The Best of Lyle
The Third’s room of memory.
In it, the land governed by the Walt House was expanding. A tranquil scenery spread out, and within that peace, I walked alongside the Third. That territory on the edge of twilight looked to have a somewhat lonely beauty to it.
The Third looked over the land.
『Now that I’ve seen a large city like Beim, I do think it’ amazing. In truth, I’d liked to have had a go at living in Arumsaas. Killing time in the library everyday would surely be like living a dream.』
The man who liked reading- and if I had to say, who hadn’t the slightest impression of a righteous general- gave a gentle smile as he walked.
『But while we didn’t have anything here, I loved this land. Though originally, my brother was supposed to be the one to succeed it.』
Once upon a time, the Second’s eldest son Dewey Walt acted to protect the Third and was killed. Because of that, the Third Generation Head Sleigh Walt ended up succeeding.
“Do you regret it?”
There, he nodded with his smile.
『I’ve regretted a number of times. But you see, then came the time I noticed it. If I kept myself unable to advance from regret, that wasn’t what Dewey would have wanted. I planned to die of old age, so I planned to leave all my regret for when I found the time. But there were plenty of folks who did unnecessary things.』
The Third let out a sigh and looked at the sky. There were clouds floating through its deep-orange expanse.
Around, the villagers done with their fieldwork were returning to their houses.
“It’s a nice place.”
When I said that, the Third sounded delighted.
『Yeah, it’s a nice place. Cut open in the First’s time and put in order in the Second’s… there’s little I was able to do for it.』
And he leisurely turned towards me.
『When I died in battle, it was just the worst, you see. There was still a lot I had to teach to Max, and I wanted to see my grandchildren. I wanted to quickly pass rule over to Max and spend a pleasant retirement. Read a book as I watched Max troubled by all the work. Yet everyone went and twisted over my supreme retirement plan.』
It really did seem like the sort of thing he’d think up, and it seems he really was thinking it. The slippery eel of a Third gave a laugh.
『But I got to see how splendid Max grew up to be. I got to see my problem-ridden grandchild the Fifth.』
“Problem-ridden, is it? I can’t deny that.”
Troubled by various things, the Fifth had cast away himself and resolved for revenge. Because of that, our family construction became a mess. But perhaps if the Third had been alive, the result would have been something else entirely.
“If you had been alive, perhaps the Fifth wouldn’t have had all his troubles.”
But the Third’s opinion differed.
『I wonder about that. Because of the Fifth’s troubles, the Walt House gained the groundwork for a firm system of retainers. And gaining a powerful army, it earned fear from its surroundings. If I was there, I’d slip out of this and that, play it all off, and we wouldn’t have the Walt House we have today.』
Listening in to his words, I tilted my head.
“You think? The Third, the Fourth and the Fifth… with the three of you together, I get the feeling there’s loads of things you’d be able to do.”
The Third laughed.
『That’s not true. And if I was there, I’m sure the Fifth would have chosen a different path, so who’s to say if he would have grown up so splendid. Well, perhaps his private life would have been happier. When I think of it like that, it feels like I’ve really done a bad thing… no, it isn’t my fault! It’s that bastard’s fault! Dammit, I should have hit him harder. Hah, now I want to hit him again.』
When he was called a righteous general, he held hostility towards Bahnseim. In essence, perhaps that was just how things go.
I followed as he walked off again, the surroundings gradually growing darker. Looking up at the sky, the twinkle of the stars was coming into sight.
『This world isn’t one where everything goes as you want it. If I was with the Fifth, perhaps he wouldn’t have thought he would have to become strong on his own. Max was the same. Perhaps he could have been more of a child.』
“You’re saying he had to try so hard because you weren’t there? That’s a bit sad.”
『You think? You can also say it’s fact. Everyone has to stand on their own feet someday. Well, as a parent, I’d have liked to spoil him, or rather, there are things on my mind I can’t help put to mouth. From a child’s point of view, there are times that sort of things is nothing more than a nuisance.』
The Third began talking over his thoughts. It was his relation with the Second.
『The Second was a splendid person. But that’s with a standing of governing a single village. While you can call the First a savage, barbarian… etc., having a noble knight like the Second boldly wielding a bow and hunting knife, to be completely honest, it gives some bad rep. But from the custom of the land, they couldn’t say such a thing. They didn’t have such leisure. But even if they found the time, the Second emphasized practicality.』
I won’t say that’s bad. But it had its demerits. In noble society- particularly in a time when one sought connections from surrounding territories- it would have birthed a trend of being made light of.
Yet even so, the Second didn’t unhand his bow.
