‘Twas a refreshing, cloudy sky.
On such a perfect day for war, I sat on the second level of a stack of crates, and I looked down over the Valkyries dancing around.
Looking up at me, Novem, Aria and May were making enervated expressions, while Elza-san looked nervous. Surrounding eyes gathered on me, but as I was always showered with attention, this much wasn’t enough to satisfy me.
The Valkyries each danced a different dance, their movements as if to encircle me making it look as if they were performing some sort of bizarre ritual.
For every one doing a beautiful waltz, there was another in a handstand, violently spinning their legs through the air. They each displayed their willful individuality, but when they all moved around in the same circle, it looked considerably ominous.
But they said it was to celebrate my recovery, so it did make me feel happy.
(I sure am a happy one. It feels a bit eerie, but they think of me so… as I thought, I’m a man who was born to be loved.)
As I looked over those Valkyries, I spoke.
“When they show off their quirks like that, I can’t feel any uniformity. On the contrary, it’s as if they’ve no quirks to speak of. But I can understand that you’re all rejoicing. I, Lyle Walt… am once more in perfect form! There’s no longer a need for you to worry!”
Standing on the second story wooden crate, I thrusted the fists of both hands towards the heavens, and lifted my face towards them as well.
“Hmm, the heavens are blessing me as well. It’s a good thing it’s cloudy without too much sunlight today.”
Whether it be sunny or raining, or even if hail were to fall, in the end, it’s their blessing. The man who is loved by all forms of weather must be loved across the skies.
And as a brilliant theory popped into my head.
“Muh, I’ve thought of something nice!”
But I could hear it from below. Yelling at me, and as if pleading for something. Looking down on Aria’s earnest face felt like a bad thing to do, so I jumped down from atop the crate…
“Hup! And now for a beautiful landing!”
I landed right before Aria, taking a single deep lunge before standing. There, Aria used the hilt of the spear in her hand to hit my head.
“That hurt, did it not. Jealous? If it’s candy, I’ve got more to give.”
When I started digging through my pocket, Aria yelled.
“Idiot! Put a stop to this strange ritual already! Just look around, it’s scaring everyone!”
The soldiers of Rusworth were watching the dancing Valkyries surround us. Perhaps they found it ominous, as everyone was looking on with a strange face.
“How rude of you to call it a strange ritual. They’re merely dancing to celebrate my recovery. It seems they’ve yet to develop expression, so they’re only dancing to express their emotions. If you think of it like that, isn’t it cute?”
Novem shook her head to the side.
“Lyle-sama, a little longer, and a war is going to start. I believe it best to tone down actions that would lower morale. There are no absolutes on the battlefield.”
Scolded by Novem, I felt there was no helping it, so I halted the dance. All operating Valkyries had assembled out of worry for my poor health, so I hadn’t the slightest idea of the affairs of Galleria.
“There’s no helping it. If you say so, Novem. All of you, leave the dancing at that. I’ll leave it to you to develop synchronization for next time.”
“You’ll have them go at it again? You really are an idiot!”
On Aria’s words, I smiled.
“Hmm, if you don’t comprehend, then feel free to call me a fool. I’ll keep fighting on.”
When I said such a cool line, as anticipated, Elza-san’s face turned red. As expected of me. She’s already on the verge of falling. My own charm was a frightening thing, but it seems that Celes stole all of Septem’s power from within me. In that case, this is just my original glamor.
Novem made a bitter smile.
“Lyle-sama, please don’t pull a line from thin air to avoid the subject. What do you plan to do about this situation? Do you have no means of contacting the other side? Galleria’s side is also a battlefield, and infiltrating at this point will be difficult… it is my thoughts it bet you head over there and…”
Why not move to that side to control the battle? Such a proposal from Novem was never spoken through to its end. The one to interrupt was Elza-san.
“Ah, no… could you wait a moment? See, we’ve been exchanging letters for a while now, and today’s well… how about staying on this camp, Lyle-dono?”
Awkwardly trying to stop me, she showed off her brand new attire. Perhaps she had tried adding femininity to her knight clothing, but she was wearing a skirt, and boots that covered all the way to her thighs.
