It was the daybreak. Today was the day of the Iphalleta House’s successorship competition result announcement.
It was early morning, but the carriages of many nobilities who were interested in the result were coming in through the mansion’s entrance.
“This is amazing. Morgared, Yusiel, Snowdrop, wow… Philisnion from the Duke’s family is here too.”
Sera, Iphalleta House’s maid, had been diligently preparing food. She couldn’t help but to mumble in excitement as she looked out the window and noticed carriages coming in one after the other.
“Well, we were expecting this much guests. Today is about deciding the successor of the Iphalleta family, you know?”
“Also, the situation at the Solia had been shaky lately, you know? There was the skirmish at the border, riot by the fanatics of the temple, and many other things.”
“In middle of all this, Count Stein is going to announce the successor for the Iphalleta house, the family that represents swordsmanship of the Solia. It is no wonder why many nobilities are interested.”
Sera looked out the window and counted the number of carriages, and other maids were having a conversation with her, each adding a sentence or two.
“Well then, who would become the successor?”
“Won’t it be Young Master Ryan?”
“I feel that Young Master Lloyd had worked hard, but I can’t shake the feeling that he is not quite catching up to Young Master Ryan.”
“What about Young Master Riley?”
“Um… I am not sure.”
“He even received a medal of honor from the Solia Castle. Sera, you know about this well, right?”
“Um? Ah, I am not sure? I don’t know very well…”
All of her fellow maids’ gazes were directed at Sera. Sera, who was vacantly looking outside the window, flinched her shoulders a little and mumbled that she didn’t know very well.
“Actually… He has that Lazy-Sword title, so it will be hard.”
“Still, he is younger than Young Master Ryan and Lloyd, so that might be an advantage for him?”
“Perhaps. Madam Oluli was kicked out of the mansion because of that incident. You never know?”
“Ah, now that I think about it, that happened too.”
“There is Lady Iris too.”
Listening to her fellow maids talking, Sera flinched her facial muscles. She rapidly turned her head toward them and let out her frustration.
“Ugh! You guys, won’t you all watch your mouths?”
It was because Sera was the designated maid for Iris that they just mentioned.
“I… I’m sorry… Sera is here too.”
“This is Count Stein we are talking about. He won’t choose the successor based on something like that.”
“Yeah, you are probably right.”
“What do you think, Nainiae?”
The fellow maids turned their gazes away from Sera and now directed them at Nainiae, the dark haired girl who was diligently cleaning dishes.
“About the successorship! Successorship!”
“Nainiae, who do you think will be the successor?”
“Idiot. If you ask Nainiae, you know there is only one answer, don’t you know? Right, Nainiae?”
Nainiae had been hugged by all maids of the mansion several times since she returned. It seemed she was feeling awkward about the winter maid dress she received. She fiddled with the tip of the clothes and hesitated.
“Oh? This is unexpected. You are not answering right away?”
“Should I tell Young Master Riley about this?”
Nainiae watched the growing number of people outside. She also noticed the mansion’s atmosphere was turning into festivities as well. She carefully said,
“I am not sure? I…”
* * *
It was dinner time.
Most of carriages had arrived at the mansion now. Riley, who didn’t like the commotion, hid himself on the mansion’s roof corner.
‘Are you still thinking about your past life?’
Thinking about what the voice beyond the dimensional space said when he was at the Lower Solia, Riley crumpled his face.
“Who would think about such…”
If anyone asked Riley how it felt to be born again with the memories of his past life intact, Riley could have explained in a few dozen ways to say how filthy it felt.
Riley thought numerous times, dozens of times, that it would have been so much better if he was born without remembering anything.
Even if he had forgotten all of swordsmanship he learned in his past life… Riley was certain he would had been better off without the memories of his past.
Riley felt that way because his past life was full of suffering.
‘Young Master. Please tell me. The world I just explained to you… It is a world you also know about, right?’
The garden was in celebratory atmosphere at full swing. Riley looked down at the garden from the roof as he thought about what Nainiae said. He wrapped his head around with his hands.
‘Isn’t that right? Occasionally, you told me and Lady Iris about your dreams. The dreams you told us about are just like what I saw through my right eye.’
What she described was not a dream.
It was from Riley’s past life.
Riley couldn’t even laugh.
When he hated his past life so much… Riley, time to time, brought out the stories about his past life in front of his mother, Ian or Nainiae.
Why did I talk about things related to my past life with a smile on my face, and why am I feeling so icky about it?’
Having heard Nainiae’s voice coming from his side, Riley was awakened from his distracting thoughts. He looked at Nainiae.
“What is it? You came?”
Riley thought he was hiding pretty well. It was not like his mother found him. It was Nainiae who found him so quickly. Having realized this, Riley bluntly greeted her.
“I told you not to use the eye, didn’t you?”
Riley said as he looked at her right eye. Nainiae smiled awkwardly and said,
“Yes, so… I didn’t use it.”
Nainiae smiled and said she didn’t use it. Doubting her, Riley narrowed his eyes and looked at her.
“Really. I looked everywhere in the mansion but could not find you. The garden was full with the guests. The library was in a similar situation. I thought about where you could possibly be, and I thought you might be here.”
Nainiae scratched her cheek with her index finger. Riley closed his eyes and thought it was enough. He lied down.
“Would you like to rest your head on my thigh?”
Riley was using his crossed hands as the pillow behind his head. Having heard Nainiae carefully asking him, he lightly raised his upper body and made space.
“Well then, for a while…”
Riley didn’t ask in words. He merely had his upper body raised. Nainiae lightly smiled and crunched down to sit.
“I… Is it all right?”
Riley placed his head on Nainiae’s thigh. He then slowly closed his eyes.
Riley didn’t answer.
