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Epilogue

(TL: We're finally 4/7 through!)

Epilogue

Beim opened a party to commemorate the war.

It was something opened for a multitude of reasons. Beim had barely fought at all, but it was mainly opened to show that this was Beim's victory, and not anyone else's.

The Guild's executives took part.

And the merchants.

The famous mercenary brigade chiefs.

Within all that, I was participating with Vera. The other members were on standby at the mansion. The reason being we weren't invited.

When I presented myself as Vera's company, surrounding eyes gathered on me.

In the corner of an annoyed Fidel-san's field of vision, I flirted with Vera by the ancestors' instructions to fan the man's flames.

"This is tasty."

When I took a bite of the food, Vera looked just a little fed-up. The reason was the surrounding reactions. They hadn't thought I would be attending, so I was attracting an excessive amount of attention, and yet no one tried to call out to me.

"Good grief. When I thought it strange that you said you wanted to come... why are you even here? You're not enjoying this at all, are you Lyle?"

The atmosphere was different from Zayin's victory party, and all the food and drink lined up were high-class articles.

I looked at them.

"No, I just wanted to see the latent power of Beim. Even after wasting so much money, still having this extent of financial leisure is just strange, isn't it?"

The Fourth in the Jewel agreed.

[Exactly. It means we have to keep on wringing them out. And wringing them out isn't exactly an easy task.]

Well, they ignored all the efforts of we who did most of it, and opened up a party, so wanting to tease them was half my reason for being here. And accompanying Vera into the hall to rile Fidel up was the other half.

If you wanted a bit of a more meaningful meaning, it was a provocative action towards Beim.

(... What could this be? From Beim's point of view, am I a plague of misfortune?)

The one who succeeded in defending the fort everyone thought impossible, and brought loss to Beim was me. They had stocked up a large amount of equipment, but the majority of that was traded for Magic Stones and materials with Zayin and Lorphys, so the problem was solved.

But even those actions weren't by any means a serious blow to the city. Because Beim had the power to retake their losses at a moment's notice.

In the corner of Fidel-san's eye, as he talked with another merchant, I grasped Vera's hand.

He continued chatting amiably, but seeing his behavior, the Third burst into laughter.

[He's taking glances this way! He's definitely mindful of us!]

While I was provoking the surroundings, and enjoying the party, a merchant-esque young man approached with a smile. I had seen the young man, who gave off a refreshing vibe, somewhere. He looked at me.

"If it isn't the Holy Knight. I've heard of your performance in this time's defensive war. Did my house's support prove of any help?"

He was one related to a House that backed us. Son, and heir. No wonder I had seen his face somewhere before, I thought, as I returned the smile.

"Yes. Because of it, we were able to attain victory. You have my thanks."

I earnestly gave my gratitude.

After that, he went into some idle banter, keeping watchful of his surroundings. Meaning...

(My house properly supported the victor, he wants to show off.)

But the ancestors wouldn't let this chance slip by.

Milleia-san spoke.

[Lyle, grab Vera-chan's hand in a way this youth can see! Grab it like a lover. With your palms held together!]

I abided the orders of the excited woman, gripping Vera's hand as per instruction. When I wondered what she had in mind, the young man looked between me and Vera.

"Oh my, it looks like I'm in the way here. My apologies. Do you get along well with the Trēs House's young miss?"

When the youth asked that, the Fifth let his voice.

[Oh, looks like it's time for Father-in-Law's entrance.]

The one who raised a laughing voice, as he stretched and came our way, was Fidel-san. He had been watching us, and couldn't take it anymore. Either that, or he finally managed to slip away from the party participants that had gathered around him.

Coming up to us...

"Vera, it's fine and all to introduce your friends, but aren't you getting a bit too close?"

To his daughter with a smile. And to me with a smile and cold eyes. I offered my greetings.

"Of course not, father-in-law."

There, Fidel-san stepped on my foot in a way no one around could see.

The Seventh in the Jewel shouted out.

[Bastard! What are you doing to Lyle!? This isn't going to end with simple riling!]

Being stepped on did hurt some, but it wasn't something I couldn't endure. The young man, sensed the atmosphere, and took his leave with a smile.

Fidel-san spoke in a low voice so no one else could hear.

"Brat... don't get in over yourself. I can crush one like you underfoot whenever I want. Just like this!"

He started putting power into his foot, but suddenly broke into a cold sweat.

Looking down, I saw Vera's heel was pushing into Fidel-san's shoe.

"V-Vera... you're hurting your father."

