… In Miranda’s room within South Beim, there had been two beds prepared.
One of them was Shannon’s, and once night grew late, Shannon burrowed herself in to sleep. On top of a shortage of hands, in Lyle’s mismatched camp, Shannon was a valuable member.
As her demon eyes could read the flow of magic, she was a priceless treasure.
If someone was to show some suspicious movement, Shannon could discover them at once.
While she possessed truly proficient eyes, the girl’s personality and lack of physical fitness made it hard to use. The girl with a sister like that, Miranda, was reading a letter.
Relying on the light of the lantern in the room, her expression wasn’t the best. More than that she was laying her discomfort bare.
“… I’m surprised he was able to send a letter. In various ways.”
The sender was Ralph Circry- Miranda’s father. It was surprising he had a route to deliver letters to Lyle, but she couldn’t hide her surprise at the contents either.
Written were that one of the Circry House’s personel taking a stay in Cartaffs would be sent over. As they had yet to receive permission, they were still on standby in Cartaffs, but if Miranda gave the okay, they would be sent over at once.
Alongside that, the present state of Centralle was detailed.
Not through Ludmilla of Cartaffs, the letter had been delivered to Miranda through the sailors.
“So it’s money, or some underhanded connection. I don’t really care, but he sure seems energetic despite all his demotions.”
And the most important part was the last bit.
Learning that Lyle was increasing his individual forces, on top of absorbing in the Walt’s main army, Ralph was plotting to get in contact with him. He was seeking out a connection through Miranda.
“Fidel-san’s starting to look innocent. No, I guess to each their own.”
Ralph was a noble. Fidel a merchant. They were both stubborn.
It’s true they wanted Centralle’s internal affairs at all costs. In truth, Lyle had determined it was too dangerous to dispatch Rauno, giving up on it.
They were currently making conjecture towards the city’s insides from surrounding situation.
“… In exchange for handing Lyle information, I’ll have to prepare a ship for him. I’d like to avoid relying on Ludmilla, but in that case, I’ll have to rely on the merchants.”
Miranda folded the letter up and smiled.
Under the light of the lantern, her smile was a scary one indeed.
“I’ll praise you for your choice to support me to raise the Circry House’s status, father. But you see… you’re too late.”
At present, they were coming one after the next to Rhuvenns castle; the anti-Celes… in order to rebel against the current rule of Bahnseim, soldiers were gathering under Lyle from all over the lands.
By defeating the Walt House, the tides were completely turning towards Lyle. As long as you ignored the existence called Celes, Lyle was clearly the winning horse.
“If he wanted to make contact, he should have done it a bit sooner. Well, getting in contact with me would have been risking his life, so perhaps he did his best?”
There was a high probability Ralph had put Lyle and Celes on the scales, finally jumping onto Lyle’s train. But to Miranda, even if she received some late support, it wouldn’t make for much of an advantage.
“I’ll make good use of you. Well, since you did offer your assistance, I’ll at least commend you for the continued existence of our house.”
Looking at Shannon, Miranda felt a little irritation that her sister wasn’t mentioned in the letter at all.
“I should tell him to get out of Centralle.”
She still had some feelings for her family, and decided to tell them to secure their own safety…
… South Beim.
In the district where the craftsmen gathered, there was a single warehouse.
Around that relatively large storehouse, numerous Porters and parts were stored away.
As the craftsmen entered with tired faces, Monica in a maid uniform unfit the space was waiting for them.
“You’re late. So did you bring the item in question?”
The craftsmen took Monica’s requested goods from their boxes. Cogs and springs; while they didn’t know what she was going to use them for, the items they had made precisely to her specifications were, in a sense, the crystallization of their sweat and tears.
Monica looked at them.
“… Wonderful. The time has finally come for Porter’s completion.”
As Monica turned, what stood was their comrade who had come alongside Lyle’s party all the way: Porter, undergoing its final modifications.
Final modifications for a final battle, what started out as a simple baggage carrier had already taken the shape of a giant robot. As armor, it used the one obtained from the boss in Arumsaas.
Monica had done this and that to its interior, and using the parts of the craftsmen from South Beim, she was finally to complete it.
A transforming armored vehicle. While Monica usually didn’t show interest in things, it was a comrade she had built alongside Lyle, so she had completed it lovingly to such an extent.
“Wonderbar! With this, the difference in specs between me and those three scraps at Professor Damien’s place had become clear enough. I must report its completion to the chicken dickhead!”
To a buoyant Monica, the craftsmen…
“U-um… about our payment…”
Monica hit her hands together. Her gold twin tails gave a slight sway to the rhythm of her hands.
“Oh right, the payment, was it? Then I’ll throw in a bit extra.
The payment was prepared in the leather bag she produced from the space between her skirt and apron. And there, Monica took out some gold coins from her own wallet, and added them in.
Accepting the bag, the craftsmen looked relieved as they confirmed its contents.
“She’s honest when it comes to paying.”
“Right, just the paying part!”
“I don’t think I’ve slept anything more than a nap these days.”
