Sevens: Maizel Walt

Maizel Walt

… The Walt House manor.

There was a man with his gray hair all swept to the back. He traced his maintained beard with a finger as he smiled over the letter that came from Centralle. Leaving the letter on a splendid desk in his office, he turned a sharp glare at the crumpled report beside it.

Turning his eye to his retainer 【Beil Randbergh】 who had come to check on him at the fall of knight, the head of the Walt House 【Maizel Walt】 spoke in a fed-up tone.

“I heard the eastern front had faced defeat, but the scale was beyond my expectations. According to Celes and Claire in Centralle, only a lucky few were able to run away… that disgrace of the Walt House sure got us well!”

To Maizel’s loathsome expression, Beil’s face remained serious.

“Isn’t that fine? The fact only serves to prove even the Walt House’s rejects possess powers far over the rest.”

Maizel leaned his back against his chair, making an displeased expression.

“Don’t be foolish. When Celes became the queen of that crown prince… just how far will that disgrace go to get in the Walt House’s way? He should be eliminated with all due haste. It seems there are some traitors as well. We shall be tacking on a reason to march on Rhuvenns.”

Beil objected to that.

“Maizel-sama, Celes-sama in Centralle is looking forward to your arrival. You shouldn’t keep her waiting.”

Maizel laughed. His smile was thoroughly filled with self-confidence.

“It’s something to be happy about. My cute daughter is looking forward to my return. But my pride as a father won’t allow me to return to Centralle without a present. Tell Celes I’ll be a little late.”

Learning there would be no change in Maizel’s verdict, Beil replied.

“Your departures to the front lines have increased in number. And as winter sets in, there is a limit to the numbers we can mobilize. If we’re moving anyone, it will have to be in the ten thousand units.”

Maizel, full of confidence.

“Porter, was it? We have the technology Celes brought back to the Walt House from Arumsaas. Our logistical support is also in order. Have our vassals and their vassals mobilize as well. There are any number of men out there who’d become desperate in longing to see Celes’ face of delight!”

In regards to Maizel, Beil gave his opinion.

“Then that would likely fall short of fifty thousand. It is believed a considerable number lie in Rhuvenns. It’s even quite a trial to have spies infiltrate them. Why not wait and watch a little longer?”

Maizel stroked his mustache with his fingertip.

“I’m sure he used the Walt House’s heirloom. That’s all there is to it. But Skills are irrelevant to me. It seems he’s grown a bit stuck up, but… that is meaningless before me. I’ll have to reclaim the heirloom that thing made off with as well. In itself, it has little value as a gem but it’s a precious heirloom, after all. It’s all because that dodderer hid it away and gave it to that thing. Good grief, how troublesome it must have been to my father as well.”

When Maizel said that, Beil agreed.

“Before Brod-sama passed… Zenoire-sama was the first to go, so perhaps he had lost himself in sorrows.”

Once the Seventh, Brod came up, Maizel looked up at the ceiling.

“Seeing that harsh father of mine grow senile was a pitiable sight. When he told me to ‘wake up’… I wonder what he was trying to say.”

After a while of silence between the two, Maizel finally opened his mouth.

“… Hasten the preparations. Even if taking that thing’s head is impossible, I want to deliver Celes news of victory.”

Through thick and thin, there was a difference in Maizel’s treatment of Lyle and Celes…

“My father? No, um… I-I don’t really remember.”

I gave a vague response, but in all actuality, I had lost a majority of my memory. For that sake, my knowledge on my father Maizel Walt was considerably lacking.

The head of the House that had climbed up to be Bahnseim’s strongest…

And right now, it was mercilessly crushing Celes’ enemies.

Within the Jewel.

The round table between us, I sat across from the Seventh, my grandfather. Maybe the Third didn’t want to be a hindrance, as he had locked himself in his own room of memories.

The Seventh looked a little… no considerably conflicted.

『… Lyle, you’re my grandson, but Maizel is my son. So there are a few things I can say.』

I really didn’t remember my father. In the meager fragments that remained, he truly was kind before my isolation. He had a harshness as well, but the kindness was definitely there.

Thinking of his attitude since my alienation, I could see it well.

『Maizel never regarded the Jewel highly. Do you know why?』

I tilted my head. As I recall, the blue gem became a Jewel after it came into my hands. Even so, the Skills the ancestors left behind all displayed performance you could call extraordinary.

There’s no way my father didn’t know, so shouldn’t he have investigated and found out old Zell had it? If he was up to it, he had any means to search for it.

“Come to think of it, it really is strange. He wasn’t particular about heirlooms… also sounds strange. He held great pride in the Walt House.”

The Walt House’s pride… because of it, he hated his own grandfather, Fiennes the Sixth for sticking his hands into unwholesome trades.

Then why did my father never hold the Jewel?

『Maizel doesn’t need the Jewel. No, to be more precise, it has no value greater than an ornament to him. Because Maizel cannot use the Jewel’s Skills.』

“Can’t use? Did my father have some sort of problem? It didn’t look that way to me.”

Just like the ancestors, my father was a splendid man… I think. Before Celes twisted things up, he had his heart set on being a good lord to the people.

The Seventh began talking about my father.

『No, he was talented. And it’s precisely his talent that made it so Maizel couldn’t use the blue gem. Maizel… has a Skill to obstruct the use of Skills. And his own Skill is so strong, he can’t even make use of Magic Tools.』

Hearing that, I finally understood why my father wasn’t particular about the Jewel.

… Lorphys’ Palace.

With one of the Valkyries stationed in the country before her, Annerinne body stopped just short of sitting in the throne.

“W-what did you just say?”

The other leader were gathered for the audience, and surrounding the maid-clothed Valkyries, they received the report of the unit they sent to Rhuvenns.

“As I was saying, an engagement has been tied between my master’s retainer Baldoir Randbergh, and your country’s vice-captain of the knights Alette Baillet. It is a splendid result for both countries. Baldoir-sama is my master’s close aide. As things are going, there is no doubt of his promotion, and at present, while they are apart in status, that relation will eventually flip over…”

“Not that! Why!? Why did Alette go off and get married without consulting me!? It’s only natural to talk to me beforehand, is it not!?”

Those around were saying similar things.

“C-certainly. The vice-captain’s marriage was beyond everyone’s expectations.”
“But it is to our benefit.”
“But that shall not change the present situation! Zayin and Galleria and Rusworth are to wed the leading power. What’s more, they’ve sent people of appropriate statue! While this is certainly to our benefit… now if we ask for any more, we’ll get opposition from our surroundings!”

The Valkyrie moved her red eyes to take in the surrounding reactions.

From Lorphys’ side, the best result would be if Annerinne married Lyle. But that would leave the throne open, so Annerinne would have to stay within the country. If she had a child, they would be the heir. Such a situation was most desirable.

If you wanted to call it selfish, that would be the end of the story, but Lorphys had its own situation. When there wasn’t even a marriage tying the forces, there were voices coming out questioning why they were cooperating to such an extent.

Prime Minister Lonbolt shed sweat from his head as he spoke.

“… They won’t recognize a marriage with Annerinne-sama? Could you please relay the reason?”

The Valkyrie, disinterestedly.

“Because it is what’s best for both sides. And Baldoir-dono is a distant relative to my master. If you express your dissatisfactions, even if master thinks nothing of Lorphys, what of the surroundings?”

Of the Sixth’s numerous brothers and sisters, one had married into the Randbergh House. Because of that, Lyle and Baldoir were technically relatives. They had a relation of lord and retainer, and they paid little mind to their blood relation, but from surrounding eyes, denying this marriage would be a problem.

There was a problem with Lyle’s side’s attitude, but many problems on Lorphys’ side as well. Both sides were clattering, and even if they proceeded these talks, they’d only be running themselves into a bog.

Lonbolt spoke to the Valkyrie.

“… We approve of Alette Baillet’s marriage. We shall officially send a letter giving our blessings.”

The Valkyrie held her skirt in her fingertips, giving a tidy curtsy.

“Much obliged. Gratitude to the depths of your country’s generosity.”

But Annerinne alone…

“Hold… Hold it right there! Prime Minster, what about my marriage!? You’re the one who said it would be necessary for the country’s sake!”

As she watched the princess act up, the Valkyries passed the message.

(Inform master: bomb disposal complete.)

As the Valkyries treated her as an explosive, Annerinne was carefully removed from the audience chamber by Lonbolt and his associates…

Night.

In a bedroom of Rhuvenns castle, I sat in a chair, looking at the night sky out the window. The inside of the room should have been warm, but I couldn’t feel any warmth at my core.

Holding the Jewel’s chain in my right hand, I lighted it up, and let the light of the moon shine through the Blue Jewel.

“… Anti-Skill, eh? That’s going to be troublesome.”

A Skill to obstruct Skill Use. To put it simply, my father was easily able to overturn my advantages on the battlefield.

Information relay through Skill. And on top of grasping the surrounding scenery, confirming enemy positions. It was precisely because of their ability elevations through my Skill that a scraped-together force could fight on even footing with an army drilled together. With all of that taken away, It became a difference of base ability.

Even if we had personnel proficient as individuals, looking at the whole, my father’s Walt House army was united in will, with higher coordination.

