The Third had disappeared, and no one would let their voice flow from the Jewel anymore.
From the Jewel embedded in the silver ornaments hung around my neck, even now it felt as if I’d hear something at any moment. As I carried on my boring paperwork, I got the feeling the Fourth would chime in to rebuke me. Perhaps the Third would say it was boring. What would the First have said?
The Second would probably see me doing such plain work, nod to himself and watch over me. The Fifth would be silent. The Sixth would surely tell me to go out and play, while the Seventh would try and stop that…
“It’s no good, I can’t keep up my concentration.”
I stopped my pen and looked at the ceiling, putting my left hand over my face. I put them as if to cover my eyes, and even now, I felt there may be someone hiding and watching over me.
I had sent my mind to the Jewel a number of times.
But the result was the same. In that empty round table room was nothing but my chair and the door that continued into my room of memories. Besides the seven weapons floating in the air, nothing showed the slightest reaction.
There, Valkyrie Unit One on standby in the room watched my behavior and prepared some tea.
I took a sip and noticed she had gotten better at brewing it than last time.
“This isn’t half bad.”
Unit One seemed delighted, but her expression didn’t change. Recently, they had begun modifying the Valkyries again, so the Valkyries were stopping by Damien and Old Letarta’s place on rotation. The first wave had yet to return, but I was curious as to what sort of change I could expect this time around.
“That is good. At this point, I can throw that useless maid to the side whenever I see fit.”
“… Why do you guys hate each other so much?”
Useless maid likely referred to Monica. She was currently busily moving around.
It seems she had lain hands on things besides what I had requested of her, and there were complaints coming in from Lianne’s place, apparently.
Mainly from the craftsmen, ‘I’m being chased by a smiling automaton!’ or so some letters on the edge of insanity had come in.
“There is only one master. In that case, one exclusive maid is sufficient.”
“Isn’t it normal to have multiple? What do you mean by one? Aren’t you supposed to be housekeepers?”
Perhaps from Monica’s sister’s core that lay at her base, Unit one was strangely hard on Monica.
There had been reports coming in that the Valkyries’ individual traits were beginning to come out as of late, but perhaps automatons had this and that to deal with as well.
What they’d been showing interest in at this point in time was surely…
After I thought that far, I shook my head.
“Now then, let’s finish up here. I’ve got other things planned for today.”
Unit One looked at me.
“Conversing with that vixen, correct? You have got terrible taste, master.”
“Do you guys have some sort of grudge against Novem? Rather, why are you so hostile to everyone?”
Stroking the blond twin tails she shared with Monica, she put her free hand on her hip as she directed her words at me. She was identical to Monica, but her chest was perfectly level, and therein lay the difference.
“I do not know the reason, but she irritates me in an automaton sense. My core is screaming at me to fight.”
“… What do you mean in an automaton sense? And don’t fight, that’s dangerous. That’s an order.”
When I said it was an order, Unit One bent over backwards. In accordance with her movements, her twin tails gave a violent shake.
“Oy, what’s wrong!?”
She leisurely raised her torso, correcting her posture.
“The word order shot right through my heart. To put it simply, I am aroused. If it could show it on my face… my expression would be slack, and I would be drooling.”
“You don’t have to react to everything! Don’t be so misleading! And wait, you can drool?”
While there were no problems with their performance, there was quite a problem with their personality.
… Lianne’s room.
Unit Thirty Four who had always been by her side was absent. Lianne’s attendant Valkyrie had gone over to Damien for some alterations.
In that time frame, a different Valkyrie hadn’t been dispatched for her. Because everywhere was short-staffed. And Lianne knew and accepted that.
There had been talks of her own attendant being sent over from the Kingdom of Faunbeux. But while she didn’t think her homeland would try to assassinate her at this point, Lianne had denied.
Standing from her seat, she prepared tea for herself.
She had once been unable to trust those around her, carrying out various thing on her own. So she was used to it.
“When she’s here, that’s trouble in itself, but it’s quite a bother when she’s gone.”
