“Novem was really angry.”
『Honestly, her anger made me want to cry ‘eek!’ Or rather, that attitude from Novem-chan… Hmm, looks like the previous Novems have been through quite a bit, or perhaps it’s because of some ancient memory? Well, nothing we can understand here and now.』
The relation to goddesses and evil gods was still vague, and it was difficult to say I understood it. But it’s fact that Septem and Celes seemed fearful of Novem.
And Novem seemed distraught when I said I’d aim for peace.
“… So there are people who hate peace. But I never thought Novem would hate it to such an extent.”
I lay on my room’s bed, looking up at the ceiling. The top of that canopy-laden bed was fitted with complicated craftsmanship, and I traced its lines with my eyes.
『Weapons dealers detest peace, for starters. You need some moderate strife for people to buy their goods. But Novem-chan’s no merchant. And a gentle demise, that phrasing of hers was a bothersome one』
Novem said that only a gentle demise awaited at the end of peace.
“A gentle demise, is it? Is that really so bad? Rather than death in war, or death of being dragged into conflict, it sounds much more wholesome.”
『I have to agree with that one. I mean, I wanted to age normally, drawing my last breath on a peaceful bed after all. Why did I have to give a sorrowful parting in battle?』
As I carried out a serious conversation with the Third, I heard some noisy footsteps. Yet I could only hear one person’s worth of voices.
“W-wait a second. I’m…”
The footsteps stopped in front of the door, so I used Skills to confirm my visitors. It seems three Valkyries were carrying Clara over. The Valkyries posted on guard duty in front of the room opened the door.
“Now, here is your chance. We have bought off the guards for this very moment.”
“Clara-san, we expect great things from you.”
“If you happen to get a chick from this affair, we will look after it for you, so rest assured.”
With those words, the door shut, and I could hear the sound of it locking from outside.
Clara had been deposited on the floor in her pajamas, a large book clutched in her hands. Her glasses were misaligned, and her hair a mess.
The Third sounded a little excited.
『Hmm, so the time has finally come for Lyle to know women. If it’s Clara-chan, then I have absolutely no objections.』
Ladening me with a harem, and seeing how nothing but carnage awaited as of late, the Third had begun to repent. It irritated me, but there was no use in taking it out on Clara.
I left the bed and approached her.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Rather, who goes that far? I have to prepare my feelings, yet those automatons didn’t take any of that into account.”
Clara stood and started putting her deep blue hair in order with a hand comb. She corrected her glasses and let out a sigh.
“… Well, do you want a seat? I can prepare some tea.”
When I started using the tools in the room to brew tea, Clara gave her thanks.
And as we sat across the low table from one another, Clara opened her book and began to read.
I looked at her.
“Hey… Clara, what do you think peace means to you?”
Clara stopped her hand mid-flip, raised her face and looked at me.
“My peace? A life where no one bothers me when I’m reading, and I’m not troubled with food.”
As she said it clearly, the Third gave an intense approval.
『Right! That’s it! That’s the sort of life I wanted!』
I ignored his voice for now and asked her.
“… Today, Novem went into a fit about peace. Is peace that much of a bad thing?”
Clara returned her eyes to the page, flipping it as she answered my question.
“When I gain new knowledge from a book, I’m filled with an extremely happy feeling. But I know there are people who don’t feel the same way. Like Aria-san who hates reading. And Shannon-chan who can’t read books even if she wanted to. To conclude, my own peace will be a boring hell to the two of them. I don’t know what sort of peace Novem-san speaks of, so I have no idea what to say.”
Even if peace was made of one word, it was quite a difficult thing. If peace pointed to a state without battle, in the worst case… you’d be maintained under someone’s rule, or perhaps it would be a peace akin to slavery.
Clara spoke to me.
“I’ve heard a merchant’s business is practically the same as war. There are people who don’t do deals with lives on the line, but… it’s true there are many who’d sever life over gold.”
What situation would I call peace.
Should I give a finer definition?
The Third read my thoughts.
『Lyle, are you trying to define it more precisely? Then it’s best you stopped right there. The world is a changing one. The more you specify, the less it will cope with the times. In the first place, as Novem said, peace is something close to a phantasm.』
From the point of view of the House Head who lived through an era of constant war, peace was a dream within a dream, I’m sure.
