Clad in robes, seven, me included, were passing through the gates of Centralle.
I, 【Lyle Walt】, was observing the surroundings from the center of that group.
Around, there were travelers and merchants and adventurers lined up, set for the capital, and among them, there was even a troupe of performers.
The cold had become even more severe, and looking up, the clouded sky seemed as if it could pour out snow at any moment.
I gazed up high, and thought over the reason we had separated from the group and gone ahead to the Imperial Capital.
“… Infiltrate the Capital first, and spread rumor of the expeditionary corps. How frightfully brilliant if I do say so myself.”
Nearby, the red-haired Aria had her violet eyes clouded over as she held both hands to her ears.
Recently she’d been polishing her manly side, but when you look at her like this, she sure is cute.
“What’s wrong, dear Aria? If your ears are cold, I’ll lend you my hands.”
“… He’s a stranger… the current Lyle’s a stranger… given the time, he’ll become the comrade we know and love again…”
She gave a muffled reply in a low voice, and I think her bashfulness was simply adorable.
There, the pale verdant haired Miranda-san was staring at the ground with eyes that had lost their highlights.
“Oh, you don’t seem in the best of moods either, Miranda-san.”
When I said that, Miranda-san issued a voice as if she was forcefully wringing it out.
“L-Lyle… please take off the -san. Also don’t talk so much. I don’t want to remember it right now. I’m begging you…”
Hearing that, I…
“I got it, Miranda! Oh? I get the feeling the distance between our hearts just shrunk by that much! Also… if you want to be a bird flying free in the skies, then I’ll be your… no! I’ll become all of your roosts!”
Just a little while back, both Aria and Miranda had stated their desire to become birds.
And Miranda of wanting me to be her cage, I believe.
As I said that, Miranda’s face turned bright red, and she made a complicated expression.
Aria crouched down on the spot.
“I’m happy you know. I’m happy, but… I’m begging you, right now… now alone is…”
“What’s wrong, your face is bright red, you know? Haha, let me guess… You’ve fallen for me, haven’t you.”
The blue Jewel hanging at my neck was bestowed with silver craftsmanship of rare metal.
The voice that came from it was that of the Sixth Generation Head, 【Fiennes Walt】.
From a glance, he looked quite rebellious, but in truth, he couldn’t raise his head to the Fifth Generation Head.
The Sixth’s time period was a dark age of Bahnseim history, and the Capital was rotten with bribery left and right.
For that sake, the man had no choice but to stick his hands in various things.
Like that, he had a dark image stuck onto him, and the Sixth was later evaluated as the greatest scoundrel of the Walt House.
In all actuality, he inherited the foundation the fifth had built, challenged surrounding territories, attained victory, and greatly expanded the House’s land.
He did dabble in quite a bit, given the times, but it’s also fact that he wouldn’t have survived if he hadn’t.
That Sixth contained a laugh, and holding their stomachs, the other ancestors also burst out.
『Already three candidates lined up! Frighteningly brilliant, becoming a roost. Ah, and falling for you!』
The Fourth was also laughing.
『Best Lyllllee! It looks like we’ll have quite a harvest this time.』
『… Lyle, you haven’t learned a single thing from last time.』
That’s what he says, but all I’ve done is speak the truth. There’s no helping it.
I flipped my hair, and looked at Monica carrying a loading tray.
On it was the form of the Gryphon in its coffin of ice.
We were purposely showing it off, and those around were brimming with curiosity.
Easily carrying such heavy-looking luggage, she had leisurely draped a loose robe over her maid uniform, and looked at me with a grin.
“What’s up? Making such a happy face?”
When I said that, Monica…
“There’s no way I could go without a smile. The chicken dickhead I awoke to has finally returned! Back then, you said you would fly through the sky, but for it to be through physical means was something even I didn’t anticipate. I was sure you meant to make it bigger in the world.”
When I went up against the Gryphon, I rode on its back, and soared through the sky.
It was quite a thrilling and enjoyable experience, I believe.
“Don’t praise me so. It’s fine if you want to promote me to flying chicken dickhead, though.”
“Too long, rejected. Chicken dickhead it is.”
Seeing her acting joyously bashful, I felt surrounding eyes collect on us.
