It was the Sixth’s room of memories.
Having come there to study, I received a passing grade, and was shown the Sixth’s memories.
A single woman… the Sixth’s younger sister of another mother sobbed as she held onto her own birth mother.
Looking at the Fifth… at Fredricks, she hung her head, and cried even harder.
The Sixth of memories… Fiennes spoke.
『Pops, she just went through hell. Leave her be.』
Fiennes rose to protect his sister, but Fredricks was different. He looked at the sobbing girl, and spoke to his mistress, the woman’s mother.
『… We’re bringing her back. Make the preparations.』
There, the woman.
『… It’s because you married me off to such a place! Treating me like an object… in the end, I’m nothing but a daughter with good blood, after all!』
In regards to that, the mother continued holding the woman raining jeers close, as she took her out of the room.
And perhaps Fiennes couldn’t endure it anymore. He grasped Fredricks’ lapels.
『So your damn beasts really are more important than your children!? With your daughter being treated that way, you don’t even feel irritated, do you!?』
There, Fredricks smiled just a little.
And he punched Fiennes off his feet, and restrained him against the ground. The one who ran into the room was the legal wife, Fiennes’ mother.
Seeing a scene of her own son held to the ground, Fiennes’ mother panicked. And Fredricks spoke in a quiet voice.
『Right, that how you all should be… you pass.』
Saying that, he released Fiennes, and spoke in a loud voice.
『Prepare the armaments. Send out a runner! Fiennes, you’ll also be coming along. No… you should stand at the head.』
Seeing the figure of his father smiling, Fiennes looked surprised.
And with those words, Fredricks left the room, and the vassals gathered infront of it. After he issued out a series of orders, they began moving around in hot haste.
But they seemed somewhat happy.
Fiennes was lifted up by his mother, as he looked at his happy father’s figure, and muttered.
『The hell. That unsociable man is…』
There, Fiennes’ birth mother spoke.
『He used to be a man who smiled a lot, it seems. He used to be kind. Haven’t you ever heard it from your grandmother?』
『… I’d heard. But it was surely bullshit.』
Saying that, fiennes parted with his mother, and left the room.
Seeing the scene, the Sixth put his hand to his jaw. He looked upon it with some happiness, and nostalgia.
The scene changed.
It was a scene outside.
In the very center of a settlement was a district surrounded by thick walls of logs. Fields expanded outwards, and a river ran through. But it wasn’t such a serene setting.
Knights rode their horses, and the soldiers marched in orderly lines.
Equipment, and numbers… there was certainly some regulation to them. Holding up a flag, and heading for the close, the armored mass walked peacefully through the settlement.
“What is this supposed to be? Normally, they’d put up a resistance if you go that far, right!”
The Sixth raised a laugh. It was a grand laugh, as he pointed at a certain point.
『What if you go far enough that resistance is pointless?』
Looking back, more knights and soldiers were walking in succession. They weren’t only gathering on that path.
They gathered from the surroundings as they headed for that walled district.
The Sixth spoke nostalgically.
『Our father thought of the Walt House’s martial law. But to fully actualize it, he would need those that had studied it stationed across the land. And he couldn’t just teach everyone without discerning friend and foe. That’s why we were necessary… he educated us, and trained us to be deployed in foreign land. He taught the daughters as well, and taught them to pass the doctrine to their children.』
“He did something like that?”
『Yeah. But at the time, it was so they could make it to the top in any House.』
I wondered whether there was really a need to go that far. In the Seventh’s era, there’s no doubt it had spread even further.
『Troop numbers, weapons, messengers, military regulations… it was around that time that an elite force that maintained all of those points was completed.』
That may be why the equipment looked uniform.
And the Sixth spoke.
『Look. The soldiers who climbed up the wall to look are dazed, aren’t they? It’s because this is the amount he could gather at a moment’s notice!』
There’s the fact it was still within the territory, but that means it was the Fifth’s doing that created a situation where so many troops could be mobilized at once.
