“Novem… I like you! I love you. I’ve said it before, but I want you to stay by my side.”
How many times have I had to muster my resolve for this confession?
I had confessed to her once before in Damien, but at the time it was splendidly left hazy. I don’t think I made her hate me, but even so the current situation wasn’t one I had anticipated.
The room Novem was confined.
She tilted her head a bit.
“What seems to be the matter, Lyle-sama? I’ll always be by your side. And I love you too.”
If you took it word for word, I’m sure my confession was a success.
But the love she spoke of was…
“Do you mean you love me as an individual? Try taking the Walt House out of the equation. No, please try it. Goddesses and evil gods and your predecessors are irrelevant. I want to hear your answer, Novem.”
On my petition, Novem made a troubled face. And she let out the words that were probably her honest-to-goodness feelings.
“From the moment I was born, I had lots of memories inside of me. Novem… and all the Novems after that passed down their memories, and among them are the memories of the especially prestigious previous generation’s Novem. Perhaps I am a separate existence who merely carried on the memories. But asking what I myself think at this point of time is…”
Meaning… It wasn’t Novem herself, what had come to love me was the memory of Novem.
In the past, I’m sure the story of me saving Novem in her youth was true. In truth, that LYLE would definitely have helped her out.
But to Novem, such a thing was a trivial matter.
Of all else, Novem had chosen me over LYLE. Desiring a me with my memory stolen and Septem’s power gone, she had discarded LYLE who saved her.
“Are you fine with that!? I… don’t like it at all.”
As I looked down and said it… Novem spoke in regards to me.
“… For the current you, there is no meaning behind clinging to my existence. Right now, there is a need for you to marry in order to leave children behind. But you’re already supporting a large number of women. If you aren’t pleased with my existence, there is no need to force yourself to keep me by your side.”
I looked at Novem.
“That’s not what I mean! That’s not at all what…”
To Novem, she couldn’t forgive a direct descendent of the Walt House- namely me- disappearing. I’m sure that was because of her preceding Novem’s memories.
Meaning rather than I myself, she prioritized the continued existence of the Walt House.
“Lyle-sama, I am aware my existence deviates from your common sense. So… please stop obsessing over me. It’s an important time right now. Let’s have a talk once everything is over.”
As it was brought to a halt by Novem, I dropped my shoulders.
In the room of the mansion prepared there, I absentmindedly stared out the window.
From the Jewel hung at my neck, I could hear a teasing voice.
『Never thought you’d be shot down. She loves you, but rather than as an individual, she’s looking at a bigger picture. Perhaps she recommended the harem because she didn’t want her blood and memories to taint the mix.』
I resisted with all my might.
“I-I haven’t been dumped yet…”
『No, you were dumped. This is just a prediction, but once everything is over, Novem-chan will probably accept that her role is finally over, and leave. That’s the sort of atmosphere she was giving off, and it’s thinkable she’ll spend the rest of her life observing the type of peace you’re aiming for.』
I fell into depression and sat on the spot. In regards to me, the Third laughed.
『Novem-chan’s love is to watch over you, right? She has too many memories in her, that she doesn’t have an individual self, or rather, her sense of who she is is hazy. While saying she liked you, the reason she forced the harem was probably so she could leave once you could stand on your own. And yet, because you decided to fight Celes, she decided to watch over you until then.』
I first thought her conduct was strange when she treated Aria as a candidate to be my wife. I assisted in reclaiming Aria’s red gem, and then it felt as if talks proceeded on their own without me. No, they surely did.
“Am I hated?”
The Third refuted.
『No, I think your loved. But that love is a bit different from the love known to the world at large. Well, it’s closest to a mother’s love, perhaps.』
“… What should I have done? I’d rather die than see Novem with another man.”
If Novem would pass on her memories and watch over my children… my descendants, she would likely make her own clan as the previous Novem did. Meaning she’d be marrying another man.
The Third laughed.
