It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (121/128), enjoy~
Chapter 11 – Before the Disturbance
The skyscraper towering over the magic city ─── Tower of Wisdom.
At the top of the tower.
A man, with his white robe swept by the wind, gazed at the magic stone raised to the moon.
“Aaah… O, Father! My beloved father!”
The man’s whole body trembled with joy.
He looked at the magic stone reflected in his eyes with a prodigal expression and a strong sense of elation in his heart.
A strong wind blows and took something away from the inside of the white robe.
Exposed to the dark night, it was a simple card, an identification card to enter the Tower of Wisdom.
Written on it is his name, a short word: Oz.
“Soon, my long-cherished wish will be fulfilled! I must not panic… Yes! I shall not make His Highness like that woman! I shall not make him a failure!”
Right, he doesn’t need a spoiled piece of work. He reminded himself of the old days, hundreds of years ago.
Suddenly, starlight reflected off the magic stone.
He looked at it and smiled.
“O Father, you think so too, don’t you?”
He was so enraptured that he kissed the magic stone. He opened his mouth, stretched out his tongue, and licked it again and again.
There is no taste.
The most beautiful thing for him was the sweetness that ran through his whole body, and every time he flicked his tongue, his heart would pound, and his back would buckle.
“I won’t make the same mistake again.”
He exhaled with his eyes downcast, determined to achieve this. Then, without notice, he bend to his knees, holding the magic stone to his chest in a prayer-like posture.
“It’s just a matter of time.”
That it was not far in the future.
He was waiting impatiently for the day when his twisted desires would be fulfilled. He muttered, looking in the direction of Heim… on the other side of the distant sea.
◇ ◇ ◇
Far beyond the gaze of Oz. The royal capital of Heim, was enveloped in the stillness of the night.
On the banks of a river in the suburbs of Heim, there was a girl with her hair ornament swaying as she walked. She looked at the surface of the water quietly, seemingly unconcerned.
Suddenly ── the sound of stepping on grass could be heard from behind her.
“It’s been a long time, Ed.”
She says without looking back, and the reply arrives in a tone of voice that contains joy.
“It’s been a long time. Ah… you look as beautiful now as you were before…”
“I told you before; my name is Shannon now.”
Shannon Bruno was the bride of the next head of the Roundheart family, Grint Roundheart.
On the other hand, the man called Ed. His real name is Edward, and he is a martial artist who is superior even to the great General Logas.
“Just call me Shannon now.”
“That would be… rude of me.”
“All right then, can we talk about it here?”
She sat down on the suitable grass and hugged her knees.
“Are you tired of coming from Euro?”
“No, I have nothing but happy feelings right now.”
Edward rubbed the back of Shannon’s hair as she sat down, her white teeth showing and her cheeks relaxed.
He also wanted to smell it. He bent his body into a crouch and brought his face close to hers, but she didn’t budge.
She sighed and moved away from Edward.
“So, what’s that leather bag you’re carrying?”
“This is what I should call a souvenir.”
Edward placed the leather bag in front of him.
“Tell me what’s in it.”
“Before I left Lord Amour’s service, I picked up a couple of reasonable heads of the Euro nobility. How do you like them?”
“You don’t like it?”
Hearing a curt, uninterested reply, Edward nervously inquired if he were talking to his first love.
To be honest, he was confident about this souvenir. He knew Shannon, sitting next to him, would praise it.
“I didn’t ask for these heads. I don’t need it.”
“T-that’s not it! I want to make it all spectacular for you anyway! It will make you shine brighter! That’s what I think…”
“I told you I’m Shannon now. I don’t like bad behavior.”
“…My apologies. Shannon-sama.”
“I’ve had enough of this. Now that I know that your skills are not rusty, I’ll let you off the hook this time.”
“I-I am honored by your praise──.”
“But even you have been defeated before, haven’t you?”
Edward was about to rejoice, but his smile froze at the words that just came out.
“You never won against the deputy commander of the Black Knight, did you? Even when we left that continent, you could only buy a little time and came back to me in desperation.”
If anyone else had spoken those words now, Edward would have killed them without a doubt.
But because it was Shannon, he could tolerate her.
He could even endure mending his smile because it was Shannon, whom he never ceased to respect and love and who loved him all the more.
“…I’m sure I’ll kill that armor-plated bastard next time.”
“Impossible; he must have been affected by me. He’s either wandering around with a broken spirit or taking his own life.”
Shannon chuckled at this.
Edward, by contrast, was so frustrated that he ground his teeth and wished the story he wanted to forget would end as soon as possible. So was the fact that he didn’t like the story. In addition, what was being told from Shannon’s mouth was a humiliation that could not be compared to anything else.
“Then if he lives…”
“That would be a stupid fight. You would win now, of course. But, even if he were alive, how much weaker do you think he’d be?”
“…If he’s under the influence of Shannon-sama, he’s no more than a fraction of what he was in his prime.”
“That might be true. If you can feel good about winning against such an opponent… then do what you want.”
“So, should I just forget about it?”
Edward said as if he had given up.
“That’s the right answer.”
