Lyle and LYLE
We had taken on a large-scale cargo guarding request.
Passing through Lorphys, we would make deliveries to Galleria and Rusworth, in that order. But both countries were in a tense state of alert.
It was a pain, but after entering Galleria, we would return to Lorphys, before entering Rusworth from there. It was a necessary pain.
Confirming the plan, I decided to send some documents to Lorphys about our passage from my side as well.
And the one I was to entrust the papers to…
“… I just got back, you know?”
In the mansion’s parlor, Alette-san sat on the sofa making an enervated expression. By the request of the East Branch, she had gone Labyrinth clearing, and it seems she had just returned yesterday.
It wasn’t a very large Labyrinth, and the subjugation itself was finished in no time. But upon surveying the aria, they found it was possible to cultivate a new village there, so she had to take on a few more detailed tasks at the site.
I made a serious expression.
“I’m making a relatively serious plea. It’s an opportunity to enter both Galleria and Rusworth, as Beim’s transport convoy… well, we’re just guarding merchants. Personally, I want to see the states of both countries.”
Alette-san let out a sigh.
“Alliance, or union, was it? If you get the cooperation of four countries, then it’s true this area is sure to stabilize. Even if there are other small countries around, based on the conditions, you can take them in. But listen here, I do think those two countries are no good.”
By her impression, both countries were heavily unified.
Galleria was a country where the feudal lord with the most power served as a representative. The other lords, in order to oppose Rusworth, were never frugal with their assistance to that representative.
In contrast, Rusworth was managed as a single territory. Without any feudal lords, governors were dispersed.
And it seems they had a stable, centralized control.
“… Those two, for whatever reason, have a lot of skirmishes. And every time, the two maidens of war come out, and go at it one on one. They’re overwhelming strengths that others dare not intrude on. Until I saw them, I thought there would be a way to fight them, but even I would likely be cut down in a manner of seconds.”
Alette-san wasn’t weak. More than that, she should be classified as strong. If even she couldn’t cross blades, then they certainly must not be normal opponents.
“Are their Skills powerful?”
Alette-san took a sip of tea, and place the cup on the table, before lurching forward.
“No, they’re plainly strong. If there were people destined for strength from birth, then I’m sure they’re people like those girls. Those sorts of humans just normally exist. Their direct battles and magics are way above the norm. Not to mention their Skills are Rear Guard Class. Meaning they’re specialized to magic.”
Making a selection of magic solidify as your own original was the characteristic of Rear Guard Skills. Original magic was difficult to deal with, and quite troublesome.
I put a hand to my chin.
“Not happening. I’ve confirmed it with my eyes, and that’s not happening. Did you know… humans… they dance through the sky. The humans hit by their magics are thrown out into the atmosphere. The cloud of dust was sky high. It felt as if they were showing off our difference in ability.”
Seeing Alette-san fall into a slump, I felt something cold flow down my back.
From the Jewel, a care-free Fourth let his voice.
『You think they’re monster class? Put next to Celes, I wonder which would be more troublesome.』
It really would be troubling if there were Celes-level monsters littered all over the place. But a strong interest in those two women was coming out in me. If I could make an alliance, they would be a strong hand to play.
Having them destroy each other would be troubling. I wanted to get their cooperation somehow.
“… I’ll try to get in contact with them.”
Alette-san looked at me.
“You’re adding to the harem again? Then just take our princess already…”
She grumbled out the last part, but I pretended I didn’t hear it.
As preparations were underway.
I was called into the Jewel. For some reason, everyone was gathered in front of my room of memories.
Milleia-san looked more troubled than usual, and at the same time, the Seventh was holding his head.
The Third looked lost in thought, while the Fifth looked at me with a somewhat doubtful gaze. And looking at me, the Fourth…
『Lyle, it’s best you resolve yourself today.』
“What’s this, all of a sudden?”
The atmosphere he gave off was diferent than usual, so I hesitated. Milleia-san came up to me.