Saying that, she stood and took a sip of tea, when the door was burst open with good momentum. Lianne looked at the intruder who had come without so much as a knock, spitting out the tea in her mouth.
The one the chocking Lianne had seen was a smiling Unit Thirty Four. The Valkyrie that had been expressionless to that point had gotten expression added on.
“I heard, Lianne-san. That you showed your dere side, saying you did not need any maid besides me. I was so happy, I hurriedly returned on my own. Oh right, do not get conceited. My master is Lyle-sama alone. Well, you can be second. No, thinking of the chick to come, would that be third?”
Getting her breath in order, Lianne looked at Unit Thirty Four as she wiped her mouth.
“Ah~, look at how dirty you have become.”
“Who’s fault do you think that is!? Rather, your expressions sure are human. Professor Damien’s fixated on quite an unnecessary thing.”
There, Unit Thirty Four waved her index finger left and right as she grinned.
“That is where you are wrong, little lady. We used all the money we saved up to put out various modification proposals, and paid for their actualization.”
Lianne was surprised.
“Saved up? I don’t think I’ve paid you that much.”
Unit Thirty Four formed a dark smile, as she made a gesture to indicate money with her right hand.
“The stores set up in North, South and Rhuvenns… a portion of them were shops under our management. They were so popular we even have plans to open branches in the four nation alliance.”
Lianne cried out.
“What are you doing on your own!? If you had time to earn money, then help out our side some more! We’re facing extreme poverty right now!”
From Lianne- who had been left with the financial side- ‘s point of view, she would have liked to know of the Valkyries’ surprising talents earlier.
But Unit Thirty Four…
“It was a side job on our days off, so I must refuse. If you wish to give the order no matter what, then please get our master’s approval. I do want to come to your aid, but this alone I cannot concede. Ah, make sure to tell him to make his orders on the harsher side.”
Her head starting to hurt, Lianne massaged her canthus with her fingertips. She looked at Thirty Four’s hair.
“… You’ve got it done plain long this time. You used to have it bound at the tip.”
Unit Thirty Four traced her hair with her eyes.
“It broke while we were on the move. In order to show my originality, I had bought it with my meager allowance, so it was quite a shock… well, I have plenty of gold now.”
While Lianne was irritated, she undid one of the strings binding her own hair. That sturdy pink-dyed string was what she used to keep her hair out of the way while she was working.
“It will be hard to tell you apart, so use this. It’s something you won’t be able to find in these parts. It’s quite robust so it’ll last a while.”
Unit Thirty Four took the string in her hands.
“… T-trying to fish me in with something like that isn’t going to work! But I-I’ll take it anyways.”
Seeing her suddenly let out a cute voice as she fidgeted, Lianne tilted her head.
“… What are you trying to accomplish? No, what are you trying to say?”
Unit Thirty Four spoke in a bored tone.
“Che, it was a line I thought up now that I finally obtained expression, but it didn’t get across at all.”
Saying that, she slumped in depression…
On the Balcony of Rhuvenns castle, I decided to talk with Novem.
As I went out, I found she had gotten there before me.
Despite it being summer, the outside air was pleasantly cool. I noticed Novem had prepared ice in a few places to cool the area.
To my own nervous self, I sent some encouraging words in my heart as I approached Novem.
“I’ve kept you waiting.”
Novem was smiling.
“No, you’ve come a little earlier than the appointed time.”
I looked at Novem as I mulled over what to start with. But I thought I had to tell her, so without any preface I said it.
“The heads of history in the Jewel have all disappeared. No, they’ve left their Skills to me and fulfilled their roles.”
Novem’s eyes opened just a little wider at my words.
And she looked a little dispirited.
“Is that… so. That’s unfortunate. Once was enough, I would have liked to meet with them.”
She seemed truly regretful. And she was a little self-derisive.
“As I thought, the heads of history were creeped out by me as well.”
On those words, I gave a strong denial. Rather than trying to cheer her up, it was because she had said something that didn’t match up with their intent.
“That’s wrong. It’s not that you never got to meet. You were never supposed to meet… and everyone told me to look after you.”
Novem gave an immediate response.
