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Chapter 11: Brod and Maizel

 Brod and Maizel

It was the memories of my grandfather the Seventh, and Maizel... the Eighth.

Son of grandma Zenoire, the Eighth Generation Head was extremely talented. Brod didn't choose his father's halberd, instead pursuing his own style with the gun. He said it came from his desire not to be compared with his own father, the Sixth.

In the Walt House closest to the one of my memory, Brod confronted Maizel and spoke.

[Guns are nice, Maizel. Just by pulling the trigger, you can hit enemies far away. And unlike the bow, these days, their output has also...]

As Brod told tales of the gun's appeal, the young boy Maizel tilted his head.

[Is that really so? On top of the limited bullets you can carry, replenishing ammunition costs a lot of money. And it's possible to block them with ease. Against soldiers is one thing, but I think the effect will be low against knights. If that's the case, the even a crossbow would be better.]

[... Eh?]

Brod had bought the boy a nice gun, but after being told such a thing, it was impossible to hand over the present, it seems. Hiding it behind his back, he made a troubled face.

As Brod laughed with that troubled face, he gestured around with one hand.

[R-really? But right now, they're sporting cool designs as well. You should carry at least one on...]

I'm sure this Maizel hadn't even turned ten. Yet at that age, he seemed quite reliable. He was looking up at his father Brod.

[No, I'm fine. I've already chosen a weapon that suites me. I discussed it with my martial arts teacher, and decided to pick up the sabre. As I'm good at magic, my means for long range attack are already flawless.]

I felt like covering my eyes, as I took a glance at the Seventh beside me. The Brod of memories dropped his shoulders.

[... I-I see. Then I'll get you a nice sabre.]

[No, I've already put in a request for one to be made. It was a tad expensive, but mother told me that a little quality goes a long way.]

I looked at the Seventh. Unlike I'd ever seen him, with quiet a hesitant look.

There, he covered his face with a hand as he spoke.

[Y-yeah. Truly talented. Maizel himself wasn't trying to make fun of me or anything, I think. I hope. In all actuality, his courtesy was perfect. But personally, I'd like to have pampered him more, or rather, if he wasn't so reliable... I thought about it a number of times.]

He had experienced a youth anguishing over whether he would be worthy to lead the house, Yet when he tried to make sure his son never had to go through such a thing, he was brilliantly shot down.

I looked at the young form oy father.

"Come to think of it, that's right. My father carries the blood of Septem."

The Seventh sighed. But he could've at least been a bit cuter, or so there was no doubt he thought. He was so proficient, perhaps he put an unnecessarily greater pressure on the Seventh.

[I do understand it's a problem of the rich. But even if I didn't teach him, Maizel would learn well. His tutors would all sing praise of him. Though it seems he didn't actually inherit any of Septem's memory, apparently.]

My father was talented. I thought I understood that, but I couldn't quite remember what sort of person he was.

And as the scenery changed, Brod was sitting on his bed, hanging his shoulders. His hands held the gun he had intended as a present.

Looking tiredly upon him was...

"Grandma Zenoire."

... The Seventh's wife, and the one who passed Septem's blood into the Walt House. Wearing a red dress, she looked at Brod and sighed.

[What are you so down about? How pitiful, the Head of the Walt House.]

[Y-you may say it like that, but I've only just returned from Centralle. I was away from the territory a little too long this time around. So I thought I had made Maizel a little lonely, you see.]

He had prepared a present with that in mind, and yet for it to be denied... no, it looks like Maizel seriously didn't want it. There's no way Brod could've handed it over.

Grandma Zenoire spoke.

[You should've just handed it over first thing when you saw him. If you did, there'd be no need for you to be too mindful or anything. And it's your fault for loitering around Centralle. It's not as if Maizel hates you. He looks up to you strongly. You're the advisor to his majesty for Pete's sake.]

On the words, 'his majesty,' I felt a bit of annoyance from Zenoire's voice. This and that had happened between her and Bahnseim Royalty, so I'm sure she had much to think over.

Brod lowered his shoulders further.

[I see. So he looks up to me? Then I've got to try harder.]

[Dear! Put an end to this nonsense already. Pledging loyalty to such a monarchy... if the Walt House had cooperated with my home, you'd have obtained an appropriate status by now.]

Looking up at Zenoire as she said such things, Brod spoke.

[... We hadn't even met back then. And my hands are already full with my current status. If you'll let me be honest, I think it'll be fine if Maizel's child or grandchild becomes a Marquis or Prince.]

While Brod usually carried himself boldly outside, it seems he was fatigued inside. Grandma Zenoire spoke.

[Have some more ambition! If you got serious, then even Bahnseim would be in the Walt House's hands by now! And with that, by Maizel or his son's generation, you could even get the continent together!]

Brod laughed.

[Zenoire, to be blunt... I'm completely uninterested in such a thing! As long as you're by my side, that's enough for me.]

He made a wonderful smile. As he proclaimed his lack of interest with such a smile, Grandma Zenoire began to cry out.

[It's the dream of my house! So why did this... when it comes to the Walt House, you're the strongest in Bahnseim, are you not!? Show some backbone! When I want to pull that vile fiend down from the throne, you went and became his damn advisor!!]

The Seventh touched a hand to his chin as he watched the scene. His expression was soft, and he looking nostalgically at Zenoire.