Training, equipment, on top of a difference in experience… thinking over various conditions, not being able to use Skills was a considerably problem. And when the Jewel and Aria’s Magic Tool interfered with my Skills and made them unusable, my line with Monica was cut.

I couldn’t count on Monica’s performance.

“Looking on it like this, I had relied on them quite a bit. If I didn’t have the Skills, the current me would…”

As I said something so faint-hearted, the Third called out from the Jewel.

『You sure sound feeble. It’s true that it’s because of the Skills you were able to fight your way here. But I don’t think that’s all. In moving a large army, while ability is necessary, there are many other essential factors. If you had the Skills and nothing more, you’d never have been able to make the current situation.』

The Seventh spoke to me.

『That’s right. Have more confidence in yourself. It isn’t just Skills. It’s because you had your power, that you came all the way here.』

I felt a little happy to hear it. Gripping the Jewel in my right hand, I muttered.

“Even so, Skill interference… if I can’t use the ancestors’ weapons either, it’s going to become something troublesome. When we’re already quite hard-pressed here.”

The soldiers that ran away turned to banditry, and a portion of our members were subjugating them. Their numbers were extremely numerous.

On top of that, a majority of the soldiers we could scrape up from Beim were volunteer soldiers, and had already returned to their civilian lives. Even if they had all remained, we wouldn’t be able to support them, and the four-country alliance soldiers were beginning to return to their homes as well.

The Third thought a bit.

『… I recommend you gather usable soldiers, and urgently prepare a main shaft. Based on the situation, I’m sure soldiers from our side will turn coat.』

Of the many soldiers I took in. Among them, I was going to select out only the trustworthy ones, and make an elite force.

“If I start training them now, how far can we go… and dealing with the enemy once they come…”

The Seventh laughed.

『Lyle, broaden your field of vision. Just normally training the soldiers you can trust… you weren’t thinking something as boring as that, were you?』

“Was I not supposed to?”

The Third laughed.

『Goddess, when you’ve made it this far as an adventurer, why haven’t you noticed? At a time like this, there’s something quite convenient at your disposal, isn’t there?』

On the Third’s words, it hit me.

“The Labyrinth! No, but… generally, the technical skills requested from adventurers and soldiers are different.”

In truth, that’s how the forces of Beim fell. Using adventurers as the main shaft, they had lost to Bahnseim’s power of numbers. And they weren’t accustomed to fighting humans.

The Seventh spoke.

『But isn’t it just right for raising individual prowess while heightening coordination among smaller platoons? And also. Lyle… Don’t you think it’s about time to put your constantly-active Skill to use? In the worst case, you need only train the commanders and their aides. Rather…』

The Third took over his explanation.

『Let’s say you want to have your own army fight in the Labyrinth. If you want to send in a large quantity of soldiers, and ignore every single bit of adventurer manners, now’s the only time.』

As I thought, the Seventh spoke.

『Learning how to communicate between and move forces is also training. Lyle, why don’t you try getting others to build up experience and see what happens? If you’re on support, they won’t experience any large casualties. Have them grow some in a short period of time, and strengthen the army, why don’t you? While you’re at it, you can supplement your insufficient general pool.』

I decided to abide their opinions.

“Understood. But in the case I take part, I can’t really lave this point open.”

The Third laughed.

『It’s alright. Your Skills have experienced a sudden strengthening with your Growth. Is it because of the Fifth and Milleia-chan? Now let’s get some Walt House Style army training underway! It’s starting to get fun around here!』

… The only moderately sized Labyrinth around was the one Beim managed. Thinking back, I’ve never actually entered Beim’s Labyrinth before.

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Sevens: Marriage Interview

Marriage Interview.

“… What have you done?”

Before Baldoir’s sigh, I fidgeted.

“W-was that no good?”

Baldoir’s work room was narrower than my office. This also owed to the many items lain around, but my office had been made special from the start, I’m sure. I proceeded talks of Alette-san’s marriage interview, and when I called over to Baldoir, he seemed fed up.

“No, my apologies. If it’s an engagement proposed by you, I cannot decline it. Anyways, the other party is the vice-captain of Lorphys, correct? To speak to status, the Randbergh House is a retainer house to the Walts. I don’t think that quite matches.”

“Eh? You can’t decline?”

While I was surprised, I heard voices from the Jewel. The Third spoke to me.

『My time was the same, declining an engagement from your lord is quite a task. Though precepts like those of the Walt House were taken into account by the house I vassaled to. In my case, it was a huge help the Second searched out a bride for me, though.』

The Seventh said something similar.

『You need a considerably adequate reason to decline. But at his age, I think it’s strange if he didn’t have a girl he liked. Lyle, try asking.』

Following the Seventh’s suggestion, I tried asking.

“Do you have anyone else? Someone you like?”

Baldoir’s eyes moved a bit, but focusing on me, he opened his mouth as if he had given up.

“You were under house arrest at the time. You probably heard it, in knowledge alone. I do have someone I like. But she’s a girl of a village I stopped by when suppressing bandits. Marriage wouldn’t really work out.”

Hearing that from Baldoir, I recalled that before the bonds between houses, freedom of love was meaningless. In my case I was engaged to Novem, but it seems Baldoir has someone separate in status.

“So what do you plan to do?”

“I plan to accept. Sure enough, we cannot ignore the problems of Lorphys. If Lorphys withdraws from the alliance, we will need to put in sanctions. If we mistake the adjustments and go too far, the other nations will become nervous. If we’re too light on them, frustration will build up. I’m sure the reactions will vary by country, and it’s a problem we can’t leave be.”

Right. In the case Lorphys withdrew, there was the possibility of sanctions. If the other countries couldn’t accept it, we couldn’t leave it be.

In the worst case, before we settled things with Bahnseim, I’d have to keep the crumbling of the alliance in sight. But what would the other countries think of that? I wasn’t going to lose. That’s how much power I had at the moment. However, even if I won, it would be a victory for that passing moment alone.

While I waited for my fight with Bahnseim, I didn’t want to have to carry some strange explosives.

“… I’m sorry. I remember. My time as an adventurer was so thick, I was on the verge of forgetting my noble life.”

“There’s no helping it. Knowing something and experiencing it are different things. As a condition, I did lay hands on her after the bandit subjugation, so I’d like to consider taking her on as a maid. At the very least, I’ll have to recognize our relationship.”

The Seventh, in a bit of a low voice.

『He really does treasure her. Rather, he does what needs be. If only Lyle had that sort of leisure.』

There, the Third spoke to the Seventh.

『It’s because you made the territory’s scale too large, you rarely ever dealt with bandits personally, did you? Even if you did, you were surrounded by retainers? For a village rid of its bandits, it’s a common tale for the best girl in the village to be offered. For someone with territory on Baldoir’s level, he should be getting those offers quite often, but… from how it sounds, it just one?』

I asked the Third’s question.

“One woman? Or all the women you’ve had relations with?”

Baldoir stared at me.

“… Lyle-sama, please don’t think everyone is surrounded by women like you. It’s one girl. One. I was in her care when I was subjugating bandits a few years ago. At the time, I too had knowledge alone, and got through with excitement after that. But after that, I tried my best not to stay at that village.”

The Third gave a serious voice.

『From the other side’s point of view, that’s just trouble. When they gave thanks for defeating the bandits, it’s as if he refused it. Well, I’m sure Baldoir-kun has his own logic on it.』

Was he so particular because it was his first woman? I couldn’t really understand. Baldoir let out a sigh.

“Well I have feelings, and we had some relations after that. I at least want to look after her a bit. So I apologize, but… in the case that I die, if you could prepare some assets for her…”

… I suddenly had a bad feeling about this. But before Baldoir’s serious face, it was an air I couldn’t joke, so I decided to confirm the girl’s location.

… Alette hung her head in the waiting room.

“… I should’ve brought something besides knight clothes. Why didn’t I prepare a dress? I’m such an idiot!”

The one looking at her was the knight who’d guided her corps through the castle. Rather than fed-up, he tried to sooth her.

“It’s not as if Baldoir-dono has such a selection of clothing either. You only have whatever you came here with. At the very least, as long as your appearance is in order, it shouldn’t be a problem. It it’s something that was decided so suddenly, after all.”

The fresh recruits looked anxiously at that knight.

“Um, is this fine? Our original objective was to…”

The knight shook his head.

“I know. But you all… if we let this chance slip by, then who’s going to marry the vice-captain? Men are a rare commodity. Even if she searches for someone outside of rank, a majority are already married. If this chance slips by, she’s already in dangerous waters as it is.”

Originally, Alette’s platoon’s objective, or at least its official stance was to elevate Lorphys’ status. In truth, they had been sent to establish an engagement between Lyle and Princess Annerinne.

Because if they didn’t do that, their country’s influence would be lowest within the alliance. When the other three countries had relations with Lyle, Lorphys alone… what’s more, they couldn’t even pull out at this point.

Because the moment the succeeded, they would be surrounded by enemies.

The knight looked at the ceiling, before turning to Alette.

“Vice-captain, do you have your marriage form with you?”

Alette raised her face and nodded.

“Eh? Yeah, I have it?”

The new recruits stood dumbfounded. The knight sent a look across them.

