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Prologue

Prologue

I was driven out of my house the spring of two years ago.

Winter came to a close, and turned to a season that couldn't help but make one hope for the start of something anew.

I welcomed the arrival of such a season as I looked over the mountain of documents in the office. I placed both my hands on the table, looking at my ink-stained digits as I muttered.

"... Something is wrong. This isn't the sort of revolution preparations I had in mind."

From the Jewel I had placed as a weight to prevent the pages from flying away, I heard the Third's blissful voice.

[You sure are stupid, Lyle. You're the leader here, so it's only natural you're stuck with loads of paperwork. Going out and doing actual work is obviously left to your subordinates.]

It was a sound argument, but I had imagined going out on the site more to give this order and that. But reality had me holed up in my office, surrounded by guards and chased to the ends of the earth by paperwork.

Even if I had a chance to go out, a majority of it was speeches and meetings, and truly detestable stuff. Inside the room, the one who was charged with looking after me today, Valkyrie Unit Three sounded delighted.

"Master, I've finished preparing your tea."

"How many cups do you plan on preparing today? I'm already full to the brim."

Unit Three had finally picked it up... or rather than picked up, she had gained the ability to do it, so she repeated the action of roasting tea again and again to appeal to me.

My stomach hurt from tea overload.

It had been a few months since the battle with the Walt House.

The preparations to fight Celes were underway. It would be a battle of continental proportions, but even the country that ruled this land before Bahnseim... in the Sentrass Kingdom's era, battles of this scale were a rare sight, I'm sure.

A large scale battle exceeding that of the one three hundred years ago was to unfold.

In the documents, Monica put together the reports raised by the Valkyries stationed across the land.

As I took the orderly document in hand and read it through, it even included illustrations to make it exceedingly easy to understand. There were graphs as well, so just a glance was enough to understand the current situation.

"So there's been a pause in Faunbeux's efforts to take in its surroundings. It's quite a surprise that there are still countries trying to watch and wait."

When such a scale... several million soldiers would be moving on multiple fronts, I was surprised there were still countries who decided to wait it out. There, the Third explained the surrounding situation to me.

[Lyle, this world isn't one that can be measured by your own reality... you can't gauge everything based on your common sense alone. In a war of this scale, it isn't strange for there to be countries where the scale exceeded their expectations to an extent they can't even make a decision. Perhaps there are disputes raging on within.]

I looked at the report as I asked the Third.

"... Then should I take that into consideration, and deal with them post-war?"

But the Third spoke level-headedly.

[There's no need. If you swoop in later to take all the good stuff, there are countries who won't be satisfied. You've got to direct their dissatisfactions elsewhere.]

Even if I said unifying the continent, it's not like that would succeed just by defeating Celes and Bahnseim. I'd have to succeed in rule for anything to start. And I'd need to maintain it after that.

"Well, Cartaffs' preparations are ready, and Djanpear's on board, so the problem would be our own eastern front."

Yet the army I commanded took in the Walt House army, so we already had the numbers together. I believe we have a force good enough that I'm not embarrassed to call it the army of the leading power. If there was a problem to speak of, I guess it would be the rattled state of Beim?

Given the time, we'd be able to gather more numbers, but even now, the time for our attack was indeterminate. No, we could attack at any time, but...

I took a different report in hand.

"... For her to chip away at her own war potential."

... What Celes accomplished in Beim was the construction of a grave for our father. But father was a man of the Walt House, and a Count at that. Yet she gathered workers to build a grave more splendid than any emperor's, and despite the busy season, not only men, she gathered women as well to aid in the construction of this massive tomb.

"What is that girl even doing?"

As I could only feel fed up, the Third appraised her actions from within the Jewel.

[Just as Agrissa before her, I'm sure she wants to make this continent into a sea of blood. To be honest here, I doubt our common sense will get through. Though it's creepy as it gets.]

I thought the death of our father would instigate some sort of retaliation, but that wasn't the case. We were neatly able to bury the corpse in a modest grave.

But I could conclude that the stolen portion of the remains were Bahnseim's doing.

"It really is creepy. Well, it's been creepy from the start."