[If Zenoire was here, I'm sure she'd break into song and dance if you told her you were aiming to unify the continent. And wait, looking back, she's still as cute as ever.]

The one shouting was a woman perfectly fit to the Walt House's Precepts. Her appearance and form in order, she was definitely a beauty. But why are you calling her cute only after she starts shouting? If my harem members started crying out like that, I'm sure I'd have nothing on my mind besides how to flee the scene.

With all my might. With everything in my body, I'd run.

There, the Seventh's smile turned a little sorrowful.

[No, if she were here, she'd have to witness you and Maizel fight, huh. I guess that's no good after all.]

As I thought, he was mindful of my battle with my father. So I said to the Seventh.

"Seventh. No, grandpa..."

-

-

-

When I opened my eyes, it was dark in Porter's loading tray.

I'm sure the mild cold I felt on my skin came from the windows Monica had opened to ventilate. It rapidly grew colder, and I could feel a cold air touch the other side of the blanket.

While sensing the heat robbed away from the inner side, I raised my torso to see Clara wrap the cooling blanket tighter around herself.

I thought it was quite cute.

"Oh, you're already awake. Having stolen away my job of awakening a damn chicken, I will not permit that sleepy mug of yours. Now lie back down. I'll sleep with you, and we can start the morning by surprising you awake!"

"What's with that troublesome waking? I'd prefer something normal. Each and every one of you... learn a bit from the automatons at Damien's place."

There, Monica turned towards me, stroking her twin tails in succession, and striking a pose with her hand on her hip. It was so excessive that watching was irritating.

"You've been deceived. If you think those three are normal, you're way off. Just as the other deteriorated models, just how nasty do you think they are? The only one who can serve you with such devotion is I, Monica alone."

"That's definitely wrong."

I carried out such a pointless conversation with this morning's Monica. Feeling some sleepy tears on my face, I wiped my eyes with my left hand.

"Tears when you haven't even yawned?"

Hearing that, I nodded.

"That's right... I'm yawning."

-

-

-

... Before Maizel's march, one of his men came on his.

A message had arrived, and it seemed to contain some sort of important notice. Maizel called him close to hear out the report.

"What happened?"

His stance on horseback not changing, Maizel waited for the report without a shred of impatience.

"Yes! The unit that went out for recon discovered enemy forces near the border. Their numbers are seventy thousand. They outnumber us. They are already lying in wait, and the terrain will make it difficult to get the drop on them."

Maizel nodded.

"So instead of inviting a siege, they came right out. Well, I'm sure that thing at least had the knowledge to be a feudal lord. But to challenge me to a field battle... driving him out was right after all."

The one riding the horse beside Maizel was Beil. He was wearing his armor, with his helmet in his hands.

"Maizel-sama, do you intent to fight them upfront?"

Maizel's expression didn't change.

"If we cannot circle around, then the main force will proceed straight onwards. It will be easier than initiating a siege."

But only the main force couldn't circle around, and other small forces could take action. Or so the messenger knight informed him.

"Send the raid units around. The enemy may be on guard, but if they have any negligence, a surprise attack is possible. The Walt House vanguard can..."

"... Maizel-sama, could you leave that duty to me?"

The one who interrupted Maizel's words was a baron. Beil showed some discomfort as he glared at the old man, [Jared Forxuz]. The man with thick streaks of grey through his long hair and beard was the current head of the Forxuz House.

Maizel quieted Beil with a hand before he could make an outburst.

"That's quite a rare sight, Jared-dono. As far as my memory goes, this is the first time you've said such a thing. Something on your mind?"

Unable to contain himself, Beil ignored Maizel's quieting gestures, sticking his mouth in.

"Maizel-sama, that man's daughter accompanies Lyle. He may have intentions to deceive us."

Normally, Beil was the Walt House's retainer. And Jared was a baron, a mid-tier feudal lord position that served under Bahnseim's royalty. If one had to say whose standing was higher, that would be Jared. But Jared himself didn't seem mindful of that.

This was one of the reasons they were called the Walt House's dogs; Jared treated Maizel as his only lord. That would usually be considered a considerably disrespectful attitude towards the monarchy.

"That is precisely why. My daughter Novem's talent in magic is a goddess-send, even within our line. I thought it best a person of the Forxuz House be the one to suppress her."

There, Maizel looked straight ahead a while, opening up some time before he answered.

"... We do not know where Novem is. Not even whether she's on the battlefield or not. We'll send you based on whether she's found or not."

"Yes."

As Jared lowered his head and abided Maizel's orders, Beil looked unsatisfied. To him, Maizel laughed a bit.

"Don't be so angry. It's a magic talent the Forxuz House recognizes. There's no doubt it's a threat. But in that case, it was a waste to make her that thing's fiancée. Jared-dono, if you can take her alive, you're free to do so. There's no necessity to kill her."

While Maizel was trying to be mindful in his own way, Jared refuted it.

"No, your tact is unnecessary. If we're to fight my daughter... fight Novem, we cannot stand to hold back. I recommend fighting with the intent to have her dead."

The surrounding knights looked a little surprised, but Maizel spoke as a representative of them.

"To such an extent? I'm surprised such a woman of talent chose to follow that thing. I hold responsibility for acknowledging their engagement. If she is discovered, I will report it to you, Jared-dono."

Novem's own father was considerably wary of her.

And the collision of two armies was drawing closer as they spoke.