Well well well, I thought, as I waited for the gatekeeper to issue us permission to pass.
Even more apologetic than usual, Clara held up her large staff. Her ruffled deep-blue hair hung over her face.
From within the gaps in it, her red eyes were watching me.
“Something the matter?”
“… I do want to apologize for my behavior the other day, but at the moment, I really don’t want to get involved.”
Seeing such a complex Clara, I shot her a smile. Yeah, it’s okay to feel sad sometimes.
She pulled her hood down lower, as if trying to run from my field of vision.
Nearby, Miranda’s pale violet-haired sister Shannon looked at me with pitiful eyes.
“You really are the worst case.”
“What, are you at that age where you come to tease the boy you like? Unfortunately, if you want to catch my eye, you’ll have to build up a few more years first.”
“… No, we’re only two apart, aren’t we? Are you an idiot?”
“And how should I shut the mouth saying such things.”
When I brought my face closer, she hurriedly covered her mouth with her hands.
I lightly flicked her forehead with my finger, and spoke with a smile.
“’Tis but a joke. I’ll put that on hold until you’re a bonifide lady. Become a splendid one, you hear.”
The Seventh let out his voice from the Jewel.
『This time’s missing that explosive something. Even when he’s creating happenings left and right…』
He seemed truly mortified, but I’m not a man who’ll keep on adding to a past I want to forget.
“… Novem, I think this man’s lost it.”
“Saying it with your face so red… I see! You’re hiding your embarrassment. You sure are cute, Shannon.”
With her long brown hair tied into a single side ponytail, and violet eyes, Novem looked at me and spoke.
“Lyle-sama, let’s book an inn at once. Any more of this may truly become dangerous.”
She truly did seem worried, and thinking that I may be the only one out there to make her this concerned, I felt a little blessed.
“Yeah, if you say so, we’ll find an inn somewhere or another… a twin room is fine as well.”
“No, let’s keep it at personal rooms. I’m sure that would be for the best.”
While marveling over the cuteness of Novem’s embarrassed face, it finally came our turn to pass.
“Now any more is dangerous, so let’s quickly proceed to the inn.”
While watching Novem frantically give out orders, I finally passed under the gate of Centralle.
Noon had passed when we arrived at the inn, and in order to carry out our plan, I tried to go out again.
But Novem and the others stopped me.
In the end, the only ones to remain in the inn were me, Monica, and Shannon.
We had separate rooms prepared, and the inn was one where each had a shower and toilet equipped.
The first floor was built as a dining hall. It was quite a standard establishment in Centralle, and thinking back to the start of my journey, it was a class of inn I could only now stay at without giving too much mind to the cost.
“Quite moving a sentiment. I’ve really been through a lot since then.”
Driven from the Walt House I called home, I became an adventurer with my former fiancée Novem.
Not knowing left from right, I listened in to the ancestors words, and used their Skills, relying on the Jewel.
In the city of Dalien, I had an encounter with Aria, and after moving to the City of Scholars, I met Miranda, Shannon, Monica and Clara.
I can’t say our recruiting went all too favorable, but I can definitely sense a bond with my current comrades.
“… Even when I already have Novem… how sinful a man…”
When I said that, looking into the mirror in the room, the Fourth agreed.
『Exactly. How about considering your current situation for a moment? You’ll get a knife to the back at this rate. Well, Novem’s there, so it’ll probably turn out alright.』
“Jealousy? On the contrary, I’m actually quite comfortable here.”
When I said that, the third interjected.
『mr. lyle best Lyle.』
Hearing him, I became a little embarrassed from his praise.
“Even if you praise me so, I’ve nothing to return.”
There, I heard a knock at the door.
With a tray in hand, Shannon entered accompanied by Monica.
“Lyle, it’s time for lunch. It would be a pain for us all if you went and caused some problems outside, so we took the liberty of purchasing sandwiches at the dining hall.”
On a small and circular table in the room, she lined up two portions of food.
As an automaton of ancient make, Monica was able to live on even without eating.
Of course, she had a line built connecting her to me, and she arbitrarily lived on my Mana.
It was as if we were connected by the string of fate.
Shannon took her seat, and began munching on her sandwich.
“It’s dry and tasteless.”
While she blatantly expressing such impressions, Monica offered me some seasonings.
