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Chapter 17: Father

Father

What I shot with the silver gun was a blue bullet... a round made of Mana.

As I pulled the trigger, it used the Seventh's Skill [Warp] to surpass my father's magic shield, and pierce through his armor. Rather than the pit of his stomach, it opened a hole a little below that.

Staggering on his feet, my father unhanded his sabre. In the battlefield that had gone quiet, I could hear the sound it made as it hit the ground. There was still battle raging on afar, but it gradually grew silent.

Slowly falling over, my father used his left hand to touch his body and confirm the blood...

"... I see, so I lost to my father... and to you, Lyle."

He looked at me as he said it. I didn't know how he was seeing me. Perhaps the sight of me holding a gun was overlapping with the Seventh.

And as I reverted it to its Jewel form, I put the revolver in my left hand back into its holster, still gripping the Jewel as I walked towards my father.

There...

"M-Maizel-sama!"

Beil Randbergh began to panic. The surrounding information came to me through the Valkyries. As I could use Skills, the surrounding terrain alongside the placement of enemies and allies were displayed in my head.

The Valkyries were spreading word of my victory through the battlefield. But agitated knights and soldiers like Beil were beginning to move.

"Step back!"

Perhaps Beil used a Skill, as he approached us with inhumanly swift movements. It was stopped by Aria's Skill.

"I told you not to get in their way!"

As the fact they could use Skills spread, Miranda didn't remain silent.

"With this, I can get serious... now stand down or you'll die!"

Producing wires from her fingers on both hands, she began tying and severing soldiers. By the time the battlefield grew noisy once more, I had reached my father.

Leaning over, I looked at his face as he held the hole opened up in his body. With all the blood he was losing, rather than pale, I would call him dark. His face was sullied by the dust clouds of the battlefield, and it looked like he was having a hard time to move.

But he was making a face of relief.

"... I wonder why. Right now, I feel quite liberated."

"That's good."

"Lyle... how old are you?"

"I turn seventeen this year."

It was around spring when I left the house. Thinking back to that, it had been almost two years since I went outside. So much had happened. It felt as if it had been so long, and yet it had passed in an instant...

"... I see. Seventeen, eh? Then you'll have to have your first campaign... wait, did I buy a horse for you yet? I've got to prepare equipment... if I put in the order at once... and preparing a bride... no, were you engaged to Novem? I can't seem to remember."

His memories were muddled, as if he had forgotten all that had happened to now... my father was seeing me as a son. It felt like I was going to cry. But as I extended my arm, I saw the blood that stained his left hand..

"... So it wasn't a dream. I see, I lost."

As my father spat up blood, I turned to him and nodded. Reaching out my right hand, I grabbed both of his.

"... I'm sorry, father. I didn't have any other means! ... for being such an inept son... I'm sorry."

And my father got his breathing in order as he closed his eyes. He smiled, just a bit.

"What are you talking about. After troubling you so, you still call me father. I'm the inept one. But it seems that's over as well. My body won't move. I want to apologize. To you... there's so much I wanted to say, but..."

He coughed up blood, the red soaking into the parched earth. As he cleared his throat, and I gave his right hand a strong grip, the Jewel let off some light.

"T-there are things I want to say. But what you need to do for now... L-Lyle... declare your victory. You won against me. Finish me off. And... put a stop to Celes. That one's my daughter. The Walt House... *hack*!"

As he coughed blood and stopped talking, I nodded. And spoke.

"Rest at ease. I'll definitely stop her. So..."

I didn't know what I was supposed to say. My father laughed.

"Ah... my apologies. I'll be going first to get a scolding from my father. You should take your time getting there. Celes... once she comes to this side, I'll have some choice words..."

My father took one deep breath, and stopped moving. I stood gripping the Jewel.

"Maizel Walt was... defeated by me, Lyle Walt! Stop this battle at once, and surrender!"

The Jewel let off a pale light. The third in the Jewel spoke up.

[Is this... Anti-Skill? No, it's not.]

Blue grains of light rained over the battlefield, and the enemy soldiers that touched it suddenly collapsed on the spot. Beil, locked in battle with Aria, opened his eyes wide and stood stock still. Holding up his weapon, he looked at me.

