Dai Densetsu no Yūsha no Densetsu:Volume 2 Chapter 2
 Chapter 2 - The Balance Scales For Passion And Love
Approximately at around the same time.
Just north of the highway where Ferris and Iris were rolled onto, at Asohld tea-house, was Ryner Lute.
There was yet no sign of Ferris who should have already arrived at the rendezvous location, and on top of that, it was raining, and just about the time when Ryner was starting to get worried, all of a sudden.
He heard a voice.
Which was muffled by the rain.
He heard it clearly this time.
His name was called.
He thought it was the voice of Ferris, who was late for the rendezvous and started,
“...... so the princess has finally arrived eh?”
From the eaves of Asohld tea-house, where he was taking shelter from the rain, he turned towards the highway.
There was no sign of Ferris.
Huh? What the? I thought I heard someone calling my name......
As he tilted his head, once again.
He was called.
However, that voice was not coming from the south, but rather from the north.
Ryner turned around.
And looked at the highway through the reduced visibility caused by the rain.
There was a woman standing there.
But the woman standing there was not Ferris. As he looked closely, he knew she was clearly not her.
Firstly, her height was different. She was somewhat shorter than the tall Ferris. Her hair color was different. Ferris was blond, while she had shoulder-length red hair.
And her voice was also different from that of Ferris.
Compared to Ferris’s emotionless and monotonous voice, her voice carried a tone of intimacy and happiness.
And that voice.
For some reason, was known to Ryner.
A long time.
He had not heard that voice in a long time.
From a distant memory, that voice resided in the most peaceful part of his mind.
It was when Ryner and Sion were both seventeen. When they were students. In that memory, she was a friend and comrade. Always tagging alongside Ryner, and nagging at him.
But in the end.
In the end, she also left crying.
Even though she was originally a spy from the now already subjugated Kingdom of Estabul, she was made used by the nobles of Roland who had held her sister hostage.
And that led to her betraying her comrades, including Ryner, Sion, and a lot more others, leading to the deaths of many.
But that’s not her fault. They were in a terrible era, and there was nothing much she could do.
But still she felt responsible for all that and had left the country.
She had left the country a long time ago.
But yet, right now, she was right in front of him.
No, perhaps, she was no longer the same person as before.
Previously, her red hair was in a short cut that extended to her shoulders. Her face which still bore some childish features had now turned into a beautiful face of an adult.
But her eyes remained the same. Strong, dignified, but yet tinged with a feeling of weakness embedded somewhere within those red orbs, it was if they were completely the same as before.
She was happily looking at Ryner with those eyes. With a smiling face,
She said with a strong, loud voice, no softer than the loud patter of the raindrops.
It really had been a long time since his name was called by her. Ryner, in response to that, with a dumbfounded voice,
Kiefer Knolles, the name of an old friend.
At that moment.
Her face which should have been beaming with happiness contorted before his very eyes.
Into a crying face. Even though her mouth was smiling, she had a crying face.
He could not see any tears. No, maybe she was already crying, but the tears were hidden by the falling rain, making it impossible to really tell.
Suddenly she started running. Towards here.
Ryner could not move. He could only, dumbfoundedly, look at her rushing up to him.
Kiefer came flying towards the edge of the eaves of the tea-house.
She embraced Ryner.
Pressing against him, and pushing his back against the door of the tea-house which was not yet opened for business.
And while that was happening.
Kiefer did not say a word. She only embraced Ryner tightly.
He looked down at the head of Keifer which suddenly came pressing into his chest.
“.............................. erm, ehh, um, Ki, Kiefer? Right? The real thing?”
What a thing for Ryner to ask stupidly without thinking. Given the fact that she knew Ryner, and suddenly, with a crying face, came hugging him, she had to the real thing.
But because he had not seen her for a long time ever since she had left the country, he was just stunned when she suddenly appeared and came embracing him.
Ryner looked down at the woman who was hugging him, and had a slightly troubled expression.
“Ah, erm, ah~, what should I say. Long time no see......”
But Kiefer did not reply. She hugged him even tighter. She buried her face into his chest.
And Ryner just gave up on saying anything.
Looking at her with a troubled face. She was already completely drenched by the rain. The water drops in her beautiful red hair glistened. The slender body that was hugging him was surprisingly cold.
Ryner awkwardly held her shoulders with his hands.
“...... if you stay wet like this, you’re gonna catch a cold, you know?”
He said softly.
At those words, she looked up.
She met his eyes straight on with her red eyes.
Her eyes looked dim and he knew at once that she had indeed been crying. Her face blushed slightly with embarrassment. But more than that, she happily looked up at Ryner’s face and showed him a mischievous smile.
“Ah ~, now, Ryner-tteba, while I wasn’t around, did you go after other women? You lecher.”
What a thing to say suddenly and Ryner frowned.
“It’s been a long time since we saw each other, and all of a sudden, that?”
“But ~. The Ryner from before wasn’t the kind who would do such a thing, geez.”
After saying that, she gently touched his hands that were around her shoulders. And then,
“Before...... in the prison, the time when I kissed Ryner...... Ryner was much more nervous......”