『Lyle… have you ever thought to flip up a woman’s skirt?』
… Even if you suddenly ask me that, just how am I supposed to respond? I get the feeling laughing, and declaring, ‘or course~’ isn’t quite right here. And seriously denying it would just be more suspicious.
“No, I’ve no idea what you’re trying to say.”
Milleia-san put a hand to her face, and tilted her head. It seems she wanted to say something as she looked at me, but after a while, she removed the hand, and nodded a couple of times.
『Well, you’ll understand once you meet him. Shall we be off?』
Hearing that, I recalled how Septem-san had disappeared last time around. She had said the Jewel would prepare a different individual.
“Has the next person to explain appeared? Who is it?”
I sent a look around to Milleia-san and the ancestors, but everyone was making dubious faces.
“… Isn’t today’s atmosphere a little bit strange?”
There, the Fifth pointed to my room.
『Enter, and you’ll see.』
Sure enough, I thought, putting my hand on the doorknob. For a moment, I thought perhaps Celes would come out, but by the ancestors’ reactions, that didn’t feel right.
Taking a deep breath, I opened the door.
… Novem dropped by Lyle’s room.
The time was evening. The preparations for dinner were complete, and she had come to inform Lyle it was time to eat.
Lyle’s work room was where Novem and the vestiges of the mansion’s master… a pitiful existence formed of assimilated monsters had fought.
The master’s office, or perhaps library, was a splendid room. When she entered it, she found Lyle lying on top of the sofa.
She had knocked the door a few times, but there was no response. She had felt a presence within, so she entered, and seeing Lyle asleep, Novem smiled, and looked for something to cover him with.
The season was summer. Perhaps a towel would be enough.
She thought, as she searched the room. As expected, the well-prepared Monica had prepared a towel blanket. Draping it over Lyle, Novem looked at the light glow of the Jewel.
“It’s shining again…”
Novem knew of how Lyle could send his mind to the Jewel like this. In the past, in the middle of a Labyrinth Subjugation, he had brought the entire party into it, and had them fight, so she was sure she her theory wasn’t wrong.
And she had seen it coming, to an extent. She had anticipated it countless times to that point, but she first held conviction in the notion when Lyle fought with Tressy on the ship’s deck.
In the boy’s fighting figure from behind, Novem saw the traces of the First Generation, Basil Walt.
“Lyle-sama, give your ancestors my regards, okay?”
Saying that, Novem stroked Lyle’s face…
A room of memory.
My room of memory was fulfilling its purpose for, perhaps I should say, the first time.
It was the room I was confined for five years. The bedroom, and the yard you could see from it, were the spaces I was permitted to move in.
It had an excessive amount of books, and I could see an individual taking a book from the mountainous pile. The young boy had the same blue hair and eyes at me.
But he wasn’t a memory. He started making an address my way.
『If I have to say, I really like them big. Perhaps it’s mother’s influence? She had large breasts, after all. But you see, recently, I’ve gotten around to thinking that small breasts have a unique sort of flavor in themselves.』
While letting his eyes pass through some books on magic, that ‘something’ that took on the form of my younger years began talking about… something.
“Who are you?”
I pressed my right hand against my chest, and clenched my clothing. As a strange sweat broke out, the boy turned to me.
He greeted me with a smile.
『Pleasure to meet you. Or would it be best to say it’s been a while? I’m you, and you’re me. But maybe you aren’t me anymore. To make it simple, I’m the memories sealed by my cute sister Celes, and another personality. Memories are a form of personality… they’re a large factor that influences one’s character. Memories are experience. Meaning after losing those memories, you were born, and the one who knew that, I, was born as well. No, since I do carry on the memories, perhaps I’m closer to the original than you?』
The form of myself around ten, while the boy spoke in a childish voice, he explained in a mature tone.
“Cute Celes? And personality?”
When I sent a glance to Milleia-san in the room, the boy burst into laughter. Milleia-san just looked at me, and told me it was, ‘alright’.