The surrounding feudal lords had tormented him enough for him to feel a need.
Looking at the town, an envoy hurriedly came out to negotiate.
The scene changed to a tent with Fredricks and Fiennes. In it were men with extra armaments.
The envoy was making a pale expression, as he looked at Fredricks sitting in his chare.
Next to Fredricks sat the woman, no longer in a village girl’s clothes. Her mother was escorting her, and she hung her head as she sat.
Seeing her like that, her brothers of the same mother tried to stand, and attack the envoy. Their other siblings around held them back.
『Unhand me! You’ve heard what these guys have done to our sister, right!? Take his head, and make that our response!』
To his rampaging brothers, Fiennes spoke.
『Don’t kill the messenger! That is our rule. If you want to kill him, wait for the battlefield, or after that.』
The envoy’s face was pale.
『Count! We’ve sworn to enter your patronage! This treatment is too much!』
And Fredricks sent a glance to his daughter casting her eyes down.
『… Tell this envoy what’s happened to you. Your family will see to the rest of it.』
There, the woman kept her head hung, as she quietly began to recount.
『… Once you birth a boy, we no longer need you they said.』
The envoy’s face grew paler, as he tried to correct a misunderstanding.
『T-that’s wrong! That was when we were teaching her the rules of our House, and while we may have gone a little too far, we thought it best to be strict with our teachings.』
The sharp eyes around shut up the messenger, and the woman opened her mouth once more. Along with her siblings behind, were some other vassal nobles.
『… How many gold coins are the furnishings your mother gave you worth, they asked. A poor and unreliable house, they said.』
Crying, the woman used a hand to wipe her tears. The reactions around were cold ones. And there, Fredricks started laughing.
『I see, so I’m a broke noble, am I! Sorry about that. I’ve got so many children, there isn’t much to go around. And then?』
The envoy sent a look to the woman, and his eyes were getting teary as well. Remembering everything that had been done, perhaps he was beginning to regret.
『… People of the Walt house should just be slaves. We’re going to turn coat and take what we can, after all, so you need only hand over your noble blood. They took away my son… I haven’t even held him before!』
Hearing that, whatever filled the tent had turned to a thirst for blood. Those around of vassal houses yelled at the envoy.
『So that was your intentions after all! Since you came under the same banner, you said to let your past misgivings slide… Count! Leave the vanguard to my House! As a house that has welcomed in a daughter of yours the same, I cannot forgive any such as he!』
There, Fiennes’ siblings.
『After treating our sister like a slave? Don’t screw with me! Hey, tell them to prepare to war once I get back! That’s why I told you never to take up a House like this! The only one here who’ll help you is the waning baron, so go try and sell yourself to him!』
The Sixth was smiling, but as I couldn’t swallow the situation, I tilted my head.
“Waning? Um, what exactly happened?”
『Hmm? Ah, around this timeframe, the Baron House next door was on the decline. Well, they did do a toll on Walt House land. Look, the Fifth disinterestedly crushed all the bandits flowing in, and crushed a few mercenary brigades. He used quite some terrible means, but the Baron House that’d taken the opportunity to try and plunder… their knights were killed, and on top of no longer being capable of plunder, they lost their horses and equipment! What’s more, with constant losses, they even lost their credibility!』
Hearing that, I got the general idea. The Fifth had endured.
He crushed the bandits invading, and crushed the mercenaries and men of other houses that had come to pillage and plunder. Meaning the Walt House was becoming a troublesome entity for its opposition.
“But if they’re all part of the same country, doesn’t repeated plunder drop credibility as it is?”
But the Sixth…
『It’s actually quite common, you know. We put our municipal power into opposing, and using marriage politics, we increased our allies. It was true noble blood. Anyone would want it.』
A magician’s blood. Even among nobles, there were quite a few Houses without that bloodline. So that’s what the Fifth had made use of.
The envoy frantically tried to alter the explanation, but the flow was no longer changeable.