Watching him maintain his expression, I thought, as expected of him. Vera was smiling as well.

"Then how about moving that foot of yours? And if you're crushing Lyle, that means making an enemy of me as well."

Removing his foot from me, he freed himself of the heel piercing into his own. An impression was left on his leather shoes.

"Vera, you've got to rethink it. This guy's no good. I can't forgive him as a man. In the first place, he's the sort of guy who lives in a mansion surrounded by over ten other women. Just what do you like about him?"

In the party hall, I wasn't the only one attracting stares anymore. Those around were curious of my relation with the Trēs House, as I felt some fleeting glances being directed at us.

There, someone who seemed to be a Guild executive made his appearance. But not of the headquarters, likely from one of the branches.

He looked over us.

"If it isn't Fidel-dono. Were you an acquaintance of Lyle-dono?"

I could understand he was being wary. With the Skills... All, Search... I could feel the vigilance of his guards, and while they were hiding it, the hostility they directed.

Making sure they could see it, I subtly showed off my hand linked with Vera's.

"Yes, they've aided us greatly this time as well. The fact we could win was only possible because of the Trēs House, I say."

I purposely emphasized the 'as well', as I sent a glance at Fidel-san. I didn't know if he was annoyed at it, but his expression didn't fall apart.

"It is a pleasure to hear you say it. By the way, I hear it's been quite an ordeal at the South Branch, right?"

Based on Fidel-san's words, the other party was part of the South Branch's management.

(The South Branch was the one specializing in mercenary brigades.)

The man shrugged his shoulders.

"If we hire mercenaries, but don't get the results, there's little to be earned. We were enthusiastic about slaying a large force of monsters this time, but someone got in our way, after all."

His reaction flickered from yellow to red for an instant. I looked at him with a smile.

"Well that's unfortunate. If you didn't stay holed up here, and dropped by the fortress, I'm sure you'd have made a bit."

... I provoked him. A cold sweat was breaking out on my back, but the one who recommended it was, naturally enough, the ancestors.

The Seventh was especially on board.

[Lyle, give it to him straight. That if you're too much a coward, it's only natural you don't make money. While you're at it, tell him to do a better job of concealing his malice. And finally... rile him up! Rile him up more!]

In regards to the executive charged with getting the mercenaries together, the Seventh was especially strong-willed.

At a voice level he could hear...

"You should really work on hiding your malice there. And your guard beside you has been acting much too mindful of me."

When I said that with a smile, the South Branch executive's expression didn't change.

"I wonder what you could be talking about. Could it be you're tired out from battle? Then instead of showing up in a place like this, shouldn't you be getting some rest?"

Something of that extent wouldn't work anyone up. While his surface expression was smoothed over, I could tell my opponent was holding back. With the Sixth's Skill Search, the South Branch executive's guards had turned bright red.

Other than them, there were quite a few who were now directing hostility at me.

(... Why did I come here again? It's definitely strange to attend if all I really wanted to do was rile everyone up.)

Until the party ended, I pretended to enjoy its events with Vera.

-

-

-

The next day.

I had headed back for the mansion, when Old Letarta's grandson [Gols]barged in early in the morning, and cried out.

In front of the large storehouse in the mansion's yard, he appealed to Old Letarta in tears.

"Please come back, grandpa! An order came in from the Trēs Hous for twelve whole cannons! We're all worn out, yet they're telling us to hurry! What's more, guns as well. We'll never make it in time!"

It seems the equipment I left at the fortress was bringing trouble to Letarta's smithery. Emerging in a tank top, perhaps he had been brushing his teeth, as old Letarta had a cup and brush in his hands.

But with a smile.

"Sorry, but the time has come for me to live by my hobbies. To be blunt, the time has come for me to toss all my responsibility... no, I mean to leave the shop to my stepson. So go tell the lad. 'It's already your generation'."

It was a radiant smile. Honestly, throwing all his work to his stepson, and living by his hobbies... even for an amazing craftsman, how cruel.

I watched the scene from a window on the first floor, and Gols yelled again. There was a wooden crate by his side, and it seems he had brought some sort of parcel along.

"Oy, Grandpa! You just said toss all responsibility, didn't you! I'm begging you, come back! We really won't finish in time."

Old Letarta happily stuck up his thumb.

"Do your best. Having work to do is a good thing. And such an environment is just what you need to polish your skills, so it'll all work out."

"Gramps! It's because you took on a strange request that it came to this! Can't you at least tell the Trēs House head to do something about the date he set!?"