As I got back to work, Unit Three spoke to me.

"Master, the time of your meeting approaches."

"... Meeting with whom? If it's about Damien's demands, send him around to Adele-san."

She shook her head to the side.

"No, it seems Marianne-san who became guild master of South Beim is coming for a meeting. She wishes to voice an opinion about the management of Magic Stones."

Hearing Marianne-san's name, I stood. To place the guild under government rule, I would have to draft up various rules.

So I had made a request for its framing, and Marianne-san and the other guild-related personnel immediately sent in their complaints.

If they were going to put up a frantic resistance over the robbing of their interests, crushing them was possible. But even accepting the new management, there were many things the Guild couldn't help but be troubled with. Matters related to such contents were brought over to me.

[Because Adele-chan's no good at this sort of thing. Lianne-chan doesn't know enough about adventurers, so it all comes down to you.]

It was just as he said. What's more, it was a matter I couldn't be negligent with. Anyways, in order to take the Guild's rights, and keep it functional without problem, I'd have to hear them out.

"Hah, let's get to it then."

-

-

-

... In Bahnseim's royal palace, a portion of Maizel's body was delivered to Celes' room.

Embracing the box that held it, Celes' eyes filled with tears.

"Welcome home, dear father."

Saying that, she opened the wrapping, and gripped the staff-rapier with the Jewel embedded in it. The Yellow Jewel let off light, and the corpse she had prepared in advance began to move.

The box floated in the air, its contents absorbed into the dead body, completing its human form.

"... Celes, I'm home."

Maizel smiled at her. In the room, her mother in a similar state stood as well.

"Dear, just look at you. And you call yourself the head of the Walt House!?"

As Claire looked angry, Maizel offered his apologies.

"I-I'm sorry. I wanted to get a present for Celes."

"Goddess, you're so late father. We'll have a grand party today."

Saying she didn't care about getting a present, Celes happily linked hands with her parents.

Within her Jewel, Agrissa sat in a pompous chair as she looked over the scene. In the inside of the Jewel that was designed almost like a throne room, she crossed her legs as she took on a condescending attitude.

Twirling her golden hair around her fingertips, her violet eyes reflected the outside world.

[... Cute and pitiful Celes. Even if you revive them, they're nothing more than containers. No, perhaps they're even too incomplete to serve as that.]

Agrissa had perfected a Skill to revive dead, but as she looked at the results, she seemed quite unsatisfied.

[If I had succeeded, I would have revived my own parents. And children. I don't really care about the rest... no, the Walt House, eh? I'd have revived that man who defeated me as well. That was a good one. A truly splendid man.]

Seeing Celes sandwiched between her marionettes as she jumped for joy, Agrissa smiled. But her expression clouded over at once. As the outside visible from within the Jewel faded away, she stood, and looked at the door behind her seat.

[... When you can't even revive a measly human, what sort of goddess are you supposed to be? Well, even if you could, you aren't even revered as a goddess to the world anymore.]

Agrissa was once an existence born whilst inheriting the memories of Septem. To speak to this generation, there was Novem and Celes. But the memories she carried on were only the broken parts... she only had the memories of each generation's Septem being worked to the bone by mankind.

Her memories as a goddess were vague, but she had a general idea of what happened. However, being worked to death by those she gave her everything to, at times oppressed generation after generations, those memories strongly remained in Agrissa's mind.

Tracing her lips with her fingertips, she slumped her body back into her seat.

[Now then... even if I keep quiet, the continent will be dyed in blood. How many millions shall perish? I can't wait. I simply can't wait.]

Walking off, she entered her room of memories. In it, the forms of the oppressed Septems watched here.

Not in Agrissa's flashy, exposing attire, the gentle Septems that wore their plain, beaten up rags. Those Septems sent Agrissa some chastising eyes.

In that room of memories, Agrissa laughed to her self.

[Just stand there and watch, predecessors of mine. What you could never accomplish, I'll fulfill your role of protecting all your dear humankind. Of course, not like you who would give anything they desired... but by taking everything away.]