The pale skin of her face was dyed red, and her eyes were clouded.
“Very well, then I’ll stay here. Well, today’s but a clash of those that have it coming to them. There shouldn’t be a problem if I’m here. And Elza-san.”
As her face turned to a delighted smile, I directed a smile as well.
“You’re pulling off those clothes better than the last I saw you. I’ve been fascinated by the portion visible between your skirt and boots.”
When I gave an honest answer, Aria pinched my back. She must be jealous.
“What is it, did you want to be complemented? Fret not, Aria, you’ve got a charm only you possess. I’ve fallen deep for that heroic splendor of yours.”
As I said that with a smile, her left hand came into high-speed contact with my face.
“Why are you making plays at women even at a time like this!? And what’s heroic splendor supposed to mean!? Huh!?”
Pressing my right hand to my face, I to her.
“… Splendid slap. But please not the face. I’m busy today, so I’ll have to accompany you later. On the night’s bed if you wish.”
There, Aria’s face turned the same bright red as her hair, and she lowered her spear on me. If it hit, it would’ve really been dangerous, but if you think of it as her hiding her embarrassment, it has a cuteness to it as well.
(I get the feeling anyone but me would’ve died from that, but ‘tis a trivial matter. If Aria didn’t go this far, there’d be little worth in going at it.)
“A wonderful strike! If that hit, I would’ve died. So aren’t you glad you’re paired with me?”
“You should die once or twice to repent! Even now, you keep embarrassing us all!”
Aria’s eyes were teary, but having her call it embarrassment made me tilt my head. I think she was under some sort of misunderstanding.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s only embarrassing because you think of it as embarrassment. But this is my standard, so it’s no problem to me. Rather, I really am busy today, so can we continue this later?”
Novem looked in my direction, touching a hand to her face, and tilting her head.
“Weren’t you just going to sit back and watch today?”
Such a Novem was cute, but Elza-san was panicking over whether to stop Aria, or leave her as she was, so to send her a life raft, I spoke.
“Well, everyone listen up. Today I’m here, so there’s no need to worry. That’s all I can say for now. That’s how it is, so I’ll be off to prepare. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Seeing me declare it so boldly, Elza-san blushed and nodded, Aria held her head, and Novem sent a conflicted smile my way as she waved me off.
I was seen off by the Valkyries, as I entered one of the tents not in use.
When I entered the tent, I found Monica humming, as she prepared it for my use.
And as she saw me, she waved her hand with an exceedingly good smile on her face.
“Look around, Chicken Dickhead. I, Monica, have taken command of the useless scrap units one through three to prepare this tent for you! The preparations are perfect!”
I had borrowed it because I wanted a space to be alone, but Monica was already taking the initiative to spin her gears and prepare it.
I placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Thank you, Monica. You all did well. I have something I want to think over alone for a while. So could you go and help out outside? I’ll come for you soon. I’m relying on all of you.”
When I directed a smile, Valkyrie Units One through Three assumed poses. They opened their mouthes at the same time.
“Leave it to me! This perfect Valkurie One!”
“Special model Unit Two will actualize her master’s orders!”
“More than One and Two, Unit Three shall serve her master.”
They posed together, but their messages were all over the place. Monica looked over the three machines, and scoffed.
“For automatons to not match breath, blatantly doing nothing but flashing their forced individuality… my eyes can’t endure it.”
The Valkyries expanded the binders on their back, and tried to take their weapons out when I hit my hands together.
“Hey, it’s time for work.. You three take command of the other Valkyries outside. Monica, I’m assigning you to Novem.”
“Understood. I shall show you how different I am from these degraded bootlegged shams!”
Following Monica, who burst off, the three Valkyries left the tent.
And a Third Generation Head holding in his laughter spoke to me.
『So are you up to form today, mr. lyle? I’ve the feeling your firepower has been lacking so far. But more importantly, do you have a plan? If you don’t send the Valkyries, or go directly to Galleria’s camp yourself…』
The Third sounded worried, but there weren’t any problems for me.