There, Clara turned her eyes to me.
“… I won’t deny your dream or anything. Rather than strife, I’d be satisfied with a daily life filled with mediocrity. While you’re at it, why don’t you ask other people?”
Tilting my head, I looked at Clara. She averted her eyes.
“Clara, are you hiding something?”
“.. .No, well you see. When they find out I was alone with you like this, the status quo will crumble a bit. To add onto that, the one moderating the peace, Novem-san is currently not functional, so it may become something dreadful.”
From the Jewel, I could hear the clapping of hands. The Third sounded delighted.
『So it’s carnage!』
In contrast to him, I wasn’t smiling at all.
The next day.
I spotted Vera and Fidel-san who were stopping by Rhuvenns castle, invited them to tea, and asked them about peace.
Fidel-san took an elegant sip of tea as he spoke.
“Hmm. What peace means to me? Let’s see. First, Vera and Gina both have children. A boy and a girl, two to three each. Then the husband dies, and both my daughters and my grandchildren start relying on me. What a splendid future!”
Was that a roundabout way of telling me to drop dead? Vera pushed her heel into Fidel-san’s foot to silence him.
“V-Vera… it’s not like your father told this whelp to die or anything.”
Looking fed-up, Vera shook her head.
“You practically did. Rather, don’t even joke about that. Next time you say it, I definitely won’t let you meet your grandchildren.”
Making a vexed expression, Fidel-san glared at me.
“… All my daughters’ husbands should just disappear.”
He didn’t say die this time, but that didn’t change his intention. The Third laughed as he looked at Fidel-san.
『Nice. Fidel-kun’s just as soothing as ever. Now then, why not ask about Vera-chan’s peace as well?』
Vera took a sip of tea before looking at me.
“My peace… Where there are no pirates, and all the cargo is safely delivered? Honestly, when someone like you talks about the continent as a whole, I can’t really see it. It’s a bit different from peace in the economic sense. Use Beim as your archetype for that.”
Beim’s peace caused me to recall the blood of other lands they established themselves upon. It’s true that was something different.
While Fidel usually joked around, he looked at me in seriousness.
“You sure like your daydreams, kid. In this world, there are some who can’t do anything but war. Those who couldn’t do earnest work if they tried… Whelp, you should understand if you were born to a feudal lord house.”
The Third informed me.
『They do exist. Those that don’t fit into the frame prepared by others. It isn’t all good things. There are definitely people who can kill and steal and not understand why that’s a bad thing.』
Vera touched her black hair with her fingertips as her face turned a little red.
“Well, having a husband, and some kids… and a bit of a noisy old man, I think it would be nice if we could spend some quiet days like that.”
Fidel-san looked at Vera.
“… Vera, am I really that noisy?”
“Peace? … To be honest, I have enough material that I’ll be fine if nothing happens for the next few decades you know.”
In the palace courtyard, a stage was prepared. On it the elves practiced their plays and performances, the soldiers occasionally stopping by to lend an eye.
In such a place, Eva had her pink blond hair tied into a ponytail, her outer garments removed to reveal a highly revealing outfit.
I was used to it, but even so, she was sweaty, so she looked even more lewd than usual.
“No, is it just me or does it feel as if you’re longing for war?”
When I said that, Eva scoffed.
“Hah!? From back when I was travelling with my tribes, we’ve had to ward off plenty of bandit attacks. And if there’s no large stimulus like some huge battle, my profits go down!”
What a pragmatic opinion. To Eva, battle was the seed that grew her meals, I guess. As I found myself troubled, Eva flipped her hair.
“To be honest, there are a few things I’ve come to understand on our travels. Stories of heroes from once upon a time really are popular. The elderly like hearing tales of their own era. But children and the younger generation want to hear about the wars going on now. And someday, you know. I think I’ll find joy in the birth of a new hero too.”
I dropped my shoulders.
“Then is what I’m doing unnecessary?”
“Not really? Isn’t it fine? If travels become safer, and money gets around better, it’ll be a big help. But if there’s no stimulus, the people will thirst for stories. Look, the executions of sinners is, in a sense, for entertainment, isn’t it? There’s a song of old about it. An ancient king said what he needed to give his people was food and entertainment, so every day, he had his warriors fight over who would live and who would die, making a sport of it.”
