Having heard Lloyd’s proposition, Riley, who had been vacantly keeping silence, behind handedly woke up from his thoughts and said,
“The answer to the proposition I just made… I don’t need to hear it, right?”
Lloyd looked at Riley with tired eyes.
Honestly, the word ‘pitiful’ fit them well.
Riley stared at his second oldest brother vacantly. His tea still had a few sip left. Riley quenched his neck with it and carefully said,
His voice was cautious. However, Lloyd looked like he knew what Riley was going to say. Lloyd’s face looked relaxed as if he was relieved a little.
“Honestly, I am not liking your proposition.”
“I see… Um, what did you say?”
Lloyd was nodding as if he was trying to say he knew it. Having realized late what Riley actually said, Lloyd opened his eyes big and asked back.
Lloyd panicked. Watching him, Riley smiled awkwardly and scratched the back of his head. Riley said,
“I’m not declining it to get ill feelings from you. I have many reasons, but if I am to tell you the things that are coming to my mind first…”
Riley thought about it for a moment and said,
“First, I’m sure you know well what I am called in this family.”
That was Riley’s title.
Unlike Ryan with the title of Strong-Sword and Lloyd with Swift-Sword, Riley’s title of Lazy-Sword was most certainly not only shabby, but even a shameful title.
“If I went after the successorship with a title like that, I think our ancestors would be ashamed.”
Having heard Riley’s answer, Lloyd was going to say ‘you are doing the competition right now, aren’t you?’ However, he was blocked by Riley continuing to talk.
“Even if I became the successor by some luck, I don’t have the confidence to lead the family well. Honestly, it is such a bother too…”
He could not hear the rest very well, but… Watching Riley smiling awkwardly while scratching his cheek, Lloyd shook his tired face and talked back.
“No, you can do it. If I… If I back you up!”
Having heard Riley’s cut and dry voice, Lloyd’s lips petrified like stone.
“We are Iphalleta House.”
As Lloyd said earlier about his concern for Ryan, the bearer of the title had to shoulder the responsibility that was most definitely not light.
In this house, before the swordsmanship, the character of the successor was far more important. For instance, like Ian.
“I understand that you are genuinely concerned about big brother Ryan. However, I don’t feel like I’m up for it.”
Riley said all sorts of things in great length. However, to summarize it in a sentence, it was a definite no.
“You knew well since several years ago that I have no ambition about being the heir, didn’t you? Although Lady Oruli… who is not at the mansion at the moment, did not think that was the case.”
Lloyd, with his deep-set, hollow eyes, watched Riley’s face vacantly as he slowly got up from the seat.
At this moment, all Lloyd could remember were how he clicked his tongue or laughed and made fun of Riley as he watched Riley just lying down on the garden.
“R… Riley! Wait!”
Following his little brother, Lloyd got up in a hurry. He quickly lowered his head and reached his hand to Riley who was about to leave the room.
“… Ah, you are here?”
Riley opened the door and got out, and Ian was there waiting for him. Riley pleasantly greeted Ian and started to walk. Now, there was just Lloyd in the room.
Of the advices that were passed down in the Iphalleta House, there was one that said,
‘If you are going to draw the sword, then you have to be determined for it.’
It was an advice about actions.
Perhaps it was perfect for Lloyd at the moment.
He could not excuse and say he was still young or he didn’t know things would turn out the way it did.
It was not like Riley declined because of that particular reason. However, at this very moment… Lloyd was thinking his proposition was declined because he made fun of Riley in the past.
‘If I apologize… if I apologize for things I have done back then?’
Lloyd started at the door that Riley left through. Lloyd bit his lips and shook his head.
“… Just what did you talk about in there?”
Meanwhile… Ian asked questions as soon as Riley came out of the room. Riley waved his hand around to refuse making comments. He just walked through the stairs that lead to the entrance of the hotel.
“What about the children?”
Before answering, Riley thought he should check what happened to the children from Alieve Village. Ian said,
“Ah, yes. According to the Holy Temple, the children were in the early stage of the illness, but because they came to the Holy Temple quickly, they said the children have nothing to worry about any more. But… the priests said they have never seen this kind of disease before, so they were worried.”
Riley was about to get out of the hotel after coming all the way down the stairs. Ian, standing right besides Riley, gave Riley something. Riley tilted his head side to side.
Riley got a hold of what Ian was holding. They were fruits with vibrant color. Wondering what these were, Riley floated a question mark on his face.
“The Alieve Village’s children gave these. Unfortunately, they didn’t give me any. They insisted on giving them to the good looking big brother only.”
Riley flinched after hearing the rest of what Ian said. As if Riley was trying to tell Ian to not joke about things, Riley tapped Ian on the shoulder and looked at the fruits.
“Good looking? I thought they were innocent and untainted because they live in the country side, but well… I guess they would do well in the social life.”
Although he said that like a complaint, he carefully placed the fruits on his side pocket so they would not get squashed. Riley casually turned his head.
‘Well then… how should I go about this?’
Riley turned his head toward the hotel, to Lloyd who must be still inside the hotel to be exact. He started to walk again and got on the carriage that was parked in front of the hotel.