『That’s enough. Go back and tell him. To prepare his weapons.』
The envoy sat down on the spot, and sought assistance from the crying woman.
『Please help! At this rate, our land shall be annihilated! You’ll never go through the same experience again! So I beg of you!』
『Then return my grandchild. I’ll educate him myself. And present your Lord’s head. The rest of him separately.』
After that, he declared he would crush the lord’s vassal houses as well, for letting the present situation slide if they didn’t.
“… Did they actually agree to that?”
『Of course not. But it wasn’t that hard.』
The images changed to a burning town. The mansion at its center was ablaze, and the woman held a baby in her hands.
“… Nothing around it is burning.”
Looking around, the only thing on fire was the mansion itself. And the bodies of knights and soldiers littered the ground around it.
According to the Sixth.
『Once the envoy returned, and explained the situation, they began preparing for war. But their people weren’t so eager. It was an army of ten thousand. They were already scared and surrounded. Well, after that, the Walt House went on the offense, and this became something of a signal flare.』
Like that, what would happen if you went against the Walt House… the other pledged Houses were very well informed.
And it seems their reactions did change henceforth.
As Fiennes looked at the burning mansion, Fredricks came over to him.
『Remember this. This isn’t someone else’s problem. If you hesitate in the slightest to make a decision, this is the Walt House’s future. 』
Fiennes turned to him, and Fredricks handed the blue gem over.
『And that’s the end of my job. You take up the rest. I’m retiring. I’m already tired at my age… Yeah, I leave the rest to you.』
Saying that, he gave a tired smile, and walked off.
The footage turned gray, and its time stopped before the Sixth spoke.
『We were surrounded by enemies, and we couldn’t tell friend from foe around us. What we could rely on… right, perhaps it was the Forxuz House alone? So my father somehow managed to get it to take shape by our generation. Even now, I refuse to admit his methods were right, though.』
The fifth made a lot of children. But at the same time, that should’ve made a large problem. Fights within the family, meaning wars among siblings.
“Wait, could it be the Fifth… made sure that everyone in the family’s hostility was direct at…”
Rather than the Sixth succeeding the House, he made sure all hostility went his way, to get the family together. Or at least that was how I saw it.
『No idea, is my honest answer. I never asked, but maybe? Who knows. The man will never say anything about it himself. But while we had plenty of fights amongst ourselves, it never came down to killing one another. Whenever something happen, we would gather as you saw, and fight an enemy together. There’s plenty I only heard from my mothers after the fact. Looking back on it, I’ve found I can’t deny it all.』
The surrounding scenery changed, and we were in the mansion’s yard. The Sixth folded his arms, and called over to me.
『You see, Lyle… I only moved the army the Fifth had prepared. I was able to fight those around me and win, because the Fifth had prepared it all. The preparations for victory were assembled, and we won as if it were the natural course. That’s all there was to it.』
The Sixth had greatly expanded the Walt House’s land. But he told me it was only because of the Fifth’s groundwork.
I spoke to him.
“That isn’t all. You’re strong, and reliable, Sixth.”
When I said that, he turned around and laughed. Laughed, and…
『Glad you think so. I failed in various things, and ended up troubling Brod as well. He always ended up taking some distance from me.』
The Sixth’s and Seventh’s relationship was one I thought of as favorable. But these ancestors of mine had learned to not show it on their faces.
After letting out a deep sigh, the Sixth earnestly looked into my face.
『Lyle, let me teach you a Skill… 【Real Spec】. That’s my third Skill. It lets you take in even more information than before.』
According to him, it was of what state each party was in. In let you learn things in even more detail. But what I was thinking of wasn’t the Skill.
“Why… it’s not like it has to be now.”
Hearing my clinging voice, the Sixth shook his head. His final Skill… the Sixth’s third skill… teaching me his final stage Skill meant we were to part ways.
『No, it’s because it’s now. This is all I can do for you. Have the others support you the rest of the way. They’re much more reliable than me.』
“But nothing’s over. It’s only just begun, hasn’t it? And I’m still relying on you, Sixth!”