Before she finished her words, Ryner withdrew his hands.
Thereafter, while shifting his eyes,
“Eh, ah, ah, er, Kiefer, to, to bring up something like that suddenly......”
As he fumbled with his words in a flustered manner,
“Yeah, that’s it, that’s it.”
Kiefer laughed again. Following the withdrawing motion of Ryner’s hands, she stretched her hands. And grasped his hands.
Ryner was about to promptly shake them off but Kiefer, instantly,
Instantly, made a sad-looking face, and he stopped short.
His hands were grasped. Her hands were warm. Speaking of that, his chest had become warm from her embrace and her breathing.
If that’s the case.
If that’s the case, I’ll let it pass, Ryner thought. If he could pass on some of his warmth to her freezing body, he would let it pass, he thought.
But Kiefer just smiled, and once again buried her face into his chest, and hugged him like how a lover would.
Ryner had a real troubled look.
In other words, erm, hm, what kind of situation is this?
Erm, erm, erm, what should I, eh, what should I do? About this?
As his mind was spinning, Kiefer said.
“You know, Ryner.”
“Erm...... do you remember...... the words I’ve said on the very last day we saw each other.”
“...... the words on the very last day we saw each other?”
Ryner started thinking back.
On the very last day he saw her.
Everything took place in a prison.
A double agent for Roland and Estabul, the business was settled with her being thrown into prison, and in order to save her, Ryner made a bargain with the upper echelon of the military, and exchanged his own freedom for hers.
That was something that took place three years ago.
Ryner recalled that distant memory.
That day when everything had changed.
That day when every of their comrades died on the battlefield, the day when the last remnants of peace was all gone.
When Sion was reproaching himself, and said that he would rise above. To the upper echelons of the military. He said that he would rise to the top of the country with everything he got, and change everything for the better. In order to not let any more people cry. In order to not let any more people get hurt.
True to his words, he had made that a reality. He had become the king of this country and changed everything. He was really something. But he was a fool who overworked himself sometimes.
And then on that day.
Ryner said that it was bothersome and didn’t feel like doing anything. He was sick and tired of having his comrades die, as usual. He was fearful of hurting others. And thus he ran away. Going into prison, and spending his two years languidly. The only thing he did was to write that report on the Heroes’ Relics. But in the end, he didn’t strive to achieve anything beyond that. Because he didn’t strive, that’s why things had come to this. Sion weeping, and the whole country turning weird.
And additionally, on that day.
He later heard from Sion that Kiefer had left him in Sion’s care and had left the country. Having resided in both Estabul and Roland, she wanted go out to see the world, and see the other countries. Ryner did not know of the thoughts and feelings she held in her heart when she left the country. But still, she left the country.
But, before that.
In the prison, just right before Ryner took the place of Kiefer in prison, they had their last conversation.
Three years ago.
Within this country, where there was a much tighter security in the prisons then, the two of them had a conversation.
Ryner looked sleepy as usual.
But Kiefer was crying. While crying, she kissed Ryner and said.
"I finally know why I have fallen in love with Ryner. I used to think that it was because there was no need for me to have my guard up against someone that unmotivated...... and that I could always feel at ease around you...... but it wasn’t like that. Because Ryner is really kind. And strong. That’s why...... that’s why you are no monster. I guarantee that. If you call yourself a monster again, I won’t forgive you."
He remembered those words of hers.
Ryner frowned again.
She had held out her outstretched hands towards Ryner again.
The same kind of outstretched hands from Sion and Ferris, towards him.
Even though he had thought of himself as a killing machine, a monster who had no right to love another, and had continued running away, she had told this monster that she loved him.
But still, even with that, Ryner ran away. He had continued running away during those three years.
And it was not until he was too late for anything and everything that he realized it.
Sion had become weird. The country had become weird. Ferris crying. Kiefer crying. Milk crying. Tyle, Toni, Fahl, Byor, Lafra, Pueka, all died.
Only when he was too late for anything and everything then he realized.
Everyone had stretched their hands to me and I didn’t manage to take hold of any one of them.
The last day they met.
Even though when Kiefer had already told him that.
"Ryner is not a monster. At the very least, in my eyes, you aren’t one."
And then Ryner.
The Ryner now still did not see it that way however. He still thought of himself as a monster, a dangerous existence who may hurt people, even now he was afraid of all that however, he no longer thought of running away.
He won’t run away again, he thought.
“...... ah, I remembered of course. Kiefer told me I’m not a monster......”
But he was interrupted and with a sparkling smile, she looked up at him,
“I said that I like Ryner, did you remember that properly!?”
“Huh, it was about that!?”
Instantly, her face turned red.
“Eh? Eh? What do you mean by ‘it was about that’!”
“Erm, ah, ah ~ …... no...... ah, that, you know? That Kiefer like me as a friend...... right......”
But, Ryner could not continue.
Since Kiefer’s eyes started to blur as she looked straight at him.
Into Ryner’s eyes.
Looking straight into the eyes bearing the abominable curse called Alpha Stigma.
Ryner, without thinking, seemed to want to turned his face away. Since he could not bear it when people gazed into his eyes.
