Father and Son
The sound of gunshots and cannons rang through the battlefield.
It was a plan to divide the enemy, and with the use of Skills restricted, that was the greatest possible use I could muster for those guns with their meager firepower.
“Divide the enemy. Use the sounds to throw off the horses… I see, perhaps saving them away for this time was the right answer. Well, if we had them, we’d have been able to hold the enemy back some more in our defense.”
General Blois nearby shrugged his shoulders as he said it. But it’s not as if there weren’t any faults. I mean…
“Rejected. Having gained funds from Beim, even with so many craftsmen under our arms, there’s a limit to how much guns we can maintain and supply ammunition for. Rather… if I wasn’t able to obtain them in Beim, I’d definitely never use these means. Because of their limits, I can only use them at the best timing.”
Even each ammunition rounds had to be made one by one by the craftsmen, and even if we had the money, we wouldn’t be able to have enough made. The reason my father didn’t choose the gun was surely because they were no good if you thought over the battlefield. But if you looked at the internal front as a feudal lord, they were a valid option.
The divided and confused pursuit unit before me, I lightly pat May’s neck. She was in her quilin form with a harness over her back, ready to go at any moment.
If I turned around, I’d see my enemy I purposely had retreat. Showing the enemy we had retreated, I had changed the location of the battlefield.
Normally, they’d doubt it, but the enemy was a group taking the name of the strongest. They were used to their own victories and the enemy’s retreats.
… I have to be careful too.
“Now then, prepare for our assault. Looking at war potential, there’s no doubt we’re the superior. While they’re still dispersed… we’re taking Maizel Walt’s head!”
As I pulled my Katana and held it high, the surrounding voices answered in cheers. Mounting May’s back, I took the head of the unit and got in position for the assault.
General Blois made a troubled expression.
“I would rather not have the supreme commander go out on the front lines. I’m sure you already have enough fame.”
I pulled down my helmet as I spoke to the general.
“It’s because I have something I want to say… I won’t concede this place to anyone.”
… … Maizel grit his teeth as he watched his rear lines unable to keep up.
(He got me! For him to be able to prepare so many guns and cannons! For him to…)
The practical problem lay in that Maizel had never experienced the might of Beim. Beim, that had grown so large even Lyle and the ancestors felt a sense of danger from it… its productivity was beyond his expectations.
On top of that, while Lyle had destroyed Beim once, he had secured its funds and craftsmen, using a majority of their power to prepare for battle.
He had put hands into a usually impossible measure to prepare for victory. Maizel had been making light of Lyle.
Beil gathered the surrounding knights and soldiers, trying to regain their formation, but hearing a tremor and looking about, he noticed the enemy starting their attack and cried out.
Maizel pulled his sabre and directed his voice at Beil.
“… We shall not surrender. We’ll tear through them here; aim for Lyle’s neck!”
Beil headed for the other knights.
“You heard the man! Show them the backbone of the Walt House’s elites! Offense formation!”
As Maizel’s divided and lessened unit looked as if it was going to be surrounded, they set their sights on the place the enemy seemed most numerous. Because a flag presumably belonging to Lyle was hung there.
Maizel turned his sabre’s blade forward…
“Splendid work driving me so far. You have my praise. But I’ll definitely take your head! … Charge!”
My father’s surrounded unit regained its formation and began its own assault.
Riding on May’s back, I watched it as I issued out orders. I had Aria and Miranda on the flanks, with numerous elites at the front. The Valkyries were mounted, with Units One, Two and Three guarding me.
“A frontal attack. Fitting of father, I guess? Well, I knew it would come to this!”
As I drew my Katana and we clashed straight up with the enemy, our unit had a magic shield up. The enemy had deployed one as well, meaning magic, arrows and bullets were rendered meaningless. Our armies collided, I lightly hit my foot against May’s stomach.
“We’re going to the front, right? Are you sure? I really will go, you know.”
“Don’t worry about it! We don’t have the time to hold back!”
What May worried for wasn’t me getting serious. The ones before us were elites of the Walt House. Meaning there would be people I knew.