“Do you get it? That’s the sort of person she is. She doesn’t have another chance. The princess is still young. But our vice-captain is… she’s a good person, but she has that side of her so… as a knight of Lorphys, I’d rather proceed talks of Lyle-dono and the princess. But as an individual, I want to support our vice-captain. And…”

“And?”

Alette was quietly simulating things to herself. It seems she was preparing answers beforehand to whatever would be asked in the interview.

“If he asks what I do in my free time, I can’t just say train my body, drink and sleep. Last one got mad at that one. Then here, I should cutely say I knit or something domestic… t-that’s no good! I’ve never learned knitting, I’ve never knit a thing in my life! If that’s how it’s going to be, I can just play it off with something vague like admiring flowers and…”

She was so desperate that the male knights around were taken aback.

“… And. This isn’t such a bad talk. He’s one of the leader candidate who’ll be hard to get at later.  Right now, he’s just a retainer, but if Lyle-dono wins, he’ll at least make Count. There’s no doubt he’ll stay close as an imperial noble. For Lorphys… for the country, it isn’t so bad, right?”

If it was just for their official stance, it would be a success. Or so the knight explained to the recruits…

A few hours later.

With all the preparations in place, at a round table set up in the palace courtyard, I sat across Ludmilla-san. Perpendicular, the main cast of Baldoir and Alette-san sat across from one another.

There were guards around, but they were kept to a minimum.

What’s more, only female knights. Monica prepared yea and such, but Alette-san hadn’t touched it out of nervousness.

As a few minutes passed without anyone saying anything, Ludmilla-san put down her cup. A tink sound rang out as ceramic cup touched plate. It was quiet enough for it to ring out beautifully.

But with the equilibrium broken, Alette-san spoke.

“U-um! What are your hobbies!”

There, Baldoir seemed level-headed.

“I do a little horse riding. Other than that, I’ve dabbled in a little painting and music, but I’m not at a level where I could call myself any good. And if I could ask something.”

“Y-yes!”

The two weren’t so far apart in age, but it seems Alette-san’s nervousness was terrible. Like she would make a slip of the tongue any time soon. The Third was exhilarated.

『You think her marriage forms will be coming out soon? If her name’s already filled in, I think even Baldoir-kun will be surprised.』

The Seventh evaluated Baldoir’s level-headedness.

『I can’t tell what he’s thinking inside at all. But… this serenity, as I thought, it must be because he knows women. Lyle, you should seriously consider it. A large battle is near. It may not be a bad idea to know women yourself.』

… With the two of you watching from the Jewel, there’s no way I’d even think of laying hands on anyone. Rather, learning Baldoir wasn’t someone on my side was a shock. I thought I’d be able to have an enjoyable talk with him like with Damien and Maksim-san…

Baldoir stuck his elbows into the table, folding his arms as he looked at Alette-san with a serious expression.

“I understand that this marriage is important. But even though my house owns a town, it’s just a small territory. Baronet scale. What’s more, it’s a retainer house. For heirs to a feudal noble territory, if we marry, you will have to be marrying into my house. And I’m the eldest son of a feudal noble. Even if I come to love you alone, I cannot say I’ll never lay hands on another.”

The receptions of saved villages, is what he meant. I saved villages in Beim, but such spicy stories never came up once. This must be a difference in custom.

“I-in Bahnseim terms, I would be from imperial noble lineage. Based on what I’ve heard…”

“That would be troublesome.”

Baldoir’s voice grew a little strong. His face was the epitome of seriousness.

“My home, the Randbergh House pledged loyalty to the Walt House since we became retainer knights. We’re a house that is already entering its sixth generation. My greatest desire in life is for me to fulfill that role.”

Alette-san looked serious.

“I-I understand that. I have experience in battle as well! M-my resolve isn’t…”

Baldoir nodded.

“I see. Even as a woman, you do have the status as vice-captain. Then you understand my meaning, right? You could do better. And I cannot prioritize Lorphys. I already have a woman with whom I have relations. Yet her status is too low for me to marry her. I plan on inviting her to the mansion as a maid. If you’re sill fine with that, I will take you as legal wife.”

Without even thinking about it, Alette-san…

“U-understood! The maid part was outside of my expectations, but I hear about those sorts of things a lot. If I let this chance slip by, I…”

… Ended up agreeing.

“Eh? Really!?”

I thought she would definitely be reluctant, but maids… she even approved of mistresses.

“A maid or two, if I got angry because he laid hands on them, I wouldn’t be able to get married anymore! I’m serious here, please pipe down! I had imagined even worst conditions… and I’ve heard worse offers a number of times…”

It sounded painfully heartrending. Ludmilla-san, on the other hand.

“For a feudal noble, that’s about the standard fare. If you step onto the battlefield, death is always a possibility. For the sake of leaving successors, having a few women is a common tale. Though there are plenty of tales of failure.”

I looked at Alette, noticing her produce a form from her breast pocket. I snatched it away from her. Why does this person always panic and set herself up for failure?

“G-give it back! B-but I still have more.”

“You’re making me draw back, please stop. I’ll prepare some proper forms on a later date. Now hand over your spares too. Hurry up!”

“No, but… I’ll get anxious if I don’t have them filled out soon, won’t I!?”

“It’s stranger that you’re always carrying them around, notice that already! I seriously worry for you!”

Ludmilla-san turned an eye to the document in my hand. Her expression warped a bit.

“You’re always carrying around something like that? You’ll repel all the men like that.”

I’m pretty sure Ludmilla-san naturally repelled her share of men as well. As I thought such a thing, Baldoir took the form from me.

“Pardon me. I see… it’s a little different from Bahnseim’s form. But I’d better fill out one for Lorphys as well.”

Saying that, he took out a pen, and wrote his name into the form where Alette-san’s was already written in.

The Seventh spoke.

『He’s surprisingly unperturbed.』

The Third sounded a little bored.

『Hah, it’s kinda that, you know. I’m happy it’s working out, but I’d like some more ups and downs.』

I looked at Baldoir.

“Oy, are you sure you shouldn’t consider it a bit more? It’s that. Alette-san… becomes really hyper in her post-Growth and gets out of hand.”

Alette-san stood and grabbed my shoulders.

“Could you stop getting in the way of my happiness!? I’m begging you!”

Seeing her desperately petition, I stayed in my seat, but inched a little away from her. Ludmilla-san looked a little disappointed.

“Cartaffs was aiming for Baldoir-dono as wel, but… well, with this, I’m sure Lorphys will quiet down a bit.”

Baldoir stopped his pen, and looking at my face…

“… Lyle-sama, please look in a mirror already.”

… He said.

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Sevens: Vice Captain of Lorphys

Vice Captain of Lorphys

… Rhuvenns.

Due to Lyle’s presence, that country once annihilated by a hoard of monsters was being treated as the headquarters of the alliance. The one who stopped by such a land was an envoy of Lorphys, Alette Baillet.

Regardless of who he was, he moved the alliance, Cartaffs, Djanpear, Faunbeux… a number of countries moved on his command, in order to meet the head of the alliance, Alette’s appearance was in order.

Her bob-cut blond hair that extended to her shoulders, with how busy she had been these days, she hadn’t had a  chance to cut it lately. Using getting her appearance in order as a pretense, Alette was delighted she was able to take it easy for a day.

And the one who shoved enough work on her for her to think that way was actually Lyle, but…

Entering the castle of Rhuvenns, Alette led along her new subordinates. Her old men had been promoted, and were now leading units of their own.

Lorphys was also short on hands, and this time’s meeting was in relation to that.

Rounding the gate into the courtyard, she found not temporary repairs, the entire castle was being remodeled to serve as Lyle’s base.

She could hear the voices of soldiers training from afar.

Alette’s adjutant, a new recruit unraveled his observations.

“Knights of Bahnseim? They’re training is too light. If they were knights of Lorphys, that level of training would…”

After he said that much, Alette glared at him. As Lorphys was a small country, they enforced strict training to make all their warriors into elites. But against similar numbers was one thing, and Alette understood taking on over twice her forces would be difficult.

“You’re laying your foolishness bare. They already have such numbers together, you must know that fact is already a threat. Even if you can brag about the harshness of your training, you must never underestimate your foe.”

Entering the castle, with their guide being a knight of Lorphys, her men looked relieved, letting their guard down. Catching that fact, Alette tightened her own.

Alette led young knights in their late teens. From the start, their shorthandedness was severe. They were knights unable to leave for Beim to see the world, and they couldn’t help but be strong willed.

The guide knight let out a sigh.

“You sure have it rough, vice-captain Alette. And you lot, at the very least, a majority of all the knights and soldiers stationed here have experienced a number of wars on the ten-thousands scale. Don’t say anything too strange to anger them.”

Seeing the fresh knights close their mouths awkwardly, Alette felt a little nervous. But entering the castle, she continued to brace herself…

Lying over the sofa in the office, I read through papers as I heard Monica’s report.

In order to reconstruct North Beim, they were requesting Novem and Clara. But Clara showed disapproval, and to make practical use of her Porter unit, she requested funding and arrangements to search for craftsmen.

Novem accompanied the magicians, reconstructing a number of villages around Rhuvenns. She wasn’t here.

Both Aria and Miranda had left their units to Maksim-san, to lead larger forces of their own.

