It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (109/119), enjoy~
“I understand how you feel. Still, why don’t you think about how you say it a little more?”
Once inside, Sierra threw some words at Chris with a look of astonishment. She complained about her attitude toward Silas earlier, but it seemed as if she was asking her if she could have been a little softer in her tone.
“I thought he wouldn’t let us through if I didn’t say it strongly enough.”
“As I said before, I understand how you feel. But this time, it’s my fault, too. I knew this would happen, and I should have told Silas-san about it. I’ll reflect on that.”
A grim silence passed between the two.
Living in the distant places of the royal capital and Sith Mill, there must have been a difference in their values.
They were childhood friends, so it was not their intention for this to happen between them.
“The smell of wood in this house is very pleasant.”
Ain suddenly made a comment that drew their attention. But the fact was, the scent of this mansion was pleasant. The high ceilings and spacious corridors, full of wood, made him feel like he was bathing in a forest.
At first glance, it seemed to be a random sentence, but it secretly calmed the two of them down.
“Fufu… Now, Your Highness. The chief is waiting in the room over there.”
It took a few dozen seconds to walk down the wide hallway.
The Elven chief was waiting for him behind a huge door that was present in front of their eyes.
“Chris and I will be waiting at the entrance, so please call us if you need anything.”
“All right. Okay, Chris, I’ll be going.”
At this point, Ain left Chris and went ahead to stand in front of the door.
The door opened both ways. It looked thick and heavy, but like the audience hall in the castle, no one was in charge of opening the door. But when Ain put his hand on it, he didn’t feel the weight at all. He could feel the faintest hint of magic, and he guessed that the door itself was a magic tool.
Now, when the door opened, what he saw inside was the figure of the chief waiting for him.
In a room with a high hemispherical ceiling overhead, she was there, sitting on a carpet laid out in the middle of the room.
Her appearance was unmistakably that of an old woman, but it was hard to believe that she had lived for several hundred years.
She looked like she was in her seventies or even eighties, with her back straight and her gray hair tied up with a string, showing no signs of being defeated by her impending old age.
When Ain was surprised by the chief’s appearance, the chief also looked at Ain and exclaimed.
Then she was about to reach out her hand to cling to him, but she restrained herself. Her lips trembled weakly, and her gaze looked down gravely.
(…What’s going on?)
Ain approached the carpet where she was sitting with suspicion.
With her eyes downcast, the chief took a deep breath and waited for Ain to take one step closer and then another.
When she noticed him standing in front of the carpet, she slowly opened her eyes and said, “It must have been a hard journey.”
“Thank you for your hospitality. Thanks to Chris, I had no problems getting here.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Please sit down here.”
He did as he was told and sat down on the carpet, surprised to find that his chest was secretly beating fast.
The chief in front of him was a woman who had actually seen the legendary first king. Ain’s admiration for the first king was different from usual, and he lacked composure.
“How are Christina-san doing?”
“Y-yes… Chris has always been a great help to me. She’s still waiting for me outside the door, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t rely on her.”
It could be called a rambling conversation. After an exchange that seemed to probe the distance between them, they both fell silent without saying a word.
This is an omen.
It was also a time to take a breath before the shock of what was to come.
“His Majesty has told me that you have something to ask me.”
The chief who started the conversation turned her eyes to Ain.
At the same time, Ain was at a loss for words for a moment. He has something to ask.
About the Red Fox, the relationship between the first king and the former Demon Lord’s territory, the Wernstein surname, and the sanctuary.
Of these, the first thing he should ask was about the red fox.
However, since Chris was the one who had come here with him, Ain’s mind unconsciously sought the answer to the fact hidden in the Wernstein surname.
“Can you tell me about the surname Wernstein?”
The chief’s expression froze for a moment at the words spoken with Ain’s unconcerned expression.
──She must have known about it.
Ain, who had not missed the change, was convinced and observed the chief, who mended her smile.
“It’s about Christina-san, isn’t it?”
“She was shy, but she had always been a hard worker. I was very surprised when I heard that she left Sith Mill and became a knight in the royal capital──”
She twisted the word forcibly.
He has come this far with the intention of not backing away.
“I’ll change the wording. Can you tell me the relationship between Chris and the Wernstein inscription on the tombstone?”
