In Bahnseim, true nobles was a term to denote baron and above.
Knight, and baronet were positions that existed below that. But they weren’t despised or anything; considering territory scale and responsibility, it wasn’t a mistake that true nobility started from the Baron House.
The population under their charge, and the size of the land to manage.
They had an obligation to protect it all, and from it, the vassal knight and baronet positions came to be.
But they hadn’t spent long years to obtain that title. The surroundings held dissatisfaction towards the upstart Walt House
The Third was a Hero, and the Fourth got on well with the King… he thought. Those times were good ones. But then came the Fifth’s era.
From that time, the country of Bahnseim started growing stormy. Because invasions from outside powers were on a decline. As goes without saying, they had recovered the national power they expended in the Third’s time, and it was a time where their left-over complaints, and the problems within the country were coming to the surface.
In the Fifth’s room of memories…
The scene projected there was something I couldn’t believe.
It was an unfamiliar mansion, not the Walt House’s. With verdure hair, the Fifth of his childhood… Fredricks had his best clothes stained with dirt, surrounded by boys and girls at an unpopular corner.
Fredricks was crying.
『I-I didn’t do any…』
He was small-built from a young age, and he didn’t have the removed atmosphere he had now. And seeing the he of the past, the Fifth covered his face with his right hand.
『… I thought you didn’t have to see. But if Milleia isn’t satisfied, then I’ll never be able to intrust my Skill to you.』
The gathered girls and boys kicked him.
『Shut it, damn upstart!』
『Because of your house, ours is going through hell!』
『When you’re just a low-class house, getting so stuck up because they call you a Hero!』
The giggling girls seemed to truly enjoy the sight of Fredricks being kicked.
Unable to endure it, I extended a hand to the leg coming at him, but without being able to touch it, I passed right through. It was a projection of a memory, and Fredricks was slammed against the wall.
The Fifth explained.
『It’s because the throne had already been succeeded. The king who felt a debt to the Walt house… or rather, the one who feared the Third was already an old man of a generation gone by. The situation had changed. Could it be these kids felt something in their childish view of the world?』
“What was the Walt House’s fault?”
『Hmm? Ah~, it was that. The Fourth’s ability in domestic affairs really was high, it goes to show. He invited craftsmen to a place devoid of anything, and raised them to be great. According to mama, he was managing the territory through trial and error, and sticking his hands into a number of things, but… the results came out.』
The results came out. As they started coming out, the Walt House began standing out from the surroundings, it seemed.
While the tax was the same, if you helped out in projects, you could get an exemption, or reward, and that brought out peoples’ motivation.
As a result, it made a situation where there was less tax in the Walt House than anywhere around.
『I understand their hatred, you know. If the tax is extremely lower somewhere, the people will flow there. Both who they run to and who they run from are troubled, right? So after a few of those talks we got things together to an extent. Though the Fourth tried recommending it to the others as well, it seems. But no one can get motivated if it means lowering their prospects. Even if there’s a large success next door.』
Even if they knew it would succeed, there are many people out there who wouldn’t want to change the way things have always been, said the Fifth. And it was there that the Walt House shouldered a large problem.
『… The Walt House that had always been thought of as low-class suddenly held the largest power. But if everyone worked together, it was possible suppress the House. We were standing on a dubious power balance words can’t describe.』
The children on the bullying side had probably been raised watching their parent’s fear and hatred towards the House.
『Thinking back now, they were probably scared. Of the Walt House that continued to grow.』
As the Fifth said that, the children began to leave. With teary eyes, Fredricks wiped his face with his sleeve, stood, and patted the dirt off of his clothing.
And his retainers were brought over by the mansion’s servants.
“… The servants were in on it?”
Those servants’ expression ranged from conflicted, to holding in laughter. Perhaps they were talked into conspiracy by the House’s heir, but they’d probably kept his retainers busy.
『Fredricks-sama! What happened to you!』
『Ah, t-this is…』
Before he could say anything a servant of the mansion spoke.
『Did you fall over? That’s terrible. We’ll prepare a change of clothing for you at once.』
He said, and led him off.