Eva was busily meeting with the elves, while May was taking Marina-san around… no, speaking from what it looked like from the sizes of their bodies, it looked like Marina-san was leading May… whatever, the two of them were getting rid of monsters within the territory.

And the reason I was lying on the sofa in the middle of work…

“But when you called me over, we’re meeting in your office, huh. Perhaps I should think it a good thing you did away with the stiff greetings I’d have to take care of in the audience chamber?”

Queen of Cartaffs Ludmilla-san paid a visit. No, to be more specific, I called her over.

And right now, she was giving me a lap pillow.

Monica looked at me.

“Calling over the queen of a large country out of desire for a lap pillow, I’m sure this chicken is the first? Yet despite that, he never goes any further, so he’s a chicken after all. But I think it’s nice like this!”

She was happily sticking up her thumb, so rather than the documents, my face turned a little hot at the soft sensation under my head and the two large bulges above me.

The Seventh, quietly.

『… What a nice view.』

The Third sounded a little jealous.

『I’m in the bottom faction, so lap pillows… hah, how envious.』

What should I do. Milleia-san isn’t there, so the conversations in the Jewel were inclining towards the vulgar talks among men.

“… Don’t be like that. To be honest, Zayin, Galleria and Rusworth are threatening to send someone over, so I’m having them step down for now. Rather, what’s going on with Clara?”

Monica’s face turned serious.

“She has been denied for now. Clara and Adele have a bad affinity, after all. In regards to Adele’ grasp on budget, Clara fundamentally reproduces knowledge from books and the like quite faithfully. Well, I do think they both share a scarcity in application.”

If the automaton was saying they were scarce in application, were they really alright? As I was thinking that, Ludmilla-san advocated for Clara.

“Clara has a wealth of knowledge. And she holds knowledge on all sorts of fields. Aren’t construction and public works included in that? Then she’s necessary for Beim’s revival. If you ignore her spending to an extent. So you should probably pull that one called Adele out.”

I looked up at Ludmilla.

“That’s a surprise. I didn’t think you’d come to Clara’s aid.”

There, Ludmilla laughed a bit.

“You think? I have quite a high evaluation of Clara. She’s a proficient one.”

But Monica was against Clara’s entry into North Beim.

“I’m sure she’s a necessity in the current situation. But as long as Professor Damien shows no interest in modifying Porter, the formation of the Porter transportation unit will be difficult. Removing Clara from her post will be bad as a whole.”

Ludmilla-san narrowed her eyes a bit.

“A Porter Unit? A few of those machines have made their way to our side… hey, Lyle, won’t you sell me the information? No, give it to me. If we can lower the amount of horse drawn carriages, we can put those horses to other use. I would be able to use that as an explanation for the reason behind this visit, you know?”

There’s no real problem with handing it over. Rather, I planned to do it anyways.

“Very well. But the plan isn’t completed, so it’s only a promise. Please send a few magicians over. Or would you rather have us teach the knights of Cartaffs stationed here, and have them bring the magic home with them?”

There were knights of various countries, and there were a few people who came around to investigate what we were making in South Beim’s factories.

Those moving for the interest of their own countries, and it was coming to a head that the current alliance wasn’t monolithic.

“What, how boring. By your tone, it seems you planned to hand it over from the start.Well, that’s fine in and of itself.”

As Ludmilla-san said that, I spoke to Monica.

“Keep Clara at her station. But once Porter is completed, and we have people capable of moving it, send her to Beim. Until then, send some extra personnel around to Adele-san. For Clara… the craftsmen of South Beim are already surpassing their limits. Have her make a request to the alliance.”

There, Ludmilla-san.

“No, wait a minute. Why not give that request to Cartaffs? We have craftsmen on our shores as well. And we have the leisure. Transportation will be a problem, but are you really at a point where you can worry about such a thing?”

I somewhat understood her thoughts. She wanted Porter’s technology, but more than that, she wanted the groundwork for further technological advancements.

Within our alliance, the movements for each country’s interests were getting stronger.

If I didn’t defeat Celes soon on my side, it felt as if the alliance would crumble.

The audience chamber.

I’d used it a few times, but showing the royal castle’s once splendor, it was made quite vast and extravagant.

In order to get the advantage in various negotiations, make it as gorgeous as possible, and intimidate the negotiations partner as much as possible… or so spoke its make. Or perhaps it was simply so as not to be made light of. Or someone’s hobby.

Monica and Ludmilla-san, on top of her guard knights of Cartaffs were in the room.

Before my eyes, across a large table, Alette-san and her knights of Lorphys were before me.

Alette-san remained mindful of Ludmilla-san.

“Lyle-dono, I’ve already told you my business in the letters.”

I nodded, and spoke to Alette-san as she wore expensive clothing made for meetings.

“The Valkyries have raised the report as well. About Lorphys’ standing within the alliance, was it?”

Alette-san’s expression was serious.

“We aren’t used to this system, so there were quite a few people anxious over whether we were actually able to make contact. Putting that aside, Lorphys’ level of contributions truly are low at the current stage. I recognize that, but it’s something for which we had ample reason. Compared to the other three countries, we believe we have provided exceptional contributions to the cause.”

Zayin, Lorphys, Galleria… the reason those three nations cooperated with me wasn’t only because I had saved them. There had been rumor of Thelma-san and Aura-san in Zayin. Galleria and Rusworth formally declared Gracia-san and Elza-san would be accepting it.

Meaning, from their points of view, they had a marriage relation to me. In Zayin as well, Thelma-san was… let’s put that aside.

“I know. So I myself don’t have any particular complaints…”

“But that would be troubling! Lorphys has its status within the alliance. The problem that only our country seems to be getting a cold reception is the problem.”

I looked at Alette-san.

“There are people saying such things?”

It may be best to get Rauno-san to look into it, but investigating both friend and foe, Rauno-san had quite a bit on his plate already.

Our information network was also short staffed.

“In that matter with Selva, our territory definitely did expand. We are thankful for this time’s case as well. But there are many in the country who question any further cooperation.”

There, Ludmilla-san burst into laughter.

“What a funny story. There’s no way they can back out of the alliance at this point. Every land around Lorphys is already in Lyle’s hands. If they think about it, they shall reach their answer at once. If you pull out, you will be making an enemy of everything around you. Lyle isn’t naïve enough to leave enemies within as he fights Bahnseim. Otherwise…”

While Alette-san’s expression didn’t’ change, the feelings of her surrounding knights were showing on their faces. Anger and unrest, those sorts of feelings.

I held up a hand to Ludmilla.

“I am thankful for Lorphys’ cooperation. If the situation within the country is harsh, I will accept further cooperation at the minimum possible level. And I promise that such a thing will not invite a cold reception from the alliance, a cold reception for Lorphys.”

Alette-san’s eyebrows moved a bit.

“But with that…!”

Ludmilla-san opened her mouth.

“… Lorphys will have no standing? Say it already. What your group wishes for is Lyle’s engagement to your princess, right? But don’t forget it. It isn’t only me, we have the princess of Faunbeux. And the women who have accompanied Lyle from his early days. You understand it will be no easy task to get a hold here, right?”

I brought her here to intimidate them, but to think she’d go this far… even Alette-san was making a bitter expression. I’m sure she thought to push the crown princess on to me. But even for me, taking in someone Novem rejected was impossible. Rather, I don’t want any more. The Third says, it’ll work out! But I think I’m already far passed my limit.

From the Jewel, I heard the Seventh’s voice.

『There are never equivalent relations among countries. From ancient times, it was impossible to lay everything equal. But it won’t be interesting if you have to carry that problem here.』

The Third shared his opinion.

『That’s right. It’s no fun. And wait, while Lyle has the precepts, from Lorphys’ point of view, they’ll be screaming don’t bring your damn family precepts into this! Or something like that. But it sure is troublesome. Even if they betray and we suppress, the problem is how to treat them after that. And being too radical is… Ah, I just thought of something nice.』

It definitely won’t be nice. That alone I could understand.

In the audience chamber, Ludmilla-san and Alette-san’s voices were rising.

“It’s the time for a large move to sweep the continent, yet you flutter about your negotiations of isolation? Or could it be an entreaty? If you wish to turn coat, turn coat already. I’ll send out thirty thousand troops for you at once. You don’t even have to pay me for it.”

“Threatening simply because you’re of a large country. Don’t forget we pledged cooperation far before you. Is swooping in later and taking off with all the good stuff the principle of your lands?”

The air was tense between the knights of Cartaffs and Lorphys as well.

In such an audience chamber, I apologized from the depths of my heart as I spoke.

“Understood. Marriage has been important from times immemorial. However, at present a marriage to your royal princess is impossible. For I am in a position where I cannot marry into another house. And we cannot leave Lorphys’ throne vacant.”

There, a wrinkle graced Alette-san’s brow.

“But as long as you have a prince or princess with her…”

“And so, I recommend a marriage of leaders. Shall we set up a marriage interview first, Alette-san?”

“… M-me?”

Alette-san’s expression… or rather, I didn’t let that glimmer in her eyes slip by. I thought.

Sorry, with Baldoir. Not me. The two in the Jewel were…

『Okay, with this, it will be fine when marriage and such comes up within Lorphys!』

『Just like this, let’s have Baldoir work hard to win over the alliance… especially Lorphys’ camp. Oh right, Lyle… you have to repay the lad on a later date.』

… I’m the worst. I sold out my men.