When people peeked into the eyes bore by the monster, by himself. He felt ill at ease every time when people peeked into his killer eyes.
But she should already be well aware of it.
Since he had gone berserk right before her.
Because he couldn’t stop his eyes from going berserk, he had killed lots of people around him.
Not only did he kill all of the mage knights of the Kingdom of Estabul, he almost killed his friends, Sion and Kiefer.
He was a monster.
A cursed monster.
He had no right to accept the love of another.
He had no right to be loved by another.
Even though she should be well aware of that.
Even though she should be well aware of that.
She still looked straight at them.
The creepy eyes where the vermillion pentacles floated above.
With eyes filled with love, she looked intently at him.
But, at that moment, suddenly.
A voice shouted out.
From the direction of the highway, upon which rain continued to fall.
From the south,
The voice of a young girl was screaming desperately.
And then Ryner,
He looked up.
And Kiefer as well,
And turned her head around.
As they did that, again,
Such a voice could be heard.
And furthermore, that was a familiar voice.
An adorable, clear voice.
He could immediately recognize it to be the voice of the younger of sister of that crazy, troublesome, dango demon.
Ryner looked towards the direction of the voice.
In the heavy rain.
Stood a young girl.
With blond hair, and extraordinary perfect features on her face. Wearing a dress with lots of frills, and both her back and her hands were laden with a number of knapsacks.
It was Iris Eris, younger sister of Ferris Eris. She was around ten years of age? Wait, she should be twelve now, right?
Well, it did not matter now anyway.
That Iris was looking this way.
She called out again.
And then Kiefer,
She looked here with an incredulous expression.
And then Ryner,
Did not reply.
By the way, regarding the nickname ‘Beast-kun’, it was given by Ferris who told Iris, At night, in order to assault girls, Ryner will transform into a beast and wander around the streets!. And since then, Iris had always called him that. Well, it would be troublesome to explain all this so he ignored that for now.
Ryner strained his eyes to look at Iris through the low visibility caused by the rain.
As he did that, he could somewhat make out her face.
“...... what is it?”
Ryner muttered reflexively.
The Iris who was always energetic, and making trouble for him, now had a face contorting as if she was about to cry.
At that moment, Kiefer asked.
“...... an acquaintance?”
“The younger sister of my partner.”
After giving an appropriate reply, he again looked at Iris. But, it was evident that there was something strange with how she was behaving.
With her feet, she should be able to reach this tea-house in just mere seconds.
But yet, she did not seem to be bent on making a move.
And furthermore, she was facing the other side, with her back facing here, appearing to be dragging something heavy across the ground.
But he did not know what that was. The rain was extremely heavy, and he couldn’t really make out what was at her feet......
At that moment.
Iris propped something up from the ground.
What was propped up had the same blond hair as her, a face of similar features as her, the face of a peerless beauty.
With long bond hair that was completely drenched, fair skin, and a flawless face.
But those eyes on that face were shut. And the face looked pale as well.
Or was it because.
Ryner shouted and sprinted forward.
Kiefer exclaimed in surprise but this was not the time to pay attention to that.
It was clear that something bad had happened.
Iris looked as she was about to cry.
And that monster-like, willful, bothersome, one who should possess the strength to become a mighty foe against any opponent, that Ferris was lying on the ground.
It was clearly an abnormal situation.
Ryner ran with all his might. Closing in towards the place where Ferris was lying, at an insane speed.
The nearer he got, the more evident it was that the situation was bad. Iris had dragged Ferris through the rain all the way up till here.
Both of them were drenched and covered in mud, looking pathetic.
As Ryner reached their side, he said.
“What in the world...... what in the world has happened?”
Iris, while weeping,
“Ne, Nee-sama...... Nee-sama was killed......”
Instantly, Ryner’s heart seemed to stop.
Ferris was killed...... then Ferris is already......
Ryner placed a finger to her neck, and from that, even though Ferris felt cold from the rain, he could still sense a body temperature and a clear pulse.
Then, Ryner looked at Iris,
“She’s alive, you know?”
As Iris was sobbing up her tears, she nodded a few times.
“She, she, she died but then came back to life.”
To those words,
“Huh? She died but came back to life?”
“Huh, ah ~. What do you mean by that?”
As Ryner asked with a questioning look, Kiefer caught up to him.
“Now Ryner-tteba, you were so fast......”
But Ryner did not answer.
She then looked at the unconscious Ferris, where Ryner had placed a finger to her neck, and turned serious.
“...... is she dead?”
Ryner shook his head.
“No, she still has a pulse.”
“A little cold, but there’s no problem.”
“But, if she continues to stay in this rain......”
“Ah, ah, you’re right.”
“Let’s move her.”
On saying that, Kiefer carried the legs of Ferris.
And Ryner as well,
He acknowledged, and carried her head and body. And with that, they back-tracked from where they came from.
And as they reached the edge of the eaves again, Kiefer started knocking on the door of the tea-house.
“Excuse me. There’s someone injured, can you let us in?”
She called out.
Ryner could only act dumbfounded at Kiefer’s sensibility.
In a way, he was fed up with himself for being useless.
