Following Heliona’s instruction, Riley was about to head out to the west with Nainiae. However, his father suddenly called him, so Riley stopped by at his father’s office.
“… I’ve heard that you wanted to see me.”
Riley opened the office’s door and stepped foot inside. In there, Riley’s gaze met with Lloyd who was getting educated on being the successor. Riley lightly nodded to greet Lloyd.
“Ah, you are here.”
Having noticed Riley entering the office, Stein, who was teaching Lloyd various things, greeted Riley. Lloyd took a step back and said,
“Well then, I’ll take my leave now.”
“All right. About the task that I gave you just now, it would be good for you to thoroughly complete it today. If it gets delayed, it could turn into more work.”
Stein made a hand gesture, and Lloyd lowered his head in a big motion and left the office. On the way out, Lloyd took a glance at Riley’s face.
“Is there something on my face?”
“No. It a way to say have a safe trip… I just wanted to take a look at your face. That’s all.”
“… What do you mean, have a safe trip?”
“I don’t even have my Big Brother anymore, so… How should I say this, it is rather empty here? No, it is nothing. Please forget it.”
Riley couldn’t understand what Lloyd was trying to say. Riley tilted his head. However, Lloyd left the office without resolving Riley’s curiosity.
Stein used his left arm to press on the desk as he got up. He pointed at the sofa for Riley to sit.
“Sit down for now.”
Having heard him say Riley should sit down first, Riley figured this was going to be a long conversation. Hiding the icky feeling he was having, Riley sat on the sofa.
“What is it, Father?”
After Riley sat down, Stein also sat on a sofa while facing his son. Between Stein and his son, there was a table, and Stein placed a letter envelope there.
“What is this?”
“The letter is for you.”
Riley tilted his head as he looked at the envelope. Riley checked the look on Stein’s face and picked up the envelope.
The envelope looked pretty thin. However, as if it was trying to prove that the letter was sent by someone very high up, the feel of the paper indicated it was a very high-quality kind.
Riley checked the front and back of the envelop. He casually moved his eyes and looked at Stein.
“Is this really for me?”
Stein nodded as the response.
Riley thought about a few people that could sent a letter like this to him. He carefully opened the envelope.
Inside the envelope was another piece of perfectly flat paper that was just as luxurious in quality.
The top of the paper had the word ‘invitation’ written on the top. Riley lightly shook his eyebrows as he read the rest of the letter’s content.
<It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. This invitation is to invite Young Master Riley of the Iphalleta House to the end of the year banquet at the Duke Philisneon House. Please attend the banquet and empty a glass of wine at the mansion. As for the date and the direction…>
Riley read that far and put the letter down as if he didn’t need to read the rest. Riley said,
“… I am not going.”
As if Stein knew Riley was going to say that, Stein covered his eyes with his palm and sighed without making any sound.
“What is your reason?”
“It is such a bother. Even if I went there, it will just tickle my ear holes. Why should I…”
Stein was actually thinking the same.
Riley was famous with many poor rumors about him thanks to the Lazy-Sword title. Someone like him going to the banquet held by the Duke?
Riley becoming complimentary snacks for drinks for the nobles in their gossiping would be a fortunate scenario. Riley could be insulted right on the face if he went there. This was why Stein didn’t want Riley to go either.
“Father, by any chance?”
Stein suddenly closed his mouth tightly. Having noticed this, Riley had a bad feeling. Finding it suspicious, he crumpled his face and asked,
“That’s not it, right?”
Despite the question, Riley’s father didn’t open his mouth. Riley suddenly got up from the seat.
“I am not going.”
“… To begin with!”
Riley suddenly got angry and yelled. The stacks of papers piled up at the office waved in the wind that came through the window in response.
“To begin with, that prospective marriage meeting a few days ago was also… too sudden without any prior notification, don’t you think?”
‘It is too much of a bother.’
‘I don’t want to do it.’
Riley always said foolish things like that or disappeared from important moments as if he was playing hide and seek. However, he never once let out frustration like this before.
Having seen Riley’s response, Stein vacantly stared at his son.
It seemed Riley read his father’s eyes vacantly staring at him. Riley, who just shouted all of the sudden, also lost words to say. He moved his gaze away in silence.
‘Damn it. Again…’
Riley realized he suddenly got angry again during an unexpected situation. For no reason, Riley made tight fists with his hands.
Stein looked at Riley and called his son in a low voice.
“I will also ask you this as your father.”
Riley was somehow afraid of his father’s serious voice. He was not able to look in his father’s eyes. Riley just waited for Stein to continue.
“Why did you hide it?”
“What do you mean, hide it?”
“It would be good for you to stop feigning ignorance. I have things that I’ve heard from Iris, Ian and even Sera.”
Stein said that he had heard things.
Riley was petrified and not about to open his mouth. Having noticed this, Stein got up just like Riley. He then picked up a sword that was leaning on a corner of the office.
The sword was in its sheath.
“Try drawing the sword.”
Unable to say no, Riley drew the sword, held it and looked at Stein.
“Back then, it was further away than this, right?”
It looked like Stein was about to do something. He just held the sheath on his hand and took a few steps away. Stein took a stance as if he was about to throw the sheath. Until this point, Riley showed no movement on his face, but now, he slightly crumpled his face.
“Was it like this?”
Stein took an awkward pose, and he threw the sheath hard.
The direction of the throw was…
It was toward the sword that Riley just grabbed a hold of.
Riley floated a question mark on his face as he watched the sheath flying toward him. He saw the sheath striking the sword and being bounced off. Riley now understood what Stein was trying to do.
“It is not easy.”
Stein muttered as he looked at the sheath that fell on the floor.
“Although it got in smoothly last time.”