“That’s a lie. From Fredrick-sama onwards, the Forxuz House served as a simple vassal household. Fiennes-sama and Brod-sama would never have thought anything strange about it. I’m just the daughter of a vassal, and that’s all they would have thought of me.”
It’s true that’s what they thought at first. The Fifth onwards saw Novem as the daughter of the Forxuz House. But First through Fourth were different.
“The moment the First learned of you, he was extremely flustered. And it seems everyone felt something when you sold off your dowry for my sake. They told me to take responsibility for that.”
On those nostalgic memories of Dalien, Novem laughed a bit.
“Something like that did happen. But if you believe you’ve been a burden for me on the financial front, then please worry not. I’ve received a considerable payment through all of this, and I have enough money to buy dozens of sets of trousseau.”
That’s not what I meant. Or so I wanted to say, but I felt as if there was a clear line drawn between me and her.
The one Novem was looking at was Lyle of the Walt House. Not me as an individual.
“I have some memory of the ancestors as well. They were all wonderful people. I’d have liked to talk with them.”
They were certainly wonderful people.
“Quite a few of them were surprisingly shy. And I mistook the timing. After we met Celes, we thought it would cast doubt upon us, so I restrained myself. It was a failure, I’d like to say. Perhaps I should have opened up about them from the start. But in the end, I never tried to let you meet them either.”
In the first place a meeting would only be possible after I manifested my Second Stage Skill. Before that, it would just be taken as a rash remark.
Novem was the rebirth of an evil god? If I knew she carried on memories, perhaps my choices would have changed.
“They had a surprising number of hopeless points. Though I’m sure you already know.”
There, Novem’s reaction showed a slight change.
“That isn’t the case. They’re all wonderful people. Maizel-sama as well, originally, he was an exceptionally kind and strong person, and…”
I felt something was off. Novem’s tone had grown stronger.
“Really? The First was a rude one, and the Second was too earnest. Well, plain, perhaps? I get the feeling the man himself was quite mindful of it. The Third was a schemer…”
Once I said that much, Novem took a step forwards, and looked up into my face. In her eyes I could see the color of anger in no small concentration.
“Basil-sama was a wonderful person who cut open the dangerous forests, and got together all the surrounding people practically by himself! Crassel-sama was a person who endured and persevered no matter how harsh the times. Sleigh-sama was a gallant man who threw down his life and fought for everyone’s sake! I won’t let anyone insult them, even if it’s you, Lyle-sama!”
I wonder what it is, Novem’s opinion was right. She was right, but I found myself not agreeing.
“No, I mean the Fourth was a miser who’s actual hobby was counting the gold coins in his safe you know. The Fifth failed in his family relations and sought solace from animals. The Sixth was a delinquent who ran out of the house, and the Seventh, My grandfather… was a pervert?”
While it’s true they had their amazing parts, Novem wasn’t looking at anything else. No, even if she carried on the memories, perhaps the ancestors hadn’t shown off those sides. But her vision was so beautified I couldn’t accept it.
“Take it back! Max-sama really worked hard to make the territory abundant! Fredrick-sama did his best alone in that cruel situation. Fiennes-sama definitely did run out of the house! But he gained lots of experience, and became a splendid head of the house! Brod-sama was such a splendid man that even Bahnseim relied on him! Take it back!… I’m begging you.”
… I somewhat understood the reason I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t stand Novem’s words as if she understood them from only seeing one side to them.
That means she wasn’t looking at any other part of the ancestors. As if those no-good portions were just the useless leftovers, and I hated that.
It’s true the First was rude and violent. But he was the first person who recognized me. A pure and genuine person.
The Second was definitely plain. But he was really prone to worrying, and… an earnest man.
The Third was a schemer. But he had decisiveness, and was a heroic person.
The Fourth was a miser. But that was because he worked so hard to get that money flowing into the land.
The Fifth had failed in his family relations. But he made sure he was the one hurt most. He was a kind person.
The Sixth was a delinquent. But he knew when to act, and he was a strong man pulling everyone behind him.