Watching him on the verge of tears, I thought I had done a bad thing. But even seeing his grandson like that, old Letarta seemed more interested in the contents of the crate.

"So what's that?"

Gols also sent his gaze at the wooden crate. After letting out a sigh, he opened it.

"I serviced the Katanas he returned. And I also brought some new ones I made. And wait, do I really have to continue this request? There's a mountain of work to do."

Old Letarta took a katana from the crate, drew it, closed one eye, and inspected it.

"Hmm, looks better than the last ones you made. Well, it's good to be devoted to a task for a while. I'll put in a word to that Fidel whelp. But this is definitely completely different from a Sabre."

It seems he didn't believe Monica's words that it was similar enough.

"... I'm begging you. Rather, I don't have any time left to spare, so making more is impossible, I tell you. Could you talk to the requester too?

When Gols finished his business, he left the mansion. Noticing me watching, Letarta beckoned me out.

-

-

-

Accepting the serviced Katanas I used in battle, and the new ones, I tested their feel.

The new Katana's blade was made shorter, making it easier to swing around.

I tried swinging it in the yard. The handle was finally modified for two-handed use, making it easier to handle.

Watching my actions, old Letarta took a memo of the points that caught his attention.

"It was made just per that young lady's instructions, but this is an easy weapon to break. Even with rare metal, using magic iron is completely useless."

My audience as I practiced with the Katana included Damien as well.

He came out of the storehouse, tended to by the maids, and looked in my directions. Rather than the Katana, he had something to ask in regards to the Valkyries.

"More importantly, it's about those three units. Their maintenance is surprisingly troublesome. From next time onwards, I plan to simplify and mass produce, but do you have any requests?"

Maybe Damien wanted the data he could get from the Valkyrie series, as he was quite proactive on the project. In truth, the Valkyrie development was a large step forward in his research.

"Ah, then could you contain the Mana consumption? If there are too many of them, the Mana drain isn't something to make light of.

There, Damien put his hand to his chin in thought.

"In that case, they'll need to be supplied through different means. Just where on their bodies could I put a device like that..."

Hearing that, old Letarta offered his take.

"Can't it just be external?"

"Right!"

The two of them burst into laughter, before returning to the storehouse together. It seems a new idea had been born. They went right to work.

I saw off the backs of the three automatons following them.

"... Letarta's started living here as if it were natural."

I said.

Scratching my head in the empty yard, I looked up at the sky.

"Guess I should go ask some things in the Jewel today."

-

-

-

Within the Jewel.

I entered my own room of memories. As always, Milleia-san came along.

I went to meet with Septem, but this time the metropolis was in considerable ruin. Walking down the street, the thin and weakened people leaned and sat against the walls of the buildings.

Milleia-san walked up front, a I winced at the sights even worse than the last time.

"Why did it come to this?"

I knew the reason. And while I knew it would happen, I hadn't even imagined it would be as bad as this. Couldn't they have done something before it all came to this? I couldn't help but wonder.

Milleia-san spoke.

[It's because Septem-sama was supporting everything alone. She tried raising up magician apprentices, but they couldn't bring themselves to serve the people as devotedly as she. Eventually, they chose to abandon the people who could never bring themselves to do anything, and disappeared.]

And those that had learned magic brought their techniques to other lands. Milleia-san said it was the start of the nobility.

[Like that, the magicians who attained magic took this city's tale as a warning, and established their own knowledge. Leaving descendants with more proficient ones each generation, they polished their magic tech as much as they could... a new ruling class came onto the stage.]

It was the start of us nobles. The nobles up to then hadn't been definite magicians, but this brought about the phenomenon that magic itself was the proof of nobility.

Septem-san's mansion had rotted away, and a portion of the roof had disappeared.

Walking through its halls, I could see the sky, covered by a gray sheet of clouds.

Milleia-san spoke.

[Among the generations of Septem-samas, she was a powerful one. Too powerful. And too kind to an extent she ruined everything. She birthed the result of a more advanced form of magic spreading through the continent.]

When we entered Septem-san's room, the bed had rotten through, and a Septem-san that wasn't an old woman was sitting in a chair.

A young girl sat, noticed us, and called out. The air she gave off was definitely Septem-san's. But her voice was still young.

[Oh my, you truly do have the worst timing. A little longer, and it would have looped back to the village.]

When Septem-san said that, I gave a bitter smile. And...

"I have something I want to ask."

[What could it be?]

I asked what had been on my mind for a while. It was how Septem... how Agrissa was defeated.