Posted in Sevens | 58 Comments

Sevens: Faction

Faction

… Beim’s Eastern Guild Branch was functioning as the city’s Guild Headquarters.

Adele had borrowed a room to work on Beim’s revival, pretty much staying there every night in her daily life of work.

That the Guild had a public bath and lodging facility, and workable environment was a large contributing factor. Simultaneously, she herself wouldn’t use the high-class lodging facilities, as while the place functioned as a workplace, it also had to deal with the visitors that came every day.

Adele sat on the leather-coated sofa, talking with a former guild executive, a low table in-between them. The other party was from the north branch… the executive who once led adventurers in relation to the port.

“Beim has always managed its port to now! What is the meaning of one-sidedly snatching it away!?”

Despite the thin rings forming under Adele’s eyes, she used the tea with a harsh bite poured in her cup to maintain consciousness.

(Really, please, just go away already. I’m busy here… there are no seats left here for you guys.)

Beim had fallen. At the time, the upper echelon had swiftly pulled out. For that sake, and with the emotions of the city manipulated by Lyle’s party, its impression of them was the worst. In essence, he had lied about his name to enter the east branch functioning as headquarters.

Maksim was standing behind the sofa, beside him a few female knights as well. They were borrowed from the four-nation alliance, but as there were Valkyries around as well, Adele was relieved.

“… I’m sure your people already understand, Beim no longer recognizes your order. That is why you lied about your name when you requested this meeting, isn’t?”

Adele saw her opponent’s expression warp vexingly. Rather than not having the leisure to care, this really was just a waste of time.

What Lyle wanted was the Guild’s knowhow, and the executives who held massive power… and abused it were unnecessary.

“… I would like to plead acceptance for a portion of the merchants and Guild executives who came to cooperate in the development of Beim. It can even be South Beim. We haven’t come emptyhanded. You need information about the Labyrinth the city managed, don’t you?”

Sensing what Adele wanted, the executive offered information. But Adele uninterestedly supped her tea.

“No thank you. We already have the documents. We’re going to have a Labyrinth-specialized party from South Beim come over here as well. And the adventurers’ Guild will fall under the management of the country. The alliance had already proceeded talks in such a manner. In Cartaffs and Djanpear as well, they’ve easily shifted it that way. Faunbeux has shown sympathy for our opinion.”

“W-what relevance does that have to this matter?”

Adele drained her tea, leaving the cup on the table.

“Plenty relevance. To be blunt, you are unnecessary — a hindrance even.”

The executive stood. His hair was a mess, and his clothes were a little dirty as well. It was evident he hadn’t live a decent life since his flight. That he came to Beim must have been because he was considerably pressed.

“You can’t mean you’ll take our legal property at the port…”

Adele’s expression didn’t change.

“Well let’s see. A reward was necessary for our assistance in this endeavor, so yes, we took away your property. Using reception and fees to set up shop at the port as a reason, there seem to be quite a few people who’ve found themselves quite exploited.”

“Y-you lot…”

Here, Adele disclosed the secret of the trick.

“It not like everything went as we wanted. But you and your merry friends danced on Lyle-san’s palm just as he thought you would. We’re already done with you. But…”

Seeing her opponent’s mortified face, Adele spoke.

“… If you plan on selling us the management knowhow, we’ll pay a considerable price for it. If you accept that deal alongside your exile sentence… we won’t have to make use of more-violent means.”

The surrounding knights pulled their swords. And Maksim readied his spear.

“W-what are…”

Adele stood.

“Are you the ones who exiled us first? And a few other executives have already sold their knowledge and left Beim. If you hand over profitable information soon, we will have no choice but to pay an adequate reward for it.”

The former executive gripped his hair with both his hands, and looked down. Regretfully, but while considering the sum he could get if he sold the knowhow he possessed…

… Tanya had come to see off her former-executive superior.

Similarly, alongside a group leaving Beim, he had decided to move to the countryside with his family. Tanya was the only one who came to see him.

Her superior smiled as he always did.

“You sure are faithful. You didn’t have to come see me off. You know what sort of treatment we’re receiving in Beim, right?”

Tanya looked down.

“I’m still in debt to you for picking me up. And when you’re the one who stayed in Beim to the end…”

Her superior gave a powerless laugh.

“There’s no helping it. Even if it’s exile, it’s just from Beim… no, just the city sector of North Beim. I was able to pull out those conditions. I’m not confident I can live too far off, so I do think it turned out fine.”

Tanya raised her face, and made a serious expression. Clenching her fist, and she made a proposal.

“Thinking of your ability, you’ll be necessary to the city from here on. If you ask Adele-san…”

“… Give her a –sama. She is substantially the representative ruler of Beim. And if I’m there, the guild personnel will turn to me. By my way of doing things, it’s fated to revert to the old Guild ways. What I and they seek is fundamentally different. So it will eventually birth cracks… and I’m already tired. With my reward, I formed a pioneering corp. I think I’m going to take it easy, so think you could keep out of the way, Tahnia?”

Tahnia was Tanya’s other name. Her name as a Sweeper. When her superior gave out orders he didn’t want to, he’d give them to Tahnia rather than Tanya.

“… I’m sorry.”

“Sorry. But I can’t stay here. And life out there isn’t too bad. Rather, whether North Beim can really be rebuilt or not… you’re going to have it rough, Tanya.”

The two laughed lightly before parting at Beim’s gate…

“… Hah?”

I think I let out quite a stupid sound.

In the office of Rhuvenns’ castle, I found myself amazed upon hearing Novem’s report on her arrival.

“No, as I was saying, about your maids. At present, the only one in a standing where they can look after you is Shannon-chan. But rather than look after, she…”

It felt as if I was looking after her. While she had gotten able to do this and that on her own, Shannon was fundamentally unsuited to battle.

Listening to Monica, Novem, or perhaps Miranda’s orders and helping out was the most she could do. Even if she had Demon Eyes, she was junk who couldn’t master them. I was surprised that Shannon was even being considered my maid, but…

“No, there’s Monica and the Valkyries, they’re much more skilled than any attendant.”

There, Novem’s gentle smile suddenly turned scary.

“That would be troublesome! Lyle-san, understand that we’re short-staffed right now. Monica-san and the Valkyries have work to do. You have to leave what can be left to the maid. And… there’s already been pressure for the maid role. At my place, the topic has come out a few times transmitted through Eva-san.”

“Eh? I never heard of it.”

There, the Third let out an impressed voice from the Jewel.

『In my era, maid was a role reserved for the talented girls and the daughters of our notable houses. It was treated as a few years of education and training for no charge. Though I ended up taking in the daughters of the houses that lost their bread earners in the war as well.』

The Seventh seemed quite intrigued by the Third’s take.

『It changes by the scale of the territory. In my time, while there was still the education side to it, I also hired maids for the work. The daughters of vassals would work in the Walt House a few years, and that made for their bridal training. But… thinking of the statue Lyle is aiming for, it has to be that.』

『Definitely that. Mistress candidates maid in name, or mistress assistants, right? Uwah, I’ve read it before in a book. That one came out quite bloody.』

When the Third was letting out an unpleasant voice, he sounded like he was enjoying himself. The Seventh was the same.

『Because women like those sorts of story, that sort of thing came out a few times. From a man’s point of view, it’s nothing to laugh about, but… I see, so Lyle’s going to be burdened with such a muddy inner palace.』

No, I don’t want to. Personally, I’d like to refuse.

“Y-you mean like a helper, right? Um, what sort of girls are the maid candidates?”

Still with a serious expression, Novem.

“At present, I can’t say the outcome, but it is limited. If it’s going to be noble daughters, the first and second daughters of a Count House in Cartaffs have voiced their desire. Of the elven tribes, hunters and performers… some raised their names under the condition they would be helping Eva-san as well. Talks have come from dwarves and gnomes as well. At present, you do not discriminate against demi-human races, so they wish to use this opportunity to raise their status, or perhaps aim to maintain that status quo.”

When I was being chased by Bahnseim countermeasures, my own allies were bringing in problems.

“… Isn’t that definitely related to the factions? I don’t like muddled factional wars.”

There, the Third laughed.

『Factions form in the smallest villages, you know? If you’ve got three people, there’ll be a faction. You’ve got to control them well. Rather, we just talked about this!』

The Seventh was the same.

『They’ll form regardless. It’s often the case they form unintentionally. But Lyle… don’t gather everyone in the Jewel again. We’ve learned our lesson. We don’t want that again! … As I thought, one wife is enough. Yep.』

I wanted one too. Yet with everything you guys have said, it’s not only my fault it snowballed like this! … I think.

Novem smiled.

“Give up. I’m trying to pay as much mind as I can to whatever would become a burden on you. But not just the maids…”

“Yes?”

“… There are factions forming in the army as a whole. Maksim-dono pledged his allegiance to Adele-san, so the only ones who have actually sworn loyalty to you would be Baldoir-dono and Blois-dono. But Blois-dono is scraping up soldiers from Bahnseim, while the others are gathering around Baldoir-dono.”

“Eh? Baldoir was doing something like that?”

The Third sounded fed up.