『Saying he chose the bow to protect the First’s back and such, if the individual himself was here, I’m sure he’d have a lot to say about it. But the larger the territory grows, the larger the demerits grow. So I didn’t follow the Second’s orders. The reason I took up the sword was to firmly appeal, ‘yes, we’re real nobles,’ in my generation.』
I crossed my arms as I tilted my head.
“Is that how it goes? Was that enough to change your relations with the surroundings?”
『Looks are important. If it were just to emphasize practicality then hell, I’d have held a bow too. Well, we had more soldiers and more retainers. The necessity of the commander holding a bow went down, so that’s a reason as well.』
I was curious as to why the Third was bringing up this talk with me. It seemed like he was doing something unnecessary, and that wasn’t like the Third I knew. Was there some meaning to it?
As I thought…
『… Humans, you see, they’re able to change in accordance with the times. But as you grow older, you become more set in your ways. It becomes difficult. So changing generation is important after all. If you keep your mouth open all the way, the next generation will never grow up.』
The surrounding scene grew darker. But the light of the moon was strong, so it was never too dark. The full moon was a pretty one.
『Lyle, I have a number of theories in regards to the Jewel.』
Looking up at the moon, he began talking about the Jewel.
“Theories, is it?”
『That’s right. You can just think of them as my wild fantasies. Perhaps Septem-san who made the Jewel never had such intent. But LYLE-kun said it, didn’t he? For you to give him back his body.』
I recalled what LYLE had said. He was a kid I never understood to the end, but he said that the body was his and he wanted it back. I’ve no idea if he was actually capable of that in the first place.
『We know it stores the ancestors’ Skills to memory. In essence, a gem does the same. But is there any meaning to the Jewel going as far as to recreate our memories to the finest detail? In the worst case, giving us will would be completely unnecessary. Show a few scenes of the Skill in use, explain it, and that would suffice.』
“Come to think of it, you’re right. But in that case, your theory would be…”
『… Memories and will, couldn’t it be to record everything at hand, and steal its wielder’s body away? Could it be a gem is restricting that ability?』
My feet came to a stop, and his as well.
“If that’s true, then the reason the ancestors disappear is…”
『Because what the Jewel wanted back was the original Lyle. And from us, perhaps all it really wanted was for us to pass down our Skills. Albeit, this all goes if and only if the Jewel really has a will. I think it does, but that part’s still pretty vague. And at this point, I doubt it really matters.』
I looked down before raising my head. The Third was making a serious expression.
“Then Celes is…”
『Perhaps Agrissa wants Celes’ body. No, vessel? That it reacts easier to blood relatives may be because that’s most convenient.』
When I first heard a voice from the Jewel, the ancestors spoke as if they had noticed I was their descendent. I looked at the Third.
“Did you… did any of you ever think to take over my body?”
『Us? No way. What can we accomplish by coming out at this point… no, I do want to read lots of books from the current era. I do want to hole myself up in Arumsaas’ library and spend my days looking for new books to read, but I wouldn’t go that far. I mean, this isn’t our time.』
The laughing Third walked off once more. I hurriedly followed to see him give a kind smile.
『But even so, the goddesses must be that.』
『Calling themselves goddesses, they sure love to spread around trouble. Like with Septem, she clearly gave away too much and ruined the villagers. Agrissa’s the same sort, don’t you think? Shucks~ they really do us in good.』
In regards to the goddesses, the Third seemed to have no trace of reverence. Personally, after learning this and that, I had the urge to tilt my head at them as well.
And the sky gradually began to grow brighter. Fitting for the room of memories, the sun began to rise irrelevant to the passage of time.
The Third spoke.
『Well, let’s just pray my bad premonition didn’t hit the mark. Lyle, if it looks like Celes is going to be taken over, you have to somehow defeat her before that. It’s unthinkable that Celes would let herself be hijacked so easily though. And if it seems you’re going to lose no matter what…』
“I know. I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t come to that. Not waging wars I can’t win is my principle. I challenged Celes to this fight because I think I can win.”
The Third seemed delighted, but as it was, he looked sorrowful as well.
『That’s right. The ones who start reckless battles are fools. Hey, being a fool isn’t so bad. A majority of heroes are fools, more or less. Like the First’s grandfather, that sort of type, perhaps?』
The previous Lyle who won against Agrissa and was killed by Bahnseim… our ancestor. It’s true he was that type of person.
The Third shrugged his shoulders and let out a sigh.
『Good grief, doesn’t look like a hero will come out like some fairy tale. Our stupid and strong and cool hero to defeat the wicked witch Celes. If only he’d come out, you’d be able to tread a much easier path.』
“You’ve a point. If someone like that existed, I’d give him my position at once. Demote myself to support, and once the war is over, till a field or something in some faroff land… no, should I raise a village while I’m at it? I’m sure things will be in ruins, after all.”
