Aria peeking from Porter’s loading tray.
And my other comrades were peering this was as well from the golem’s shadow.
I ended up giving a panicked retreat. Even when I didn’t do anything bad, why do I feel so much guilt and regret… this is all your fault, Fourth!