He didn’t say where the tombstone was. Even if he was wrong, there was no problem in asking.
But Ain said it with conviction, and he knew that the chief would think twice about it. His premonition was correct, and the chief slumped her shoulders in resignation at Ain’s convincing words.
“As I thought ── you went to the royal cemetery in the former royal capital.”
Former royal capital.
It was a word that Sierra had mentioned, but from the context, he guessed it was the former Demon Lord’s territory.
From the chief’s words, “As I thought,” it is clear that she was prepared for this to happen from Sylvird’s letter and that she was slightly conflicted about telling him.
“You originally called it the former royal capital.”
“I am the only one who says these words nowadays. Now, before I tell you the details, let’s work on the room.”
The chief then took out a short staff from behind her back and struck the carpet three times. The sound of screeching echoed out of nowhere for a moment, and then the air was cool as if the temperature had dropped a few degrees.
“It’s like a seal. I had to use an old technique to keep the sound from leaking out.”
She placed her staff on the carpet soundlessly and stared at Ain.
“I don’t like roundabout stories. Your Highness confirmed that the name Wernstein was inscribed on the grave of Queen Raviola, didn’t you?”
She was being straightforward again.
Ain was momentarily pressured by the chief’s words. I see, this is the presence of the chief, he thought.
“Yes. At first, I thought that her maiden name was engraved on it, but I was surprised to see that her surname was the same as Chris’s, and that’s why I asked.”
“No wonder you were surprised. So, was it Marco-sama who guided you?”
“…You know Marco?”
“Yes, I know him. How is that man doing?”
Ain couldn’t find an answer to this question. He just shook his head.
“I see. …So Marco-sama has fulfilled his mission.”
When the chief mentioned the reason for Marco’s stay in the Demon Lord’s castle, as if it were quite natural, the chief made a difficult expression and organized in her mind what she was going to say.
She immersed herself in nostalgia, surrendered her heart to a wave of emotions that could not be contained in a single word, and eventually exhaled deeply.
Finally, she looked into Ain’s face, nodded her head, and made up her mind.
“It’s going to be a very long story.”
“I’m prepared for it. Please let me hear it.”
“I suppose I should tell you the story before the Great War, but that would be too long. …Then I will tell you the story of my last meeting with Queen Raviola.”
Hearing this, Ain was pleased to hear that he was going to get many clues.
At the same time, he felt his pulse quicken and realized that he was getting tense all over.
“After that sad war, I was working with the few surviving Elves to rebuild Ishtalika. Not a single one of my people from that time is now here. I am the only one who has managed to stay alive.”
One day, as usual, they were working on reconstruction.
“Suddenly, a messenger of Queen Raviola arrived. Then he said to me, ‘Her Highness wishes to see you. Please come to the Demon Lord’s castle.'”
But there were no water trains in those days. The journey took much longer than it does now, but she hurriedly went with the messenger to the place where Raviola was waiting.
“When I arrived at the Demon Lord’s castle, Queen Raviola was waiting with her own attendants. I remember that Marco-sama was next to her, protecting her.”
Then Raviola looked at the chief and spoke in a lively voice, “It’s been a long time.”
When the chief replied, “It has been a long time,” Raviola smiled gently and stepped into the castle. Marco had beckoned to the chief, who had been anxiously wondering what had happened.
It was easy for Ain to imagine Marco’s appearance.
“As I’m sure you know, there is a cursed room in front of the royal cemetery.”
It was a very sickening room. He remembered that it was an unpleasant room, full of black desires and a sense of reality.
“The reason why there is a royal cemetery in the back of that room is because that place is where Misty-sama created a barrier. It was created to protect the inhabitants of the former royal capital, so to speak, an area that is like a sanctuary like this Sith Mill. I don’t think you’ve tried it, but that place is a special realm that can only be accessed from within the castle.”
It means that even if you try to enter it from outside, you won’t be able to.
“The beast has turned it into a cursed room.”
“It’s as I expected.”
“Let’s return to the story. I was reunited with Queen Raviola, and I passed through that cursed room while being protected by Marco-sama and Queen Raviola. A new hole had already been dug in the royal cemetery, and a single coffin, made by a craftsman, was placed in it. A tombstone had even been prepared.”