“Chicken dick, here I have mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. Use it as you will.”
Shannon stared at her.
“… Why is it Lyle. Normally, wouldn’t you be offering it to me!?”
Shannon shouted out quite angrily, but Monica was smiling.
“Oh how late you are to the table, little girl! My number one is this chicken dickhead, regardless of how pitiful a state he’s in. You get it? It’s because there’s love. Love!”
“An automaton… well, so be it. Lyle, I’ll be borrowing this.”
Saying that, Shannon spread several layers of mayonnaise in the gap between the breads.
Of the seasonings Monica produced, a large majority were exceedingly tasty.
They were ancient flavors I doubt you’d ever find in stores.
It appears she knew the recipes, so she made them in advance.
“Oy, girly! That’s the prized possession of that Chicken!”
Shannon ignored it, and stuffed her cheeks with the sandwich, and continued on with her meal.
That’s how the girl acted now, but none too long ago, she was a woman who played the part of an unseeing maiden.
She was reformed through Miranda, and now served as our comrade.
According to the ancestors in the Jewel, she had Demon Eyes, or something like that.
(If I had eyes like hers…)
I was just a little jealous.
When I brought my sandwich to my own mouth, I found it truly was quite dry.
“It really is tasteless. If it’s like this, than Novem’s or Monica’s cooking would be leagues ahead.”
When I said that, Monica delightedly lifted the ends of her golden twin tails as she…
“Naturally! I loathe being compared to that damn vixen, but my love is stuffed full of love, I tell you. Having been made custom to your tongue, it’ll never fall short of any of the rabble…”
After she said that much, I spoke.
“Thanks for everything, Monica… I really do like your cooking. Tonight, I’d like to eat something you’ve made for once. It’s been quite a while.”
Monica stiffened for a moment, before turning to me with creaking movements.
“S-s-s-s-s-so you mean..! You mean you wish to eat my cooking? You’re saying you wish to eat up my love!? Of course I’ll do it. I’ll pack in enough love to make it lethal!!”
With a smile, I…
“Yeah… with an extra-large serving of love, please.”
As I said that, she promptly exited the room.
“I’ll make the preparations right away! Calculate the required time, and assemble the ingredients… in that case why not use up all my secret stash to make the supreme..!!”
The loud voice she let out as she ran away was surely audible from outside the inn.
Shannon gnommed her first sandwich to its end, and began spreading ketchup over the second one.
“Hmm, she sure is a cute one.”
And from within the Jewel, the Seventh…
『… And that’s all she wrote. With an extra-large serving of love. Is that really all we’ll get this time around?』
And on his query, the Sixth…
『Not yet! There’s still time. The Walt House’s Wonder Child has yet to show his mettle!』
The Fourth was…
『I think, ‘Jealousy? On the contrary, I’m quite comfortable,’ wasn’t bad!』
The Third spoke.
『We must be patient, men! This atmosphere… right now, it’s just mr. lyle and Shannon-chan alone! It will come. Hope will definitely arrive!』
I’m sorry for those overly-exited ancestors of mine, but this is already the third time for me. There’s no way I’d make the same mistakes thrice.
(Sorry, but I can’t live up to your expectations.)
Shannon was looking over at my sandwich.
I had used the mustard on mine, so perhaps that made her curious.
“I-I don’t need it!”
Even while saying that, she continued taking fleeting glances, so I brought the consumable over to her mouth.
There, her small mouth opened, and clamped down into the bread.
Mustard flowed out onto the area around her lips.
“Ah, this one isn’t bad either.”
“So in the end, you still went and ate it. Not that I really mind.”
When I moved to wipe off her mouth, she tossed the remains of the sandwich into her mouth.
“Ah~ I’m stuffed. Can’t eat another bite.”
And to the girl saying such things, I…
“While I’ve barely had any. I guess I’ll save my appetite for tonight… ah.”
“… What is it?”
She rested her chin on the table, and I spoke.
“No, I was just wonder how long it’d take until you’d be ripe for the picking. At present, it feels like a distant future.”
Saying that, I shook my head. Shannon rose from her seat, and took some distance from me.
From the Jewel, the Fifth…
『… Ripe for the picking? Isn’t that enough?』
The Seventh was…
『Extra servings of love. I won’t give up that one yet!』
The Fifth casually joined in.