『As. I. Was. Saying! They need a rival horse, so they got close to your close associate Baldoir-kun. I doubt the man himself wished for it.』

Novem looked at me.

“And within the four-nation alliance, Lorphys is a bit of a problem.”

“There’s more!?”

“Within the alliance, Lorphys alone hasn’t put out any woman close to you. Because of that, its contributions within the alliance are low, and its morale is lowering. When it’s surrounded by countries on our side, I don’t think they’ll secede, but…”

But? When we’re so busy, why are they feuding over that? I don’t think I’m wrong for thinking it, and I think that isn’t actually wrong. But the Seventh looked at my situation and noticed.

『Hmm, Lyle. When you get larger in scale, these sorts of problem will come out no matter what. Give up.』

“Got it. I’ll do something about it… Is it that? We’re short-staffed in various places?”

Novem nodded with her smile. Her smile was so cute I decided to forgive.

“Yes. To be honest… even if we win, we don’t have personnel capable of maintaining the continent. While we do have a considerable number of soldiers, rear support alongside looking after you… Monica-san has her physical limitations.”

When we hadn’t even won, why do I have to mull over all this? I’d like it if they concentrated on the war just a bit more.

… Clara looked at the mass-produced Porter model taken from Bahnseim.

Gathering magicians- what’s more, low ranking ones- she was teaching them golem magic. The practice mass-produced Porter was truly made just as if it were a wagon with no horse.

Simple and sturdy. But it demanded competence form its user.

Sitting on a wooden crate watching her, Damien yawned. He had collected data from the Valkyries, and spent another night up analyzing it.

Having returned to South Beim, Clara got into training personnel capable of using Porter. Saying she wanted expert advice, she dragged Damien out.

But the man in question.

“… This is no good. If you don’t modify the golem, they won’t be able to use it. Wouldn’t it be better if you shortened the period, and remade it easier to control?”

Clara corrected her misaligned glasses.

“As I thought.”

“If you already know, don’t ask me. You’ve already got a considerable amount of experience operating Porter, and you already had talent from the start. That’s why you can control the current Porter. When it comes to Porter, aren’t you better than me?”

Hearing that from Damien who perfected golem magic, Clara was delighted. But that truth conveyed a not-so-delightful truth to her.

“… Meaning to make it usable, we have to remake the golem itself, and make it easier to handle?”

Having his back rubbed by Automaton No. 3 looking after him, Damien spoke.

“Or rather, this one was made terribly. Like, let’s just go mass produce them or whatever… it feels like it was put together in a hurry? If you load with it too much baggage, won’t it break?”

Clara looked at Bahnseim’s Porter she had gone to lengths to retrieve. Unlike their own Porter, it was hard to develop any affection for the frame built with a demand on function alone.

“… What should I do. Adele was rejoicing at how we could reinforce the back line without having to pay extra.”

Damien looked at Clara.

“Ah~, who was that again?”

No. 3 told him with a smile.

“The woman acting as Lyle-dono’s representative in South Beim, master.”

“Oh that girl! She sure is loud when it comes to money. And wait, it’s rare for you to drop the honorifics on someone.”

Hearing Clara call her simply Adele, Damien felt it was rare.

“I’m no good with Adele. Hah, do you think it’ll pass through if I ask for funding?”

To Clara, Damien smiled.

“Won’t it be impossible even with the money? I mean, old Letarta’s one thing, but the craftsmen of South Beim are all quite busy. I don’t think they can hold down their own plans.”

Clara made a serious face.

“… Is that person really supposed to be good at internal affairs?”

She complained about the absent Adele. Damien tilted his head.

“Who knows? She seems good with money? That pink hair…”

“Lianne-san.”

No. 3 made a suggestion, but perhaps Damien wasn’t uninterested…

“Right, that person was more amazing.”

Posted in Sevens | Tagged | 28 Comments

Sevens: Prologue

Prologue

… A dim, cloudy sky.

As snow fell over Centralle, the capital of the Bahnseim Kingdom was strangely quiet. There were few youths among the people walking the streets. Male youths were especially low in number. It wasn’t as if the snow was the only reason no one wandered.

The light leaking from buildings was similarly few. When it should have been the main street of the capital, a number of stores had closed the doors, with notices of absences posted up front.

It was surely cold out the window, but watching the outside scenery from the room, such a thing was irrelevant to Celes. The heating unit Magic Tool was operational, and the room was warm. The rapier she held in her left hand, from the shape of the scabbard, and the ornamentation of the hilt, it was made to look like a staff.

From the yellow Jewel embedded in its hilt, a voice came towards Celes, who looked out the window with a grin on her face.

『War piling on war, heavy taxation. How does it feel to watch the insects working for your sake wear themselves away?』

Unlike Lyle’s Blue Jewel, there was only one mind recorded in the Yellow Jewel. 【Agrissa】 who inherited a portion of Septem’s memory, and dropped the continent into hell… She carved her own memory into the Jewel.

“It’s terribly interesting. But seeing them weaken so much in such a short period of time…”

Celes looked down, a sorrowful expression on her face. Her gold hair carried a light wave, covering her expression as she looked down. That glimmering hair, and sorrowful blue eyes… but as she slowly raised the corners of her lips, she produced a course smile.

“… They really are insects after all. While calling themselves the capital of Bahnseim, this is all it takes to ruin them, after all. I’d have liked it if they entertained me more.”

Agrissa was a little impressed. Not at Celes’ current form. For she was once called the beautiful siren of the country herself. Carrying on only Septem’s memory of pain, she had chosen to wield her power for her own sake, and that alone.

『It’s more fun to torment them by wringing them bit by bit. Well, you’re still young. Having a bit of flexibility in your heart is a good thing. But it sure is amusing to see Bahnseim fall like this.』

Watching the city of Centralle lose its energy day by day was an extremely amusing thing for Agrissa. They were once enemies… but that wasn’t all.

Bahnseim had once sworn allegiance to her. Meaning he was a provincial feudal noble who obeyed her rule. Even while receiving her grace, he had changed sides the moment the situation took a turn.

When Celes spoke with Agrissa, she would use the room at the very top of the palace. No one was allowed to enter, the two of them could enjoy their little chats alone.

Celes smiled as she spoke, as if remembering something.

“Right. Father is going to return from the territory soon. I have to prepare to welcome him. Mother stayed with me, but father had work, so he can’t always be around.”

Age-wise it was around time for her to develop angst for her parents, or resentment for her father. But Celes held affection for her parents alone. And Agrissa was the same.

『Ah, right. Your father sure is busy. My dad was a lower end imperial noble, but he did quite a bit for me… my siblings were in the way so I drove them out, but after I made it to the inner palace, I gave him a government position and this and that to return the favor.』

Parents were special… this did not apply to brothers and sisters. Celes and Agrissa shared the sentiment. It was all due to the influence of the goddess’ memories.

“It’ll have to be a party, and I’ll have to prepare a present… oh, I’ll have to get mother a new dress as well!”

Celes’ form as she gleefully spoke, rather than charming, she was like a child. There, a knock came at the door. Once Celes gave permission, the automaton Burt entered the room.

A butler-model automaton, with the appearance of a charming young man. His red hair and blue eyes were exceedingly pretty. If someone who didn’t know better caught sight of him, they would surely believe he was human.

“Celes-sama, Bahnseim’s army on the eastern front was breached. It was a crushing defeat, it seems. The royal guard was also annihilated. Captain Breid is confirmed dead. Our casualties number in the ten thousands.”

Hearing that, Celes smiled at Burt.

“Is that so? But right now, I don’t have time for such trifling things. My father told me before, you win some, and you lose some. More importantly, father is coming to Centralle. In order to see me! So we need a grand welcoming. Burt, could you arrange it for me?”

It seems she was uninterested. Burt showed a fed-up expression. If anyone else did that in front of Celes, the torture would start on the spot. But Burt was an automaton. He was capable of all sorts of work, and was Celes’ favorite toy.

“I thought you would say that, so I’ve already made the preparations. But the national treasury is in dire straits.”

A life of luxury, and with large wars raging on all over the place, the national treasure of the superpower Bahnseim was in a terrible state. Not that Celes cared.

“More importantly, father! We need to give a grand welcome to father who does his work, and kills the insects who don’t obey me!”

To Celes, Burt spoke.

“It will effect the official ceremonies of Bahnseim. His royal highness, and the other royalty down the line are expectantly waiting for you to make your appearance.”

Celes tilted her head.

“Eh? I’m not showing up at something like that? Why would I do that when father is coming? I can’t believe it! I definitely won’t let Rufus into my bedroom anymore!”

Burt shrugged. He offered a rebuttal to those words.

“You’ve never even let him in once. As far as I know, and I’ve heard never before then either. When you let all your favorites in, I’m surprised you can say such a thing.”

Celes showed an angry face. An angry expression that was cleverly made to look cute. As Burt was an automaton, his rude attitude was permitted.

“I mean… once I stole him from that woman, I just lost interest. Hmph.”

A laughing voice came from the Jewel.

『It’s the theft itself that’s interesting. I guess it’s a common tale. But the current me has something I want to take no matter what… though they always keep it by their side.』

Letting Agrissa’s voice slide, Celes spoke words of the grand party she would hold for her parents as she waltzed out the room…

『So the theft itself was the fun part…』

The one who let out such a voice from the Jewel was the Third.