“… Then I’ll take you to your papa!”
As May raced forward, she left the other forces, as she leapt to the lead. I was gripping the reins with my left hand, but it felt as if I’d be shaken off. With such acceleration, May sprouted a horn from her forehead to discharge electricity. As the discharge interfered with the magic shield and a protective wall of lightning was formed, I looked at the enemy knights before my eyes.
“…! Trample them down!”
I can’t say I didn’t hesitate. For I had seen them. The Walt House soldiers, knights and servants who had rejoiced at my birth.
In the Seventh’s memory, everyone was truly laughing. But now they were enemies, and I didn’t have the means to free them.
Clad in lightning, our unit collided with the enemy… and they were shot back.
While she was usually going around eating and sleeping, as expected of a quilin. If a quilin was heading the assault, we wouldn’t be brushed away so easily.
If she applied herself like this on a regular basis, or so it’s probably best I don’t mention.
May spotted something.
At the end of her sights… there, I confirmed my father.
“Aria, Miranda… make sure no one gets in the way. Use the Valkyries however you want!”
May raced on, I cut down the incoming knights with the Katana. Their armor cut through, the knights fell from their horses. Without looking back, I continued straight for my father, the surrounding enemy troops flocking around me.
“I won’t let them!”
Miranda came out front, taking on a knight. And…
“You’re in the way!!”
Swinging around her spear on horseback, Aria trampled and scattered knights and soldiers in the truest sense as she prepared a path. They were being supported by the Valkyries.
While May galloped down the opened path, I jumped down and lowered my Katana at my father.
Parrying it with his sabre, his stance crumbled as he fell from his forth. But he immediately rolled to his feet, stood, and took his stance. Looking at his left hand, I could see the wind blowing and distorting around it.
“Coming out before me, I’m being looked down on here. But you’ve saved me some time.”
That nostalgic voice was as cold as I expected. It wasn’t one to direct at one’s son. Frigid all the way through, he was looking at me as nothing but an enemy.
Taking a stance, I similarly prepared lightning in my left hand.
“It’s been a while, father. No, Maizel Walt.”
“… Disgrace of the Walt House. You should’ve just died in a ditch somewhere!”
As my father took a step in, Beil on his horse cried out.
“Maizel-sama! Someone help Maizel-sama!”
But Aria rushed out before him. Pulling her from the right to the center, there was a meaning behind taking her to such a place.
“I won’t let you get in the way!”
She swung her spear to stop his great sword. Our allies were catching up around, the number of hindrances slowly going down.
“Aren’t you embarrassed, being protected by a woman!? You washout!”
Turning his left hand to me, a mass of condensed air headed for me. I immediately ran to the side to avoid it, but my father had beat me there, thrusting out his sabre. Its blade was full of ill will.
When I parried it with my Katana, sparks ran down the blade. And I refuted.
“Who’s the embarrassed one here? I’ll just throw this out there, but the Walt house is a family line that’s been protected by its women for generations! If you think we’ve gotten so far by protecting them… you’re completely off, damn old man!!”
I kicked my father back, but the feeling on impact was extremely heavy. I couldn’t push him back as I wanted, the man instead taking another step in to decapitate me, so I parried it. But as my father suddenly stepped back, my stance crumbled a bit.
Continuing on in his motion, still gripped around his sabre’s hilt, my father’s fist impacted my head. As It shot my helmet off, I made a fist with my open left hand, knocking it into his face.
As my father’s helmet flew off, faint as it was, I could see blue lines of light racing across his body. That light as if to form an insignia reminded me of what I saw in my fight with LYLE.
While a cloud of dust rose over the battlefield, we both held similar weapons, using similar styles as we took distance from one another.
It was the first time I’d seen my father in a while, but as I thought, perhaps it was blood in his veins, but he resembled the ancestors. If I had to say who he was closest to, perhaps the Fifth?
As those thoughts ran through my mind, my father disappeared before my eyes. Raising his physical abilities, I’m sure he was going to attack from my blind spot. But I’d already received countless such attacks from LYLE. Time after… time.