“It’s alright. I’ll just be hiding this time. Well, it’s a good opportunity to put a stop to this stream of conspired warfare. When the ones drinking the good stuff learn just how dangerous of a situation they’ve been placed in, they’ll quiet down some. In the end, they’ll either think they’re dead meat, or actually drop dead.”
In regards to me, the Fifth sounded a little surprised.
『… Oy, the plan was to have the traitors clash and weaken each other, wasn’t it?』
He said. I had thought so as well, but there was a more suitable option in this situation, so I merely chose to choose it.
And I had concern from the start.
“There’s the possibility that there are those who’ve been having exchanges behind the scenes like Gracia and Elza. It’s not a stretch to think they’d try to make it look like they’re desperately fighting on. Because even if they throw their populaces at one another, it will all be fine as long as they survive themselves.”
The Seventh sounded impressed at my opinion.
『So you noticed, Lyle. No, mr. lyle. But even so, that doesn’t change the fact they’ll suffer heavy casualties. If you cut down the number of lords or officials any further, the countries won’t be able to move. Thinking of the balance, this matter is a peaceful one.』
The Seventh tried to persuade me, but surprisingly enough, the Third and Milleia-san supported my position. And the opinions of the Jewel were divided in half.
(… With an even number of them, majority vote becomes difficult.)
While the Fifth and Seventh tried to talk me out of it, the Third.
『How about we let mr .lyle do as he likes? I want to see what sort of result that one will bring about. What’s more, if he worsens the situation, then worse comes to worst, we pull those two leaders out and book it.』
Milleia-san was of the same opinion.
『Just a little more to bag them after all. Good grief, if he was just this assertive on a regular basis, I’d never get tired of watching. The gap is important, but he needs to fix up his usual hesitation a little more, I see.』
She handed down some harsh words, but if I take it as her worry for me, it isn’t bad at all. And it’s not like I’m wishing for the worst case scenario.
“You’re mistaken there. It’s not like I’ve an intent to pull those two from their positions. They’re both specialized to leading troops and fighting on the battlefield. In that case, this is quite the appropriate situation.”
The Fifth consented to that one. But he showed disapproval to an alteration of the plan.
『I have to agree to that. I agree… but in that case, there’s no need to go out of your way to do something akin to gambling, right?』
The Seventh as well.
『Making hasty revisions and making a situation where you can’t get the two to fall will be troublesome. And wait, the conversation’s naturally turned towards seducing them, but I guess that just shows Lyle’s growth… in various ways.』
Hearing the opinions of the ancestors, I burst into laughter. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
『What’s up, Lyle?』
After clearing my throat, I boldly declared to the vacant tent. Spreading both my hands, and looking up at the ceiling, I could see the lumber supporting its structure.
“You’re mistaken, my good people! It’s not that this Lyle Walt is seducing anyone! When you get to my level, the women you set your eyes on go and fall of their own accord!”
After a little silence, the Third laughed out loud.
『For his overconfidence to go this far, as expected of mr. lyle. But whether they fall by themselves, or get seduced, if it fails, won’t it be fatal? And have you forgotten you’re regularly connected by line to Monica-chan and the others? They can determine your location instantly.』
Right, just as I could tell their position, they could sense mine as well. So even if I hid, and stayed silent, they’d come to find me. If I told them, I think they’d listen to my orders, but that just wouldn’t be any fun.
I had thought to test it out, so I decided to make use of this opportunity.
I took out the sword I’d borrowed from Aria. A type of Magic Tool, and something handed down by a skilled knight during the invasion of Selva, apparently.
“It’s fine. If I use this, it’ll create an interference with the Jewel, and throw the line into disarray. I can’t usually use Magic Tools, but tools are all about how you use them. I can run away whenever I want. FWAHAHAHA!!”
If you used a Magic Tool, it would interfere with the Jewel and disable it. Because of that, I had never used them before. But they were quite a convenient thing to have at a time like this.
When I raised a grand laugh as I said that, the Third suddenly burst into a panic.
『… Eh? Wait a second! In that case, we won’t be able to watch mr. lyle’s–』
The Seventh was also flustered.
『Y-you can’t, Lyle! That method brings no joy to any of us! How about we think of a different means and…』
Milleia-san began scolding me.