The dwarves and gnomes and human craftsmen were relieved that they’d finally be able to take it east. To them, Monica.
“Whoopsie, I need to put in a request for spare…”
Once she had said that much, the merchants preciously clutched the bag of money as they ran off from the warehouse. But Monica’s selling point was her needlessly high specs.
Beating them to it, she stood at the warehouse’s only entrance with a smile.
“Hold it right there. I’m making a request for replacement parts, and components for maintenance.”
The craftsmen… upon seeing her smile… fell into despair…
… Having come to South Beim, and with the Bahnseim countermeasures meeting still a ways away, Gracia walked through the city in casual clothing.
In her motherland of Galleria, her younger brother Leold was carrying out the governmental affairs that had always fallen to her as Grand Duke Proxy. At present, a majority of the authority had been smoothly transferred over to him, and her position had become a light one.
Her silver hair bundled, she walked the town of South Beim with her female knights who served as her guards as well. But as she’d been released from the heavy responsibility she’d held up to now…
“Ah, when I thought its scale had increased from the last time I stopped by, they even have more shops.”
She was delightedly looking at the line of stalls, her guard knights surprised at the change that had come upon her.
“Gracia-sama, you have already eaten lunch today. It will do you no good to eat from the food stalls.”
Freed from Grand Duke Proxy, and knowing the time Leold took his place as the Grand Duke wasn’t far away, Gracia was in high spirits.
“Oh isn’t it fine? You all have some to. By the way, the meat skewers at that shop are exquisitely–”
There were already visitors at the shop Gracia indicated with her finger.
“Erhart, this one’s tasty.”
“Hey, don’t cling to him like that. Ah, the one he’s eating looks good too.”
A tank top wearing ashamed-looking man was sitting on a bench trying to curl up his body. He was surrounded by his female adventurer comrades, but a little ways away, the men were looking over him.
“Who was it? Who ratted out Erhart’s location?”
“It wasn’t me!”
“Just look at him, today was his day off so he was happy he could finally take it easy… just look at how depressed you’ve made him…”
Gracia’s group looked at Erhart. While he did gather surrounding eyes, it wasn’t so much as a rare sight in South Beim, so there were few who actually stopped to watch.
Seeing him like that, Gracia spoke.
“… If a man is surrounded by women, isn’t he supposed to be happy?”
When she asked the surrounding female knights, they were troubled to respond given military protocol. There, having heard Gracia’s voice, Erhart raised his head.
“You over there, do I look like I’m in an enviable position to you? Hey, do I!?”
Seeing Erhart on the verge of tears, Gracia and the knights shook their heads. And Erhart continued on.
“This is all because of that damn Lyle. Pushing all his troubles onto me… goddessdamit. I’m sure that bastard will forgive me if I knock him around a bit.”
Gracia’s guards sent sharp stares at Erhart. Gracia held up a hand to restrain them, and the guard unit parted their hands from the hilts of their swords.
“You’re acquainted with our leader? I think it best you don’t put such remarks to mouth.”
Erhart seemed to think it was out of hand as well.
“Ah, sorry for that. I’ve known him from his adventurer days, so I couldn’t help it, you see.”
“His adventurer days, huh?”
Gracia called over wanting to know more about Lyle.
“Hmm, there’s much I’d wish to ask. How about it, just a little is enough, won’t you talk some with me? Let’s see, for a reward… I can at least cover the cost of your meal.”
Erhart’s nearby companions all turned to Gracia at once. At that number that lightly exceeded ten, Gracia was surprised.
“Sorry. Today’s my first day off in a while. It’s been so busy lately that I haven’t been able to take it easy, you see.”
With that gentle decline, Erhart rose from the bench.
“I see. Then pardon my intrusion.”
“Don’t mind it. And it’s nothing too interesting. Back when he was an adventurer, I picked a fight with him and got the tables turned. From there, we got to talk some, and that’s about all there is to it.”
Taking his comrades along, Erhart headed off somewhere. Looking over his group, Gracia thought a bit.
“… I wonder why it is. It looks as if that tank top man’s back is crying.”
Gracia tilted her head…
… While the main members were gathering in South Beim.
Shannon took Aria and some Valkyries along as guards to go shopping.
To be more precise, it was a patrol under the guise of shopping.
Infiltration of Skillholders Lyle alone was unable to detect… in order to locate the spies, she had come out like this.
While looking at the goods placed around the stalls, Shannon glanced at a man sitting on the floor. From wherever he had come from, the man looked like a vagrant drawn to the energy of South Beim.
Shannon looked at the man.
“… Aria, that person.”
Aria who was beside her took a sidelong glance at the man. It looked as if he was doing nothing more than sitting and begging, but if Shannon said it, he was surely doing something.
She could sense that he was using some sort of Skill, so Aria informed the Valkyries of it. The information passed to the other Valkyries around, and the one dealing with him would be someone else.
Aria took her eyes off the begging man.
“A begger, huh? Come to think of it, there’ve been more of them around lately.”
