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Chapter 5: The Fourth’s Memory

The Fourth's Memory

I watched the memories flow by in the room the Third had dragged me to.

He usually came off as quite aloof, but I was able to understand why he ended up standing on the battlefield.

With less than fifty soldiers following his lead, the Third launched his attack while using his Skills.

And around him, a few thousand soldiers joined the march... no, rather than that, knights with conspicuous attire began appearing.

And among them, the Third's troops disappeared.

"This is..."

I watched the scene, and the Fourth looked at the ground around them.

[So you were even capable of producing shadows for them?]

The Third pridefully pushed out his chest.

[That's right. This is my Skill... it's final stage: [Dream]. A skill to show off an illusion of reality. Though it's ability to do actual damage is... nonexistent, perhaps?]

Looking at the Third's face when he said that, I swallowed my spit.

"... In a book I read before, a blindfolded person was made to touch a normal bar of iron, and was convinced he received actual burns, but..."

There, the Third nodded.

[Well that's quite an extreme example there. In truth, there's no guarantee it'll ever succeed. And...]

The Remlrandt soldiers they were fighting began to notice the trickery.

[Oy, these guys are just illusions!]

[There's someone here using a Skill!]

[Where are the injured! The Skillholder should be around there!]

Noticing they were fighting mere phantasms, the knights began regaining their composure.

And within all of that, the Third found their commander and drew his sword.

Leaping off from his horse, the man swung down his sword.

The Third beside me began explaining the scene.

[The First's Skill, and the Second's... I inherited them all. By mouth. They were scared to leave written records. But that ended up backfiring. The enemy was too strong. Even I knew it would be impossible with a single blow.]

The commander who fell off his horse from the Third's attack screamed out.

[What cowardice! You malingering Bahnseim dogs!]

[I won't deny that one, but we can't be losing here!]

While cutting down the elite guards swarming about him, the Third fought with the army's supreme commander.

He would create illusions of himself about him and make sport of his opponent.

I looked around and noticed the source of my own unease.

"The Remlrandt soldiers are..."

The Third spoke.

[Fighting one another, right? That's also a Skill of mine: [Control].]

The Fourth put his hand to his face.

[You really are an underhanded one.]

The Third whispered, 'there was no helping it.'

[Unless I used it, we would have lost. I didn't want to have to, but... the battlefield wasn't far from our territory. If the enemy continued on with their momentum, it would all have been taken over.]

So even something like that was covered up by the Bahnseim of the time.

(The fact they all fought for justice was a lie, it seems.)

And as I went through some inevitable sentiment, the situation around began to change.

Allies fell dead one after another.

Their numbers were too different from the start. And having lost the leisure to do so, the Third had stopped producing his illusions.

And the lowered battle axe of the commander sent the Third's right arm flying through the air.

But...

"No, that one's an illusion?"

In an earnest face, the Third.

[And that's yet another way to use it.]

The Third's sword was now deeply embedded in the commander's chest.

The animosity of those around began to gather on him.

Perhaps out of Mana, the Third was swaying on his feet.

All that was left was for him to be killed or taken.

Chaos was beginning to break out in the Remlrandt army that had lost its leader.

At that moment.

[Young master!]

A few bloodstained soldiers ran up to him with a horse. They forcefully lifted him onto it.

[Please be off!]

[... Yeah.]

With a hollow expression, the Third was using the last of his power to conceal their actions. The raining magic fell onto illusory men, and the arrows pierced the same.

And the soldiers that let the Third escape were...

"Why... after being so harsh in the Second's time..."

They had died while smiling.

The Third spoke.

[Lyle, those men did not die for me. For the land I governed, for their homelands, they threw down their lives. I'm sure they have their personal reasons as well, but the reason I was saved was because it would be best for the territory.]

I thought it was quite a cold opinion. It was only then that the Bahnseim main force began to surround the Remlrandt army.

Witnessing the scene, the Third clenched his fist. He put all his strength into clenching it.

It seems he had yet to find satisfaction with the outcome.

(That's why he hates them so...)

From the front, the force that retreated had managed to regroup, and attacked with cavalry at its center.

Magic came down on the Remlrandt forces, and their formation was too disorderly for them to make any proper moves.

And like that, they were encircled, and assailed with crushing blows.

The scene changed once more, and there was the Walt House's encampment.

It seems that quite some time had passed from the battle.

Lying down, the Third was quite worn away from arrows and magic attacks.