He just lied there and was in deep thoughts.
“There are a lot of guests.”
It seemed Nainiae decided the lack of response meant it was all right. She relaxed the concerned look on her face a little. She looked at the scenery below to the garden and mumbled,
“For me, this is a little awkward. I think this is the first time for me to be in an occasion like this.”
Of the food on the table at the garden, there was one that Nainiae made. She was talking about that one.
“Ah, that pie and fruit pudding are something I made for the first time by following Ms. Sera. Everyone said mine are better, so Sera’s cheek got swollen up like a balloon.”
Riley vacantly lied there without any response. Despite this, Nainiae mumbled on, all excited.
It was around the time when Nainiae yapped away for ten minutes by herself.
“Yes, Young Master?”
“You… Are you fine with it?”
Nainiae tilted her head.
“I’m talking about the artificial summon spirit. I heard you were asked to give up being human. Is that right?”
Having heard Riley’s question, Nainiae pulled her chin. She had melancholic look on her face as she said,
“Of course I’m not completely fine with it. I had been worrying about it.”
Nainiae wondered if she should raise her right hand and brush Riley’s hair. Nainiae withdrew her hand and continued,
“I… feel more strongly toward continuing to being a human.”
Having heard Nainiae’s response, Riley’s face was crumpled slightly. Nainiae added,
“It’s because I did have one thing I was concerned about.”
Because her right hand was too horrid looking for brushing Riley’s hair, Nainiae just waved her right hand in the air. Instead, she placed an apple on her palm and continued.
“Once I am no longer human, I am concerned you may not want to have me around you anymore, so… I felt more strongly toward being a human.”
She turned her upper body slightly toward the right and held a carving knife on her left hand. She carefully peeled the apple on her right hand and said,
The sound of the apple skin being peeled could be heard. Nainiae stopped talking for a moment and fell to silence.
Perhaps it was so she could focus on the apple.
She peeled the entire apple without the peeled apple skin being disconnected in the middle. She looked proud of it. Nainiae put away the peeled skin in the dimensional space.
“If I want to be by your side even for a little while longer, this is the only way. Master Andal told me.”
She was missing two fingers on her right hand. It must have taken quite a bit of concentration to peel the apple so clean.
Nainiae looked at the apple proudly and smiled. She then cut the apple into small pieces so they will be convenient for eating. She gave one to Riley with apologetic look on her face.
“I’m sorry, Young Master.”
Her apology was out of the blue. Riley slightly raised his chin and looked at Nainiae who was letting him rest his head on her thigh.
“This apple… I got to give it to you very late.”
The season had gone by so much now. The autumn was almost gone. It was almost winter now.
Occasionally, white mist could be seen from Riley and Nainiae’s breaths, which indicated the seasonal change.
Responding to Nainiae’s apologetic behavior, Riley grabbed the apple piece that Nainiae gave him. He took a bite out of it and mumbled,
“… I know.”
After that, for a long while, Nainiae didn’t say a word about what happened at the Lower Solia. Instead, she mumbled on about miscellaneous topics.
“Next year… I’m counting on you again.”
Having heard Riley, Nainiae smiled big and said,
* * *
Around the time the garden’s celebratory mood was reaching its peak, Count Stein, the owner of the mansion, appeared with Iris.
“Oh my… Count Stein… I’ve heard that he lost an arm during the battle at the border against Ansyrium. It was true.”
“The successorship competition was probably because of the arm. Anyway, the Iphelleta family must feel like fire dropped on top of their feet.”
“Considering the time, I thought it would be next year or the one after that because the situation in Solia is not very good at the moment.”
With Stein making the entrance, all nobilities started to talk amongst themselves.
“So, who do you think will be the successor?”
“It probably will be Young Master Ryan. First of all, he is the eldest son. Also, rumors are everywhere saying he brought the best results.”
“Because of the rumors about the Madam Oluli recently, I was thinking it would be Young Master Riley.”
“Riley? Who is that?”
“You know, the one who received the medal of honor from the Solia Castle and has a Six Circles mage serving him…”
“Ahah! I remember! However, that Young Master’s title is definitely…?”
“I know. He never once held a sword… Still, Young Master Ryan has the problem due to Madam Oluli.”
“Hm… Hm… I see.”
The nobilities chattered away about who would be the successor to the Iphalleta house. They slowly turned their heads and looked at the platform placed on the garden.
Stein stood on the platform and brought out a small piece of paper from his chest. He started to deliver the speech that was written on the paper.
“Thank you all for brightening this place today where the Iphalleta house’s successor will be announced.”
It seemed Stein came prepared. His formality continued, and the nobilities didn’t stop chattering amongst themselves quietly while Stein delivered his speech.
“Judging from the mood, as I thought, I think it will be Young Master Ryan.”
“You never know. I think it will be Young Master Riley.”
“Huhu. Looks like you will have to ride the right rope here? I think the one standing over there must be Young Master Ryan. Where could Young Master Riley be?”
A young woman around late teen to early 20s glanced at the nobles whispering on the side. She then picked up the fan she had hanging on her waist, opened it, hid her mouth with it and started to snicker.
“Huhu. It’s interesting.”
The nobilities slowly moved their eyes to look at her.
“What do you mean?”
“Ah, no. It’s nothing. It is just…”
The woman peeked her eyes above the fan. She seductively narrowed her eyes and continued.
“You are all acting like imbeciles, unbecoming of nobilities. You all look like jesters.”
A few nobilities were furious. Some tried to step up with tightened fists. At that moment, it seemed Stein was finished with the speech. He got to the main point.
“… The successor is…”
The successor who will inherit the Iphalleta family name…
Stein said the name of the successor.
“The successor is Lloyd, Lloyd Fin Iphalleta.”