He was again stunned into inaction.
After seeing Iris cry, and hearing about Ferris being killed, he was very much stunned.
But there was really no time to be dawdling around.
Due to too many things happening just recently, he had almost forgotten that both he and Ferris were Roland’s fugitives right now, and they were being pursued by the military.
It was possible that Ferris might have been done in by those pursuers. No, it’s not a possibility, that had to be the case.
Those pursuers could just be nearby.
They were actually able to render Ferris to such a state. The pursuers this time might be tough opponents who were nothing like what they’ve seen till now.
There was really no time to be dawdling around.
“Geez, get a hold of yourself.”
Ryner said to himself and breathed out softly.
At that moment, the owner of the tea-house came out. A person Ryner also knew by face, the bearded Oyaji of this establishment.
As Oyaji looked at Ferris,
“Ferris-chan!? What in the world......”
“She seemed to have fainted. And because it’s raining outside, can we bring her inside to rest?”
“Of, of, of course. Come, please come in quickly.”
And then Kiefer turned her head around. After Ryner acknowledged her gesture,
“For now, I’ll.....”
But before Ryner could finish what he wanted to say,
Kiefer nodded. After that, she took hold of Ferris and entered the tea-house.
Ryner who was about to speak, but in the end was able to send his communication across to her without the further need for words.
Ryner smiled wryly.
Of course, and again he recalled the past.
Kiefer, she is excellent.
Even in that Roland Empire Royal Military Special Academy, she was seen as excellent, and on top of that, she was highly popular, and thanks to that, because she was often seen with him, he was even more hated by the rest.
But that was convenient. Since he didn’t like to mingle with other people, thanks to her, he was hated by all the rest, which made it easy for him.
No, perhaps she was the same as well. As a spy, she had to keep on deceiving others, but perhaps she did not really have the strength in her to bear with her own hypocritical front, that’s why she chose to stay beside the most hated dunce of the academy.
And the both of them started living a life where others could not get close.
Then Sion came along.
To make Kiefer and Ryner his comrades, the Sion who was the top of the academy came to scout for them.
Ryner recalled the scenes from the past academy days.
As he recalled the days he spent with Kiefer, the first time he met that disagreeable Sion acting like an honors student, Ryner smiled.
Then, he turned around.
He tensed up his whole body and cast his consciousness around him.
To ascertain the presence of any enemy in their surroundings. To ascertain the nearby presence of whoever had caused Ferris to be in that state.
However, even when he strained his ears, he could not sense the presence of any enemy. Perhaps the enemy might already be right beside him, but all he could hear was the loud pattering sounds of the rain.
Every other sound was masked by the sounds of the heavy downpour, and he could hear nothing else.
But still, even so.
“...... can’t sense any killing intent.”
But still, that might not be necessarily accurate.
Since the enemy was someone who could defeat Ferris. To erase his presence completely from detection should be easy for this fella.
Ryner took a step into the rain.
But there was no reaction, no sign of any enemy.
“If you are there, making a response will make my life easier, you know.”
But to Ryner’s words,
There was no response from any possible enemy at all.
“None I suppose, HERE!”
Ryner tried using a much louder voice, and as expected, there was no reaction at all.
However, it did seem like there was no enemy in the nearby surroundings.
So as to speak, if there were any enemies at all, during the time when Ryner was still unaware of whether Ferris was still alive, at the point where he was in a stunned state incapable of making correct judgements, that would be the best time attack him.
That was the time when he was utterly defenseless.
“...... then, there...... aren’t any pursuers after all?”
Who did that to Ferris?
Could it be that she was in that state because of something else?
Well, regarding that, everything would become clear if he asked Iris after stopping her crying.
“...... it’s hard to make head or tail from Iris’s conversations though......”
As Ryner said that wearily, he released the tension in his body. And he turned round his heel again.
And started walking towards the tea-house where Ferris, Iris, and Kiefer were in.
And then he,
“Perhaps I should wait until Ferris regains consciousness......”
Then, in response to his own words, in a dejected tone,
“No, it might be even harder to get any proper information out of the elder sister......”
While saying that in a groaning tone, Ryner smiled.
In any case, there were more than a mountain of urgent things to do. He couldn’t relax yet, for now, he would wake Ferris up and find out what had happened. Um, but then after that, regarding Kiefer......
At that moment, Ryner’s thoughts halted.
Even though for now, there were already more than a mountain of urgent things to do, but he just remembered that what just came up a while ago was at another level of urgent humongous matter.
Those biting red eyes of Kiefer.
He remembered those eyes of hers that were looking straight at Ryner.
He tried shaking his head perplexedly but, his unkempt black hair, which was a result of his sleepy-headedness, was now thoroughly wet from the rain.
“...... ah ~, it’s a little troublesome now that I’m leaving the country, but maybe I should cut my hair.”
What a thing to say when grooming had always been troublesome for him, but he tried saying that as a habitual practice of running away from reality.
Then, once again, he looked at the tea-house where Kiefer and Ferris were.
After making a small sigh, he again started walking towards the tea-house.
It was a sudden thing.
Suddenly, anything and everything about the world had changed.
