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Chapter 2: Men of the Walt House

Men of the Walt House

My breathing was in disarray.

I swung the sabre in my hand, but I never felt the sensation of hitting anything.

The Third Generation I should have cut into was showing a fearless smile.

[How unfortunate. That's the wrong one.]

The moment I heard that, I spun, and held the blade up defensively.

Thrusting out his typical one-handed sword, the Third laughed at my reaction.

[You're fast, but that's no good.]

When the blades were about to lock, my eyes reflexively darted the the left.

For a while now, I had been using the Skills [All], [Map] and [Search] to try detecting him, but I couldn't get a hold on the Third.

Within the Jewel...

In the room of the Fourth's memories, I was cut down by the Third's sword.

It was a straight road that went on without end. Within that scenery only colored by the blue sky expanding over it, my red blood danced through the air.

As I collapsed, I stuck my sabre into the ground, and somehow managed to keep my footing, sending my breathing into even more of a mess.

I did feel pain.

I looked at the place I had been cut, but the blood had already stopped flowing, and not even my clothing was damaged.

Pulling my sabre from the ground, I took my stance.

The Third before my eyes tapped the body of his sword against his right shoulder a number of times as he looked at me.

[You need to use both your Skills and senses. Otherwise, you'll never be able to block, or even react to Celes' attacks.]

Letting out a sigh, he put his hand to his face, but his mouth was ever smiling.

Perhaps they still held some grudges over my proclamation of beating everyone, but all ancestors concerned have gotten quite fired up over training me.

Too fired up, I'd say.

"Reactions from the Skills increase and vanish... and if I see a blade edge approaching, I block on reflex."

The techniques I'd polished up caused me to immediately take a defensive stance based on information gathered from my sense of sight.

But with his ability to interfere with one's psych, and show off illusions, the Third was making full use of that.

The Sabre in my grip disappeared.

His sword vanished in a similar manner.

I watched the nostalgic weapon fade out from my hand.

The sabre the Jewel recreated for me was the one of my childhood; the one my parents had given me as a present.

Once it was gone, I clenched the hand that had been holding it.

The Fourth gave his opinion on mine and the Third's fight.

[Aim for the point beyond subconscious response. But on the path you've chosen Lyle, you'll need the point beyond the beyond... think of it as beyond the wall even masters can't surpass.]

What I've learned from fighting was of Celes' strength and my own.

I understood well enough I wouldn't win at this rate.

But I didn't think I would be this ill-matched against the heads of history.

The Third made a game of me, and I could never get anywhere near the Fourth.

I couldn't raise a hand to the men who'd fully mastered their own Skills.

The Third laughed.

[Good grief. Max, it doesn't suit you to say that with such a somber face. You used to be such an honest and good kid.]

He cleared his throat in objection.

[After you were gone, do you understand that troubles I was put through? And know that I've lived a longer life than you.]

The Fourth asserted he wouldn't lose out in life experience, but watching the two of them, something did come to mind.

"... Come to think of it, what of both of your wives? They're both ancestors to me all the same, but what sort of people were they?"

I had been curious so I asked, but the Fourth frantically corrected the position of his glasses with his index finger in blatant panic.

The Third reminisced...

[My wife? She was a splendid woman. Kind and charming, and she was quite level-headed so she gave of this reliable feeling.]

Ahahaha, he laughed, as he spoke of his memories.

But the Fourth's face had stiffened a bit.

[R-right. My wife was also a s-splendid woman... right.]

It was kinda suspicious, so I focused my eyes on him.

Noticing something, the Third looked around.

[Lyle, watch... the scenery has started to change.]

As the grinning man said, a change was coming about the landscape.

"Ah, I can see a mansion. Could this be..."

The Fourth hung his head.

[Right, it's my mansion. I moved from the previous place, and reconstructed it.]

What we were in was the mansion's courtyard.

The iron-barred gate swung open, and a carriage entered through.

The Fourth exited the mansion with quite a nervous bearing.

But age-wise, he was the same as the one that appeared in the Jewel.

In his early thirties, I'll bet.

The Third...

[Is there an important guest coming? Carriages are entering the court one after another.]

Carriages and carts loaded to the brim with boxes filtered in, and before the Fourth Generation Head, a single girl dismounted, and gave her greetings.

No matter how you looked at it, she was in her early teens. A little girl that gave off quite a strong-willed impression.

Covering his face with both hands, the Fourth explained.

[... That's my wife.]

Both me and the Third approached the so-called wife's face, and looked back and forth between the couple a few times.

Watching the girl turn her back to him, the Fourth made quite a cramped smile as he heard her introduce herself as his bride.

[Nice to meet you, we've exchanged letters for some time, but I'm Max Walt. I'm happy we've gotten the opportunity to meet.]

Observing the Fourth's pleasantries, the wife...

[... Twenty points.]

[Huh?]

Giving a grade, the girl put both hands on her hips, and looked up at the man older than her with her chest pushed out. She began boldly lecturing him.

[Small as I may be, I'm a girl bearing the name of a Viscount House. Don't make light of me as a child! And what is this supposed to be!? Did you perhaps assume me the companion of your bride or something?]

Little girl... his wife chastised him on his action of constantly confirming the area behind her, sending the Fourth into a panic.

[My apologies. But you were just so cute I couldn't help but doubt my fortune.]

As he said that with a gentle smile, she...

[Ten points. From the moment I married in, I was no longer a girl, but your wife. I'd appreciate it you didn't take me for a child.]

