“T-that was heavy. Real heavy stuff there.”
『Whoah~, that went beyond my expectations. Even I was surprised.』
Once more, I found myself cradling my knees on top of my room’s bed, mulling my head over the truth Novem informed me of. To be honest, I had no idea what to say.
“What do you think she meant when she said she left Celes alone because it would turn out for the best? Honestly, I can only hear it as if she wanted my power and memory of Septem sucked away…”
『No, I’m sure that’s how it is. Her phrasing was considerably sugarcoated, but to be blunt, that shows that Novem-chan was aware of Celes and Agrissa. What’s more, they even carried out a backroom deal so you wouldn’t be killed. Despite that, she gave tacit consent to your memory and power being stolen. No matter how you think about it, this is heavy. Rather, the previous generation was also heavy, but the love of goddesses and evil gods and whatever sure is heavy.』
I yelled at the laughing Third Generation Head.
“I’m serious here!”
But the Third still seemed to be enjoying it. This person, speaking to mentality alone, could it be he’s the strongest among the ancestors?
『… Hey, Lyle. The truth Novem-chan spoke of is definitely unforgivable. But upon hearing it, have you come to hate her?』
“I-I don’t know. How should I put it, my sense of values is too different from hers.”
『That I get.』
There was enough of a gap between me and Novem for the Third to easily accept it. To Novem, my existence was one to safeguard. Not one to love romantically.
But it’s fact she loves me from her heart. According to the Third…
『Not as a lover, but as family. That’s truly a mother’s love. Well, thinking back on it now, that’s how it always felt. She’s soft on you, and after accepting mistresses, she didn’t seem to have any interest in the legal wife position.』
Of course, I felt as if I was betrayed.
“Could it be, um… the reason LYLE didn’t hand me the memories was…”
『I can’t deny the possibility you’d become wary of Novem. Well, LYLE-kun was truly a talented one. He casually taught you the base behind Maizel-kun’s sword. I’m sure he had other reasons as well, but he disappeared without saying anything.』
Novem was wary of my past memories. My memories before ten reviving. That was because she had attained me who’d been ridden of Septem’s influence.
It was all too heavy, and as I mulled, the Third spoke.
『Lyle, do you like Novem-chan?』
“… Even if she has a link with Celes, it’s true that she protected me. So right now, the only thing I can say is ‘it’s complicated’.”
Once upon a time, Celes stole memories and powers from my existence. Learning that, it seems Novem didn’t try to prevent it, but instead made a promise that she wouldn’t raise a hand as long as I wasn’t killed.
Celes and Agrissa were wary of Novem… it’s true that up to now, there were many parts to her that were outside the norm.
“The fact she recommended me a harem was because she never thought of me as a lover, right? That’s the saddest part of this.”
The Third laughed.
『Come this far, it’s laughable that the one closest to you is the one that hasn’t fallen. I’m a bit curious about what mr. lyle would have to say about this.』
“… Why have you taken such a liking to my post-Growth self?”
『Because it’s interesting. And there’s that gap with your usual. Personally, that ‘Then you can fall for me now. Fall for me this instant,’ you said to Eva is still the best for me. Fun times, fun times.』
While he did seem to be having fun, I could feel some lonely sentiment welling up. Up to that point, even if I stayed silent, someone would have offered a rebuttal to that opinion. But now there were none. And the Third’s tone was also a little lonesome.
Perhaps the Third was thinking over various things as he spoke to me.
『I’m sure there’s this and that, but what do you want to do, Lyle? Do you want to throw her out? Or keep her by your side?』
I thought for a while. There, the Third went on.
『It’s important to think hard over some things. But in life, there are times when you should keep it simple. The practical problem: If you feel Novem-chan is too heavy a burden… I think it would be fine if you kicked her out.』
On the Third’s words, I gave a slight laugh.
“After you’ve told me so many times to treasure her, you’re saying that now?”
The Third shamelessly declared, ‘yep, I’m saying it now’.