“…It’s the tombstone of His Majesty the First, no, His Majesty Gail, right?”
It was finally revealed who carried the body to the former Demon Lord’s territory.
Ain had no idea that it was the queen herself.
By the way, the reason why Ain rephrased it was because the chief who knew the situation would think that the words of the first king meant Arche.
In light of this, he changed his mind, but the chief shook her head.
“It will be hard for you to change the way you call His Majesty right now. I will call His Majesty Gail as the first king for now. As for Her Majesty Arche, I’ll continue to refer to her as Her Majesty Arche.”
She was so concerned that she continued before Ain could reply.
“I had not heard of His Majesty’s death. Before making it public, they had been working in secret like this. Even so, they pretended that he was buried in the royal cemetery in the current royal capital and did not inform anyone except the two followers.”
The two followers referred to the two men who had served the first king.
The chief did not inquire about the cause of the first king’s death but simply grieved until her tears ran dry. Raviola stoutly hugged and supported such a chief.
At this point, Ain wondered.
“I’ve been thinking about it, and even though the two followers knew about it, isn’t that plan too much to ask?”
“Y-yes. As Your Highness said, I think that Queen Raviola took it too far. It would have been extremely difficult for her to leave the royal capital and bury her husband without telling her son, the heir. However, there were many holes in Ishtalika at that time compared to today’s Ishtalika. These holes were in the security and communication network. Magic tools were not as advanced as they are now, so it may have been easier to act in secret compared to now.”
It was only a guess, but I guess the chief didn’t know any better.
“I’m sorry. I must have gotten a little carried away.”
The chief lowered her eyes. But soon, her gaze trembled from side to side, and she blinked rapidly.
Ain just waited patiently for the chief to calm down.
“Then we returned to the Great Hall. Queen Raviola’s servant unexpectedly exchanged glances with the messenger and quietly left before me. It was a few minutes later. She came back with a male baby in her hands.”
Ain’s eyes widened, and he exclaimed.
He blinked irregularly, and his breathing was restless. Hah, hah, with short breaths and quick bells to the chest.
“…Queen Raviola had entrusted me with her second child.”
Wait a minute.
Why did she leave her child? Why did she decide to leave her child to her?
And why did she choose an Elf as her second child’s partner…? There were so many questions that came to Ain’s mind.
But there was one thing that became clear to him.
“…C-Chief! Please wait! Could it be, Chris──.”
Ain put his hands on the carpet and approached the chief in a panic. His hands were sweating so much that they felt like they were slipping.
“How much do you know about the Pixie race, Your Highness?”
“It’s almost completely… nothing…!”
“Pixies are one of the few fairy races that are even more special.”
The chief continued cruelly and unconcerned manner to Ain, who seemed to be in a state of panic, unable to fully organize his thoughts.
“Born with the light, gone with the light. It is said that this is the life of a Pixie, and even if she carries a child, there will be no difference in her appearance. When she gives birth, she emits light from her own body, and the child is born with it. The Pixie will remain young even in her later years and will live out her life in that form.”
A queen with a child in her body would undoubtedly be a tightly guarded person. It was the first time Ain had heard of such a constitution that could avoid it.
If what he had heard was true, it would not be possible to tell at first glance whether they were pregnant or not. That is to say. The queen was pregnant with her second child, and no one but the two followers knew about it.
“She embraced the child lovingly and kissed his forehead, wrapped in a white cloth. At last, with a weary look on her face, she said, ‘I am sorry,’ and handed the child to me.”
Why did she do that?
With mixed emotions, Ain asked this question.
The chief immediately explained the reason.
“After the war, Ishtalika was in turmoil. Even with His Majesty Gail, the heroic king, leading the way. It was unavoidable. The Great War had taken many lives, and everyone was exhausted and in the midst of reconstruction.”
It was at this time that Raviola feared for her life.
“The second child was born with a weakness. She thought that he would not survive in Ishtalika at that time, so she decided to leave him to us who lived in Sith Mill.”
Raviola had never been to Sith Mill before. But the decision to entrust her was based on the words of the first king. She had heard of their power to keep enemies at bay and had decided to trust them.
“She wished for him to live a healthy life, not as royalty, but as a citizen of Ishtalika, living in Sith Mill.”