The Third spoke to me.
『Eva does have a point. The people hunger for entertainment.』
As I made an indescribable expression, Eva sent a smile.
“Well, I want to be able to be honored somewhere without having to travel around someday. I haven’t forgotten your promise to build a special stage dedicated to me somewhere.”
As she threatened me with a smile, I nodded and gave the affirmative.
“… Peace? Sorry, can’t understand that.”
“That’s something the smart people like you should think over, boy. Rather, I’m opposed.”
Indulging in meat still on the bone, in a yard of the palace, May and Marina-san roasted the game they caught whole. From their point of view, my words were incomprehensible, it seems.
Marina-san got back to her meal.
And as May heartily pulled out some meat and bit a chunk off, she used her hand to wipe the oil off her mouth.
“Rather, in the wild, every day is generally about fighting. It’s not as if the prey thinks it wants to be eaten. You chase, they run, but if we don’t eat, we’ll be the ones dropping dead. Peace is a word for you humans with your fill of food to eat.”
The Third seemed impressed.
『From the wild side, some words without any sugar coating.』
May looked at the meat Marina was eating.
“Hey that’s my meat!”
“Your fault for being slow! And I helped out in the hunt too; give it up!”
The quilin May, and the human Marina-san… they both looked like feral children to me.
“Peace? Pff, how stupid… that goes without saying. A world where I can eat my fill of flan.”
Shannon laughed at me, but at present she was being forced to kneel on the dining hall floor. The one forcing her to kneel was Miranda.
“Shannon, if you were really repenting, you wouldn’t be able to laugh at Lyle.”
While Miranda ate, she flicked a single empty plate with her fingertip. Shannon hung her head.
“My legs are numb! I don’t want this anymore! I mean, I only ate it because I thought it was left over! And Monica told me there were going to be some leftovers today! Hmph!”
What’s with that hmph? So she didn’t learn a thing, and went for the flan again?
“You never learn do you. Well, since I’m here, I guess I’ll eat my own flan in front of your eyes to…”
Miranda cut me off.
“Lyle, this girl ate three flan total. There’s none left for you or me.”
I leaned over Shannon and pinched her cheeks.
“Do. You. Know… what you’ve done, girly?”
“It hurths! I’m sowry!”
Taking my hands off a teary Shannon, I sent a glance to Miranda. Seeing my eyes, it seems she understood what I wanted to ask.
“Peace, eh? If you’ll let me have my say, irritating as it may be, I agree with Novem. It’s pretty much an illusion. Beim was peaceful, but it was wringing money from its surroundings, making bloody battlefields of them all, right? But Beim was peaceful. If that’s what you’re aiming for, I won’t complain though.”
Miranda finished her meal and reached for a drink. And pushing her chair back, she folded her legs, looking at me.
“Lyle, did you know? Even a continent has a limited number of people it can support.”
I turned to Miranda.
All territory had a limited population it could hold. It’s not like food was in infinite supply, and at times of famine, it was necessary for the number of people to go down.
“Not everyone can eat their fill like Shannon. Well, if you put your hand into agriculture and things like that, perhaps it will work out. But even so, if things continue to grow, somewhere has to shrink, right? Or is your peace to starve everyone equally?”
“That’s not it!”
Perhaps she already knew that, as she nodded.
“Well, you did say it in a scale of hundreds or thousands of years, so you can leave the specifics to the people of the time. And wait, you don’t actually have to hold any responsibility.”
She does have a point. She does, but… Miranda looked a little perplexed.
“But Novem’s words are bothering me. What lies at the end of peace is a gentle demise… that’s a tale of the distant future. What’s prompted her to think that far ahead? Right now, we’re even troubled with a falling population, right?”
Perhaps the sacrifices to this conflict already exceeded a million. No, I’m sure they have. The continent warped by Celes, in just two years, she had brought about such casualties.
To an extent where we wouldn’t have to worry about supportable population for a while now.
… As I thought over such a thing, Shannon.
“I’ve completely lost all feeling in my legs. Please forgive me already.”
She cried as she begged forgiveness.