The Rhuvenns Kingdom… a room of its under-repair castle, had become my office. It had originally been used by General Blois, but saying he had to go train his soldiers, he had shoved his work onto me.

The mountain of paperwork before me were the reports of Rhuvenns and Beim alongside Adele-san’s complaints. Short on hands. The merchants won’t listen to me. The residents are loud about money, at this point she was just complaining.

I was looking over such papers, the only other one in the room being Monica. The rule of Beim, divided into north and south. On top of that, Rhuvenns… I held my head at the overwhelming lack of personnel.

Having come so far, the Seventh spoke.

『Well, with territory problems, it’s usually because you have abundance of people that you go out and invade thinking you can handle it. If you have a firm selection of retainers, and rely on blood relation to gather people, I’m sure your rule will be possible.』

As I has unskillfully gotten my hands on a large territory, our shortage of hands only became even more severe.

“… After you take it, it’s just a pain.”

After fierce battle after fierce battle was over, there was much to do in postwar processes, and new rule and such. What’s more, the land ruled by Beim’s merchants and the adventurers’ Guild… they weren’t used to a system with a ruling class.

The door opened, and there came Lianne-san taking two Valkyrie units along. Her face was smiling, but she looked somewhat worn out.

“Now, Lyle-dono… here’s your second serving. Keep on hammering those forms out”

The Valkyries placed their new paper mountains on the desk prepared to receive new documents.

“Ah, by the way, these ones are the urgent ones.”

She said as she left a smaller mountain before my eyes. Seeing my face, perhaps she sensed what I wanted to say as she opened her mouth.

“I’ll just throw this out there, but I did check over them already. After removing everything that wasn’t completely necessary, this is what’s left. If you’ve become a ruler, you should understand how much responsibility and obligation comes with the title, right? … And, if you plan to reign over the entire continent, your work load won’t be anything as measly as this. It’s around time you start thinking up a way of rule with higher efficiency.”

I could only nod at Lianne-san’s words. From the Jewel, I could hear the Third and Seventh.

『As expected, a princess who knows how to govern a single country is different. I’m sure she’s got quite a bit of knowhow with her.』

『Serious talk here, the back line, or rather the desk side’s shorthandedness is becoming more severe. Lyle, you… once you get your hands on the continent, no matter how tedious, you have to prepare a system of rule that can be passed down the ages.』

A country ruled by a hero… with the fame, it was an easy way to go about it. But when generations piled up, problems would come out.

“… At this rate, I’ll be tasting the pain of the First and Second simultaneously.”

The First who built up a village where there was nothing.

And the one who got the first’s village in order and followed behind, the Second.

The Third sounded impressed.

『I’m surprised you noticed. If you had those two with you, you might get some surprisingly interesting advice. But that’s impossible for us, mind you.』

Lianne made a perplexed face, so I said, “It’s nothing,” and said she could go. But she didn’t leave.

“Come to think of it, right before I came here, I heard. It seems your post-Growth has quite a gap or something. I heard rumors that you’d laid hands on the former Holy Maiden.”

“Eh? From who!? Rather, I didn’t lay hands on her…”

Lianne left the paperwork behind, and looked at the Valkyries that had gone into cleaning up the room.

“You two!”

The two Valkyries touched their mouths.

“Master, it was a little game. A game of make belief. We were supplied with maid uniform, and our tensions high, we merely started gossiping a bit amongst ourselves. And Lianne-sama just happened to be in the immediate vicinity, there wasn’t anyone else around.”

Expressionless with black hair and red eyes, the Valkyries used the cores of the maid automatons who were originally Monica’s sisters. For that sake, they had some strong lingering attachment to maid clothing, it seems.

Lianne scoffed.

“When they suddenly started gossiping in my room, I had no idea what was going on. Well, it was a report they sent out to all units, it seems. It sure is convenient. It’s quite a skill. If you station Valkyries all over the lands, you’ll get your hands on all sorts of information in no time.”

Hearing that, I let out a sigh.

“It’s because it’s me that it’s possible. Even if it’s possible to use it in rule, that will end with my generation. So if possible, I’m looking for a way to rule without it.”

They were proficient automatons, but there was a problem. At present, their exchanges with far-away parties was realized through my Skill 【Connection】, and if it wasn’t active, these conversations would be impossible.

Also, the number of cores was limited, and even if we wanted to produce more units, this was the limit… even Damien couldn’t make cores.

Lianne looked at my face, nodding a few times.

“It’s a good thing to think of what comes next. Of course, it’s all a tale of after you win it all. But even so, it isn’t a period to think of war potential alone. You need to prepare a bureaucracy capable of handling office work. We’re shorthanded, so maybe you should take applications outside of nobility. Rather than searching for talent, suppressing it with numbers would be more important in our current state.”

I reached a hand for an urgent document, and reading through it I spoke.

“I know. Proceed with your education plan. The fact you’re telling me this means you already started preparing, right? But I’d like it if you confirmed it with me next time.”

Lianne looked a little surprised.

“You’re no fun at all. I thought I would surprise you. Ah, right.”

Wondering if there was anything more, I raised my head to see her making a serious face.

“I never heard who you would be making the legal wife. Can you decide sometime soon? I have to go suck up to them.”

With a dumbfounded expression, I dropped the papers, the Third giving a joyful voice from the Jewel.

『That’s right, I was waiting for this. The Fourth is just about the only one who would enjoy this boring desk scene, I was waiting for a topic like this!』

The Seventh spoke in a serious tone.

『To crumble the equilibrium immobilized by check and restraint, could it be this princess of Faunbeux… I thought Galleria or Rusworth, or perhaps the queen of Cartaffs would make their move. I was careless. It feels like a bomb was lobbed in from an unexpected angle.』

The Third was the same.

『I’m the same. I thought this child would move after she made a faction to some extent. Well, it’s fine if it’s all muddled, but assassination alone you should avoid. Lyle, make sure you keep on your toes.』

No, if you say it like that, it’s as if you’re telling me to permit it as long as it doesn’t reach murder, right? Rather, it looks like they’d grown accustomed to it these days as they blatantly enjoyed the carnage around me.

… These guys are the worst.

 

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Sevens: Epilogue

Epilogue

… Beim, a room in the Guild’s east branch.

In that large, orderly room, Adele Belgi looked at the lines of desks.

There were five lightly-equipped Valkyries stationed. Also present were the guild personnel, and the merchants who didn’t run away alongside their men.

In order to fight Bahnseim’s remnants, Maksim had marched off, so Adele currently had no allies.

The one to mercilessly thrust that reality at her was Monica.

“The leader of the alliance is about to enter Bahnseim’s east, the land that once belonged to a nation neighboring this one. So the management of Beim shall be left to all of you.”

Adele looked out the window. Beim in ruins. And the city’s residents taking refuge. On top of that, the smaller problems… all of them were being shoved onto them.

Adele raised her hand.

“What is it, Adele-sama?”

Monica’s forced addition of the –sama irritated Adele.

“I have a question. With Beim facing such ruin, it’s management shall be left to we alone?”

Monica nodded expressionlessly.

“Yes. Affirmative. You’ve exactly right. For the main force is entering the land east of Bahnseim that… it’s a pain, so let’s just saying they’re entering the country formerly known as 【Rhuvenns】. There, they’ll likely start into full-blown preparations. Ah, worry not. Maksim-dono will remain behind in Beim.”

Lyle’s force was to enter Rhuvenns under General Blois’ rule, and prepare to counteract Bahnseim from there. That she understood.

But Adele spoke.

“… I-I get the feeling we’re short-staffed over here?”

Monica smiled.

“We’re short-staffed everywhere. Well, we’ve gotten together whoever seems cooperative, so do your best. I’ve high expectations of your municipal abilities, Adele-sama.”

As Monica stuck up her thumb and smiled, Adele ruffled up her hair.

“A-at the very least, leave Lianne-san or Novem-san! There’s no way I can manage the city of Beim alone!”

Monica shook her head with a smile. There, she became expressionless again.

“Maintain the status quo. Make revival and Labyrinth management the bare minimum goal. Henceforth, Beim shall be split into South Beim and North Beim… its interests shared. A large portion of the Guild’s rights will be confiscated, so please work hard as proxy leader.”

Taking the Guild’s rights. That was an important thing for Lyle. On top of that, by splitting Beim between north and south, his goal was to chip away at the power merchant’s held as he fostered a greater sense of competition.

The ruined North Beim. The developing- yet still small in scale- South Beim.

It was the birth of twin Beims.

But from Adele’s point of view, hectic work had simply been shoved onto her.

“… Can I refuse?”

Monica remained expressionless.

“Do you think you can? Rest assured. It’s not like everyone’s going to Ruvenns at once. There are various jobs that remain such as adding the prisoners of wars to our forces. But Lianne-sama made her way to Ruvenns first.”

While she wasn’t the same type as Adele, if she had to say, Lianne was the type more suited to desk work. While Lyle was away, her ability was abundant enough to act as agent leader of South Beim.

But if that Lianne had already made her way out, Adele was the only one left.

They couldn’t borrow anyone from the alliance. Zayin and Lorphys were busy with their expanded territory, while Galleria and Rusworth had been lacking in domestic affairs staff from the start. Cartaffs and Djanpear would be difficult, and having come to this point, the lack of people capable of working the back lines was become more severe.