“So the Chief accepted that wish… and welcomed him as your son.”
She lowered her eyes, relaxed her expression, and nodded.
“His name is Wilfried Wernstein. He had a Pixie-leaning bloodline and lived a long life of about three hundred years.”
It was a long time, but the Fairy Race was said to have lived a long life.
If Wilfried had been a pure-blooded Pixie, the chief said, he might have lived even longer.
“He was a timid boy, strongly shy. He loved books more than swords and never really opened up to any other Elves but me. So much so that he did not even fall in love until his later years.”
His later years were different from those of humans. It’s not just a few decades; it’s a very long time.
“In the end, there was an Elf who came to visit Wilfried-sama. She was a very young Elf, but she was attracted to Wilfried’s serene atmosphere and fell in love with him.”
He was won over by her enthusiasm, and they became husband and wife.
“They had a child together. In time, the child grew to adulthood and married an Elf, and they had two daughters.”
Ain could not help but understand the rest of the chief’s words.
(It wasn’t just that they seemed to be related to the royal family.)
The blood that has been inherited is much thicker than that of the current royal family.
When Ain understood everything, Chris’s image flashed behind his eyelids, reminding him of her smile and her usual devotion.
“You already know.”
The chief’s words shook him to the core.
Ain took a deep breath and confirmed it without words.
The first daughter’s name was Celestina Wernstein.
And the second daughter’s name is Christina Wernstein.
So Chris is──.
“Christina Wernstein is the great-granddaughter of His Majesty the First, isn’t that right?”
The chief listened to his words and nodded, keeping her eyes down.
Ain subconsciously held his head and thought of Chris waiting outside the door.
“Your Highness, please listen to the wishes of this old Elf. I promised Queen Raviola that I would not tell anyone about Wernstein. I had no intention of breaking my promise, but I have told Your Highness. I beg you to please keep today’s conversation gently and carefully in the depths of Your Highness’ mind.”
Originally, this should not have been done. At the very least, he should have told Sylvird.
Ain was bewildered by the determination shown by the chief.
There is no way for the chief to know how Raviola felt when she gave up her child. That’s why. It made him think that he should consider the feelings of the chief and Raviola.
“I was actually worried about Christina-san, too. She was a hard worker, just like Wilfried-sama, but she was also shy and reserved, wasn’t she? Since she was also a shy girl, I was worried that she would be lonely in the capital.”
In Sith Mill, she was always with Sierra or with her sister Celestina. However, when Celestina disappeared, and Chris went to the royal capital, her childhood friend Sierra was not present.
“It’s my fault that Christina-san has become shy.”
The chief said in a guilty voice.
“It all started because of my special treatment towards Wilfried-sama. In the end, the Wernsteins became a family that was as well respected by the other Elves as by me, the chief. And of course, Christina-san is the heir to the surname.”
It is extremely difficult to take care of a royal child and treat him like any other of your own people. Even if it was a direct request from Raviola, the chief could not completely separate the two.
“The other day, Sierra told me the reason why she hadn’t received many letters.”
What Sierra reported was that Chris was very fond of Ain. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the surprised expressions, gestures, and trust she had in her childhood friend.
Ain was interested in what the chief had said here.
“What kind of people were the two followers of Queen Raviola?”
This was just a curiosity. It had nothing to do with the main question, but he was just curious about the two people Raviola trusted.
“The two of them played a very important role in the founding of the unified state of Ishtalika. The one who came to call me was a man. He was the one who made the laws, made many dedications, and was a friend of His Majesty the First. The other person was a woman. She served Queen Raviola and was with her on a regular basis.”
If they were such great people, they would definitely be recorded as important people, but Ain had never heard of them.
“I’m afraid I didn’t learn enough. I had never heard of them.”
“There are very few records from the time of the founding of the nation. The Great War burned a lot of documents and took away people’s memories. It’s no wonder Your Highness didn’t know about them since they’ve disappeared into the shadows of history.”
“It was reasonably new to me. What were their names?”
“They had no names. Unlike today, there were many such different races in those days…”
“That’s unfortunate… So what was their race?”
This was just another curiosity.
However, when the chief heard Ain’s words, her expression changed drastically, and she opened her mouth with a nervous expression. It’s as if the chief is trying to help Ain, who is sitting right in front of her.