『Well, you’re the one I value more, right now. It’s not as if I want you to drive her out. But there’s an order of precedence to most things. From my point of view, I can understand why you might feel betrayed.』
What I felt…
“… Do you think Novem will look at me? Not as a man of some Walt House, but the existence that is me?”
The Third, in a kind voice.
『That depends on you, Lyle. Do your best.』
… At the port of South Beim, ships of various countries had arrived.
The authorities of Faunbeux were taking part, arriving on a ship of Cartaffs.
There was a reason Ludmilla had personally made her way there as representative of Cartaffs.
Besides Cartaffs, there were ships of Djanpear, Galleria, Rusworth and more anchored around.
“So we’re the last to come.”
As Ludmilla said that on deck, the Valkyrie who came along with her disinterestedly spoke.
“Given the distance, there was no getting around it.”
“Now then, you really will be assisting me, I’m sure?”
The Valkyrie nodded and bestowed the information to the queen.
“From our point of view, having you laden yourself with our master’s child holds a great enough merit. You will let us look after it, will you not?”
“Do what you want. If that’s what it takes to earn your cooperation, it’s a cheap buy. But when it comes to education, we’ll be using Cartaffs’ curriculum. I want my first born to assertively aim for the next seat on the imperial throne. The runner-up is Cartaffs’ crown… but I’m sure my second born can take over that one.”
Ludmilla looked at the Valkyrie who volunteered assistance as she leaned her own long sword over her shoulder. While she was surprised back when she suddenly offered her cooperation, from the Valkyrie’s specs, she couldn’t help but want to keep her close at hand.
Only when it came to Lyle had they sworn absolute loyalty, but to look at it the other way, as long as you didn’t betray Lyle, there was a high probability they wouldn’t act hostile.
But there was a problem.
“So just how many Valkyries will assist me?”
Valkyrie…【Unit Nineteen】 raised one hand, and kept only her thumb down.
“Including me, four Valkyrie Units will be supporting you.”
Looking at the Valkyrie’s four raised fingers, Ludmilla touched her chin with her left hand.
“Is that a little? A lot? Which is it?”
“You are not the most popular candidate. The other three units with me are betting on a dark horse. Of course, we are irrelevant to the imperial throne or succession. Meaning… as long as we are able to look after the chick, anyone would have worked. The reason I chose to be by your side is that I thought there would be fewer rivals.”
As Unit Nineteen said it bluntly, Ludmilla’s face stiffened. At that moment, the preparations to head for land were completed, so Ludmilla disembarked the ship.
The Valkyrie came down behind her, carrying along her baggage. At the bottom of the gangplank, a man of tanned skin and pinkish hair wore slightly-heavy clothing as he waited.
It was Jules of Djanpear.
“Greetings, mighty queen of Cartaffs. I’m the king of Djanpear, Jules Parsewall. I’m glad I got to meet you.”
While Jules greeted her with a smile, Ludmilla’s eyes judged him as a frivolous man as she narrowed them a bit.
“Pleasure to meet you, I am Ludmilla Cartaffs. But even so, when it’s so hot outside, you’re wearing quite the heavy attire.”
Hearing that, Jules gave a bitter smile.
“At this time of year, my motherland is even hotter. It felt as if the Arctic was suddenly upon me. And I don’t think you’re one to talk.”
Jules looked at the uniform black garments covering all of Ludmilla’s body below the neck, without showing any of her flesh.
“I’ve too many wounds from the battlefield that it’s not a pretty sight under these. So it’s my consideration for those around. If that wasn’t the case, I’d have cast it off by now.”
Jules gave off the impression of a carouser.
“Nice. I’d love to see you take it all off! But I’m no fool. I won’t lay a hand on the leader’s woman.”
As Ludmilla walked off, Jules started in the same direction.
“… So what do you want?”
After a while of silence, Ludmilla was the one to cut in.. Jules spoke with a serious expression.