… Perhaps he was showing me various things for this moment.
As I caught the sabre thrust with the Katana, the distance between us was extremely close. I could see his face well. On top of irritated, perhaps that was his special move, as he looked surprised.
“You could react to that?”
“I’ve already done it too many times to count. And you see… I was trained by some strong people. If I lost to something of that level, I’d never be able to look them in the eye!”
Butting his head to make him falter, I brushed my left hand to the side to make lightning. My father leapt back, touching his left hand to the ground…
“You whelp! Sand wall!”
As a wall of dirt rose from the ground, I contrarily held my hand to the sky.
Thunder roared through the battlefield, lightning struck the earthen wall scattering it to bits. Noticing my father circling around it, I tried cutting at him.
Parrying my slice, he knocked my Katana aside, attempting to pierce his sabre through my head. I tried to avoid it, but the blade moved as if it were a living being to attack me.
“Softer than the Fifth’s!”
The Fifth’s galient blade truly was the worst. Even if you dodged or parried, it would try to draw blood. If you took his attacks too many times, it was more often you’d be rendered immobile by blood loss.
I diverted it with my left hand. The metal protectors on my arms were custom made; something old Letarta prepared for me out of special metal because I didn’t carry a shield.
But even that special metal was dented.
“Kuh! How hard is that?”
I rolled along the ground to take some distance. As I did, my father cut at me. And I parried it with the Katana, but…
“You called me soft, did you? … I’ll send those words right back to you!”
Slipping through the Katana, the tip of his sabre stabbed into a gap in my armor, piercing into my right shoulder. It wasn’t deep, but I wasn’t able to tell what had happened.
I hurriedly tried to separate from him, but those phantasmal stabs continued in succession.
“What’s wrong!? Try parrying these!”
Was he raising his physical abilities, subtly altering his blade’s direction to create an optical illusion? I circled my left hand around to my back, pulled my gun from its holster and unloading a round into my father.” He put his left hand up front to deploy a magic shield.
… The bullet didn’t even pierce into it.
“Something of that level won’t pierce through my shield. You and father rely too much on guns. But this is the end to that!”
My father stepped in, and in that instant… I felt my line with Monica recover. The sabre in his hand let off light, and as I tried to take his blow with my Katana, it easily shattered. I tried causing a diversion with the gun in my left hand, but his movements were too fast for me to hit.
“Fool! Did you think all I had was restricting Skills!? When I showed you on the first day how easy it was for me to release it!”
Undoing the restriction, he likely planned to use whatever Skill was in that sword to attain victory in an instant. As the gun ran out of bullets, I tossed aside the Katana hilt and gripped the Jewel.
I heard the Third’s voice.
『… Now, Lyle, deliver it to Maizel-kun. The Seventh’s gift.』
The Jewel’s silver ornamental decorations swelled up, coiling around and furnishing my right hand.
I felt a hot flow through my body as the lines of light LYLE put in order formed an insignia on my body similar to Father’s.
I directed my right hand at him as I recalled.
… It was the happenings in the Seventh’s room of memories.
Learning his past of being loved, what the Seventh asked was…
『Now then, onto the main subject. Lyle… telling me to disappear means you’ve already got all you wanted from me? You don’t need my teachings anymore?』
The Seventh didn’t look too displeased. More than that, if that was what Lyle thought, he would obediently fade away and entrust Lyle his Skill.
But Lyle shook his head.
“That’s not it. To speak my honest feelings, I don’t want you to disappear. There’s still too many things I want you to teach me. And… you’re my grandfather, after all.”
As Lyle said that, the Seventh.
『In that case, why do you want me to pass on my Skill now? I doubt there will be a stage to use it in a fight with Maizel.』
Thinking of his son Maizel’s Skill, there wasn’t much meaning in handing down his Skill at the present stage. The Seventh’s Third Stage Skill was 【Shuffle】… it allowed him to alter the placement of himself and others.
“… To be honest, the Skill isn’t my reason. Seventh, I’ve been troubling you. You mulled over my father all the way, yet still you did your best.”