"... Lyle-sama."

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The left flank.

The one holding up the troublesome Forxuz House was Novem, a Forxuz herself. Holding up her staff, she had it take up the form of a scythe as she pointed towards her father and brother.

While she was taking on both opponents rushing at her, she still had the leisure to look up at the blue light raining down. Those specks that came down like snow... Novem held out her right hand and gripped one.

"... Lyle-sama, my condolences."

She muttered sorrowfully.

The Valkyrie by her side reported the situation.

"Novem-san, the enemy has become powerless. It is likely related to this light... and some have begun to flee. But a majority of them seem unable to grasp the present situation."

Novem looked up at the sky.

Her father Jared and brother Elbert, with weapons in hand were the same. Jared spoke.

"... So Maizel-sama is gone."

"Father."

Jared removed his helmet, and touched his own sword to his neck.

"That's enough. I served the previous generation and Maizel-sama. As the current head, I'll take responsibility. That's all there is to it. You should surrender and follow Lyle-sama's orders. Whether you're executed or taken as a subordinate, move as a member of the Forxuz House."

Elbert looked down as he nodded. And sheathing away his sword, he tossed it towards Novem.

"Novem... I surrender."

The kindness Novem directed to Lyle wasn't directed towards her family. She took her brother's sword in her right hand, and simply gave a nod before turning to her father.

"I'll leave brother's sword with Lyle-sama. Anything else you wish to leave?"

There, her father Jared laughed. Rather than not bearing his impending death, he had a few things to say about his daughter.

"Ahahaha, Novem... you really are honest. Your family's dying over here. Show a bit of sorrow. Otherwise you'll creep Lyle out."

Hearing that, Novem.

"Then I shall do that when Lyle-sama is around."

Jared cut into his neck and spat up blood. At the end...

"Whatever the case... with this, the Forxuz House's role is..."

-

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Nearby the tent at the main camp.

Stepping onto the loading deck of the Porter parked nearby, I watched the forms of the surrendering soldiers. They all made expressions as if they couldn't believe it.

Hanging the Jewel on my neck, I confirmed it with the Third.

"I wonder what happened. I thought we would have to fight a while longer, but light suddenly flowed from the Jewel... and rained down on the battlefield."

Recalling that previous spectacle, I asked the Third. There wasn't anyone around me. No, they just weren't coming close.

They were being tactful, guarding me from a little away.

[Like hell I know? Well, perhaps this is the Jewel's power as well. The one who made this Jewel was the powerful Septem after all. An existence over Agrissa. Would it be a luxury to shout at her saying if she could do something like that, she should have done it sooner? ... But perhaps it was the influence of Maizel-kun's Skill. I can't make any conclusions. Good grief, it's precisely at times like these that I wish Milleia-chan was here.]

The Third gave a joke-mingled answered, but I got the feeling he was being tactful. Now wanting to shoe my teary, swollen eyes to the others, I forced a laugh.

"You've got a point."

[Lyle, I understand if you want to cry, but endure it a bit. Sorry, but that's just the sort of position you have right now. But make some time for yourself later. If you do, you can go on as things were. I'm sure it'll just keep getting busier.]

From the Jewel that once let out so many voices it could be called noisy, only the Third's voice would ever come out. I found it a little lonely.

"... Third, was my father freed from Celes at the end?"

[Let's see. I think he was. But even so, for the means to release a charmed soul to be killing them... and Maizel-kun put some sort of influence on the Jewel. Because of that, you might have a means to free the other charmed folk, but who knows.]

I would've liked to have obtained it before it came to this.

"... What should I do about my mother?"

[Even if she's released, I think she'll be punished. It all depends on you, but it will be harsh, considering what's to come. Those around will definitely demand a heavy punishment. If you go soft, you'll be telling everyone how soft you are. Well, I don't think you should use any torture. They'll wonder why you'd go so far against family.]

"It sure is a hard problem."

[That's right. It's hard. In this world, finding balance is a difficult thing. Well, that's just how it is. You should learn your own way to find balance. To be honest, whatever comes from here onwards is an unknown world to me. To add onto that, there's no such thing as absolute right.]

