… Atop the wall enclosing Beim, there were soldiers firing arrows.
But before Bahnseim’s army that surrounded them on all sides but the port, even if they had the bows and guns, they couldn’t get in any decent attacks.
When it came to magic attacks, it felt like Beim was the one pushing. The skilled magicians among the adventurers shot off their prided magics one after the next. And Bahnseim could only endure, occasionally sending magic counterattacks of their own.
If things continued like this, would Bahnseim eventually be blown to magical bits? Beim’s morale experienced a slight recovery.
The leader of a large adventurer party taking command at the scene fought boldly where Bahnseim’s offense was the greatest.
“Let’s show these dogs of Bahnseim! The monsters we take on every day are scarier than they!”
That wasn’t wrong. But it was a statement forgetting who they should fear more.
As his party members shot one magic or arrow after the next, Bahnseim incurred. Deploying a Magic Shield, they were giving their utmost effort just to ward off the attacks… or so it seemed…
… Headquarters of Bahnseim’s Beim Invasion Force.
In it, the generals gathered, hearing the explosions and feeling the shockwaves as they held their meeting.
Not a single one of them stood fearful before Beim’s intense assault. More than that, they even showed their leisure.
The Supreme Commander opened his mouth.
“Now then, this Beim lot is showing its mettle, but I’m sure we can go at it the usual way. Because if we just wait here, the enemy will exhaust themselves.”
One of the generals spoke up.
“The boats are prepared to attack from the sea. They’re plunderers that took a village with a coast, and it will take a little time before they are used to it.”
The Commander nodded.
“Let them get some firm training in. It’s better than rushing and taking a tumble. Our larger force need only put pressure on the enemy from here. Seeing us not crumbling no matter what they do, just how long will it take for Beim’s heart to fold in…”
A knight brigade chief reported the surrounding situation.
“Beim supposedly took in a considerable number of refugees from the surrounding towns and villages. I’m sure they have enough food, but can they hold out with so many mouths to feed… and they’ve never experienced a war of this scale before. They may be surprisingly fragile.”
Beim had used its mercenaries to intervene in war for its own prosperity, but the city itself had never fallen into a position where it had to experience war firsthand. There weren’t any leaders among them who’d experienced battle on this scale, and Bahnseim’s side was aware Beim had yet to think up any effective means.
No, they could feel it in their bones.
“They should’ve sought out a retired general, and invested their money into getting his teachings. I can’t understand why Beim won’t take such a simple measure.”
The one to answer the Supreme Commander’s question was a young general.
“Were they making light of it all? Even if they intervened in wars around, a majority of them were on a smaller scale. From what I’ve heard of the pillaged villages, they’re putting too much trust into the abilities of the adventurers. Do they think each one is a match for a thousand?”
Adventurers who took on monsters… the people of Beim were largely mistaking their abilities. The merchants running businesses out of Beim were the same.
One of the generals laughed.
“Match for a thousand, eh? ‘Twas what I wanted to be when I was a wee lad. But reality ‘sn’t so sweet. There’s not an incompetent here who’d force the whole burden to a man with such skill to his blade, Supreme Commander.”
Battle reliant on a single exceptional, to say it the other way, as long as that one was lost, they would crumble too easily.
If the adventurers were the strong of Beim, they need only wait for those adventurers’ hearts to cave in. The Supreme Commander smiled lightly.
“That right. Well then, will Beim’s heart fold first, or will the plans we prepared be pulled off first? Taking bets here, gentlemen.”
The generals of Bahnseim raised bursts of laughter…
Stepping back a bit, I lay down gripping the Jewel. I had ate, wiped down my body, and when I entered the bed, I closed my eyes. We had taken measures in advance. May should be prepared as well. I felt the sensation of my mind entering the Jewel, and when I next opened my eyes, I was in the Jewel’s round table room.
The one waiting for me was the Fifth, who was sitting on the table. He was making a serious expression.
『So you’ve come. Follow me. I’ll teach you my Skill, and hand you the weapon necessary for this situation. Take up my galient blade. Bring an end to this detestable battle at once.』
The Fifth’s Skill Map… it was a Skill to grasp the surrounding terrain. I’d given a bit of thought into why he came out with such a Skill.
The First’s enhancements. The Second’s Skill to let others use your Skills. The Third’s was for the psyche. The Fourth’s for movement… and the Fifth gained the ability to grasp his surroundings.
I thought the reason he needed it lay in the situation at the time. Bandits were storming into the Walt House’s territory and wreaking havoc at the time. Rather than the Sixth’s Skill to search out enemy presences, the Fifth’s needed his terrain understanding to set up defenses and predict enemy invasion routes.