『Lyle, say it to any of the other kids, and they’ll be amazed. In the first place, you who built up a harem have no rights to say such a things.』
“It’s not like I built a harem because I wanted to! Damn, if this is how it’s going to be, then can we just use your schemes and wicked heart to…”
『… How exactly do you think of me?』
Hearing the Third’s amazed voice, I got my breathing in order, and covered my face with both hands.
“I’m sorry. That was out of hand.”
『No, it’s fine. But I think it will be impossible to manipulate Novem-chan with my Skill. In the first place, the restrictions on my Skill are harsh. Illusions won’t have any effect at all. It wasn’t that powerful of a Skill to begin with.』
The Third’s Skill was definitely underhanded. It interfered with an enemy’s psyche. It manipulated multiple people and had them kill one another. And finally it showed illusions…
But it wasn’t too difficult to break through them. For a person with a strong mentality, it could be undone with ease. If you weren’t used to using the Skill, manipulating someone with it would be impossible.
“… I understand there’s no point in manipulating her to stay by my side. But I just want to hear Novem’s feelings as an individual.”
『And if you learn she thinks nothing of you at all, are you ready to give up?』
I wanted to cry. There, The Third gave some fed-up words.
『Lyle, sorry but this is something you have to resolve on your own. It isn’t a problem I can lend a hand in.』
If even the Third gave up hope, then what was I supposed to do? At the end, he mumbled.
『Well, I’ll at least say I don’t think she hates you.』
He said and kept silent.
… A meeting was held in South Beim.
Having to regulate various forces, the meeting had been going on for a number of days.
Affirming the state of affairs, on top of verifying the plan and tuning it based on different points of view, it all had to be done. The world is in trouble, so just shut up and help out; no one would be satisfied with that.
Yet at the time of ruin, would they think, ‘If only I’d done something at the time’? Regardless, such days continued on and on.
They held meetings from dawn to dusk, and from then on, their regular duties awaited them.
The one who was known to be close to Lyle, Baldoir, was busily moving around with security.
But the ones to approach him were knights of the Walt House.
The knights had dropped by his room as he was on break. Baldoir was acquainted with them, and one of them was older than him.
Hearing they had something to say, he let them in only to hear a troublesome proposal.
“… Fortify Lyle-sama’s surroundings with your forces? Thinking to the situation, I can only say it will prove difficult.”
Two knights had come to the room. Baldoir knew both of them, one older and one younger than he. They had come to represent two generations of knights.
The elder knights straightened his back.
“I know. I won’t say we’ve forgotten what we’ve done. Even if we said we were manipulated, no one would believe that. But if Lyle-sama is the rightful heir to the Walt House, then we should be placed by his side.”
The knight younger than Baldoir leaned forward a bit.
“I know our standing isn’t one where we can speak out strongly. And that’s why we’re relying on you, Baldoir-dono. Among Lyle-sama’s retainers, you’re the one closest to him.”
Folding his arms, Baldoir looked down as he thought over their opinions.
(It isn’t bad. Lyle-sama’s fighting style is precisely that of the Walt House. If he forms his army around the Walt Army that have drilled that style into their bodies, Lyle-sama will have an elite force at once.)
However, on an emotional level, he was opposed.
The soldiers of Bahnseim were full of ashamed sentiment. And the ones who fought alongside Lyle from his early days were the soldiers of the four-nation alliance and Beim.
The soldiers of Beim hated Bahnseim.
The elder knight.
“We have the resolve to throw down our lives. If we don’t go so far, we’ll never be able to lay at rest. But thinking of the present situation, we have come to the conclusion we won’t be able to leave this duty to another.”
The younger knight pleaded.
“Rather than feelings, you should prioritize efficiency. Time is of the essence. At soonest, we’ll be attacking Bahnseim when the harvest ends in fall.”
Six to seven months. They had to get an army together in that meager timespan.
Getting it together didn’t just mean gathering the numbers. They had to make sure an army of that size could be commanded, and could fight as one.
And the four-nation alliance didn’t have any experience of commanding on that level. Even when trained, there were many weak links among the soldiers of Beim. The environment of Bahnseim and Beim were too different, and Baldoir was troubled over the naivety he felt from Beim’s mindset.