The sixth scratched his face with his fingertip, and gave a bitter smile.
『No, it’s over. If you can’t win, then that’s all the man you are. But I believe you can win. So here’s enough for me. No, I get the feeling that if it isn’t here, I’ll be lingering around forever. It isn’t a bad feeling to stay behind. But you see, Lyle… our objective is to hand down our Skills to you. And that’s been a bit… no, it’s been stretched out quite some time. Just try using my Skill. All you have to do is think that you want to know more.』
I did as told, and tried using the Skill. The information I gained was on a different level from Search or Spec.
『You can use it alongside the Fifth’s Skill, but it’s one’s amazing on its own. With so much info flowing in, it’s quite a pain to master.』
When I used it, the sudden increase in input caused me to hold my left hand against my head.
The Sixth watched over me with a smile.
『You can’t keep it up for too long, but it’s quite convenient. But I’m sure you can master it in no time, so that’s a load off my mind. With that, I’ve nothing left to regret.』
I wanted to say something. But… I recalled the regrets I’d felt with the First and Second. I had shown my deplorable state to the First al the way up to the end.
With the Second, my refusal had left it so I could never give a proper parting.
So I forcefully formed a smile.
“T-thank you. I think you’re an amazing person, Sixth Generation. Um, you have your no-good parts, but, well… you’ve taught me a lot of things!”
The Sixth gave a gentle smile.
『I’d have liked to teach you even more. Ale, and the slots… adult fun as well! Well, I also had quite some fun teaching you, Lyle. While I’m at it, I leave Miranda and Shannon to you. Make sure you make them happy』
“So those are what you’ll make your last words? I know. I’ll do whatever I can.”
The Sixth joked around. And I matched him.
And as the surrounding picture started fading away in grains of light, the Sixth scratched his head.
『Ah~ as I thought, that one was a lie, the truth is, I still have one regret.』
That’s what he said. He was laughing, but he looked a little lonely.
“What is it?”
The Sixth put his hand on my shoulder.
『I never got to see you victorious. Riding a horse, and swinging around a halberd, I wanted to see your first campaign. No, that’s wrong… I wanted to see you stand against Celes. Good grief, even when I’m just supposed to teach you my Skills, I can’t help but want to look after you.』
“Then why not stay and wait a little longer?”
When I stated my mind, the Sixth shook his head again.
『I said it, didn’t I? If I did, I’d lose sight of when to hand it over evermore… stick out your chest, Lyle. If it’s you, you can do it. In my life of failures, you’re one of my few points of pride. So much that I even want to give thanks from my side.』
When I opened my mouth, the Sixth’s figure began to vanish.
『Lyle, thank you… and I believe that you can do it.』
“To me as well… Sixth, you’re my pride! An ancestor I’m proud to have!”
Whether my words reached, or fell short… the Sixth smiled, and disappeared.
When I woke, my face was covered in tears.
I touched my face to find I was crying after all.
“Even when I held it in. as I thought, I’m no good… I’m sure he saw me cry.”
I raised the upper half of my body, and muttered, only to hear a response from the Jewel I’d placed on the bedside table.
It was the Fifth.
『… It’s fine. It’s not like he’d be angry about it.』
The Seventh thanked me.
『I give you my thanks, Lyle. I had always kept some distance from the Sixth. When he recommended me the halberd, I had turned him down. Even now, I can remember the lonesome look on his face from back then. When he was teaching you, he looked like he was truly having fun. Thank you, Lyle.』
I looked at Miranda sleeping in the bed next to mine. The outside of the window was still dark.
(There’s no time for me to stay still. But just for now…)
I still had regrets within me. I should’ve had him teach me more. I should’ve talked to him more.
Come to think of it…
(Come to think of it, the Sixth supported me from the start. He followed through for me. It’s going to get lonely again.)
I took the Jewel in my hand, and clenched it.