As he hopped down from the table, and headed off for his room, the Third and Seventh saw him off from their seats. When the Fifth sent them glances, they both nodded.
But sitting in the Fifth’s chair, Milleia-san didn’t look fully satisfied. No, I’m sure she understood. Insisting to give him a grand sendoff wasn’t important in our current predicament. She stood.
The Fifth looked at her.
『Milleia… don’t stop me anymore.』
『I won’t stop you. But won’t you be lonely alone?』
There, the Fifth shrugged his shoulders.
『I’m not alone. There’s already someone waiting in my room.』
Milleia-san shook her head, and muttered something like, ‘there really is no helping you’. As me and Milleia-san headed for the Fifth’s room, I could hear the Seventh’s voice.
To his worried eyes, Milleia-san smiled and waved.
『No need to worry, I won’t get in his way anymore. And Brod-kun… that part of you hasn’t changed either. Makes me remember the past.』
Remember what? That was something only Milleia-san and the Seventh would understand. I rounded the doorway, and entered his memories.
Ashen clouds covered the sky, a battlefield where rain might fall at any moment.
No, the battle was already over. There were corpses fallen around, and the bodies presumably from the Walt House were carefully being handled. In contrast, for the enemy fully armored self-proclaimed bandits- owing to the possibility there may be some playing dead- the Walt House soldiers were going around stabbing in their spears.
But there were many tattered bodies around, enough that it even made me curious as to how they were killed. The Fifth looked at Fredricks, who was sitting in the chair taking a glance at the bandits.
The surviving ones were stripped of their equipment and bound with rope. They were brought before Fredricks, where they cast their eyes down.
“… Fifth, are these people bandits?”
The Fifth laughed a bit.
『Self-proclaimed bandits. In truth, they were one of the Walt House’s vassals, and the folks they let in from the territory they neighbored. They used the vassals as a bridge to lay waste to my territory. And they only called themselves bandits whenever they were running amok. Well, lords are little different from bandits, is how the saying goes. You can see why. In the battle, the guys of Bahnseim pillaged their hearts out, right? That’s something you can find anywhere. It’s nothing rare.』
When I made an unpleasant face, the Fifth and Milleia-san laughed. It didn’t look like they were making fun of me, they were truly glad. The Fifth nodded.
『That’s how it should be. That feeling is important. Though I’ve forgotten it.』
The surrounding scene began moving. One of the presented bandits was a tag-along of the noble boy who once made fun of Fredricks. He had grown into a young man, but now he was being presented to Fredricks as a bandit, kicked around by the surrounding soldiers.
『B-bastards! Don’t think you’ll get off lightly for doing this to me. We may have lost here, but once I return home…』
I tilted my head.
“Home? He planned to return from that?”
While I couldn’t believe it, Milleia-san explained.
『At the time, the surrounding lords were conspiring. Though that was gone by the time we grew up. Based on how things went, we’d have to take him to Centralle, and use him as a witness in the king’s arbitration. No, as evidence I should say.』
“It was gone? The reason it didn’t continue was…”
The Fifth spoke in an emotionless voice.
『Because I thoroughly destroyed that rule. An outskirts-specific rule. You’ll find it elsewhere, but to summarize, it was mediation. Between nobles, I’ll add on. Those guys were treating it as some form of game.』
I harbored some unpleasant feeling towards the bound young man that came out in the Fifth’s memory. Milleia-san read my emotions, and nodded.
『… By Walt House’s rule, all bandits were to be executed. Decapitated. The corpses hung up and made an example of.』
A soldier carrying a large axe stepped out in front of the bandits. The young man gave a voice as if he couldn’t tell what was going on.
『S-stop! I won’t crumble under your threats! If you do that, a war will break out with the Walt House!』
The vassal nobles who pillaged with the young man were the same. Their expressions had changed from brazen to hurried.
『Please stop it! If you do it, there really won’t be any going back… w-we swear never to do anything like this henceforth!』
What an unsightly scene. I couldn’t even laugh at it. But the Fifth was laughing a little.
『Terrible right? That was the state at the time. Thinking the area’s rule was absolute, they had done it believing there was no risk at all. There were various causes and factors, but mainly because there weren’t any foreign threats at the time. If there were, it was at skirmish level. The Third had done too good a job in threatening that war-loving half-wit, it ushered in an extreme change of course for the country. These guys were bored, pretty much. They should’ve just quieted down and focused on developing their territories.』
Fredricks stood from his seat, and pulled the sword at his waist. There was a trigger-like thing on the hilt portion. Lines ran across the blade, and that peculiar sword… the galient blade showed off its form.