She seemed quite a harsh one.

But no matter how you took it in, it was the scene of a daughter scolding her own father.

The Third was on all fours, laughing as he tapped the ground.

[As expected of Max-san...!]

"Fourth Generation, I apologize. I can't help but laugh at this one."

Both me and the Third laughed as we looked at the Fourth's wife.

There, his glasses caught a strange light as he spoke to us.

[... Remember this, Lyle.]

"What is it?"

I was repenting over laughing a bit too much, but the scene hadn't stopped, and the girl continued giving the man low grades, so the Third was rolling on the floor.

[The Walt Family Precepts... you remember the bride requirements, right?]

I nodded with a doubtful face.

I mean, they're just something the First said while drunk, and were thought of as real precepts for over two hundred years to follow.

To put it simply...

[A woman to be welcomed as a wife must, first of all, have a superior appearance.]

[Second, be healthy.]

[Third, have a sturdy body.]

[Fourth, have a good head on her shoulders]

[Fifth, have nice skin.]

[Sixth, must excel in magic.]

... It is taboo to state that the second and third clauses overlap. They're the nonsense of a drunkard, so I'm sure they weren't said with much thought in the first place. So they were later interpreted as follows. The last one alone was something added on by the Fifth, and the First was completely irrelevant.

Excellent appearance.

Does not get sick.

Durable body.

High intelligence.

Nice Skin.

A real noble able to use Magic.

Those were the Walt House's bride-finding Precepts.

There hasn't been a case where a son wasn't born, so the female version... the groom-finding Precepts don't exist.

The Fourth laughed in disdain.

[Welcoming in a proficient wife. I see, that surely is important. Perhaps it's accurate to say the ones who've shaped the current Walt House, aren't us, but our wives.]

Watching the Third roll around on the ground, I got the impression that was probably correct.

The Fourth of memories was being judged for having nothing more tasteful to say.

With shadows in his smile, the current Fourth spoke.

[My wife was excellent. A different sort of excellence than mother had. She was level-headed, and the reason the Walt House that had just become a Baron House could develop into true nobility was because of her. Strong-lipped and harsh, but she had some cute sides to her. It's true, you know? Just to put it out there, she was filled to the brim with cute parts! That adorable figure is one thing, but...]

Why did the Fourth look so pitiful as he desperately grasped for straws?

"D-does that mean the other ancestors had scenes like these spread out before them?"

To change the topic, I tried turning the conversation to the other ancestors.

[While there may be a few differences, I'm sure we rolled around in their palms quite nicely. That's just how men of the Walt House are! Ah, but... perhaps the Fifth was different.]

On the Fourth's words...

(... No, even if you make a dramatic pose as you say, 'we men of the Walt House are destined to play about on the palms of our wives' hands,' that doesn't make me happy or anything.)

The scenery turned gray, and the scene changed to one within a room of the mansion. The rolling Third hit his head against a wall, and started holding it.

[Hey... don't change the channel all of a sudden.]

[You reaped what you sew.]

Rubbing his head, the Third answered the Fourth with a smile.

In the room, a Fifth Generation in his early twenties was introduced to a single woman by a gray-streaked Fourth, and his wife of blossoming age.

Nervous, the Fifth let few words from his mouth.

[What's wrong, Fredricks? Ah, I got it. Your partner is such a beauty that you can't help but be nervous.]

Still as strong-willed as ever, the Fourth's wife sent a sweet face to the Fifth.

To her side, the grey-streaked Fourth gave a complaint.

[Can't you say something more tasteful?]

His wife pinched his arm with a smile.

[Dear, are you saying you have some complaints with Fredricks?]

[None! I don't have any, so please stop!]

Before the lady who was giggling to herself, the young Fifth gave a simple greeting.

[I'm Fredricks. I'm not that good with jokes.]

[Is that so? I'm...]

As the woman went on with her introduction, the Fifth continued making an apologetic face. Only the Fourth and his wife persisted to try to make the two of them get along.

Both me and the Third couldn't keep a straight face at that one.

I mean, as history tells, what followed was the Fifth getting four mistresses, and fathering close to thirty children.

Rather than a step forwards, it was problematic behavior that lit the spark for many conflicts in the making.

The scene lost its color, and the Fourth let out a sigh.

[Fredricks... the one the Fifth married was also a good kid who passed the precepts.]

Preparing mistresses even despite that, the Fifth seemed to be quite doted on by the Fourth's wife.

The Fourth removed his glasses, and began wiping them off.

[The Fifth... Fredricks was an honest boy, always smiling. Looking back, I really wonder when he stopped smiling altogether.]

The Fifth prioritized efficiency, and he gave the coldest impression of any of the ancestors.

But at the same time, he was the one endured the most.

As generations to come would know him, a lustful man surrounded by beautiful women.

A merciless man who cut down bandits and mercenaries without hesitation.

Say what you will.

He did live in one of the darkest times of the House. And the Sixth followed along that flow, with the times finally changing in the Seventh's time. That was the history of the House I had heard from my father.

The Third put his hands behind his head, and looked at the Fifth in the colorless scenery.

[Well, I'll bet he could see quite a bit. So he put it all to practice. He probably thought it necessary, but why did you leave such a need?]

Our eyes pierced into the Fourth.

Putting the glasses back, he stared at the stopped time; at the smiling face of his unmoving wife.

[... An accident. She got injured, and couldn't birth any more children. I never told Fredricks.]

Quietly...

[I see.]