"Three hundred years ago, Agrissa was defeated."

[She sure was.]

"But the method used to defeat her was never recorded. In order to stop Celes, we can't help but want to know the means used to defeat Agrissa."

Seeing my serious expression, the young Septem-san made a bit of a troubled face. Did she think we wouldn't be able to do it ourselves? When I thought that, she opened her mouth.

[I'm sorry, but Agrissa could create Skills. And the body to use them as well. I can't even imagine what sorts of Skills she held. Maybe she could handle everything... but...]

But... with those words, Septem-san stood from her seat, and stood before me.

[You're the same, Lyle.]

"I am?"

Septem-san smiled. She smiled, and spoke of how much a wonder my very existence was.

[Your ancestors all held the blue jewel, and passed down their Skills. Over their lives, their bodies changed to specialize in Support Class Skills. Having inherited it all, in a sense, it's only natural that your body excels in using Support Skills.]

Because of the gem the First bought at a discount, it became easy for we of the Walt House to manifest Support Class Skills, and to make them more powerful.

Generation over generation, a bloodline polished to support...

[Lyle, your Experience, and Connection are Skills that didn't originally exist. They appear completely different, yet they share a common point. What you who was always stolen from would seek out, Experience... a Skill to let you gain much more experience... meaning to build up strength for the distant [Future]. Connection allows many to share their experience of the [Present]. Even I can't tell what your Third Stage will be, but I'm sure it should be linked to the [Past].]

I thought my Skills were all over the place without a common point. But it seems they had the same base of experience.

"It kinda seems strange that the past is the last one. Wouldn't it have been better the other way around?"

Septem-san laughed.

[Right. But the current you already has the knowledge and experience of your ancestors of the past in your hands, and you're dealing with their weapons in the present. What's more, you're trying to obtain the future. The opposite of your Skill. If you do plan to win against Celes, perhaps your own Skill will be the key.]

I thought a little.

If My Skill was one that didn't originally exist, then even Agrissa and Celes shouldn't have knowledge of it. It truly might be an important key for victory.

There, Milleia-san hit against her shoulders.

Turning, I saw Milleia-san was staring at Septem-san. And when I looked back at her...

[... It seems the Jewel believes this is the end of what I'm to tell you.]

Septem-san was wrapped in light. The surrounding scene dissolved into grains of gold, disappearing as if blown away by the wing.

"Eh? Hey! I still have things I want to ask!"

Septem-san shook her head.

[Then ask the next person. And... while my words are uncertain, the Jewel knows the truth. It seems it just wasn't my role to tell you those answers.]

Still with a smile, Septem-san faded to golden grains, and disappeared. I reached out my hand, but couldn't touch anything.

But I could hear her voice.

[It's alright. The next person will teach you... do your best, descendent of mine.]

I heard her laugh to herself, as in my daze, I found myself in the round table meeting room before I had even realized it.

"... I see, so I carried Septem-san's blood as well."

It was natural, but I had forgotten that truth. That Celes inherited the memories of Septem meant that Septem-san's blood flowed through my veins as well.

Milleia-san was a little amazed.

[Good grief, you didn't even notice that?]

"But when I'm usually talking with the ancestors, I get the feeling, ah, so I really am descended from these guys... to put it the other way, I couldn't really imagine anyone else in that role."

Milleia-san spoke to me kindly.

[Up to your birth, it only natural that many people were involved. It wasn't just the Walt House. The clans of their wives are all part of it as well. Even without direct relations, many gears of fate turned for you to exist.]

At first it had sounded outrageous, but now I noticed it was only natural.

It wasn't just me. All humans were like that.

"... I'd never really thought about it."

[Right? Now then, I wonder what the next person will be like. I hope they'll be fun.]

From her tone of voice, it seems Milleia-san already knew.

(... Come to think of it, this person was so carefree I've forgotten it lately, but she was the Jewel's guide, was she?)

This time, Septem-san taught me a lot.

About magic. About Skills. About goddesses.

And... About Novem as well.

The fact that I have fate with the goddesses could be because I carry Septem-san's blood, couldn't it?

And the gem the Walt House just happened to buy, made a body specialized in the use of Support Class Skills. I got to learn about that.

(... That may be one of the reasons for the ancestors potent array of Skills. In that case, gems will get a new value on the market.)

I had quite a lot to think about, but it wasn't going to come together at once. I turned back to the round table, to find the ancestors looking my way.

The Third spoke in his usual smile.

[Were there any developments?]