It was really sudden. But it’s because that it was so sudden that during all this while, people were taking things easy, and that no one seemed to have realized it.
No, even now, there were still a lot of people who had yet to realize it, wasn’t it so?
The wildly enthusiastic populace.
The joyful people.
The landscape of this place, Roland Empire, seemed to have completely changed, it was now surrounded by fiery emotions.
With an overwhelming amount of charisma, the perfect king, Sion Astal, had started proclaiming about dominating the world.
First, raze Nelpha, then where next?
Let’s show everyone the might of Roland.
Let’s show everyone the might of the Hero King, Sion Astal.
Just recently, the people of this country should have been living happily in peace.
Purging the nobles, shrinking the scale of the army, redistributing the newly acquired wealth back to the people, they should have been living happily.
Everyone should have been happy with the newly acquired stability.
All of a sudden.
It was really all of a sudden, that the landscape of this country had changed.
Since they were bestowed with a peaceful country from the kind and gentle king, they shall be guided by the king to become a militaristic nation.
Turning into a smiling country that destroys other countries.
The peace which was thought to be everlasting, was starting to break down.
But she was not surprised by this.
Because she thought that this would happen.
A country that has everlasting peace.
A country where everyone can live with a smile on their faces.
Where no one cries.
Where no one gets hurt.
A truly perfect world.
But that was.
That was way too perfect.
It was at the level of perfection where everything would crumble with only a touch.
And it did.
Even though it was certain that no one had touched it, it crumbled.
It was a crumpling landscape.
Milk Callaud was gazing with knitted eyebrows.
With soft flaxen hair, despite being at the age of seventeen, she still retained some child-like features on her face, as well as in her large eyes. Wearing Roland’s military uniform over her slender body.
Stretching the back muscles of her tiny body, she strained her eyes to see as far as possible, across the landscape before her.
By the way, she was now on the rooftop of a building that was covered in a pitch-black colour.
On the rooftop of the official residence of the Taboo Breaker Pursuit Squad of the Roland Empire.
This official residence was originally a water tower built from a high tower, and she was now on top of that, and even with her short height, she could gaze at almost the entire landscape of this country, she felt.
She could see everything, she felt.
That’s why from the top of that water tower.
Milk gazed intently at the face of this country.
Today’s wind was strong, and her hair fluttered in the wind.
Even though it was already eight in the morning, the sky was still dark.
Perhaps it would rain today.
She looked up into the sky, then let her sight fall a little.
The streets below Roland’s castle filled a large expanse of land before her, and further from there were flat plains, hill stretches, making up the entire landscape.
The landscape before her had changed completely through the years gone by.
The flat plains were decreasing, the cities were expanding, and flood control was progressing.
This country, had gradually, gradually become boisterous.
To the point where one would simply have forgotten about the former mad Roland.
The former Roland that was tyrannized by the mad king and the mad nobles.
Sion Astal was the one who changed that country in one breath.
The people who were now living in the large cities were full of smiles, full of hope, full of expectations of the Hero King.
If he was the perfect, flawless Hero King, he would create an excellent place for all to live in.
If they just pin their hopes on the perfect Hero King, things could only get better.
Now, let’s follow the Hero King.
Now, let’s move forward along with the Hero King.
Now, let’s, together with the Hero King, exterminate the people of the other countries, and take everything away from them.
There was no need to think about anything.
Because the Hero King would not make a mistake.
“............ even though that could not have been possible.”
Milk murmured while gazing at the streets.
She knew of it.
The king’s weakness.
Sion Astal’s weakness.
Even though she had only met him a few times, but still, Milk felt that she could see his weakness.
With a kind, gentle, smiling face, and regal eyes.
A king so perfect with no opening.
However, because he was too perfect, that’s where he was fragile.
Even though people could not possibly live alone, but yet, he took on everything alone upon himself.
And hiding himself in a place where no one could see him, screaming silently in anguish.
Please help me.
Someone, someone, please look at me.
Milk knew how painful that was.
Milk knew that people were not supposed to live alone.
That’s because Milk had already died once.
In that orphanage, she was not loved by anyone in this world, and by the time she realized that she was alone, her heart had already died once.
But Ryner brought her back.
Ryner told her not to die.
Ryner looked at her with that tired-looking, troubled-looking, but kind-looking black eyes.
He gave her the reason she was searching for to live.
That’s why she had stayed alive until this point.
And as long as she remained alive, one day.
One day...... she would be able to meet up with him, with Ryner, and thanked him for that.
At that moment, she knitted her eyebrows unexepectedly.
Because she recalled something unpleasant.
After searching for so long, and finally she was able to reunite with him, but beside him, always with him, was an extraordinary beautiful blond hair woman, she recalled.
And that person made Ryner smile. Milk had never seen him smile so happily before.
She felt a little lonely.
The place which she had always wanted to be in, an agreement which she had made previously, was taken by someone else.
Of course she was happy that Ryner was able to smile.
In the past...... in that orphanage, Ryner would never have smiled in that manner.
Known as the genius killing machine.
He bore deep wounds within, and carried an expression that seemed to have given up on anything and everything.
