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Chapter 14: mr. lyle Reads Ahead

mr. lyle Reads Ahead

The sun having set, it was night atop the sea.

I was carried to a bed, where I lay and rested up.

A towel was placed on my forehead, and it was pleasantly cool. It was a miscalculation for my face to turn red after merely touching alcohol to my mouth, but I accomplished my objective, so there weren't any problems. I was about to go to sleep.

There, a knock came at the door. When I replied, the one to enter was Vera.

"What, as I thought, you've decided to accept my confession?"

When I said that, she spoke with a fed-up expression.

"Just how optimistic can you be? Just go to sleep already. I only came to say my personal thanks. And I cannot answer to your feelings. I have someone I like."

When I slowly raised my body, Vera drew closer to pick up the towel that'd fallen from my forehead.

She reached her hand, so I grabbed it, and pulled her towards me. Looking at her, as she narrowed her eyes and reach a hand to her back hip, I...

"Then that's unfortunate. But if that's the case, you'd best be careful."

"... What do you mean by that?"

I continued pulling her in, lay her down on the bed, and circled around to a position to pin her down. Our positions had been reversed.

I hung over Vera.

There, a golden gunpoint was thrust into my stomach.

"... I can't laugh at this one. Please don't make me shoot my life's savior."

I smiled, and brought the gun's barrel up to my heart.

"If you're going to aim, try aiming here. And your gun isn't loaded."

When I said that, she looked annoyed. She averted her face, and...

"I'm sure you're just after my fortune. You did say something about your finances after all... I'm sorry, but could you go knocking elsewhere? It's not like I'm going to succeed the Trēs house. How unfortunate for you."

Hearing that, I...

"I see... so the love you have is unrequited? Or your statuses don't match. The former, I see."

Seeing Vera had reacted to the unrequited love portion, I traced her collarbone with my finger.

"I do want money. I also want your connections. There are various things I want, but... I'm starting to want your body and heart as well."

"Are you drunk? I'm sure your spirits are high from your Growth, but this'll become something awful later on."

As she resisted with a reddened face, I continued pressing her down, and laughed.

"Got it. Then how about a match?"

"Again? You really don't learn."

While listening to her breathing get rough, I spoke.

"The contract is until this boat returns to Beim. We're going to stay a few weeks at the port, aren't we?"

"... We have to do proper repairs, so that period may stretch out. What of it?"

I directed a smile at her.

"I won't do a thing. But if you admit your defeat by the time we get to Beim... then kiss me. Be careful. Try not to think of me. Keep me on your mind, and you'll fall in love."

"... I'm sure tomorrow will be a spectacle. You needn't worry about it, I will never fall in love with you."

I got off of the bed, and lent Vera a hand to get up. She moved straight to leave the room, going through the door with her hand pressed to her chest.

As she passed me by...

"It's because I'm in your debt, that I've overlooked this much. Don't misunderstand me. But I am thankful for today."

Saying that, she closed the door.

From the Jewel hung at my neck, the Seventh let his voice.

[Looks like this time was a failure, mr. lyle.]

In the empty room, I confirmed my victory.

"I've already said it. In order to win in the end, I'll accept some defeat. What, I need only wait for her to fall. Even if I won her challenge, the girl herself wouldn't have fully accepted it. More than that, because she'd lost, she'd only reluctantly follow along. It would take much more time for her to truly fall. This was for the best."

The Fourth laughed.

[Those could also come off as the words of a sore loser. But good work this time. Rather than interesting, how should I put this... I've been able to evaluate your offense more than usual.]

The Fifth shared his sentiment, but he sounded a little worried.

[He's more assertive than the usual Lyle, but he's too assertive. This time was a case where we couldn't run away, but when it's possible, we should keep retreat in our field of vision. We were able to put his Growth to good use this time.]

The Seventh was mindful of the whale's... White Whale's words.

[Personally, I'm curious about the white whale's words. A Walt House three hundred years ago. Do you think they're related to us?]

The Third thought a little.

[... I can't be certain they're not. The information of how Aggrissa was defeated is unusual, and scarce. And it's a country that wouldn't hesitate to perpetrate this and that, so it's possible something went on in its rise. Even so, mr. lyle sure is horrible. Don't think about me... saying something like that only gets people to think about you more.]

On top of that, we handed over the Magic Stone.

And this time around, I obtained Tressy's head. Scales and fangs, as well as a large quantity of metal. After all they'd done to assist, we had to at least give them the Magic Stone. But when I said all I'd take was Tressy's head, I found Vera's apologetic face a bit curious.

A number of times, she asked, 'are you fine with that?' and I'm certain it wasn't just that she wanted to give us a larger share... she was earnestly worried for us.