“… I’ll bring the proposal forth to Lyle-sama myself. But I have no guarantee whether he’ll take it up or not.”
The senior knight nodded.
“That’s enough. We’ll abide by Lyle-sama’s verdict.”
With those words, Baldoir saw off the two knights, sat in a chair, and looked up at the ceiling…
While I walked around the mansion to take my mind off of things, I heard voices.
In the dark hallway, light was leaking out of a slight opened door. What I could hear from inside were Clara and Eva. It seems they were wringing out their voices over something within, and I decided to leave it be.
“It’s not anything rare.”
Clara and Eva generally did not get along. Rather than hate, they often confronted one another. Besides that, Clara didn’t get along with Adele-san either.
From the Jewel, the Third thought.
『Clara-chan’s usually real quiet, but she sure picks a lot of fights with those she can’t hit it off with.』
She usually thought over the balance of the party, and rarely asserted her own opinion. But when it was about the things she liked or knowledge in general, she often stuck herself out there.
When I peered into the gap of the door, I could see pages of words fluttering around.
Clara and Eva faced one another, throwing the papers they had on hand.
“Don’t kid with me! Writing nothing but nonsense and turning it to a historical song is the worst!”
There, Eva collected the page that had been thrown.
“And what about you? Writing on and on about things that don’t matter at all! It wasn’t fun or interesting to read at all! With that, you won’t get a single customer!”
“I don’t care about customers! Don’t taint the worth of history!”
From what I’d heard, it seems they had gotten together to compare the records they’d made up to now.
If it was bad enough for them to fight over it, they shouldn’t have met to begin with, and as I thought… with their differences in opinion, they were quarrelling.
Clara sought for historical value.
Eva wanted value as a form of entertainment.
In contrast to Clara’s detailed depictions, Eva had cut out all the needless parts, and exaggerated all the lively portions.
“Could it be these girls actually get along?”
『It’s a rival relation. Much more charming than the usual carnage, isn’t it?』
There, Eva noticed I was watching.
“You came at a good time. Lyle, could you be the judge of it?”
Clara turned, and corrected the positioning of her glasses.
“Very well. We’ll have Lyle-san determine it. Now, come in. Before that… let’s get the documents together.”
Clara and Eva gathered the papers scattered across the floor.
Once I entered, they had me read through their papers.
“Cut the crap! Why did you write it down in such detail!? What’s more, I only got depressed about Novem a few days ago! How do you know so much!?”
Having read it through, I offered Clara my opinion. She pushed her glasses up with her index finger, letting them catch the light.
“I worked hard.”
“Put that effort somewhere else!”
There, Eva pointed at Clara and laughed.
“What did I tell you? As I thought, I’m the right one here!”
“And what about you!? Why do I suddenly have a hundred wives!? I don’t have that many! And the number isn’t going up, I tell you!”
Eva averted her eyes.
“I-I mean… that makes the song more surprising. Fifteen just doesn’t have that ring to it.”
I counted on my fingers.
“Novem, Aria, Miranda, Shannon, Clara, Monica, Eva, May, Gracia, Elza, Vera, Ludmilla, Lianne… that’s thirteen.”
Eva shook her head.
“You have Thelma-san and Aura-san, don’t you? And it’s going to grow again regardless. If it was just fifteen, then honestly, it wouldn’t be strange for the average rich man to have that many mistresses. Like to put this sort of exclamation point on the whole thing, they hear a hundred and Wow!! You know what I’m saying?”
Surprised that those two were included as well, I screamed from the depths of my heard.
“Screw that! I’ll never accept such a thing! In the first place, what am I supposed to do with so many!?”
The Third laughed.
『What you’re supposed to do with them? You’re supposed to do them. And there are already stories of you doing this and that to them spreading all over the place. Just give it up.』
I… won’t accept it. I covered my face with both hands.
“You’ve even jumbled up the story with Novem, why do each and every one of you…”
Clara and Eva tried to console me.