Nobles and the kings entered his tent, and thanked him while he couldn't even give a proper reply.

Seeing his own sickly form, the Third...

[Why can't they just let me rest already. Good grief...]

He seemed quite fed up.

The Fourth was staring at the entrance to the Tent.

And while the Third's final moments were approaching...

[Father!]

A Fourth in his teens curst in.

[... Max... I'm sorry. Really... sorry... here...]

Accepting the blue jewel the Third held out, the Fourth let out rough breaths clenched his fists, and wept. And it all stopped moving.

Everything around was dyed a drab gray, and the Third started to speak.

[I didn't die for anyone's sake. In order to protect my own territory, I made others sacrifices to the best plan I could think up to win the war. It's because I knew it was impossible for the others. The only one capable of cheating their way through was me.]

On the Third's joking tone, the Fourth seemed to want to say something.

The Third spoke.

[Now then, that's where my story ends. You understand it was never anything so simple now, right? And what I wanted to protect... nah, I'll leave it at that. I'm sure you understand it well enough.]

And with those words, I returned to the room with the circular table.

Only me and the Fourth were there.

The Third holed himself in his room, it seems.

The Fourth took off his glasses, and began to wipe them off.

[... Lyle, since we're here, you're seeing my memories as well.]

I couldn't refuse.

"Sure."

-

-

-

The scene I saw upon entering the Fourth's room was one with the young Fourth receiving the report of the Third being in danger.

A mud-covered and unsteady knight spoke of the Third's attack.

The one crying as he told the tale was the young knight the Third had punched away.

[Sleigh-sama assailed the enemy camp... the difference in numbers is hopeless... I deeply apologize! I truly apologize!]

Dismissing the sobbing knight was a woman in her thirties.

She was probably the Third's wife.

[Go get some rest. That man is really... Max, resolve yourself. Based on how the war goes, the enemies may be coming our way.]

[M-mother?]

Unable to comprehend the situation, the Fourth spoke dumbfounded.

[That's a lie, right? I mean, father always came home just fine. He'd throw out some complaints, and say that he already worked enough for the rest of his life, so someone else should go do it... always...]

The next messenger arrived.

A knight rushed into the mansion, and removed his helmet.

[The Bahnseim army has come out victorious! Sleigh-sama stalled the enemy, and bought enough time for his allies to regain their formation!]

The Third's wife.

[And what about the man himself?]

There, the knight...

[He has returned, but his injuries are severe... I've only been ordered to report the situation.]

And to the Fourth, the wife...

[Max, take your attendants and head to that man at once.]

Just as he was told, the Fourth and those around began preparations to leave.

The scene changed, and the Fourth was galloping out with several knights.

As I watched the Fourth's impatient face, he spoke.

[It was at this moment. The time that my Skill manifested. I just wanted to get there as fast as I could. I just wanted to see my father. With those thoughts on my mind, the Skill came to be.]

Arriving ahead of schedule, he ran over to the Third.

Once that ended, the Fourth changed the scenery again.

It was a road that went on without end.

[The battlefield was quite close by. It really was a bother. And now I can only feel stupid about feeling so in debt to the main cause of all of this.]

"U-um..."

The Fourth corrected the positioning of his glasses with his index finger. They caught the light.

[How about I teach you my next Skill. I'm sure you can master is in no time, Lyle.]

"Y-yes!"

I ended up learning a Skill from the Fourth.

But it wasn't anything all too difficult.

[Well, fundamentally, what comes after raising your own speed, is lowering your opponents, right?]

As the Fourth said that, he showed me by example.

My feet suddenly began to feel heavy.

As if I was moving in water... no, the resistance was greater than that.

[Skill [Up n' Down]. Control all speed to your will. Drop your enemies, and raise your own. It's simple, but the difference it creates isn't a small one.]

It didn't have the flashiness the Third's showed off, but even so, it was an amazing Skill.

If used in a large-scale battlefield along with the Second's, it was one that would instantly give on the advantage.

"It's amazing."

[... Though not as much as the Third's.]

And I asked something that had been on my mind.

"Um, the Third said something about Skills being handed down by mouth, or something..."

[Yeah, I heard what sort of Skill they were, but the Third died off before he could say the rest... the effective uses of the First's, Second's, and Third's Skills were never handed through the Walt House. But they were quite useful none the less. Didn't have much trouble after that.]

Thinking about that, I realized my luck in being taught the Skills like this.