I lay on the bed, and closed my eyes.

"Well, when we return, I'll try looking into this and that. And... by the time we reach Beim, Vera will have fallen for me."

On my words, the Fourth spoke.

[What overconfidence... I can't help but wait for tomorrow.]

The Fifth, quietly...

[If it were me, perhaps I would throw myself into the sea.]

-

-

-

... The second morning after Tressy's attack.

Vera was talking with the captain at the bridge. The reason their bodies felt light, and they felt they wouldn't lose to anyone in the world was surely because they had gone through Growths themselves.

Of course, having seen Lyle, they bore it in mind to contain themselves.

"We really will be late."

"We did stray off course, and we've wasted two whole days. But I never imagined a growth would come at this old age... good grief, I'd like to forget the events of yesterday."

Having defeated Tressy, the ship's sailors showed an inclination towards Growth. It wasn't to Lyle's level, but even Vera didn't feel like doing anything for two whole days.

At present, she was feeling an uplifting sensation, but she kept it in mind not to lose rational thought.

With the strange elation surrounding the crew the day before, they determined it would be dangerous to advance the ship, and kept its movement to a minimum as they rested.

Cleaning and repairing cut away some time, and because of all that, it didn't look as if they'd make it to the port on time.

"It would really help if the boss left his room. That speed-increasing Skill, right? You think we could get him to use it?"

When Vera heard Lyle's name, she grinned in delight.

"It doesn't look like he'll ever come out. He was in quite a terrible state, after all."

The Captain looked at her.

"Milady, you're not really one to speak. You've gone around to his place a number of times..."

"I only repaid the favor for that kiss of his. You think it petty? That was my first kiss, you know."

"You've got a point."

The captain laughed, but remembering the situation it happened in, he pulled his hat down over his head.

"At this rate, we won't be at a deficit, but it will become a problem of credibility."

Vera heard that, and let out a sigh.

"You're right... I guess I'll try going and asking him again."

The captain looked at Vera's smiling profile, pretended to correct the position of his hat, and spoke in a small voice.

"You're not honest with yourself."

He said that...

-

-

-

"Stop! Please stop! Don't you dare call me mr. lyle!"

In the room I'd been given, I draped a cover over myself, and covered my ears.

"Boss, please come out."

"Mr. Lyle, we're beggin' you here."

"The ship will be late. At least hear us out, Mr. Lyle."

It's fine and all that the sailors had become friendly. But they began to call me boss and mr. lyle.

I'd like it they stopped. The reason being...

[Oy, oy, what happened to the mr. lyle of three days ago? You could at least go out, and use a Skill.]

[You can make even a goddess fall for you, can't you? Maybe Vera-chan is already smitten? Go and check out the result.]

At the Third and Fourth's bursts of laughed, I screamed under the covers.

"Don't screw with me! I'm definitely not going outside! Definitely!"

And next, Novem and co. came to the door.

"Lyle-sama, it's time for your meal, so please come out. You haven't eaten anything for the past few days, right?"

Miranda sounded delightful.

"Yeah, come out already, and shower me with love. It was a promise, wasn't it? I'll draw it out slow and easy."

Aria gave the door a strong knock.

"Just how long are you going to mope around!? You'll grow mold! Get out already. And give us some fiery confessions as well!"

Shannon, as if seeking help from me.

"Hurry and get out of there! It's scary! Everyone's so high-strung that it's scary!"

Eva sounded exhausted.

"It's enervating for us to deal with them by ourselves. Hurry up, get out, and switch with us."

In regards to her, Clara...

"You'll make a sacrifice of Lyle-san? As expected of an elf. You're good at using dirty means."

May spoke from the other side of the door.

"Clara's the one that changes the most, it seems. She's been like this since morning."

I could tell Clara was quite lively over there.

"Lyle-san, locking yourself in there forever won't resolve anything. Now come outside, and let us tease you. It's boring with nothing but women. The evil red-faced spider-woman and amazon are a bore, so please accompany me."

"... Oy, who's the amazon supposed to be?"

Aria was pressing Clara on the other side of the door.

"Why I'm talking about the woman who got herself soaked in Sahuagin blood, and caused all the ship's men to draw back. Look for a mirror, and I'm sure you'll meet her."

I could hear Shannon's scream.

"The sailors ran awaaay! Hey, onee-sama's pulling a dagger from... hurry and get out here, idiot Lyle!"

Wrapping the blanket around, I yelled.

"Don't want to! As if I'd ever go out there! Leave me be until we reach port!"

There, the locked door slowly opened.

It was Monica.