Having seen that, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t think the Fifth would have that sort of past.
The Fifth spoke.
『… Lyle, let’s leave it here today. It’s quite hard on me too.』
On his words, I nodded, and left for the Round table room. In the room, Milleia-san was raising and lowering her shoulders in deep breathes, with a hand to the floor.
Her form was watched by the Third, who was sitting in his own seat.
『Lyle, were you able to learn anything?』
He was yawning, and it didn’t look as if he’d moved a step from there, I looked over Milleia-san and the Third as I spoke.
“Could it be you purposely pulled Milleia-san away.”
The Third chuckled.
『Everyone has a past they don’t want others to see. I thought the slight father-con Milleia-chan might voice a desire to tag along. She’s also a brother-con to boot. What a troublesome great grandchild I have.』
Milleia-san stood, and looked at me.
『… Lyle, did you see the Fifth’s past? Whether you learn something from it or not is all up to you.』
I shook my head to the side.
『Milleia-san, please don’t throw out that sort of line, as if none of that ever happened.』
When I said that, the gunpoint was turned on me, so I fled to the world of reality.
The morning we would depart from Cartaffs.
I looked at the strange atmosphere surrounding my comrades.
Shannon was the same as always. She sat at the end of the cool newly-reborn Porter’s loading tray, flapping her legs as she took in the outside scenery.
But Clara was acting a little strange.
She was talking with Ludmilla-san, who came to see us off, but by her attitude it was as if their conversation was one of sworn friends.
“Here is the item in question. It’s a good things that we had them in Cartaffs, but they’re relatively rare. Please treat them with care.”
What Clara nodded and accepted looked to be a sort of bullet.
“It’s a huge help. Bullets are valuable.”
Ludmilla-san handed those valuable bullets to her en masse.
“It’s fine. That you’re safe is vital to me. And it will also be necessary to protect Lyle.”
Saying that, Ludmilla-san laughed.
It’s true it would be a huge help if Clara had the means to fight. For monsters, or for bandits, attacks by handguns had an extent of effect.
But watching over the two of them, Aria alone made a conflicted expression. And there was a strange distance between them. No, it looked like she was taking distance from Shannon as well.
Monica near me looked at that sense of distance.
『Oh? It does seem to me that a new faction has made its move. Now go and crush each other. I, Monica am more than plenty for the chicken dickwad.』
Seeing her come out with factions, I scoffed.
“What factions? You make it sound so grandiose. Quite a bit happened last time, but I doubt it’s gone to that level. Good grief… even so, I thought Aria would be the one to get along with Ludmilla-san.”
As similar female fighters, I thought Aria and Ludmilla-san would surely have plenty to sympathize over. But after going off to the bath together, the one who made friends with her was Clara, it seems.
The strange pairing made me want to tilt my head, but accepting those sorts of things happened, I decided to depart.
From the Jewel, Milleia-san, who’d been silent form her sullenness opened her mouth.
『… A powerful foe has appeared. I never thought that child would go to that side.』
The Third’s voice was a little lower than usual.
『If anyone lays a hand on my favorite Clara-chan, I will get angry.』
Listening to their conversation, I wanted to tilt my head once more, when the Seventh spoke.
『How unexpected. I thought Ludmilla and Aria would have much to talk about… likes repel, was it?』
Within all that, the Fifth alone addressed me.
『… Lyle, call out to Aria. You can just strike a conversation while on the move. And you need to hold a little more tension.』
We were heading for Bahnseim from here, so that’s what I thought it was about, but it seems I was off.
『This is bad. A wife who knows of factions. She may be more troublesome than Novem.』
He seemed to be worrying about it in earnest.
The journey on the reborn Porter was pleasant.
On most roads, it could move with little sway. As we were travelling in a lump of steel, bandits and monsters didn’t know what it was, and were too wary to come out.
Watching from afar, they saw how our movement speed was even greater than it had ever been, and gave up on chasing us.
I sat on the loading tray’s bench-like sofas I spoke to Aria beside me.