Skills that should have been lost were revived, and at the same time, I learned the memories behind them.

It all started at that moment.

I'm sure it started in motion when I heard the voices at Zell's house.

After the Fourth finished his explanation of his Skill's uses, he addressed me.

[Lyle, personally, I want you to regain the territory. Because I'm quite attached to it.]

"... That's..."

I found it hard to give an answer, so he went on.

[That's all I have to say for now. It seems the Third just wants you to be free. The Fifth is the same. But me and the Sixth, and the Seventh want you to take inherit the land we loved.]

I was driven out.

As I thought that, he spoke.

[But after seeing the Third's memory, I've done some thinking. You can do whatever you want, but make sure you protect what's important to you.]

"... Yes."

He smiled.

[I see. Well, you've got Novem-chan and everyone else, so I'm sure it'll be hell.]

"That wasn't my will! ... Hah, no, it's nothing."

I became sullen, and the Fourth laughed.

And for some strange reason, I began to laugh as well.

-

-

-

Morning.

Opening my eyes, I felt a light fatigue.

Having seen the Third's and Fourth's memories last night, I was forced to think over things even if I didn't want to.

It wasn't the battle of a heroic tale.

The Third to protect what he had to, the Fourth manifesting a Skill to make it in time for his father's end.

I raised the upper half of my body, stretched, and looked outside.

The sunlight was blinding, and after exiting the bed, I opened the window.

Centralle was noisy. Various voices and the sounds of life rung out.

"Now then, what should I do today?"

I started on the preparations to venture to Beim, but there wasn't anything particularly troublesome about that.

We were also gathering intelligence, but it wasn't anything too dangerous.

What piqued my interest more was the capital itself.

According to Miranda and Shannon, it held a sense of discomfort it hadn't before.

It's nothing I could understand, but the two that lived here could feel something off.

(But Aria didn't say anything in particular... come to think of it, I get the feeling she said she was going out shopping or something today.)

Remembering her plans on shopping, I outfitted myself, and thought to assist her.

Novem was arranging our luggage, and Clara was circling around bookstores today.

To carry out modifications on Porter, Monica was staying over at the warehouse we borrowed.

"I'll have to stop by there as well."

While worrying whether she'd go haywire, I gave a smile.

(Things I want to protect, is it...)

-

-

-

... A road not far from the Imperial Capital.

There was the form of a worn out group receiving emergency rations from the Walt House's soldiers.

For the sake of the group that followed behind, they were offering up their foodstuffs.

The reason they were so worn out was because a monster attack had claimed a large number of lives.

Many were injured, and a few of them had lost most of their supplies.

Among the merchants, some of them were making pale faces.

Within the midst of that group, Celes walked in a white flowing coat.

With warm-looking clothing, and a smile just as warm, she waved her hands to those around.

"Thank you for saving us."

"It's as if she's a goddess."

"I give my deepest gratitude."

After she went through the trouble of personally stepping out, those around continued voicing words of gratitude.

Celes was in quite a good mood.

Behind her walked a knight in even higher spirits.

It was Alfred.

At his hip hung the dagger she had offered as a reward.

Celes thought.

(Without even knowing why they were attacked, they offer me thanks... it really is an interesting spectacle. It sure does feel good after one does a good thing.)

Receiving thanks, being revered... Celes truly was in a good mood.

She had requested her parents to set a monster on the group trailing behind.

And as the Walt House knights and soldiers rose to fight it, they received the gratitude of all.

She held in her urge to laugh, and stroked the hilt of the rapier at her waist.

No, what she was stroking was the yellow gem portion of it.

To such a good-humored young lass, Alfred called out.

"Celes-sama, it's time."

"Already?"

Celes tilted her head slightly in doubt, and a sound like the gulping of spit resounded in the area.

As eyes filled with malice began to fall on Alfred, Celes smiled.

"That's no good, Alfred. From here on out, the people of Bahnseim are to become my people as well."

Returning his expression to a serious one, Alfred spoke.

"As expected of the ever compassionate Celes. Now the two of them are waiting for you."

Celess seemed a little fed up.

"Good grief. Father and mother have their troubles, I see."

Alfred spoke.

"It's because it's an important moment. And the dignified sight of Celes-sama in the imperial court... we are waiting in anticipation."

Stroking the yellow gem, she smiled...

"Right. I mean... it's the day Bahnseim will become mine after all."