『Goddess, it’s because you always turn to women like that, that you’re treated like a gigolo. Well, I’m a pretty boy, so it’s only natural they help me. But at the rate you’re going, their affection will run dry.』
The laughing young boy put down his book, walked through the room, and prepared a chair. The insides of the room were dusty, because it was an area the servants didn’t really want to clean.
Thinking back, just what sort of lifestyle was I living?
Using a handkerchief to wipe off the seat portion, the boy recommended for us… me and Milleia-san to sit. The individual himself lowered himself onto the bed.
Taking a seat, I took a serious look at him, and opened my mouth.
“So what is it you want to tell me? What does the Jewel plan on telling me through you?”
He looked a little up, and crossed his legs on the bed.
『Nothing particularly? On the contrary, do you have any questions? If it’s something I can answer, I’ll answer all you want.』
Questioned for questions, I asked what had been bothering me. I had loads of things I wanted to ask, but what was first on my mind were those words.
“What do you mean by cute Celes? Doesn’t she hate me…”
『Yep, she hates me. But I’m Celes’ big brother. So I’ll treat her as a brother would. I mean, Celes is my cute little sister. Whether I smiled or gave thanks, Celes always resented me. Resenting and envying, carrying something dark in the depths of her heart.』
Hearing that, I was astonished.
“… So you knew the whole time?”
『Yep! I mean, I love my family, after all. I wanted to save her from those emotions someday, but in the end, I was unable.』
I shook my head to the side. I couldn’t think the me of my sealed memories was the same as the current me. The me before my eyes was someone else.
Without maturing forward, his time had stopped at ten years of age.
(Did I… used to be like this?)
As I found it strange, the boy before my eyes made a bit of a troubled face, and averted his eyes.
『Ah, don’t misunderstand it. I am me, and I’m not the past me. The memories sealed and locked away, I’ve come to see you. So I’ll say it, but in a sense, we’re different people. In the first place, I’m not a wimp like you, after all.』
(What’s this… I don’t quite like him.)
He smiled and asked, ‘anything else?’ so I continued asking what was on my mind.
“Why did Celes hate me? And why did she do such a thing?”
Looking down with a bit of a sorrowful expression, the boy let out a sigh.
『I was soft. It was my mistake. Well, rather than Celes being skillful, she managed to conceal Agrissa sealed within the yellow Jewel. Behind her smile, she had gotten her hands on it. Maybe she was thinking of when to take the castle from me the whole time? I think Novem would be the more knowledgeable on that subject.』
I heard Novem’s name, but that one didn’t surprise me. I knew she carried on the memories of some Goddess or evil god.
So she must know something, and she must be hiding something.
“I’ll confirm it with Novem eventually. I realize I need to have a proper talk with her. But it won’t be too late after learning everything…”
There, the boy before my eyes gave a smile that sent shivers down my spine. Even when he was smiling, a cold sweat was flowing down my back. He had the same presence as Celes.
Standing from the chair, I was pointing a weapon at him before I even realized it.
『After learning everything? Good grief, you sure say some soft things. Drag it out from her mouth as soon as you can. And it’s possible you’ll never learn everything, you know?』
Milleia-san stood, and stepped out in front of me.
Calling the boy with my name, he… LYLE shrugged his shoulders, and lowered his characteristic aura.
『Good goddess, you’re scary when you’re angry, Milleia-san. But it looks like your ability to charm women is above mine, to say the least.』
As he said something I wasn’t happy to hear, I was convinced.
“So Septem-san… Septem’s powers have been passed down to me as well?”
But LYLE looked taken aback.
『What? It’s because I’m a pretty boy. It isn’t any goddess’ powers. It’s because I’m cool that the women flock to me. Don’t mistake that part. Otherwise, women would never gather around a wimp like you. Rather, the current you is the leftovers without the knowledge or power of a goddess, you hear.』
“… I think I hate you.”
When I let out my true feelings, LYLE also smiled and nodded.