The Third nodded. ‘That sort of life’s a good one. Not much responsibility,’ he said as he nodded to my opinion.
Really… won’t a hero come out? I’m sure they’d do better than me, and there’s no doubt they’d save loads of people.
『Now then, let’s teach you some Skills. For their difficulty level, they’re also hard to use effectively, and be that as it may, they’re Skills you can use for all sorts of evil. I’ve no words for them. The Second Stage is 【Control】… and the Third is 【Dream】. For the current you, as long as you get the conditions in order, you should be able to use them.』
Looking at the Third’s face, I nodded.
And once the Skills were passed on, the sky brightened up at once.
『It’s daybreak. I guess I’ll pray for this to be your daybreak as well as I disappear… Ah!』
I found myself surprised as the Third suddenly cried out.
“W-what’s this all of a sudden? Did you forget something?”
With a serious face, the Third covered his mouth with his right hand as he broke into a sweat. His eyes were wide open, and looking up at the sky, he covered his face.
『How could this be. I’ve yet to decide a Best Lyle. I’ve got a number of nominees. But as I was the only one on the selections committee… for me to leave behind so much regret… I… I’m… what a hopeless man am I!?』
Looking at his over-emphasized acting, I dropped my shoulders. A blue sky spread out, and the light of the sun was warm. The clouds leisurely drifted by, and around a peaceful scene… with such a backdrop, this man was the same as ever.
More so, he definitely failed to decide on purpose. I could somewhat understand the reason.
“… You didn’t decide on purpose, right? Now’s not the time, is the sort of feel I’m getting.”
『… So you do understand. As expected of everyone’s hopeful Walt House treasure child. Looks like I’ve got nothing to worry about. Well, with all that’s happened, I think that you, Lyle, are worthy of the Best of Lyle. You are the Lyle among Lyles! Even if I’m split on what to award the Best Lyle Award, that alone is a unanimous decision!』
He said it with such a decisive face, but were there really any Lyles but me? Up to the end, this man really is… as I was thinking that, the Third smiled.
『Those are the words I’m conferring to you. Now try a bit harder to find my intent. Oh whoops, it seems the time really has come. Lyle, do your best with Novem-chan.』
And then it was gone. In the end, I was left staring blankly.
By the time I noticed it, I was at the round table.
Atop the table, where once stood chairs, floated seven weapons of silver. The only remaining chair was my own, and behind it stood my door, the only remaining room of memories.
All the other chairs had disappeared, and their doors were gone as well.
When I looked at the ceiling, I could see a large blue sphere glowing, and around it, twenty four small blue orbs were letting off light as well.
All the Skills were together.
All the weapons were together.
But all the heads of history were gone.
That’s all there was to it, and yet my tears were starting to come out.
… I felt lonely now that no one was there. As a grandfather, like a father, like a brother, like a friend, and at times like a master. My ancestors had all gone away.
When I thought over how I’d been recognized by them, it made me happy as well. Yet even so, what was welling up from my chest was a sorrowful emotion.
When they were so noisy.
When I hated them so.
When it was… so fun, it had all come to an end.
I slowly sat in my chair. No, it was closer to collapsed into it. I covered my face with both hands, and hid away my own crying face. From whom? I didn’t even know myself.
Stolen away by Celes, in the end my memories never came back. For the current me, the only memories I had of anyone treating me like family had come from the ancestors.
They weren’t perfect people.
They all had their problems.
And they had plenty of hopeless parts.
But even so they were reliable. They supported me with their knowledge and Skills.
“When there’s that matter with Novem, I can’t even think about it anymore. Why does my chest hurt so much? When I’ve experienced parting time and again.”
Every time one of them disappeared, I had gained something. But once I was left with nothing to lose, I was filled with inexplicable sorrow.
And I recalled the Third’s words.
The Lyle among Lyles… so those words weren’t his way of cheering me up? The me before my memories were stolen, and the previous Lyle Novem held an attachment to. With all of them together, the real one was me…? The one the ancestors recognized was me.
I raised my face, and looked at the Third’s seat. His aloof figure was nowhere to be seen. In its place floated a sword without a blade. As I reached a hand towards it, its hilt floated my way.
When I gripped it in my hand, I could see a faint edge.
Fitting of the elusive Third, invisible, what’s more a troublesome sword whose length I could regulate at will. As I gripped it in my hand, I finally understood what the Third had wanted to say.
Wiping a tear with my left hand, I let go of the hilt in my right.
“… Just you watch. I’m everyone’s treasure child. I’ll definitely… pull it off without fail.”
I returned my mind from the Jewel to reality.