The eyes of the voiceless Septems turned grim. From the chains of the memories they carrieddown, the existences that would give everything to humans unconditionally.

To they, Agrissa teased.

[Don't be so angry. I'm benefitting mankind much more than any of you. The reason humans kill each other is simply because there are too many of them. So I'll thin them out. It sure is painful. It's painful to kill my dear humans so.]

Breaking into a grand laugh, her voluptuous and beautiful form twisted as she pleasantly sneered.

And she spoke.

[Are you that angry I came to the same conclusion as Novem who once opposed you? I won't blame you... I mean, that one hates humans. No way you would forgive her.]

The Septems began sending Agrissa eyes of pity. Hit with such glances, Agrissa swung her left hand, and made the Septems fade away.

[How irritating. I've grown tired of teasing and playing around.]

Saying that, she looked up.

[Now Celes... the time of our promise is soon to approach. Until then, enjoy it all you want.]

Agrissa's laugh reverberated through the room of memories...

-

-

-

Evening.

The one who entered the room with a frightfully threatening air was Novem.

Enough that I stood from my chair and took a few steps back in surprise. I mean, unlike usual, she was honestly angry. Not like the anger directed at a mischievous child, honest to goodness angry.

Did I do something?

"W-what's wrong Novem?"

As I timidly said that, Novem got her breathing in order as she corrected her posture before my eyes.

"Pardon my intrusion. But there was something I had to confirm, so I'm in a bit of a hurry. So, Lyle-sama..."

Before her uncharacteristic intimidation, I felt as if my voice would turn inside out. From the Jewel hung at my neck, the Third panicked.

[What did you do, Lyle? I've never seen Novem-chan this angry at you before.]

Neither have I. While I had a few inklings as to why she could be angry, I got the feeling none of them were enough for her to be this angry.

"W-what could it be!?"

"... I heard from Baldoir-dono. Is it true that you desire peace, and are setting it as your final objective?"

Hearing that, I tilted my head.

"That? No, I definitely did say it. But it's not like I'm thinking of immediate peace or anything, and my thoughts over what exactly to do to attain peace aren't fully in order yet. I just thought it would be nice if we could actualize it in a few hundred or thousand years is all."

I understand it's difficult, but I don't think it's mistaken to try and take the first step. They were words I said in my high tensions, but I don't have to mind to deny them.

Novem seemed terribly depressed.

"... They weren't the drunken words of your post-Growth state?"

When Baldoir talked to me, I was in the state the Third calls 'mr. lyle'. But his opinion wasn't particularily different from mine or anything.

"No, what of it?"

Novem spoke in regards to me. More serious than I had ever seen her before.

"Lyle-sama, peace is always naught but an illusion. What's more, it's a troubling one that poisons those that partake in it. It is only in a world where they cannot live without fighting that humans become strong. Once they stop fighting, mankind will degrade in kind."

"What's with you today? This isn't like you."

As I said that with a laugh, Novem drew closer. And she grasped both my shoulders. Her fingers dug in, and I could feel some pain.

Her eyes opened with, and it felt as if the light had faded from them.

"Not like me? No, I am serious. The one who isn't like himself is you, Lyle-sama. When you've fought all the way to where you are, what did you feel? What happened to you when you decided to stand against Celes-sama? Lyle-sama, have you ever thought over what would happen if you actually achieved peace? If you do, what awaits is..."

There, Miranda entered the room. She had Valkyries with her, and she headed for Novem as she drew closer to me.

"Novem, what are you doing?"

In that dimly lit room, with the light of the window to her back, it looked as if Miranda's eyes were glowing in the shadows. This was a different sort of scary.

Novem slowly turned around, as she looked at her fingers digging into my shoulders.

"M-my deepest apologies, Lyle-sama! I'll heal it up at once. But I'm..."

She seemed on the verge of tears, but she was trying to tell me something. Miranda entered, and pulled Novem away.

"I'll do the healing. Novem, get out of here. We'll hear you out once you cool your head."

Surrounded by Valkyries, Novem left the room. Hanging her head, the words she muttered...

"... What waits in a world of peace is a gentle demise."

She said.