A face that seemed to find everything a bother, a face that was on the verge of tears.
Milk couldn’t make that Ryner smile.
But now, he was smiling happily.
The one who managed that was not herself.
Regarding that, it was a little.
“...... uu~, even though I tried not to think about it at all.”
She clutched her chest and smiled. She took in a breath and tell her weak self don’t! As she reprimanded herself, she put on a smiling face.
But as expected, her tears were about to flow out.
But it can’t be helped, she thought. The fact that her tears were forming couldn’t be helped, she thought.
She had always dreamt of meeting him again, always, always.
For a long, long time.
For a hard-bearing, sad, lonely time, she had wondered what should she do when she see him again. What should she say? What kind of face should she show him? Do you still remember me?, she would say. Firstly, she probably ought to thank him. It was thanks to you that I have stayed alive up till now, that’s how she would thank him. And also, and also, do you remember my last words? She would say. Ah, that was of course something I said while we were still kids, and it might not mean anything at all. But, but, I’ve always thought if that were to happen, how wonderful it would be, she would say. That was...... if we were to stay alive and meet again, after giving my thanks, would you take me as your bride, I was wondering, she would say...... then again, how can these words come from myself ~ ahh now, I probably won’t be able to say it when I do get to meet him. Even expressing my gratitude is embarrassing enough, perhaps I won’t be able to say it in the end. But, but if I can meet him again.
If she just stayed alive, and be able to meet him once more......
On a painful night.
On a sorrowful night.
Hugging her pillow, always thinking of such things.
All those things she had thought about,
“...... they didn’t go well though......”
She murmured, and while somewhat on the verge of tears, she smiled.
Finally on the day she met him.
In the end, Milk was in a state of surprise, her mind blank, and none of what she had imagined came to pass.
She didn’t say her thanks.
Though she was frequently mulling regretfully over that, but the fact that Ryner was living and smiling was something she was truly happy about.
Even though it was not because of her but someone else.
Towards that girl.
Even if Ryner likes that girl...... since I like Ryner, as long as Ryner is able to smile like that, I’ll be happy enough.
At that moment, it was more than what she could bear, and her tears just overflowed from her eyes.
“Ah, ah, no, my, my tears just came out! But, but that was true, you know? I’m really happy that Ryner is able to smile like that, you know?”
Somehow, she was trying to explain herself to the empty air.
Of course, there was no reply from the empty air.
And then Milk smiled.
She was laughing at her idiotic behaviour.
“And also, now, I’m no longer......”
Now, she was no longer alone. After Ryner told her to live, and she did her best to do that, even though there were many unpleasant things that happened. No no. Even though there might be a lot more unpleasant things. But, there were also many teary, joyful moments that just washed those unpleasant stuff away.
Meeting Luke. Meeting Lear. Meeting Lach. Meeting Moe. Seeing Major Miller’s grim, angry face.
And everyone said that they would become her family.
She often recalled those words that Luke had said to her.
All of us like you, and became your subordinates. We are together with you because we like you. That’s why we want you to get back what you’ve lost, and we want you to attain happiness. We are not fighting for the country. We are fighting for people. The people precious to us, before our eyes, as much as possible, we want to save them......’’
And Milk also thought the same way.
Because she like Luke and the rest, that’s why she stayed together with them.
It would also be great if she could help them get back what was lost, she thought.
Not fighting for the country.
For Luke and the rest. To protect her family, she fought.
The important people before her eyes, she’s fighting to save many, even if she’s doing it by herself.
But because she’s no longer alone.
Even when the night was dark, she wasn’t lonely.
Therefore, even if Ryner did not turn around, towards her......
At that moment,
Someone called her.
Milk did not turn around. No, she just couldn’t turn around for now. Since her tears were flowing. If she were to be seen in this manner, she would just cause worry to the rest.
That’s why she franctically wipe her tears with her hands.
Of course, if she did that, it would obvious to others what kind of state she was in right then.
But, she wiped her tears. Then she practiced smiling once towards the empty space, and turned around.
Below the water tower were her subordinates.
Standing there were her family.
She looked at her friends and smiled.
As she did that, Moe looked up at her.
“Well, we were thinking where have you been, and it appears that you have climbed to someplace pretty high up!!”
He said it with such an envious face that Milk had to smile.
“This is my special seat.”
Then Moe, with a seemingly lonely face,
“Ehh, then does it mean that I’m not allowed up there?”
“It’s ok!! Only specially for Moe!”
As that kind of conversation unfolded, the Lach standing next to him said,
“Ehhhhhhhh, only Moe, what about me, what about me?”
“Of course it’s also ok for Lach!! But Major Miller’s face is scary, so not for him ~”
Everyone laughed at her words.
Then Lear looked up into the sky,
“...... now, captain. Isn’t it about time to get down from there? I think it’s about to rain soon.”
On hearing that, Milk looked up into the sky again. Indeed, from the looks of the sky, it seemed like a storm was brewing and rain would descend upon them very soon.
“...... if it rains, it will be dangerous up there.”
But Milk just smiled at those words.
“But, for just a little longer.”
She wanted to stay here for just a little longer, she thought.