Stein was talking about the sheath that was placed on the sword that Ryan was about to swing at the mansion’s corridor during the day of the successorship announcement.
“Riley, was it you who did it?”
“Why did you hide it despite possessing masterful skills?”
Although his father asked again, Riley was not able to open his mouth easily.
“I’ll ask again.”
Riley was not showing any signs of opening his mouth. Stein took a step toward Riley and asked again.
“Why did you hide it?”
He was asking about Riley hiding his skills.
For what reason?
Having heard the question, Riley was agonizing inside about how to respond. In the end, Riley thought about the reason.
It was his past, his past life before this one.
It was because Riley did not want to repeat what happened in his past life. So, Riley lived a loose life without revealing his skills.
Riley was going to answer with mention of past life being part of the response. However, Riley’s lips became hard.
The situation was the same as when Nainiae asked.
When Riley thought about his past and tried to talk about what happened back then, it was difficult for Riley to breath. Also, he felt extreme urge to swear and curse that he could not take it. These were the reasons.
‘Haven’t you heard? It has to be you, don’t you get it? Why are you taking a knee? Get up! Haven’t you heard? The children are going to die! Get up! I said get up!’
‘If you were not here in the first place, this would not have happened in the first place.’
‘You promised you will protect them, didn’t you? Then dust yourself off and get up!’
‘A brave hero? Instead of a hero, I think you are a walking disaster!’
‘Please don’t die. Please survive.’
‘Get lost! We… We never asked you to save us!’
‘As long as I am with you, I don’t care what happens to the world…’
‘The children died because of you.’
The voices from his past life still felt clear in Riley’s head. Riley was cringing as he thought about his past life. While Riley was standing like that, Stein took another step toward Riley and called him.
Because Riley slightly lowered his head, Stein could not see Riley’s eyes. With proud look on his face, Stein looked at the medal of honor that Riley received from the Solia Castle during last spring. Stein said,
“That medal of honor that you received must be also not something you got out of pure luck.”
Having heard what Stein said, Riley also looked at the medal that was hanging on the office wall. Riley vacantly murmured,
“That’s right. The medal that you brought home.”
“The one… that I brought home?”
Riley was furrowing his brows as he looked at the medal. Realizing something was up, Stein tried calling his son’s name.
Without any response, Riley just stared at the medal on the wall. With a confusing look on his face, Riley turned to look at Stein.
“What do you mean I received it? That was…”
Riley furrowed his brows and asked back. Stein also opened his mouth with a question mark on his face.
“What are you talking about? That medal was the one that you showed me when you brought Nainiae home for the first time, isn’t that right?”
Riley just stood there in silence as if he was lost for words. Stein also crumpled his eyebrows.
‘When I brought Nainaie home?’
Riley was busy tossing questions to himself, so he just stood there vacantly, unable to answer to Stein’s questions.
‘How did I meet Nainiae?’
She was the maid who was with him now.
She had scars on her face. Also, she was missing two fingers on her right hand. She was subjected to experiments at the Magic Tower. Recently, she became the patient and a student to Andal, his friend.
Although he was trying hard, Riley could not remember how he met the girl named Nainaie.
Riley rolled his brain around to remember what he could not. He could hear the voices from his past life again.
‘We trust you. If it is you, it can be done.’
‘We are blaming you. If you were not here…’
Could it be that Riley was feeling light headed?
His head was hurting badly. He placed his hand on the sofa’s arm rest for a moment. He was breaking cold sweat all over his face. Riley lowered his head and looked at the floor.
His memories were faint.
‘It’s all right. Even if they died because of you.’
‘You are a brave hero, isn’t that right?’
‘That’s right. It could not be helped.’
‘Because I survived.’
‘Please keep it up. We will cheer for you.’
Riley didn’t know what to do because of the voices in his head. Stein carefully extended his arm toward Riley.
“Riley… What is it?”
Riley realized that there was a hand coming toward him late. He swept away Stein’s hand with the top of his hand and yelled,
“… I didn’t kill them!!”
It was fury, or perhaps from being wronged… Along with cold sweats, Riley was also shedding tears. Riley looked up to face his father and questioned what he just did.
“I didn’t kill…”
Riley muttered vacantly. The voices could be heard in Riley’s ears again.
‘Young Master Riley. Please, I beg you. Even if you are going to kill me… My daughter… At least spare Oluli’s life.’
‘The limit is about four minutes… No, five minutes?’
‘This child certainly has done a terrible thing, but she was not always bad. She is actually kind inside! It’s just that, just that!’
‘It’s as I thought.’
Although his memories were faint, the voices were incredibly sharp and clear. Riley wrapped his head around with his hands.
It felt like his memories of the past life and current life were mixing in complete disarray.
“Riley, are you hurting somewhere?”
Riley’s condition didn’t just look bad. It looked serious. Concerned, Stein looked at Riley’s eyes.
Riley’s eyes were shaking.
In the past, Riley said foolish things like ‘it is such a bother,’ or ‘I am sleepy,’ but his eyes never shook like this.
“Father, I am sorry. The condition of my body is a little…”
Riley was turning while holding his head. Stein was about to extend his arm and call his son, but he put his hand back down.
“I think… I need to rest for a bit.”
Stein always took notice of Riley’s sharp eyes. Because of this, Stein had hopes for Riley despite him always showing his lazy side. Now, with concerned face, he watched the back of his son.
Riley was about to get out of the office. Having heard his father’s voice, Riley stopped walking for a moment.
“… I believe in you.”
Stein muttered in low voice.
Despite what Stein just said, the expression on Riley’s face was not turning better.
Today, Stein actually called Riley to just praise him instead of talking about the prospective marriage meeting with Princess Reutrina or the banquet invitation. Now, the expression on Stein’s face didn’t look good, just like his son.