The Seventh… was a pervert. But as he felt the weight of all history’s achievements pushing down on him, he lived a strong way of life.
“You were only looking at the outside, and you never saw what was within. Is it really so bad? Can you really not forgive they had no-good parts to them? There was never a perfect person in our Walt House!”
Novem grabbed my hands. She was gripping them tightly, and I couldn’t think of that power coming from the narrow arms of a woman.
“What do you mean by no-good parts? Of course I recognize them! But making fun of them so… why do you speak of them so!?”
“Because the good parts and the bad parts… I’ve seen them all. Heard them all. Was taught them all. So I look up to them everything included. It’s not like all of them loved battle.”
… Or so I’d like to think.
“They were kind, and they all had things they wanted to do. And yet, it’s because the surrounding situation didn’t permit it that they fought… that they protected!”
Novem looked at me.
“I never said I wanted everyone to love fighting. All I wanted to express was just how wonderful the gentlemen of the Walt House were for struggling through whatever circumstance befell them.”
I grabbed Novem’s hand.
“I said I would aim for peace. I don’t know what sort of thing that is. But when I said it, they said it was alright if I reached out for it.”
Novem looked at my face in surprise. And her expression tunred sorrowful.
She slowly parted from me and wiped her tears.
“… Is that… so. But even so, I…”
I spoke to Novem.
“Hey, how do you feel about it? Not the Goddess or Evil God Novem. Not the previous generation Novem or whoever came before that. Can’t you make your own feelings clear?”
Novem slowly left the balcony.
“You’ll have to excuse me for the day. I have an early morning tomorrow.”
… Novem walked down the night corridor without a light.
“… I have to protect him. The Walt House is what I longed for… I have to protect Lyle-sama.”
She muttered as she called up the large quantity of memories… no, records within her. The previous generation Novem who swore to watch over the Walt House. Her parting with Septem and the others that named her an Evil God.
Among them, Novem recalled the back of a single woman.
The woman wore a lab coat.
Her long hair was colored a pink blonde, and both her hands were thrust into the pockets of her white coat.
『Novem, I won’t deny what you’re doing. But I won’t deny Septem and the others either. So put away that dangerous thing.』
Was Novem pointing a weapon at her? She couldn’t recall the fuzzy parts.
At this point there was some noise mixed in, and she couldn’t recall it perfectly. But the conversation played back, and Novem could remember it well.
『Septem you see, she thinks humans are weak. She’s sure of it. But you and Octō are too convinced that humans are strong.』
“What did I reply back then…”
The woman in a lab coat looked over Novem.
『Hey, I can understand why you’d be irked at being called a Goddess and such. And you can’t forgive Septem for doing her best to play the part, right? But you see, we can’t be there to watch over humans forever.』
To the woman’s words, Novem…
“Shut it. Shut up!”
『I’m a failure without much power to me at all. I don’t have the power to bring forth anything like you guys. The most I can do is live in this world of ours. And my body will fall apart far before any of you.』
While she had given up, the woman was cheerful.
“I have… to watch over him to the end. I’m not wrong. Septem… Septem betrayed us, so…”
The woman smiled.
『I, you see, I think I’m going to try and become one of the elves you created. While I could never do any more than watch, I’ll at least pass down the message so the failure doesn’t repeat.』
Failure. Right, a failure. Humanity had failed.
“And that’s why we were born in the first place, dammit!!”
Crying out, Novem let her tears flow as she ruffled her side ponytail into a mess and sat on the spot.
“There’s no way I have an individual self at this point. I have to watch over him. I have to watch over him to the end, or else…”
And the woman told Novem with a smile.
『Novem, I like songs. I like stories. If I’m ever reborn, I’m sure… I’ll sing songs for you.』
There, perhaps hearing the ruckus, someone drew close.
“Novem, what’s wrong? Did something happen? Are you crying?”
Worrying for her was Eva. Pink blonde hair, and her elf-characteristic tapered ears. She had vestiges of the woman in the lab coat.
“… Nihil, why are you…”
Eva and Nihil’s forms overlapped.
Novem collapsed in the corridor.
Eva continued calling out to her…