『I really hate you too. It’s mutual!』
Even when I glared at him, he didn’t falter. Faltering aside, he began explaining what I had wanted to ask.
『It’s not like I know everything either. What I do know is my past, and yours. I do apologize for saying it, but I’m more talented than you. Of all else, I inherited just a bit of the goddess Septem’s memories. Rather than memories, should I call it knowledge? How to manipulate Mana, and an understanding of what Mana was in itself.』
“Mana? Mana is Mana, right?”
LYLE shook his head.
『Mana is poison to humans. No, it’s poison to all forms of life. Ask Novem about that field, why don’t you. I’m none too knowledgeable about that part. But I did know Mana. So I was knowledgeable in body strengthening, and magic. I knew, so I could use it well. On top of that, I had the talent.』
I turned my face to Milleia-san, and pointed at LYLE.
“Milleia-san, this isn’t me. I don’t think I was ever this cheeky brat.”
Milleia-san gave a bitter smile.
『Ye~ah, I think so too, but…』
There, LYLE made a protest. Not in opposition to my opinion, he angrily agreed.
『Why of course! I’m me. From the moment I was born, I was 【Lyle Walt】. But you were born 【Lyle Walt】 once everything was taken from you. Don’t group us together.』
I opened my eyes wide.
“You, you mean to say that I’m…”
『Right. You’re a fake. And I’m the one that’s closest to the original. So I’d like you to return it; my body.』
The boy moved right in front of me in an instant. His movements exceeded Celes.
When I promptly tried to retreat, Milleia-san forced her way between us. Her eyes glowed gold, and while her standing posture was normal, there was a pressure to it.
LYLE brought both hands behind his head.
『Oh my oh my, oh my oh my. Even Milleia-san’s on that side? Good grief, it looks like you’ve at least got it in you to make Novem fall. Even I wasn’t enough for that one.』
From behind Milleia-san, I asked LYLE.
“What? From back then, Novem was–”
『That’s also wrong. More than that, it looks like you really do trust Novem. Could it be imprinting? I’ll throw this out there, but Novem always took a fixed distance when she interacted with me and Celes. Even when I called out to her, her reactions were faint. She was no easy game, such to a level that within my head, I got around to calling her【Iron Fortress Novem】.』
Novem took distance from me? Why did she do that? In that case, why did I think Novem was always kind to me? No, in the first place… I’m a fake?
As I lost myself in thought, Milleia-san hugged me tightly.
『Calm down. If you don’t keep your heart firm, you really will be taken over.』
LYLE was laughing. Laughing, and sitting on the bed.
『Whoops, it’s almost time. Now then, anything else you’d like to ask? I guess I could answer one more for you.』
Looking at the existence before my eyes, I tried to ask something. But in my confusion, no questions were coming up. And I was getting to hate the existence before my eyes.
There, the existence in front of me overlapped with another self of mine.
“You… could it be when I’m experiencing Growth, you’re taking over my body!?”
There, LYLE made a dubious expression. Taking some fleeting glances at me. But while he was at it, I felt some sort of pity… a detestable feeling.
『I get where you’re coming from, but I’m irrelevant. No, maybe I am, but that’s you, without a doubt. Even for me, a mr. lyle state is a little… sorry, I can’t defend the idea. Really, I’m sorry.』
“N-no, I mean I’m different, and you’re…”
『Look here. I’m a memory, and I’ve been sealed. I have a general grasp of what’s going on outside, but it’s impossible for me to go out. I can’t influence anything from within the Jewel either. So I’m sure you don’t want to admit it, but… that’s you. Well, I understand the desire to pin it on someone else, but… ah, do you want to just make it my fault? I think that’ll be a load off your back.』
Seeing the existence before my eyes, LYLE, give an honest apology, I thought.
“Stop, don’t apologize for real. Don’t console me for real! And wait, I hate you!”
On top of the bed, LYLE smiled, and tilted his head.
『So do I.』
He said. He looked truly delighted as he said it.