From the Seventh’s point of view, both his father and son were proficient. Sandwiched in between them, he tried to accept it and dote on Maizel.
That’s precisely why Lyle came to his conclusion.
“I do not want to show my grandfather the death match of myself and my father.”
As Lyle said that with a sorrowful smile, the Seventh was pressed for words.
『… I’m already resolved. There won’t be any change in my decision to support you. Even if Maizel is our foe.』
Lyle turned to him.
“I will kill my father.”
“But even if your form is but a memory, I don’t want to show that to my grandfather. At least at the very end… I want my grandfather to be smiling… it’s just my own selfishness. But won’t you listen to my last request?”
As Lyle let out a wrung-out voice, the Seventh looked up at the sky. The Sky of memory was a serene one.
『I see. So I’ll be mindful of my grandson to the end… I’m no good as a grandfather after all. I left problems to your generation, and couldn’t clean up after them. When there’s no helping if you called me the cause of all of this… Lyle, you’re talented. And kind. You already surpassed me long ago.』
Giving a powerless laugh, the Seventh turned a smile to Lyle. But there were tears streaming from his eyes.
“Don’t worry. Any problems you left behind will be sorted out by your grandson. Because you taught me how to. Well, at the very least, I’ve grown a bit more twisted than before.”
On Lyle’s joke, the Seventh chuckled.
『You’re right. At the start, you were unreliable, but you were a meek and nice kid. I was a little happy, you know. Maizel was so talented I never got to do anything for him. All I wanted to do, the advice I wanted to give… Lyle, you granted it for me. I truly was glad that you relied on me.』
The two exchanged smiles, and the Skill was passed down. The Seventh began breaking into grains of light, his form gradually fading.
『Lyle, you’re a grandson so well-put-together, you’re wasted on me.』
“To me, you were a splendid grandfather. Kind, and strong… you’re my pride.”
『I see. Then I’m no longer needed. Now go on. You just have to do whatever you want to do. Go wherever you want to go.』
As the surrounding scenery crumbled like sand, the area around the Seventh let off a pale light. There, Zenoire drew to his side.
Her mouth moved. While Lyle couldn’t hear it, it seems the Seventh could.
『You’re right. I’ve got to properly put it to words. Lyle, you’re…』
The Jewel I held in my right hand took the shape of a gun.
That silver gun with the Jewel embedded in its grip let off a blue light. Its muzzle was large, with a knife furnished on it. It somewhat gave the impression of the Seventh’s and Milleia-san’s gun coming in union.
And I got the feeling I could hear the Seventh’s words.
『… Lyle, you truly were loved. You were born with everyone’s love. Your mother Claire loved you. And…』
As I directed my gunpoint, as he had been closing in on me, my father looked surprised. I’ll bet he never thought I’d pull a second gun in close quarters.
But he immediately adapted for it.
Perhaps thinking he wouldn’t be able to avoid it, he put his left hand out front, and deployed a magic shield.
“I’ve shown you time and again, guns cannot pierce through my…”
It’s true, perhaps it would be blocked. Even this silver weapon wouldn’t be able to pierce father’s magic shield so easily. But there was no need to pierce to begin with.
“… You panicked. If you kept Skills sealed off, you’d have had a higher chance of victory… this gun is the Seventh himself. You… father, you’ve lost to us… no, to Brod Walt!”
“Father? What are you talking…”
My father looked confused, but I’m sure something came to his mind. Tactics that used firearms. And what I pulled out at the end was a gun as well…
『And… Maizel truly loved you as well.』
I pulled the trigger. A blue light burst from the muzzle, the pale, glowing bullet heading for my father.
Hearing the Seventh’s words, I recalled my father and mother of his memory for an instant. But it was after I’d already fired.
Using the Seventh’s Second Skill, the bullet teleported itself to the other side of the Shield. And piercing a little below my father’s chest, it opened a large hole. The bullet went on to fall to the ground, and pop out of existence.
For a brief moment, the battlefield was covered in silence.