I wanted to make a bit of time to sort out my heart.

If it was someone I hated, perhaps it would have been easier. But in the Seventh's memory, I truly was loved. I was able to learn that. I learned... but that only saddened me more.

There, the Third spoke.

[At times like these, you should rely on women. They're stronger at these sorts of things, and more than anything, you've got plenty of those sorts of children around you.]

As he spoke in his usual light tone, I refuted.

"I've got too many of them that even if I rely on someone, I'll raise some thorns. Good grief, whose fault do you think this is?"

[Oh, so you've finally grown the balls to say it.]

The Third laughed. Laughed, and comforted me in his own way.

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... Baldoir made his way to Beil, who'd become a prisoner of war.

His weapon removed, unlike the soldiers who were gathered in one place, Beil had a standing with some responsibility. When Baldoir showed up, he was alone.

In the prison of iron, he sat with proper posture.

"... So you've come. I'm glad, Baldoir."

"Uncle. I'm sure Lyle-sama will be here soon. Please ask whatever you want when the time comes."

While Beil's expression was tired, his eyes were serious.

"I can't say I don't have a face to show him. But could you make some promises?"

"... If it's within an extent I'm capable of."

Beil looked at his nephew Baldoir, smiling a little.

"I'll take responsibility. Otherwise, I'll be dragging Lyle-sama's feet. Execution is most desirable. But I seek a lenient punishment for the others. And... as a man of the Randbergh House, continue serving Lyle-sama from here on. I'm sure that was my brother's intent when he sent you to serve under him, right?"

Baldoir looked at Beil and nodded.

"... Yes. I came with close to three hundred soldiers from the territory."

Beil laughed.

"As expected of my brother. He's nothing like me. Right... completely different from me."

As Beil looked down regretfully, Baldoir posed the question.

"Uncle, what exactly happened in the Walt house's mansion? Didn't you ever feel Lyle-sama's cold reception was unnatural?"

Beil gave his answer as he was.

"... It will only amount to an excuse, but I thought it was right. No, I moved just how I was told. I never questioned it. That Celes-sama was the one worthy of the house... when I think back on it, why did I try to make Celes-sama the head? Even I can't explain it. But even I once had my hopes on Lyle-sama. There were many like me. We really... expected great things of him."

Baldoir had seen Bahnseim's suicidal soldiers in her cage. And even with his family freed here to talk to, there weren't any means to save him. For the world wouldn't believe such a tale.

"Uncle, you could change your name, and as a single knight, serve Lyle-sama..."

"I have my own pride. And I think it best Maizel-sama have more company. The Forxuz House head killed himself. I'll take responsibility and follow after."

It seems he was already resolved, and Baldoir wasn't able to persuade him any further...

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... Within the Jewel, the round table room.

There were only two seats with doors behind them. Of the eight chairs, six had been lost, with silver weapons floating over where they once were.

[The First's greatsword... the Second's bow... the Fourth's dagger... the Fifth's galient blade... the Sixth's halberd... and the Seventh's gun, huh. I wonder if my sword will fall short?]

Even if he spoke to himself, there was no one to respond. The Third thought.

(How ironic. The only Walt to die young is the last to remain. If I had gone and disappeared earlier, it would've been much easier.)

But they each had a meaning. The Third could think back on it like that come this far. The First granted Lyle change. The Second strengthened his heart. The Sixth taught him how to conduct himself on the battlefield and express himself, the Fourth mainly taught internal affairs... the Fifth gave Lyle his feelings. And the Seventh gave the truth he was loved.

[What I can leave? I really don't have anything besides my Skill... good grief, it really is troublesome if everyone arbitrarily gets their expectations up.]

Since the Second left. They had discussed who would stay in the Jewel to the end. But in the end, because of the level of difficulty behind their Skills, the Third and Seventh remained.

[I barely have anything to teach him. Should I just hand my Skill over and end it already?]

Even if he said his usual jokes, no one responded.

The silver weapons merely floated above the round table.

[... I want to watch over him to the end; I guess thinking that way is no good. But it looks like the end was entrusted to me, so I do hope I have something to leave to him.]

Not in his usual aloof tone, the Third spilled his true feelings...