“Truth is, I have a little sister, see. Born of a different mother, and she hates me quite a bit. But given the chances, I want to send a woman over to the leader. She’s a stubborn one, but she’ll work if it’s for the sake of the country. There isn’t a problem with age either.”
Waving off his tale, Ludmilla laughed.
“Hmm, and by bringing that talk to me, do you intend to rile me, or perhaps…”
“Of course, I want your cooperation. Our countries share no border, and we’re not even connected by the same sea. It seems our leader plans to form a country or station a feudal lord in Beim. Over here, we don’t want our interests to be put in jeopardy. And does that not go for you as well, Queen Ludmilla? But Cartaffs has sent the queen herself to our leader. Djanpear sent its cooperation much later.”
Ludmilla understood what he was trying to say.
“So in exchange for inserting her as a mistress, that sister will enter my faction, you say?”
“That’s right. From our perspective it would be troublesome if that sister’s child actually did end up on the imperial throne. We want her to be placed under someone. With all that’s happened in the family, we have her resentment.”
Djanpear wanted to prepare a mistress for Lyle. But they couldn’t have her take the position of empress. There was no guarantee the sister that hated him wouldn’t try to do anything to him.
“… I’ll bring the talk forward.”
As Ludmilla said that, Jules rejoiced.
“That’s great. With this, it looks like it won’t get too dangerous when I try promoting my sister over the promised drink with our leader. I’m placing my hopes on you, Queen of Cartaffs.”
Ludmilla and Jules shook hands with a smile…
… A room of South Beim.
In Lianne’s room, Valkyrie Unit Thirty Four clicked her tongue.
The master of the room, Lianne was surprised by the Valkyrie’s sudden outburst. After saying she’d support her, moving various things around, Valkyrie Unit Thirty Four often caused her to cringe.
“… What is it this time?”
‘My apologies,’ said Unit Thirty Four.
“A ship of Cartaffs arrived at the port. That pink-headed bastard from Djanpear has approached Ludmilla-san, it seems.”
Lianne let out a sigh.
“This really is convenient. The freshness of information almost seems impossible.”
The reason for this gathering at South Beim was to hold a meeting over the large-scale invasion of Bahnseim. For that sake, instead of the mid-reconstruction North Beim, they had gathered in South Beim.
“The problem is that Djanpear intends to push a woman onto master as well. They will be entering Ludmilla’s faction. With this, will it not put you at a disadvantage?”
“… It doesn’t seem you mean in the factional sense.”
The Valkyrie’s basis was Lyle, with Lyle’s children following in turn. It seems there were Valkyries crying out that if they transferred to Ludmilla’s faction, the probability they would be able to look after them would double.
“Some of our side have already turned coat. No matter the cost, you must do your best to birth a chick!”
It sounded as if she was joking around, but the Valkyrie was serious. It was precisely that seriousness that made it so ill-natured.
Lianne sounded fed-up.
“No matter how you look at it, thinking of our war potential, it will be impossible for the women going out on the battlefield. In that case, that makes me and Shannon-san the most likely candidates, but… Djanpear’s princess, eh? I don’t think Lyle is accepting any more, but it will be troublesome if they push for it too strongly.”
Unit Thirty Four spoke nonchalantly.
“As always, do something to crush her with your artifice.”
Lianne looked at the Valkyrie.
“… Just how have you been looking at me up to now? I’ll just say it, I’m not crushing her. What’s with that look!?”
Unit Thirty Four shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
“It seems I have misplaced my expectations. If it was you, I thought you would push all the other women aside, and take your seat as legal wife.”
Lianne cried out.
“I’m not going to fight at a time like this! Don’t look down on me. And if I’m doing something, it’ll be once everything’s over. I’m already laying the groundwork for that.”
Unit Thirty Four expressionlessly clapped her hands.
“As expected of Lianne-san. With that momentum, take the first born chick with all due haste!”
“… You automatons really are faithful to your desires.”
Around the time Lyle was hesitating, the surroundings had begun to move…