It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (65/96), enjoy~
Ain took a shower and had breakfast.
Then he prepared himself and his mind for a certain task. He dressed in an unusual outfit with the royal coat of arms and combed his hair as well.
As he walked through the castle, Ain had a different kind of spirit.
The servants even forgot to greet him, the butler froze, and the knights naturally hung their heads and looked at him.
Ain soon found himself in a quiet passage, out of their sight. The rest of the room was quiet and empty, save for the one time he passed a knight on guard duty.
Birds were chirping outside the window, and the sun was shining through the trees.
In front of the doorway leading to the royal cemetery at the end of the passage stood Sylvird.
“I was wondering if you were coming.”
“I apologize. I thought it wasn’t the kind of place one would visit unnecessarily.”
“Good. I can tell by your face and appearance.Is it so important that you have to visit it?”
Ain had come here to make a statement in light of Chris’s situation last night.
“I’ve been thinking about it, and I thought I’d come before His Majesty the First.”
“That’s sudden. Did my words the other day make you think of something?”
And then Ain nodded quietly.
“It’s not that there’s been a big change, but I’ve come to believe that the path I’ve been on wasn’t a mistake…”
“That’s why I want to visit His Majesty the First, whom I’ve been longing to meet.”
“You’ve realized something that makes you feel that way.”
“That’s good. Being able to see that is part of the king’s vessel that I mentioned.”
With the corner of his mouth raised, Sylvird walked over and stood in front of Ain.
“I could never have been as good as His Majesty the First. While I never lost respect for him, I have been compared to him many times by my people and envied him as someone I could never beat.”
“G-grandfather! Do not say such a thing…”
“Yes. That’s why it’s a secret between us. You can’t tell anyone, okay?”
He held up his index finger and pressed it to his lips.
“Of course, Laralua also reveres His Majesty the First. I had some bad feelings about His Majesty the First, whom my wife respected so much. There are many great deeds, and I don’t think I can keep up with them all. I’ve often wondered if Ain could be as good as His Majesty the First.”
Sylvird gave Ain a final pat on the shoulder and walked away.
“You should behave well at the cemetery.”
“Y-yes! I understand!”
Ain thanked Sylvird, confused by the sudden revelation.
“…I had something to tell Ain.”
He stopped abruptly, fumbled in his pocket, and pulled out a small piece of paper.
“I know it’s short notice, but there’s a place I need you to go in a few days. I would like you to go to the territory of the former Viscount Sage for a little while. That land has not yet been assigned a new lord and is under the direct control of our royal family.”
“So it’s like a visit?”
“No, it’s more like an inspection.”
“If it’s official business, it can’t be helped. I’ll buy you some souvenirs.”
“Umu. I remember some delicious sugar candy. Please bring some extra.”
The last part of the conversation was uncomfortable but not too bad.
When he could no longer hear Sylvird’s footsteps, Ain put his hand on the door to the royal cemetery.
Just like the other day, there was a solemn atmosphere in this place.
The Unified Nation of Ishtalika. The successive kings who had led the strongest country with no equal were without exception great rulers, even if they were said to be inferior to the first king.
Climbing up to the tomb of the first king, Ain opened his mouth.
“I apologize for coming so suddenly.”
The only sound that could be heard was the trampling on the soft grass, and no other noise could reach him. On the contrary, the sound of his own breathing was the loudest in the silence.
So, let’s begin.
After bowing his head, he offered the offerings he had prepared. He proceeded without delay with the manners he had learned from Sylvird and finally carried the black sword to his chest.
The body of the sword did not reflect any sunlight, exposing its jet-black color.
After completing the sequence of events, Ain breathed out a sigh of relief that there was no mistake. He lowered the black sword that he had been holding to his chest and bowed. If it were not for this, he would have left at this point, but today Ain had business to attend to.
He spoke with determination to the tombstone of the first king.
“I have admired you for a long time.”
This is in the past tense, but it is because of his change of heart.
“You’re a great man whom I still respect, but I didn’t want to lose to you. I wanted to surpass you.”
The tombstone did not respond, only Ain’s voice could be heard.
For a while, he stood still and looked at the tombstone. He wondered what the first king would think when he heard his words. Would he be angry with him for being a rude descendant?
But Ain had no intention of retracting his words and turned his clear eyes to the tombstone.
“…Though I am an unworthy crown prince. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He bowed his head once more before leaving the tomb. However, after a few steps, he felt a sense of discomfort.
He felt that there was something strange in the manner he had just performed.
“I placed the offerings properly and bowed my head, but…?”
It felt like he had overlooked something.
But there was nothing wrong, and he was sure that he had completed the ceremonial gesture. But still, it felt different from the other day.
“Yes, yes. In the end, I have to put the sword firmly against my chest and hit it… hit, it… “
He remembers the sequence of events and realizes.
──Could it be?
He turned around hurriedly and went to the tomb to catch his breath.
“Your Majesty the First… Geil-sama. Please excuse me.”
All he wanted to do was to raise his sword again, and he managed to suppress this strong desire and started all over again.
But unlike before, he couldn’t do it mindlessly. On the contrary, he couldn’t control his bewildered mind. In his haste, he quickly proceeded to raise his sword for the last time. He apologized to Geil’s grave for his haste and reached for his sword.
Staring intently at the tomb, he lifted the sword, breathing more raggedly than usual.
He looked at the sword and the tomb… at the same time as it gradually approached his chest, but in the end, he stared at the sword as if glaring at it.
“The sword did not… glow.”
It did glow at the tomb of the previous king. This is the special ability of this sword, so it is only natural that it should glow. But what about this? This tomb, the tomb of Geil, the first king, does not glow at all.
So what exactly does this mean?
“Nothing, absolutely nothing. Geil-sama is not here; that’s what it means.”
He didn’t understand because he had raised his sword before at the tomb of the previous king, but not at the tomb of the first king. He couldn’t help but wonder why the sword didn’t shine at the tomb of the first king.
“Is he buried elsewhere? I’ve never heard of such a thing. If it were, Grandfather would have told me.”
What was the point of doing so in the first place? Ain thought desperately.
In his vague thoughts, he absentmindedly turned his attention to Geil’s grave.
Then one word caught his attention.
“Rest in my beloved homeland?”
It’s a common story. People carve those words on the grave to express their feelings to those who come there. It’s nothing special. But the words alone attracted Ain’s interest.
Suddenly, the words of the knight from the Demon King’s castle crossed his mind.
“Yes, yes. So I will serve the royal family of Ishtalika. Isn’t that a natural thing to do?”
He certainly heard it.
Oh, he certainly heard those words.
“Marco. Could it be that you…”
His heart raced.
“I heard that everyone was always told that they had to get along.”
Certainly, Ain also uttered these words.
“In the words of His Majesty the First… Do not start a fight… Is this a coincidence? It’s too good to be a coincidence.”
Eventually, he reached a conviction.
The secret of the first king of Ishtalika, which no one had ever known until today.
“Hey, Your Majesty the First. Your beloved homeland is───.”
With a sound, Ain’s black sword tumbles down on the grass.