As she said that, the tallest of them all, the eldest of them all --- well even though that was being said, he was merely twenty-six years of age --- Luke nodded,
“Then, perhaps I alone, should come join you for a little while.”
After saying that, he scrambled up the water tower.
And stood beside her.
Along the vertical height of the water tower, right at the top, there was merely a small amount of space, and it was a narrow fit for the two of them.
As Luke stood beside her, he began,
“...... what was captain gazing at?”
On hearing that, Milk turned her gaze to where she was facing.
And Milk said,
“...... the streets.”
“And the future of this country.”
Luke nodded and squinted his eyes. Always in a calm manner, a gentle person, as if he was a guardian at a nursery school, but in truth he has a very intelligent mind, which Milk knew about.
No, the Lach and Moe who were acting like kids just now, as well as the cool collected Lear, aside from the kind faces they put on, they have another true side to them, and Milk was aware of these.
Each of them was better than Milk, and that’s why they could see far into the future.
That’s why even though there should have been no real need for them to ask Milk, but still, Luke, with a kind voice, faced her and asked.
“And what did captain see?”
And then, Milk shook her head.
“...... no no. I couldn’t see anything. But there are lot of things I must do......”
“You can see them?”
Luke smiled at her acknowledgement.
“...... since most people can’t see the things they must do. And for you to be able to see them clearly, as expected, captain is great.”
And then Milk smiled and looked at Luke.
As always, he had that kind, gentle face.
As she looked at that face, she puffed up her cheeks and said.
“Now, Luke and the rest of you guys shouldn’t flatter me so much.”
But Luke shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s not flattery. It’s the truth.”
“That’s straaannggee. I’m already well aware of the fact that Luke is way smarter than me, and way stronger than me. In fact, I should become the subordinate of Luke and the rest instead......”
At that moment, Luke interrupted her.
“No, the truth is...... we are really proud to have become your subordinates. Because just by you being here, we are all able to smile. Even though you should have had a lot of harsh experiences in your life, but you still smile bravely, and only think of others......”
“But, but it’s the same for everyone of you......”
But Luke shook his head,
“It’s not the same at all. Our hands...... our hands, beyond what you think, have long been stained. Stained so much that we could not see a future ahead of us.”
And then he looked intently at his hands. Slim, long fingers. Both white palms.
Even though they were evidently clean, but Luke’s eyes were seeing something else altogether.
It felt like he was looking at the lives that he had taken.
The warmth of the blood.
In any case, when Milk saw the expression that Luke had then, which was different from usual, she was lost for words.
He was carrying a deep sorrow.
He looked at her again with a kind smile.
“...... but, it would be wonderful if I can dream about that again, that’s what I thought whenever I looked at you, captain. If I can make you smile. My family...... if I can protect my new family, I can once again, with these stained hands, chase after the light, and that would be a wonderful dream to see...... that’s what I can think about again. Not just myself. Lear, Lach, Moe as well, they all should be thinking the same thing. Our true strengths don’t matter at all...... there’s none who are not satisfied with being your subordinate.”
Luke said that.
She only smiled.
Since there was nothing more she could say.
Although I feel the same way.
A new-found family. In order to protect that and her new comrades, she had to try doing her best once more, she had to try staying alive once more, and that’s what she thought.
She who should have already died once, was brought back to life by Ryner.
And now she was supported by everyone.
That’s why she was no longer completely alone.
No longer lonely. No longer sad.
Now that she was surrounded by so many important things, to the point where it had become dazzling to her.
That’s why she said.
“...... then, I shall remain as captain, is that fine?”
As she said that, Luke, with a slightly sad smile, nodded.
That was a formality.
To her, that was an important formality.
It was a formality to acknowledge that their relationship with one another was beyond that of a commander-subordinate relationship.
Then, she turned her eyes away and once again looked at the streets below the castle.
And faced that direction.
She turned her eyes towards the direction of the highway running northwards.
“...... it seems like Ryner managed to leave the country?”
“Yes. As you’ve commanded, I’ve lent him a hand by handing him those assembled information documenting the status of this country. Whether everything goes well or not, the rest will be up to him......”
But he was interrupted by Milk who said.
“If it’s Ryner, everything will definitely turn out well. Because he is......”
He is someone I like, a genius different from me.
But she swallowed those words before finishing.
Luke looked at the side of her face with a worried expression,
“...... is it really okay not to go along with him......?”
As he asked her, once again, she smiled with a face that was on the verge of tears, and did not answer.
Even though I really want to go along, but, it’s sad to admit this but, that is her job.
Just recently, she had heard about the darkness of this country from Luke.
She had heard about what Luke and the rest had been doing up till now, what they had been thinking of.
She had heard about the darkness that Sion Astal was shrouded in.
She had heard about the darkness that Ryner was shouldering.
They were things that she could not have imagined, terrible, dark, lonely things.
She was being protected and sheltered, knowing nothing, while everyone was bearing all those painful things, she was always smiling.
But, finally, she had come to the same place.
That’s right, while gazing down at the streets below the castle, she thought.
Finally, she was able to shoulder the same things as the rest of them.
That’s right, she thought.