He asked me. The Fourth removed his glasses, and wiped off the lenses.

[By your current disposition, I'm to assume the plug's been pulled on your conversations with Septem. Now then, how about you let us hear it too?]

The Fifth looked as uninterested as ever, but when he looked at me...

[Well, just talk about it. It'll be much easier than holing it up in yourself.]

Or so he said. These days, I've come to understand the Fifth just a little more. His usual uninterested air was a something similar to hiding his embarrassment.

The Seventh turned his gaze from me to Milleia-san.

[Come to think of it, aunty was supposed to be a guide, for argument's sake. She kept getting rowdy with the Third, so I had forgotten. The terrible nature of two personalities attracts...]

He spoke ill of Milleia-san with a smile, but he never got to finish those words.

Milleia-san who was supposed to be beside me pounded her fist into his face with a smile.

Just when did she move? And surprisingly, Milleia-san began to look quite powerful in my eyes. Her frail impression was blown away... no, I never had such an impression to start with.

[Oh, Brod you trouble-maker. You're making your big sister Milleia angry. Even when you used to be so cute.]

The Seventh held his nose.

[I've forgotten that past.]

He said.

Milleia-san looked a little fed-up as she shrugged her shoulders.

[Same as always, I see. Well, as my brother's son, I'm sure you've got quite a few harsh memories.]

It seems the Seventh was holding in a bit. I never felt anything like that while he was alive. But within the Jewel, he said quite a few things that caught my interest.

He seemed to have something towards the Sixth that had morphed into stubbornness.

There, Milleia-san looked at the Fifth's face. When the Fifth noticed her...

[What?]

[Father, since you're here, show Lyle your memory. See, there's still an important portion you haven't shown him, right?]

After making a blatantly reluctant face, he refused in all seriousness.

[I refuse. In the first place, my memories are irrelevant to the boy. For now, we should prioritize efficiency.]

Milleia-san spoke with a smile.

[I think it's important. It's something Lyle will need from here on, and more than anything, you do feel some responsibility, don't you? That when up to your point, the Walt House had aimed for a warm household, but you crushed it all in your generation.]

The Fifth stood, and returned to his room of memories.

"Um...

[I made him angry.]

She stuck out her tongue a bit, and closed one eye as she said that, but her expression was just a bit sorrowful.

The Fourth looked curious. More than that, it seems he had an idea of what it was.

[... I don't think it's a good thing to reveal the secrets someone's trying to hide. Even so, do you want Lyle to know?]

Milleia-san nodded. After nodding, she sent a look to the Seventh.

-

-

-

.... In Beim's neighboring land, an army of Bahnseim marched.

The knights that entered the capital destroyed by monsters dispersed, and began eliminating the remaining monsters.

The land they had newly acquired was to become a land under direct Bahnseimian control. Eventually, perhaps someone would be awarded the territory as a reward for their achievements.

Within all of that, a report came to the general, who's made a base out of a building that was still useable.

"General. According to the scouts who went out in Beim's direction, Beim is still safe. They turned one of their important points to a fortress, and managed to hold back the monsters."

Hearing that, the general laughed.

"Well isn't that amazing? As expected, Beim didn't fall. Well, having them fall would be troublesome. If we had to march and reclaim that far, my bones would break. Also, we still have commerce with them, so having them fall will be a pain in various ways."

The middle aged general sat in his chair, finishing up his mountain of paperwork with a grin. The knight who reported seemed quite curious.

"General, this times soldier dispatch seemed considerably content."

There, the general looked at the knight's face before nodded. His probing eyes did bother the knight, but the general stopped his working hands, stood from his seat, and looked out the window.

Out there, the scene of the city destroyed by monsters unfolded.

"Well, it's a job anyone would hate to do. But if it's a job that lets me get away from the center of it, then I'm thankful. You're not from Centralle, are you?"

On the general's words, the knight nodded.

"Yes. I was raised in a village a little away from Centralle. It was declared that this time's expedition wouldn't be using Centralle's knights, so we were kinda scraped together."

After laughing a little, the general.

"Yeah, that's what I had them do. I sought out subordinates as unrelated to Centralle and the current royal faction as I could."

The knight tilted his head. Thinking he didn't understand, the general gave a bitter smile.

"Your response troubles me. But just know I wanted subordinates like that. Stay in Centralle, and you'll get to think that way whether you like it or not. Now then, back to work. When I'm not in Centralle, everything just feels nice and easy."

Still holding questions towards the generals speech and conduct, the knight left the room...