『I can’t hear a word you’re saying. The ones here are bandits. I can’t see anything else. You’ll present your necks here. And also. I’ll be crushing a vassaled house of mine. If they have a complaint, I’m sure a certain someone’s son will go crying to Centralle. That a father playing sham-bandit was slain by his lord!』
Fredricks used his sword. With a swipe to the side, its blade moved like a living animal hunting out the heads of the vassal’s knights and soldiers. Heads fell one after the next… The sword they turned red from the blood it took in went limp like a whip, before returning to the Fifth in its sword shape.
The bound bodies of bandits around spurted blood as they fell. Seeing that scene, the young man burst out.
『S-stop iiit!! You won’t get your hands on any ransom! But with me, you can at least get a few hundred gold from…』
The young man screamed, and while he was bound, he frantically writhed to flee. His own remaining soldiers were watching his pitiful plight. Fredricks held up his blood-reddened blade as he stepped on the man’s back to pin him to the ground. The galient blade touched his neck.
『I don’t need something like that. How much money do you think it takes to set up a single village?』
『T-then I’ll rebuild this village! I’ll make it how it was before! It was a small village. It wasn’t anything special, but my House will put out money to reconstruct it! Don’t get so angry over a single small village! O-or are you still angry about the past? Then I’ll apologize. I’ll give a formal apology! So sheath your sword!』
A single small village… its yearly tax yield wouldn’t even reach a hundred gold coins. Even if you let it be, its population would increase, and it would begin cultivating so it could support itself. To the young man, that’s all a village was, it seems. He had a different way of thought than the one fostered in the Walt House.
『I see. So you’ll make this village just as it was before.』
『S-so you understand? Then…』
『Then how does this sound. Without the slightest bit of difference, bring it all back. Revert the buildings and tools you burned, and bring all the villagers back to life. If you do, I don’t need a ransom. I don’t have any interest in the past. I’ll send you back to your beloved home at once. Now have a go at it!』
The young man opened his mouth in silence.
『D-don’t screw with me! There’s no way I can…』
His head flew through the air. The face of the young Fredricks who swore his revenge was terribly grim. Fredricks parted from the man before wiping off the blood stuck to his blade. And he spoke without any interest.
『Kill them all. Make an example of their bodies. Skewer them and position them so his house will notice. If that leads them to invade, we’ll retaliate.』
He was indifferent. That he continued checking the mechanisms of his weapons, that rather than the ones he had killed, he was making sure it wasn’t broken anywhere was because he truly was more interested in the sword. The soldiers with axes headed for the knights and soldiers calling themselves bandits, and I could hear screams.
Milleia-san sounded a little tired.
『Back then, father really was cruel.』
The Fifth, quietly.
『… I couldn’t think of any other means. No, I didn’t want to think of them.』
Within the scene, there was a group approaching Fredricks. The villagers.
In their hands, everyone held the weapons of the bandits. Old men, women children… in their eyes filled with hatred, they pleaded to Fredricks.
『Please let us kill them.』
Hearing those words, Fredricks called out to the axe-wielding soldiers doing their duty.
『You can stop around there. Leave the rest for these ones. And we’ll be hanging up all the bodies. Please think of what’s to come when you kill them.』
The villagers nodded, and with weapons in hand, they approached the soldiers. I could hear their voices ring out. It was something where just listening made me want to clench my eyes shut.
I couldn’t understand the reason the Fifth had shown me this scene. The Fifth folded his arms.
『… Truly, I shouldn’t have done something like that. I do regret it. But the me of the time who’d sworn vengeance thought that was the absolute right.』
I to the Fifth.
“And it was wrong?”
『Who knows? There’s no way to find out, is there. They did thank me for it. I saw villagers regretting it as well. I can’t tell you what would have been right. But this along I can say. Lyle, don’t be like me. You can have a heart of vengeance. But don’t carry out revenge like me. For me, the regret is the strongest part that remains. It was only sunny for the slightest sliver of it all.』
There, the scenery changed. It was the Walt House’s mansion.
Urged on by the surroundings, Fredricks headed for a certain room.
『It’s a healthy baby boy!』
『Don’t drag your feet like that!』
『I-I know. I get it already.』
There were women with large stomachs. They were the Fifth’s mistresses, and around them were retainers looking after them
『Don’t run! I’m begging you, don’t run like that! Fredricks-sama, please say something to everyone too! What would happen if they fell and were injured!? The wife and young master aren’t going anywhere!』
When I thought I heard a voice almost exactly like Baldoir’s, I saw Fredricks being pushed on the back by his mistresses into a room.