As Beim had been trampled down by Bahnseim, these sorts of vagrants were flooding into South Beim one after another.
There were places developing new villages and searching for labor. But it wasn’t as if everyone could be saved.
There, Shannon looked at the man.
“Ah, he took it.”
As Aria directed her eyes at the man, there was money in the small box before him that wasn’t there before. The man collected it with a grin on his face.
Putting it away in his breast pocket, he put the once-more empty box down, and simply sat back how he was.
“So he was using a Skill to steal. Well, it’s a good thing he’s not a spy, I guess. If he has that much ability, he could do something more earnest… huh?”
Aria looked at the man, trying to remember something.
“Come to think of it, we met a man with the same sort of Skill before. He used invisible hands to attack… ah, he was a knight of the Walt House.”
Lyle’s senior apprentice, Alfred Virden. Hearing that, Aria remembered.
“Back when we met Celes in Centralle? You think there’s any relation?”
As Aria was troubled to decide, the man stood and headed off somewhere…
… An alley of South Beim.
The city was a line of freshly built buildings, but it couldn’t help but have places hard for the human eye to reach.
The ones who gathered in such places were those who had lost their places to go, and former soldiers. The soldiers of Beim who fled. Villagers. Soldiers flushed out of Bahnseim that drifted away.
The one getting such men together was a man of the Virden House.
He placed the day’s earnings on top of a wooden crate.
Not only copper coins, there were silver and even gold coins among them.
“As expected of our boss!”
“Looks like we’ll be fine for a while.”
There, the man yelled out.
“You idiots! With this money, we’re going to buy weapons. Listen here, if we get all the people here armed and moving together, there are sure to be folks getting weak at the knees. Then we set up some gambling, and take control of South Beim from behind the scenes.”
The men spoke to their leader, the Virden House man who’d say such things.
“B-but will it really go so well? Gambling’s been banned for the time being, and the soldiers are on patrol…”
“You just have to buy them off with cash. And my House was a retainer to the Walts. Use my name, and given the time, I’ll be able to get appointed under the leader. Once that happens, it’ll get much easier to move around.”
There was once a House the Second Generation Head left the gambling to. That was the Virden House. In the confusion of the Third’s death in battle, they reclaimed the documents exchanged at the time, and parasitized off the Walt House while holding power over the criminal underworld.
The man knew the ways his House worked, and this time he was going to move in South Beim.
“So you’re friends with that bastard leader of this place?”
On his subordinate’s words, the head spoke.
“Never met him. I was only ever my brother’s spare. But that doesn’t change the fact he’s a son of that dimwit Walt House. Let him drink the good stuff while he can. Once he comes out on top, the possibility of leading the entire continent’s underworld isn’t a dr…”
Once he said that much, his subordinates heads when flying.
As the leader was surprised, he suddenly found himself looking up at the man standing atop his wood crate.
With blue hair and blue eyes, the man looking down over him… was Lyle.
“So you were of the Virden House. You sure run your mouth easily.”
“I-it couldn’t be… Lyle-sama? No, this is, well…”
As the man tried to give an excuse, Lyle lowered his katana. When the man’s head bid its body farewell, the remaining subordinates tried to flee the alley and get away. However.
“Yeah, that’s not happening.”
They heard a woman’s voice. In contrast to that comforting and kind tone of voice, the men found themselves wound in thread.
Once she had confirmed she had apprehended all that survived, Miranda went over to Lyle’s side.
“You sure about this?”
Looking down over the Virden House man, Miranda asked Lyle. Lyle wiped the blood from his blade before returning it to its scabbard and walking off.
“Sorry, I have no mercy for them. They’ve brought us pain for many long years.”
“You make it sound as if you were the troubled one. You mean your ancestors, right?”
Lyle continued walking.
“Good grief, they keep increasing our work when we’re so busy.”
Miranda walked up beside him.
“And because of that, you were able to avoid meeting Novem.”
When she giggled at her joke, Lyle stayed silent. The representative of various countries were gathering, and it would be troublesome if any problems broke out. For that sake, Lyle had made a move himself.
But it was clear he had some personal reasons behind it.
“You could have just left them to me. I’d have done the job well enough.”
The one left to these sorts of dealings was usually Miranda. But she knew Lyle didn’t think too highly of it.
Lyle himself wanted to Free Miranda from her current duties. But there was no one to replace her. And Miranda would make use of that sentiment of his.
“… I don’t like leaving everything to you. It’s my problem as well. But there’s no choice but to leave these sorts of things to someone. We need some personnel capable of these shady jobs.”
Miranda looked ay Lyle as he spoke.
“I like it when you have a bad side too. It makes you more trustworthy than any honest man.”
Lyle turned to her with a conflicted expression.
“… It’s because of everything that happened that I’m like this. I used to be an innocent young boy, you know? But by the time I noticed it, I was a Celes-level villain.”
“Ahahaha, isn’t that nice? And if you win, you become the hero. That’s how it works in the world.”
Miranda laughed, and walked along behind him…