“It’s become quite comfortable. Though it’s a problem how the strange added features have made it a little narrower.”
Aria shared the opinion.
“It doesn’t shake as much as before, and it’s become more comfortable, but it’s narrow. It would’ve been nice if we had a larger one. Like the one at Damien’s place…”
Aria was smiling. But when Damien’s name came out, Monica- who was knitting- reacted. She stood, and spread out her arms.
“You mean to say you prefer that fake Porter with nothing but its size to it!? You make light of this mass of romance I even added transformation functions to, and the proof of me and the chicken’s love— ow!”
I borrowed Aria’s spear to lightly tap the hilt against her head. A teary-eyes Monica sat on the spot, with both hands pressed to the hit portion. Her twin-tails gracefully fell across the floor.
She was calculating, and purposely making herself look cute, Valkyrie Unit One had informed me recently, so it felt quite crafty to me.
“Monica, quiet down a bit. You’ll wake up the girl drooling asleep right next to you.”
Seeing Shannon happily asleep, Monica took out a cloth, and wiped off the drool.
“Please don’t sully me and the Chicken Dickwad’s Porter.”
And after saying that, she sat down again, and resumed her knitting. It was almost time for winter. It seems she was doing various things to prepare for it.
Last winter, she had stuffed way too much love into a heavy sweater and muffler, and gloves. I was a little curious as to what she would come out with this year.
I let out a sigh, as I returned Aria’s spear.
“Thinking back to the start, we’ve got quite a few more people. When I used to make Zelphy-san angry in Dalien as I tried to become an adventurer. Yet now, we’ve been driven out of the Guild.”
Zelphy-san was the adventurer who advised us right when we had just become adventurers. In a town full of newbie adventurers, she was a veteran.
She used to be of a family in service to Aria’s House, and something of a big sister to her, it seems.
“If she looked at the current me, what would Zelphy say… if it’s appearance alone, I’ve become a splendid adventurer, have I?”
It’s true Aria held the presence of a female adventurer. On top of the equipment she’d grown accustomed to, her fighting style would make men feel ashamed.
But even so, from my point of view, having seen her various failures in her novice days.
“You’ve grown wilder, but you haven’t changed too much. Lively, with surprisingly maidenesque hobbies.”
Aria spoke awkwardly.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m crude after all.”
She said, but it didn’t look like she was too mindful of it herself. She laughed a bit. But her expression immediately turned dark.
“Lyle, there’s something I’d like to ask you.”
She looked up at the ceiling, and confirmed that Clara driving up top couldn’t hear, before speaking in a smaller voice.
“As I thought. I’m, you know… as you can see, and I’ll still help you but… I think I’ll give up on becoming your wife.”
What Aria put to mouth were words that she’d assist but not marry me. But it looks like some part of her was seeking for me to approve of it.
In any case… I wanted Aria to find happiness, and if that was her choice, then…
But there, the one to put out an opposing opinion came from the Jewel. Surprisingly enough, it was the Fifth.
『Lyle, no matter what you have to do, detain this child. I’ll say it. She’ll definitely be necessary for you.』
The Fifth was seriously telling me to stop Aria. In my confusion, Aria looked a little nervous as she awaited my answer.
I opened my mouth.
“… May I ask the reason?”
“I-it’s you know! I’m, like, not as strong as the others, and I can’t put out money like Vera, and I can’t lend manpower like the others can. I’m not smart like Novem or Miranda… even in magic, while I can use it, I’m no good at it. I’m aware I’m nothing but a hindrance.”
Hearing Aria’s words, the Fifth let out a stronger tone than usual from the Jewel.
『Lyle, don’t let Aria get away. This child holds something you’ll definitely need in times to come. Something neither Novem nor Miranda holds. Difference from Vera or Ludmilla, she’s an absolute necessity for you.』
I half-listened to the Fifth’s opinion, as I thought over what to say to Aria. But in my heart, I thought it… If she remained by my side, would Aria ever truly be happy? … that question.
Could I really just follow his words, and pursue happiness for myself alone? I thought.