“It is the race that Your Highness is pursuing.”
“A race that I’m pursuing ── No way, that’s ridiculous…!”
“Yes, the Red Fox. The two of them betrayed the Red Fox and fought under the first king.”
His mind was dominated by the preconceived notion that such Red Foxes could not exist, and he denied the chief’s words.
“No, it is possible.”
The chief, on the other hand, responded immediately to Ain’s words with denial.
“Your Highness seems to know Marco-sama very well. If that’s the case, it would be strange to see two Red Foxes in Marco-sama’s presence.”
That’s right if it were said that way.
There is no way that a loyal knight would show mercy to a Red Fox in front of him.
According to the story, the two were protected by Marco and passed through the cursed room. If that’s the case, then there’s reason to believe that they are not enemies.
However, Ain had one question.
The chief who foresaw this said.
“Marco-sama was neither deceived nor influenced like Her Majesty Arche. The two followers have been working with His Majesty the first and Queen Raviola from the beginning.”
It was Marco’s loyalty, of course. If there was no possibility that he had been deceived, then Ain would believe it.
“You really know a lot, don’t you?”
“If Your Highness found it at all meaningful, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Then the chief’s expression changed, and the atmosphere became even more solemn.
“I must also tell you about the Red Fox.”
“There is not much I can tell you. I was too young to go into battle at the time, and I spent my time in hiding. …But I think all of this information is important.”
The chief took it slowly.
“In the old book purchased by Her Highness the First Princess, there was a woman described as the chief of the Red Foxes.”
“…How do you know about that book?”
The book was also purchased by Katima.
The chief continued, “I will explain later.”
“You may think that she is our only enemy, Your Highness, but perhaps she is not.”
“Another race was also an enemy?”
“No, only the Red Fox. But there was more than one will at work in their movements according to that man.”
“That man, who was he?”
“It was His Majesty the First.”
But it wasn’t clear. It was only a prediction, and Gail had mentioned that he had a feeling that it was so.
The chief apologized for not being able to answer with confidence in the letter.
But Ain didn’t think so.
“It was good information.”
He was glad to hear Gail’s prediction.
“By the way, how did you know about the book Katima-san bought?”
The chief smiled and opened her mouth.
“That’s because I’m the one who authorized the sale of that book. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the author, but I know him too. I have lived with him here at Sith Mill.”
Queen Raviola’s second child flashed through Ain’s mind.
He’s the only one. It was Wilfried Wernstein. When he mentioned the name without thinking, the chief immediately replied, “That’s right.”
What a strange fate this was.
A highly respected Elf with a passion for research, who was said to have lived for hundreds or even thousands of years. It was rumored that he was a recluse, but who knew that he was actually a part of a royal family that was separated?
“That book also contains information that I shared with Wilfried-sama.”
They did not share the information about the Red Fox because it was too obscure.
“No wonder it felt so real… When I read that book for the first time, I wondered how the author knew so much about that time.”
“The book had been left in the care of a wealthy man in the town at the foot of the mountain. When I heard that Her Highness the First Princess wanted it, I felt that it was fate that had brought it to her, and I was happy to allow it to be sold and delivered to the royal family.”
“I can’t tell the story to Katima-san ─── my aunt, but I will tell her to take good care of it.”
The chief nodded with a satisfied expression.
“I’ve heard some really interesting things today, by the way.”
In fact, he had a few more questions he wanted to ask, but the chief’s face showed signs of fatigue.
He wanted to take into account the reason why she could not come to the capital. Sierra had told him that she was not in good health due to her old age and that leaving Sith Mill was not an option for her.
It was not Ain’s intention to force the chief to stay here since they would still be staying for a few more days.
Ain also wanted some time to sort out what he had heard today.
“I think I’ll take my leave now. I would be happy to have some more time later.”
The chief persisted several times but nodded when he told her that there was still time for him to stay and that he did not mind if it was not hurried.
“I searched the archives before Your Highness arrived, but I think it’s time to look again. There may be some information about the Red Fox in there.”
“I will send Sierra to you as soon as she finds it. Please give us some time.”
Ain bowed deeply for the last time and left the chief’s room.
When he met up with Chris, who was waiting outside, he pondered the truth about her that he had learned and how he should organize his emotions.