『Lyle, when the festival finally comes, it’s unfair if I don’t get to enjoy it with everyone else. Understood. I’ll also assist, so how about you put the Magic Tool down, and talk things out? Look, if you just send your consciousness over to the Jewel for a bit, it’ll be over before you know it.』
I’m sure they planned to use the magic of persuasion too prevent me from using the Magic Tool. If it was Milleia-san, perhaps she would actually be able to pull it off, so I gave a laugh.
“It’s too late! I, Lyle Walt… Have a principle of doing what I set out to do! I’m not the sort of man to give in to threats! Well then, fare thee well!”
When I drew the blade, and flowed Mana in, the Skills bestowed on the metal activated, and interfered with the Jewel. They both messed with one another, and the voices I could hear from the Jewel became broken and disconnected.
At the end, the Fifth.
『Not my… -blem…… -ore.』
He said. I continued pouring Mana into the sword, returning it to its scabbard as I flipped my hair.
“What, I’ll be back in time for the main event, and I’ll release it these. Just wait a little.”
I muttered aware of the fact they couldn’t hear me.
“You should really have patience once in a while, dear ancestors of mine.”
Giving a grin, I exited the tent, and concealed myself. It was all to get both sides to fight seriously.
… As both camps glared at one another, Gracia sent Miranda as a messenger.
Even when this was a farce of a war, it was still her brother’s first campaign. She wanted to have Lyle by his side.
Officially, they weren’t supposed to have any means to contact him, so as a front, they had to dispatch someone. But Miranda had given a vague explanation, and all that was left was to wait for the man himself to arrive.
Restless as she waited, Gracia looked over the inside of her tent as she awaited the return of messenger Miranda.
As she couldn’t calm down, the surrounding lords likely thought her irritated, as they hung their heads in silence.
Leold tried to be tactful.
“Gracia, even if you don’t puch such pressure on your surroundings… I’m sure everyone will fight to their fullest.”
Hearing those words, Gracia began putting on a play with him.
“Hmm, those words hold no weight when they come from one ignorant of the battlefield. When there could still be traitors among us, who can say when my head will be cut in my sleep. I’ve said I would depend on the loyalty of everyone present today, but…”
Thinking over how awkward it was to say such things to her cute little brother, Gracia continued acting, when Miranda returned to the tent. Gracia swallowed down her joy, and took on an imposing attitude.
“So you’ve come. How has Rusworth replied?”
The lords all remained mindful of what the messenger was about to say. Miranda got onto a knee.
“… Unable, is the reply.”
Miranda couldn’t give a detailed explanation in this situation, so she just gave a brief relay of the result.
As Gracia stood, she thought to herself.
(What does he mean he’s unable!? He just has to show himself a little more on this side, does he not? Can’t he just care about me a little m… w-wait! Since he’s the person Elza likes, could it be she…)
Standing still, Gracia remained silent for a while before opening her mouth again.
“… Once more. Messenger, I’ll have you go to Rusworth’s camp once more. Everyone else, to your stations!”
Sending the lords back to their own armies, with only those concerned left in the tent, Gracia spoke.
“Miranda-chan, what do you mean it isn’t happening!?”
As she approached Miranda as if to cling on to her, Miranda scratched her face with a finger.
“No, um… they can’t find Lyle, it seems.”
Gracia spoke immediately.
“Wait, you said that automaton called Monica-chan naturally get into contact with him! What’s more, having all units move to that side wasn’t part of the… it couldn’t be.”
The worst possibility floated in her head. A delusion of if Elza had noticed her feelings, and stolen Lyle away.
When Gracia raised her voice, Leold frantically stepped on to soothe her…
“Gracia, wait! There may be someone around! And he may have his own circumstances!”
… In Rusworth, the Valkyries fidgeted as they searched all through the camp.
Monica was sitting, cradling her knees in Elza’s tent. The line was cut, so she couldn’t supply herself from Lyle’s Mana pool. At a time like this, she was making sure not to take needless movements, and run out of energy. So she remained on standby.
But perhaps the individual herself wanted to go, as she wouldn’t stop mumbling to herself.