“… Let’s go.”
“Excuse me, Young Master… So, where are we going?”
Riley picked up a fruit from the pocket and tossed it into his mouth. He said,
* * *
Solia happened to be not so far from the village that they were currently at. Riley and Ian were able to arrive at Solia just before the sunset.
Just before going through the gate to Solia, Riley casually turned his head and looked back at the path they just went through. He narrowed his eyes and looked at the other direction.
‘Is he following me?’
Although Riley clearly refused the proposition when he was at the village, Ian could feel Lloyd still following. Riley had a mysterious smile on his face.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Although they arrived at the destination, Riley was still not coming down from the carriage. Ian tilted his head side to side. Having noticed this, Riley finally got down from the carriage.
“Now that we are at Solia, getting together with Nara’s group would be the first order of the business, but since it is late…”
Riley confirmed that Ian went to the stables and handed the carriage over. Riley walked toward the Main Plaza and said,
“Let’s fill the stomach first.”
Watching Riley leisurely walking, Ian wondered if they should be doing this right now. He looked around the area and followed after Riley.
“Young Master. Judging from the content of the letter, it seems this is urgent… Instead of dinner, don’t you think getting together with Nara’s group first would be best?”
Riley didn’t bother to answer Ian’s question. He just kept on walking and stepped into the Main Plaza. Only then he said,
“Ian, for now, calm down a bit.”
Riley calmed Ian with a relaxed voice and looked around the scenery.
The Main Plaza was not as busy as it was during the swordsmanship tournament. However, the place was still booming with street vendors and people walking through.
“Making the move right away is also good, but if you want to avoid making things more bothersome because of the storm coming in the aftermath, making the preparation comes first.”
As Nara said, if they ran into the dark mage again in Solia, he was not sure if a collision could be avoided.
That was not all.
If they ran into Rebethra, the one who Riley had Nara to tail, there was a high probability of the situation getting even more convoluted.
“Officially, I am currently in the successor competition, right? That bastard Rebethra, who seemed to be related to this incident, must think so too.”
Riley wondered around the street vendors. As if he found the store he wanted, he started to walk toward it. Riley explained why he came to the Main Plaza first.
“We have a need to move with stealth.”
If it was not for this, Riley would be somewhere else in middle of successor competition. He was here in Solia to smack someone on the back of the head. The street vendor that Riley walked to was a mask store.
‘Should I get the same one from the last time?’
Riley thought about how Nainiae was happy to fiddle with the mask that he wore last summer. To get a grip from the thought, Riley shook his head lightly.
‘Why am I thinking about her out of the blue.’
Riley picked the same mask with his finger and said,
“Two of these.”
“You made a great choice.”
It was not certain if the store owner was remembering that the customer who came by last summer was here to buy the same masks. He just rubbed his hands, got the money and gave the masks.
“Here, take this mask.”
Ian got a hold of the mask that Riley gave. He realized it was similar to what Nainiae had, so he tilted his head side to side for a moment.
“What are you doing? Put it away.”
Having heard what Riley said, Ian, who was vacantly staring at the mask, awkwardly put it away in his chest pocket.
“Now, now that we have the masks for moving around, it is about time…”
For the entire day, Riley only ate the fruits that the children from Alieve Village gave and tasteless sandwich that Ian made. Because of this, his stomach was making the noise. He went straight to the place that sold fried chicken and brown sugar beer.
“Should I fill my stoma…”
“… Young Master, wait!”
Riley was not able to finish his sentence. His sleeve was grabbed by Ian’s hand, putting a stop to Riley’s walk.
“Ah, what? Why?”
All sorts of foods on the Main Plaza’s various street vendors were exuding delicious smell. It was making Riley’s mouth to water. After being stopped by Ian, he crumpled his face and expressed his frustration.
“There, please take a look over there.”
Ian whispered and pointed to the left with his gaze. Riley’s gaze turned to the direction.
What came in to the view of Riley and Ian was a group that were busy marching toward the Lower Solia through the Main Plaza.
They all wore robes of different colors. Each held books or staffs. They were most definitely from the people from the Right Solia’s Magic Tower.
Of the mages walking through the Main Plaza, there was one that Riley knew.
It was the young man that became the head of the Tower after Astroa’s death. It was Peruda.
“That’s Peruda, right?”
“It is him.”
Ian whispered to ask, and Riley answered as he nodded.
“The look on his face feels like something is up.”
Somehow, Peruda did not look confident, which was the same look he had before. However, this time, for some reason, he was even breaking cold sweats. All who were watching him had worried look on their faces.
“Shall we follow them?”
Having heard the question, Riley casually turned his head to look at foods being roasted on the street vendor. He worked up the appetite as if he was having a hard time to pass them up.
“Young Master, I am terribly sorry to say this, but… my instinct as an old man… is saying we should follow them.”
Ian was a veteran who had been in battlefields for a very long time. His mercenary instinct was telling him that it would be best to follow Peruda now.
Having heard Ian suggesting that they should quietly follow Peruda, Riley sighed big enough to make the ground sink in the end.
“Can I just… go by myself?”