(Good grief, just what are these people doing?)
Pondering over my ancestors, I continued to play along with Shannon’s retreat.
… On the main road.
The group proceeding down it was centered around an extravagant carriage, with knights and soldiers marching in file by its side.
Judging from their equipment and the quality of the men, they had received considerable training, and to avoid any involvement with them, the other parties on the road would preemptively move themselves out of the way.
Surmising they would attain safe travels free of charge if they followed such a carriage, a flock of travelers and adventurer, as well as merchants were following while maintaining a fixed distance from it.
Seeing that, 【Maizel Walt】 seemed quite amused.
“Hah! Because the safety of these roads is so bad, the amount of groups following us like that simply keeps increasing. We’re raising our speed to shake them off.”
In regards to the ill-humored father, the mother 【Claire】 voiced her agreement.
“When our precious Celes is in such a hurry to get to Centralle, for them to slow us like this! How could it be… such a thing would be unthinkable in the Walt House’s territory!”
The one to sooth such a sullen couple was a lovely young lady.
An elegant air drifted about her, and even when her age was still immature, every one of her gestures held a sort of captivating charm.
Her blond hair was tidy, and its long waves let off a fine luster.
Atop her white dress, she draped a white pelt coat, and the smile on her face held true innocence.
“What is it, Celes?”
As her parents seemed to find satisfaction in the smile directed at them, Celes spoke.
“I am terribly bored.”
Her mother, Claire, began to panic.
“What shall we do? We’ve no new toy to give you… what game do you want to play, Celes?”
Hearing that, Celes looked at the groups trailing behind the carriage.
“I want to see the forms of our knights and soldiers saving the people in fear of monsters.”
When she said that, Maizel smiled.
“I see. As expected a daughter of the Walt House. But if there are no monsters to be found…”
To his troubled expression, Celes spoke.
“… Is it truly no good? Are the knights and soldiers of the Walt House really so unreliable?”
On her voice that seemed to simply invite in spoiling, Claire glared at Maizel.
“Dear! Do you not feel sorry for Celes!? Can the Walt House’s knights not grant a request as simple as this!?”
“I-I apologize. It’s a request of our dear daughter. I’ll make the preparations at once.”
Maizel called out to a mounted knight near the carriage.
When he opened the vehicle’s window, the knight approached.
“What is the matter, Maizel-sama?”
“… I get the feeling the group behind us will be attacked by monsters. Celes says she wishes to witness the gallantry of the knights. You understand my intent?”
Hearing that, the knight…
“… It will be prepared at once! Alfred!”
With his long silky black hair swaying, another mounted youth approached.
What hung at his waist was a sabre, and the manerisms of the young male knight felt quite refined.
【Alfred Virden】 was his name.
In swordsmanship, he was Lyle’s senior apprentice, and a man of a clan serviced to the Walt House from its early days.
The knight issued the youth some orders.
“There’s a possibility that monsters may assail the group behind. You are to remain vigilant of our surroundings… Celes-sama wishes to see our service. Go find a big one!”
“Leave it to me!”
Saying that, Alfred urged on his horse, and promptly separated from the group.
Find a monster, and set it on the group behind.
… That was Maizel’s order.
Seeing Alfred disappear in the distance, Celes smiled in satisfaction.
“Good grief, you sure are a troublesome girl.”
Hearing that, Claire smiled.
“But it’s all for our precious child isn’t it? Admiring the tales of gallant knights is something all girls are to go through once in their lives. But if they perform well, we’ll have to bestow a reward you know, Celes.”
Claire told Celes they’d have to grant a reward to the knights.
After digging through the things stuffed into the carriage, the girl produced a single dagger.
It didn’t look all too expensive, but it was a dagger made of Rare Metal, and bestowed with a Skill.
A perfect article for such a task.
“Then let it be so!”
“Oh they’d be delighted with such a dagger. As I thought, you really do understand a knight’s heart, Celes. But just where did you acquire such an item? I’m sure we assembled much more high-class equipment for you…”
Claire tilted her head.
“That’s right. It really isn’t fitting of one like you, Celes.”
“… Who knows? But if it’s in my possession, then it must belong to me.”
She gave an innocent smile.