Adele hung her head, and offered a word…

“Curse you… Lyle-san.”

… Where the Trēs House manor once stood was in tatters.

Perhaps some noble had made use of it, as its furniture had been taken, and there were traces of battle left behind. Entering such a manor, Vera and Fidel were surrounded by their subordinates who’d followed them all the way to South Beim.

“… Fidel-sama, there are also areas devastated by fire. This manor is no longer…”

When one of his men muttered disheartened, Fidel gave an, ‘I see,’ as he looked at the manor in nostalgia. Vera could only watch her father.

There, a knock came to the mansion’s broken door, causing everyone to turn. There, with black hair and red eyes… stood a Valkyrie in maid’s clothing. Behind her, a slightly-worn Gina and Roland… alongside Fidel’s former subordinates who’d driven them him stood looking at the ground.

“Gina…

When Vera caller her name, Gina raised her face.

“Everything was taken. Some ships were caught in the chaos and capsized… the employees betrayed, and took the others. If you want to laugh, then go right ahead! Isn’t that why you searched us out!?”

“Gina, stop!”

As Roland held her back, Fidel looked over the two. The subordinates behind them couldn’t look Fidel in the eye. Perhaps they were embarrassed.

Vera addressed Gina.

“… I just wanted to see you if you were alive. I’m glad you’re safe.”

Lyle’s goal… the situation encircling Beim, and Bahnseim’s declaration of war. In the worst case, Vera thought Gina may have died. But she was relieved to see her alive.

And Fidel was the same. But he spoke.

“How unsightly. When I think of how I was driven away by you all, I can only feel more shameful of myself.”

Gina and Roland’s bodies twitched. Time continued going by like that, until Gina hung her head.

“… We’ll accept any form of punishment. But accept the people who worked for us in South Beim. I beg of you, father.”

In regards to her daughter’s lowered head, Fidel took a cold attitude.

“Accept them after they drove me out? Your credibility rests at zero. After one betrayal, saying you want to serve under me again is…”

Looking at Fidel’s attitude, Vera covered her face. He really did want to help them. But having only just started up a new business in South Beim, employing any more hands would be difficult.

Simultaneously, South Beim currently held a deep=rooted animosity centered around the belief Beim had thrown them away.

As South Beim was, it was impossible for the driven-out-side accepting merchants of Beim.

“A number of large mercantile ships that had abandoned Beim made their way to South Beim, but we turned them all away. That was South Beim’s answer. Do you understand? South Beim will not accept any of you. That is fact.”

Fidel walked off, everyone following behind him. Vera stopped beside Gina and Roland. Fidel followed suit.

But their subordinates continued walking on.

Fidel spoke.

“… That whelp has a few debts to settle with me. I negotiated to have him let you set up a business in north Beim. I’ll prepare an extent of money. The stolen ships have been secured in South Beim. We’re using them to transport cargo, so come to receive them at the port in three days’ time. That’s all I will do for you. Roland, I leave Gina to you.”

… He said, and walked off. Normally, he’d have wanted to help them, but the surrounding environment, and the feelings of his subordinates. On top of that, the opposing representative merchants of Beim were to be crushed for the sake of Lyle’s plan.

Gina raised her face.

“… Father.”

Vera walked off as well.

“He pushed himself quite a bit. Now do something about it for yourselves.”

Using all Lyle’s debt to him, he had forced him to recognize Gina’s business in north Beim. That was the most he could do…

The top floor of an inn of Beim.

In that room with a high-class feel, I wrapped a blanket around myself. It was getting dark outside the window, and one day was on the verge of ending. It was a darkness unthinkable of Beim, the city whose streets were once lit at night. The stars looked pretty, but I felt terrible.

“… It’s not my fault.”

From the Jewel, I could hear the Third’s laugh.

『Golly, this time was a huge harvest. To think right after collapsing, you’d take the former Holy Maiden to go, I never even imagined it.』

The Seventh was the same. He gave a similar laugh.

『For me, hearing Lyle’s grand goal of doing good for the world was quite satisfying. No, was that mr. lyle’s goal?』

These guys… they’re having fun teasing me.

I heard a knock. As my body reeled back in shock, I let out a voice.

“Y-yes?

“Pardon my intrusion. Lyle-sama, I’ve come with today’s reports. It’s seems you’ve received various reports form Monica-san, but there are some other specifics as well.”

The one who entered the room was Novem. There was no worry of her teasing me, so I was relieved, but when I recalled how she had seen my post-Growth state as well, it was awkward. I’d shown it to time and time again, but every time only increased the past I wanted to burry.

“S-sorry. I wanted to be alone for a while… I-I’ll come out tomorrow.”

Novem smiled.

“It would be a big help if you did. Lyle-sama, you’re the leader of the alliance. It’s a huge difference just if you make an appearance or not. And Lianne-san headed for Ruvenns. She did have guards, even if they train up troops there, it will only be to the minimum level. It’s already winter, after all. They shouldn’t be able to move for a while.”

I looked out the window.

“That’s right. It isn’t snowing, but the cold is becoming harsher. We’ll have to reconstruct the surrounding villages, and distribute people a bit.”

There were too many people gathered, that goods expenditure was becoming something extraordinary. Even if we stole back what we could from Bahnseim, the problem was that there was less than expected.

Novem took a seat on the bed.

“According to Lianne-san, she’s going to gather people who endorse you in Ruvenns. For that occasion, she’ll try to shake off as many spies as possible, but perfection will be difficult.”

I’ll do something about that when I make my way there. I have the appropriate Skill for it.”

Novem sounded delighted.

“That would be Fiennes-sama’s Skill, right?”

She said. I was surprised she knew it, but it was Novem after all. It wouldn’t be strange for her to know, and it was natural for the Forxuz House to have documents on the Walt House. There was no use in minding it.

There, Novem’s face turned serious.

“Also, I heard from Baldoir-dono, but I cannot recognize his marriage to the princess of Lorphys. Baldoir-dono is an important retainer who will support you henceforth.”

“… Novem, you’re quite terrible yourself. Aren’t you just saying Lorphys’ princess is plain terrible? Well, they’re too far in status, so I do think it’s impossible.”

As I said that, Novem gave a giggle. I was led along by her into a laugh, and the two of us exchanged some more friendly banter.

… Within the Jewel.

Looking at Novem happily conversing with Lyle, the Third looked a little relieved. There were five silver weapons floating around the round table room, and now it was as quiet as if its once-boisterous atmosphere was a lie.

『I was a bit worried for Lyle, but it looks like it will work out. Perhaps it’s best his mind is focused on mr. lyle right now.』

The Seventh nodded.

『No matter what reasons he has, his feelings of guilt will come out soon. When so many people have been killed, I’m sure he’ll have to take quite a bit upon himself. Well, he’s got Novem and the others with him, so perhaps he’ll be fine? Though that Novem is a bit suspicious.』

The Third touched a hand to his mouth as he smiled.

『Isn’t it fine? It’s a bit heavy, but that’s still love. Now the problem is how Lyle plans on having Novem-chan turn his way in the truest sense.』

The Seventh sounded worried.

『If he could do that, most problems would be settled. Well, the major problem would still remain, thought.』

The major one… it was Celes.

In order to fight Celes, the ancestors were entrusting their knowledge… and their Skills to Lyle. They were preparing for a determined, and certain victory.

If there was to be a problem, it would have to be what came after winning the war. If Celes was able to escape, it would be a problem.

There was no point in surrounding him with people who would end up charmed. In the end, Lyle would have to fight Celes. He was gathering members for that sake, but the ancestors hadn’t the slightest clue what his chances of winning were.

And there was a problem they knew.

『The eastern front is wide open. Other countries are marching their lines towards the superpower… you think they’ll show up?』

On the Third’s question, the Seventh nodded with a serious expression.

『They’re coming. The Walt army we trained up will definitely move. At soonest, right when winter breaks. But it all depends on the situation.』

The Third touched a hand to his chin, and looked up at the ceiling.

『Even if a rebellion breaks out within the country, as long as it’s small in scale, they’ll prioritize Lyle. There are feudal lords in Bahnseim who’ll side with him, but… those hostages in Centralle are troublesome.』

And there was something that intrigued the Third even more. He looked at the Seventh.

『Now then, it’s about right time I asked. Seventh… no, Brod, do you think you can watch over Lyle’s fight with Maizel?』

That the Walt House would move meant Maizel… The Eighth Generation Head of the Walt House would make his move. There was a possibility he would send a representative, but that didn’t change the fact they would be fighting the Walt House’s army.

『From my point of view, my era’s too far removed. To be honest, after we got Baldoir-kun’s cooperation, I’ve barely any lingering attachments. But what about you? There’s no guarantee it’ll only be traitors like the Virden House.』

The Seventh looked down.

『… Sure enough, it may be something painful to watch. But if the Walt House is going to fall at this rate, it may be best for Lyle to be the one to deliver the finishing blow.』

The Third looked down as well.

『That may be ideal, but I’m emotionally…』

The Seventh looked up at the ceiling.

『… We’ve finally come all the way here.』

The preparations to fight Celes were reaching their final stage…

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