"How long will you grumble... I do find such a Chicken Dickwad wonderful as well, but you didn't shower me with love in your Fever Time. I regret that over all else. Putting my expectations off to next time, it's time to eat. Let me wipe down your body."

The door opened, and Shannon burst in.

"Get up already! Do something about those women!"

When Shannon forcibly tried to pull me out, a hand rested atop her head. It was Miranda's hand. Miranda was gripping her head.

"Shannon... would I be included in 'those women'? When I think you're looking on me like that, it saddens me. You sister is crying, so won't you let her use you as bait to fish up a catch?"

Her head creaking out, she raised a scream of pain and fear.

"HIGYAAAAAAH!!"

Novem brought over my meal, and offered me a smile.

"You haven't eaten anything for several days, right? Now eat."

Clara entered the room, and looked at me.

"You're making quite a face, Lyle-san. Could you talk about what happened? Is it still on your mind how you confessed to Vera-san in your post-Growth high tensions? Or could it be you're sorrowful over how your confession failed? Which is it?"

Seeing her persistently press me with a smile, I retreated into the cover with teary eyes.

Eva...

"How you challenged the Trident Serpent, and saved the merchant daughter was cool, but... why must you run away after coming this far? That's no end to a story. I'm cutting it from the song."

As Eva said something like that, Clara gave a stronger rebuttal than usual.

"That's why elves are no good. There's no point in the truth unless it's recorded in detail! I'll record it all. Because I remember it. I was connected with Connection, so mr. lyle's speech and action; I'll record it all!"

I shouted.

"Please forget it! And what do you mean you'll leave records!? You mean to say I'll be laughed at for the rest of my life!? Isn't it fine if you just cut all the strange parts!? Such records do nothing but torture me!"

May was looking at the meal Novem had brought in for me, while Monica had brought a change, and was waiting on standby. As the narrow room descended into chaos, Aria informed me I had a visitor.

"Lyle, guest for you. Look, you've got to properly confront her. She's the girl you confessed to. Ah~ I'd like a confession that passionate someday."

As she sent some expectant eyes, I thought in irritation.

(Don't look at me like that!)

I complained in my heart, as I looked at Vera-san in the doorway.

"... Is something the matter?"

She thought a little, and let out a sigh.

"Now that I've seen you like that, I can't really tease you. Well, your tension was high from your Growth, is how I'll write it off, so come out and assist us. I'll pay for it."

For now, I wanted to escape from this chaos, so I stood with the blanket still around me, and decided to follow Vera-san.

-

-

-

At the head of the ship, I lay with a blanket around me.

Using the Fourth's Skill Speed, I was raising the ship's movement speed. With its size, and the fact we were at sea, the feeling of using the Skill was strangely different.

I carried out adjustments, and felt it gradually scrape away at my Mana.

But because I had more of it than before, I was somehow able to maintain it.

"... Could I become one with the sea, and just forget it all?"

When I muttered that, I heard Vera-san's voice.

"I don't think you have skill as a poet. And I can't quite recommend it. So you'd best not toss yourself overboard."

I slowly rolled to look behind me, and there she stood. Looking up...

"Black... it suits you well."

Shutting her mouth, Vera sat down, and handed over a drink. The cup contained soup.

She was angry, but she didn't do anything to me.

"You sure have some composure. Drink that, and get up."

"... I was sure you would kick me."

I said, as I took the cup. When I took it to my mouth, I found it was quite tasty. This and that had happened, but as expected, my body was seeking out nutrition.

I raised my torso, and sat, while Vera-san leaned her back against me.

"... The one I told you about, the person I like. He's my sister's boyfriend."

I put myself on guard, thinking she'd bring up my Growth, but it seems that wasn't the case.

"From the start, the only ones to come closer were men aiming for the Trēs House. You're the same, aren't you? You're the first to go that far, mind you."

"... I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. You'll make me sad. Hah... I saw a dream yesterday. It was the continuation of the one I always saw."

Listening to the talks of her dreams, I drank the soup from the cup. It seems she often saw dreams of sinking to the ocean's depths.

"But last night, I saw a dream of climbing back onto land. It was a bit of a relief. With this, I feel I can go on without too much worry."

"Um, why are you telling all this to me?"

Vera-san thought a little, before standing. After brushing off her skirt, she started walking away. And she turned.

"Who knows? That's just the sort of mood I was in. I feel I should thank you for my dreams as well. And I wanted you to understand I won't fall so easily, perhaps? Though to Mr. Ladykiller, I'm sure I'm just a single woman of the legions around you."

She said that with a smile, and left.

(I said I wouldn't do anything, and she'd fall, did I? ... That post-Growth me sure is an idiot... no, that would be me.)

I thought of calling something back to her, but my voice wouldn't come out.