And then she pondered.
With her small head, she pondered with everything she got.
About everybody’s happiness.
About her own happiness.
About the direction of this country.
It was the first time she pondered so seriously.
And the conclusion.
The conclusion was that she’s going to give up on Ryner.
Ryner had things to accomplish outside of the country. But she could not go along with him.
Because, there were also things to accomplish within this country.
Because she had a family here.
Because there were things she had to protect in this country.
And all that would also one day help save Ryner, she thought.
Whatever that Ryner had left behind in this country, she would protect them and that would definitely be of assistance to him, she thought.
Then, everything was fine as it was, wasn’t it so, she......
She asked herself.
At the end of that highway, right now, Ryner was about to leave the country.
And beside her, was that beautiful woman.
But, even so, everything was fine as it was, wasn’t it so, she thought.
Perhaps, her dream was already fulfilled, but, and, if everything went well with Ryner, if he was able to smile, everything was fine as it was, wasn’t it so, she thought.
She said softly.
However, this excellent subordinate of hers seemed to know what she wanted to say.
He patted Milk’s head and held her to his chest.
In the midst of that, her tears flowed out again.
She really wanted to go along with Ryner.
Because that was really her dream.
If she could reunite with him once more. If she could meet him again, she wanted to become his bride and remain by his side. To do her best to make him smile, to live her days with him, it had always been her dream.
At that moment, Luke said.
“............ if it’s so painful, it’s alright to go after him.”
But, Milk just shook her head vigorously. As a result, the chest area of Luke’s clothes were smeared with her tears and mucus, which was something that could not be helped.
She only shook her head.
“...... I shall remain in this country.”
“Because. Because, right here where I am, there are so many people important to me.”
“And also...... and also...... one day, when Ryner returns...... if there are no friends here waiting for him, it’s going to be lonely......”
“That’s why I’m going to do my best here. Even though I can’t be right beside Ryner...... but I’m sure this is the best way I can be of help to him......”
Luke did not say anything.
Milk also did not say any more.
And after that, no one knew how much time had passed. She cried for a while. Luke’s clothes were completely dirtied.
And after that, she looked up.
As expected, Luke was making a kind, gentle face.
“...... somehow, I’ve done something embarrassing.”
And Luke said,
“Because we’re family.”
Milk nodded meekly.
That one word was enough.
For not changing her decision to stay in this country. For not changing her decision to not go after Ryner. That one word was enough, to affirm that her decision was the right one, she thought.
“Ah ~, I messed up Luke’s clothes.”
She said in a joking tone.
As she said that, Luke looked down at the chest area of his clothes.
“Ah, really. I have to ask Major Miller to grant me another set of uniform.”
“I’ll wash it.”
“Really? Ah, but, Lear is really good at laundry though.”
At Luke’s words, from below the water tower,
“You said that with the intention to push all the laundry to me, isn’t it so?”
As a voice cried out, Milk looked down.
As expected, all her family members were right below.
It was as if they were all waiting for her return, that was what their expressions were showing.
And then Milk smiled.
Her decision was the right one, she thought.
She shifted her eyes from the streets below the castle to somewhere else.
Towards the core of this country.
She was looking at a higher --- a building much higher than this water tower, within this country.
A place where the Hero King Sion Astal resided in.
That was the reason why she was going to remain here.
The Roland Empire which had undergone a transformation at an alarming rate.
It was now a country of overwhelming military might, and not only had it given an order to kill off surrendering soldiers in Nelpha, but also massacring escaping women and children.
It was a country protected by monstrous soldiers with abnormal fighting capabilities, a result of completed mad human experiments.
In order to remain near the center of that, which had also undergone a sudden transformation, the Hero King Sion Astal.
In order to monitor that overly perfect, and consequently fragile, mad king,
At that moment, she jumped off from the water tower.
Even though the water tower was pretty tall, it was not a big deal to her.
Gripping the rails and using them as a pivot, she flung herself over, and landed lightly on her feet.
As she landed, beside her, was Lear handing her a new set of clothes.
That was, so as to speak, a full set of uniform.
In the military, there was a set of ceremonial uniform used for meeting the nobles and the royal family, and that was one of those.
She took them from him.
At that moment, Luke also leaped down.
Once again, she looked up.
Towards the center of Roland.
At the crown of the castle.
She did not know what was happening inside now. It seemed like Major Miller was now having an audience with Sion Astal, and that he was being informed about the details regarding Sion’s transformation, as well as what was going to happen from hereon, but still, quite possibly, it would not translate to a complete comprehension of everything.
She did not think that Sion Astal would reveal everything.
Perhaps, she could not reject that there was actually a possibility that Sion Astal was merely manipulated by something else.
That would mean that this country now was in a terrible state of instability.
That’s why she needed to remain here.
That’s why she......
“...... well, let’s go, shall we?”
And she started walking.
In order to find the source of the darkness plaguing this country.
In order to catch hold of the darkness plaguing this country.
And the rampage of this country
“Let’s go...... and meet the Hero King Sion Astal-sama.”
In order to stop the rampage of this country, to be of some help to Ryner who had embarked on a journey.
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