In it was a baby who’d just been born. He was crying energetically, while the woman who was the legal wife embraced him with a smile.
『Dear, it’s an energetic baby boy.』
Perhaps happy she was able to safely give birth, the woman was tearing up. Looking at the baby, Fredricks looked as if he was trying to conceal his happiness.
『I-I see. You did your best. G-good job…!』
He reached out his hand, and the moment he tried to touch the boy. Fredricks pulled his hand back, and looked at his palm. The Fifth conveyed his sentiment at the time.
『… I didn’t want to touch him with my bloodstained hands. I thought he would be tainted too. At that moment, I felt intense regret. Naturally enough, the ones I killed had families of their own. From the point of view of their families, I was their target of revenge. I wonder why it was… when I thought that, it felt as if I was going to break. It was something so obvious. I had enough reason to do it all, yet I wonder why.』
Fredricks was crying.
『… Good job. So get some good rest for now. I’ll send a notice to your house. I’ll go and give my thanks. I… have to go.』
Wiping his tears, Fredricks left the room.
Within the Jewel. The Fifth’s room of memories.
What I saw there was the reason the Fifth couldn’t be honest to his children. The room of memories took on the shape that left the strongest memories to him… it displayed the stable for his animals.
The Fifth turned to me.
『Now then, that’s about all I can teach you. It’s a bit late, but I get the feeling I could’ve gotten away without showing you, but I’m sure you’ll be fine.』
At that moment, from the quilin’s room in the deepest part of the stable, a fully-grown quilin emerged. Approaching the Fifth with swift steps, she nuzzled him.
『May, huh. I caused you quite some trouble.』
“Of course not. I had lots of fun. Because I got to see Fredricks again.”
Milleia-san looked at the Fifth with a bit of a conflicted expression. The Fifth looked at me and smiled.
『My final Skill is 【Map Model】. To put it simply, you can move the map form being centered on you to show any point you want. There’s a limit to its scope, but it’s quite convenient. You can seek out people who’re hiding. And you can scope out good spots to hide too.』
While fighting bandits and mercenaries, being attacked by his surroundings, I’m sure this is the Skill the Fifth desired.
But he let out a light sigh.
『Well, what I really wanted to give you this time was this. Look.』
Saying that, what he handed to me was a silver galient blade. However, unlike the others, it felt as if the sword was a real live animal… and I got the feeling it was hungry.
『Perhaps because of me. This one’s considerably dangerous. Unlike the First’s Giant Sword. Fiennes’ Halberd is quite obedient. The Second’s Bow reliably does its job. My dad’s daggers… well, they’re fitting of my dad. But this one’s simply specialized to kill. It isn’t the First’s type of strength. I’m sure it’s most effective in group battles.』
The eyes he looked at the sword with were a little conflicted. There were no mechanical gimmicks to the silver galient blade. There were lines running across the metal, and when I gripped it, it let off a faint blue light. Blue lines ran across it like veins, informing me of its hunger.
For some reason, that ominously shaped weapon looked like the sword of some demon from a fairy tale.
『… Lyle, you have to master it. It’ll surely prove useful in times to come. But don’t become obsessed with killing.』
May spoke to the Fifth.
“It’s fine. Lyle has me and everyone else with him.”
Milleia-san also smiled.
『Right. The current Lyle isn’t alone. Father didn’t let anyone get close to him.』
The Fifth scratched his head, and hung his head.
『… Even when I knew I was wrong, I couldn’t turn back. And while I couldn’t find out what I should’ve been doing, I had build up this stable. I’m sure I was tired. I’m sure I caused a lot of trouble. Milleia, to you as well.』
Milleia-san gripped the hem of her skirt, and lifted it lightly to give a neat curtsey.
『Just hearing an apology from father makes me glad I became a guide. And Lyle.』
When I turned to Milleia-san, she smiled and held out my hand. When I held out mine, she opened hers to show a blue Jewel.
“This is the third…”
When I lifted my face, Milleia-san smiled as she embraced me. Wrapping her hands around my back, she whispered into my ear.
『Our plans have been largely thrown off. We were thrown around by LYLE-kun quite a bit. But perhaps that was for the best. As this Jewel’s guide, I recognize you, Lyle. So accept your last Skill.』
As the Jewel absorbed into my body, the words floated in my head. But it was hazy, and I couldn’t quite understand it. All I could tell was that my third stage Skill was quite unique. Just once… if I used it, it was the Skill that held the compensation of the Jewel losing its power.
“Milleia-san, could it be…”
Milleia-san kissed my forehead. As her face grew close, I could tell from looking up close that she was holding back tears.