“If I didn’t part from the Chicken dickwad there… not being by his side during his fever time, I’m a failure as a maid. This Monica is no Monica. God dammit… dammit all…”
Seeing Monica in a corner of the tent, staring at a support beam and talking to herself, Aria let out a sigh.
“Just because you can’t get in contact for a bit? Lyle’s got considerable skill himself, and I’m sure he’ll be fine. Right, No… vem?”
When Aria looked at Novem standing to her side, she took a step back and took some distance.
“… Eh? Did you say something? What could it be? Oh, do you happen to know where Lyle-sama is? Is he back yet? I should go search for… no, but I’ve been ordered to stay… what should I do?”
Completely expressionless. And a voice without any inflection, she wasn’t the usual Novem whose smile would never go extinct. She was wobbling a bit, grasping the Forxuz House’s heirloom staff in her hand much stronger than usual.
Aria looked at Elza. In the tent, sitting in her chair, Elza was also worrying for Lyle.
“I tried to find him when that messenger person came for him, but since he wasn’t there, I had to decline… the timing matches up too well.”
Aria noticed Elza was acting strange, and was about to try lulling her with words he would return in no time, when she recalled her last conversation with the man.
(Wait, just now, he… said he was just going to be watching, yet he was going to be busy.)
Then isn’t this part of Lyle’s plan? She was about to bring that up, when Elza stood.
“She did it. That woman… come to think of it, her letter said she had someone she liked. No matter how you look at it, that was Lyle-dono, right! Pretending to send a messenger, she really snatched him away!”
As Elza worked herself up, Aria tried to say it wasn’t the case. She tried.
“There’s no way that’s true. Miranda is our com—”
“—The possibility exists. It’s Miranda-san, after all.”
Novem quietly muttered. Her usual discontentments, or perhaps unconsciously, the girl herself didn’t sound too mindful of what she had said. But she couldn’t’ permit a situation where Lyle was unaccounted for, it seems.
There, Elza grabbed a nearby staff, left the tent, and wrung out her voice.
“Gather the generals at once! There’s been a change of plans. I shall personally…”
After saying that much, a soldier raced over, and informed her. His knees shaking to Elza’s bloodcurling atmosphere.
“E-Elza-sama! The messenger has come from Galleria again…”
There stood Miranda behind the soldier.
“Have you found Lyle yet? If possible, I’d like to take him back quickly. We’ve got circumstances of our own.”
Aria leapt out of the tent, and looked at the messenger’s face. But Elza turned her staff to Miranda.
“When you’ve abducted Lyle-dono yourself, you have quite the nerve. Go tell that woman. That I’ll never conspire with her again to the end of this world. I’ll have him snatched back.”
On Elza’s proclamation, Miranda made a blank expression, before looking at Aria. Elza immediately headed for her generals, and Novem unsteadily followed along.
Miranda to Aria.
“What happened? What do you mean Lyle isn’t here? And it sounds like she thinks I’m the one who took him.”
Aria hurriedly tried to convey the present situation. But the problem lay in that this sort of thing was Aria’s weak point. After all, having heard her explanation, Miranda…
“… That woman, when I thought she was staying quiet, she goes and does quite some nasty things.”
Seeing Miranda’s shoulders shake, Aria thought it was a mistake.
“T-that’s wrong! Novem was also acting strange because Lyle was gone. I’m sure it’s because she’s…!”
But without listening to Aria’s explanations, Miranda turned, and headed for the horse she’d come one.
And she spoke to Aria.
“Go tell Novem. ‘If that’s how you’re going to play it, I’ve got some cards of my own’. Also, Aria, go and find Lyle already… or could it be you’re in cahoots with that woman?”
Looking into Miranda’s eyes, Aria stepped back again, and shook her head. Miranda smiled and spoke to Aria.
“I see, that’s good. You’re my friend, Aria. I trust you won’t betray me.”
Aria couldn’t take Miranda’s words at face value. She was usually quite tactless, but looking at Miranda’s bloodthirsty smile, it’s not as if she could remain oblivious.
That was a warning.
Aria could understand that.
(W-what are you going to do about this, Lyle~!)
On the verge of tears, Aria ran off to search for Lyle, who’d disappeared off somewhere…