『Lyle, I leave Miranda and Shannon to you. Miranda has weaker parts to her than you think. And in contrast, Shannon has strong parts to her. So the two of them don’t take the wrong path… so they don’t turn out like me, you have to firmly hold their hands. At times, pamper them a bit.』
The Fifth scratched his face with a finger. He was looking at May.
『Sorry. This is it for me. I have a lot of things I want to say, but… I’ve only one request.』
May looked at the Fifth.
“What is it?”
『I leave Lyle to you. He’s a descendent too good for me. At the start, he was unreliable, but now he’s stronger than me. He’s my… our pride.』
I gripped the hilt of the galient blade. My tears came out.
“Say something like that sooner. It’s because you say it at a time like this that I’m crying. I was going to see you off with a smile at the end…”
Milleia-san wiped my tears with a finger.
『Cry from time to time. It’s fine to show your weakness. Not to your surroundings, to Miranda and Shannon… and Novem and the others. They’ll be surprisingly delighted. And this is a gift from me.』
Saying that, Milleia-san touched the silver galient blade. It felt as if she had put something into it, but I kept looking at her smile. I thought she had resembled Miranda, but as expected, she did have a trace of Shannon. No, the two of them had traces of her.
I smiled at her words.
“I’ll remember it. It’s a valuable female opinion.”
『Good. If you can by cynical, I’m sure you’ll be fine. The Jewel is full of power. You have to learn to master it. I’m sure you have enough power in you.』
Milleia-san’s words were as if the Jewel itself was cautioning me. I nodded and took her words to heart
May looked at the Fifth.
“… Fredricks, I promise. I’ll watch over Lyle. For your share as well. And I don’t hate Lyle.”
The Fifth smiled. And he started walking off, not towards the stable’s insides, but towards the entrance. Milleia-san walked beside him.
『Father, I’ll accompany you. And a final request from your daughter.』
As he acted a little fearful, Milleia-san held out her hand.
『Would you hold my hand?』
The Fifth tilted his head as he held out his hand. Milleia-san grabbed it, and led him off. As they walked towards the stable’s entrance, Milleia-san’s figure grew younger, and in a bit of youthful voice…
『doing this had always been my dream.』
The Fifth was awkward. And happy.
『I wish I could’ve granted it while we were alive. I’m sorry… to all of you.』
The Fifth’s gaze turned from a young Milleia-san to face forwards. It made me curious, so I wanted to try looking out myself, as I walked forward.
As me and May headed towards the entrance, outside we found five women… with young children around. The animals were waiting for the Fifth as well. They were all smiling.
The Fifth answered with a wave without turning around.
『Idiot. There’s no way I can turn around now. Like it’ll be any fun watching someone like me cry. Do your best… the both of you.』
The round table room.
My hand extended, I looked at the round table… the place the Fifth once sat, and the galient blade floating above it.
May wasn’t there. I’m sure her mind was returned from the Jewel to her own body. And the blade that floated there looked a little different from when the Fifth had handed it over. A little of its sinister feel remained, but its shape really did look just a little different.
The one waiting for my return was the Seventh.
Sitting in his chair, looking at the ceiling.
『Once upon a time. The woman I first fell for was my aunt… Milleia-san. Maybe that’s why. Why I took up a gun in the first place.』
The Seventh stood, and headed off towards his room.
『Lyle, you were recognized by the Fifth, and by my aunt. Was I… recognized in the end or not… I wonder.』
Once he had left, I was the only one remaining in the round table room.
“… fifth, Milleia-san, thank you.”
Saying that, I wiped my tears on my sleeve. Every time the weapons within the room increased, the number of ancestors went down. Every time I got stronger, I grew lonelier.
At the start, the Fifth gave off a cold impression, but I found out later what sort of person he was. He was awkward. Completely different from the image of him passed down. And he worked hard.
And Milleia-san was… this and that, but to I who lacked memories of my own mother, she was a mother-like person. Noisy, playing around with the Seventh, at times even surprising the ancestors.
Once they were gone, the loneliness started to well up.
“Really… why is it. When I thought they were so noisy, why won’t my tears stop…”
It was terrible at the start. There were times they would insult me. There were times they would make fun of me. And yet, when everyone was gone, I grew lonely. I let my eyes take in the floating silver weapons before me, letting them rest on the galient blade. When I reached out my arm, my hand touched the hilt.
When I gripped it, I found it was less hungry than before. Perhaps that was because of Milleia-san.
“Please lend me your strength. Right now, I need your power.”
Feeling a pulse from the sword, I returned my mind to the world of reality.