Shannon chuckled and stood up languidly. Edward saw this and reached out a hand to support Shannon, but it was rejected with a dry smack.
“I’m married now. So I’m sorry.”
Then Edward said shortly, “I’m jealous,” and despite his tone, he had a murderous look in his eyes.
However, it was not long before this emotion tormented him. Then, as if remembering, Shannon changed the subject, and he suppressed his mixed emotions.
“In a noble family, you must have had young children.”
She looked at the leather bag in front of her.
“Didn’t you hate children?”
“I certainly didn’t like children, but I developed a tolerance for them.”
Edward laughed as if he had been expecting it.
“I left Euro once when I was an adventurer and returned to Ishtalika. I had two children in the city of Ist. They were sisters.”
But he had had enough of that life and returned to Euro.
“You are a terrible woman.”
“I am done with that role. They are no longer family. They will live their lives as they wish.”
“As usual, you sacrifice everything for the sake of acting.”
Shannon has no idea how he developed this personality. However, he was loyal. He had done everything she has asked him to do, and even if he had a few character defects, they were endearing.
“I heard you did a fine job the other day.”
“I am honored by your praise.”
“I heard the castle is in trouble. Well, the prince was assassinated, so it’s no surprise.”
“It was an easy job. I’m glad I could be of service. ──Well, I have to go now. I will be back soon.”
Edward disappeared into the darkness, leaving behind the leather bag he had been told was unnecessary.
Shannon, oblivious to the smell of rotting flesh and blood wafting from next to her, looked up at the night sky in a good mood with a pretty smile on her face, like a girl of her age.
“Oh, she’s coming to visit me. I have to go home soon. Fufu, I wonder if she’ll be happy if I spoil her?”
She smiled innocently and stood up.
She looked at the leather bag Edward had left behind and let out a deep sigh, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
She furrowed her brow in annoyance and muttered, “Eat,” in a short, cold tone.
Then, several black tentacles appeared from the ground and grabbed the leather bag. Shannon smiled darkly as she watched them drag it straight into the ground.
◇ ◇ ◇
Elena’s office in Heim Castle, where the commotion was still unsettled. Her husband, Harley, and the third prince, Tigre, were there.
The scenery outside the window at night would normally have been quieter, but now the lights of the torches in various places were swaying in the wind, creating a sense of uneasiness.
The third prince’s low voice said as if to mimic the scenery.
Tigre, with a mysterious look on his face, extends his hand.
“You will go with me to Euro. It will be safer for you there than in Heim.”
“No, I will stay in the royal capital.”
“As I told my wife, it is also dangerous for us to move together now. It would be too conspicuous to bring my son along with the three of us. If the insects that lurk in our country are noticed, it may bring new misfortune to His Highness.”
“Rest assured; I am the head of the House of Augusto. I have a reputation for being a weaker caliber than my wife, but I am not so foolish as to make a fool of myself so easily.”
This was not a joke to be told at a time like this.
But both Harley and Elena looked at each other and let out a smile. In front of the bond between the couple who put all their trust in each other, Tigre just put his hand on his forehead and let out a sigh.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You can leave the country if you want.”
“That’s exactly what I’m not going to do.”
“Ah… that’s right. Now that Logas has raised the army, it’s more dangerous, isn’t it?”
There will inevitably be unnecessary suspicions. So now it is better to stay quiet, lurking, not fighting the waves.
“My husband will protect the house.”
“You are all too stubborn. I’m beginning to think myself a wimp.”
“Not at all. Deep down, my husband and I are both afraid.”
“…Well, then, I guess that makes us companions.”
Tigre gave a last high laugh and then put on his cloak.
“I wish you all the best of luck. And I will play the fool as I have always performed.”
He headed for the door, and as he stepped out, he clucked his tongue at the unsettled atmosphere in the castle.
With heroic steps, he headed for the audience chamber. Walking alone with only Elena, his face was filled with anger, and there was no glimpse of calmness.
However, this was also an act.
He reaches the audience chamber and closed the distance when he saw his father, who still clutched at the coffin.
His steps were large and unreserved.
“Father, I cannot stand it.”
“…What is the matter with you, having so abruptly made such a statement?”
“I will take up my sword as well. I will leave the royal capital with the knights to find the one who killed my brother.”
“Don’t be a fool!”
No one felt any discomfort with Tigre’s intuitive behavior.
Elena opened her mouth at the right moment.
“No! Your Highness should be in this castle!”
“Yes, Elena is right! It would be dangerous to go outside! I don’t want to see my child fall on a deadly blade again!”
Tigre then turned to Elena.
“You don’t care that my brother was killed?”
“That’s something that… hurts my heart too.”
“Ha! You’re so self-protective; you’re so vile!”
With a light clap of his hands, Tigre’s knight approached.
“Take her to jail; such a woman is not worthy to serve Heim.”
As expected, the people in the surrounding area reached out to restrain her.
“Give me a chance to redeem myself, please!”
“Then be prepared to take up the sword with me. If you say you can’t do it because you are a woman, I will cut your head off right now!”
Tigre, who was curling up in a rage, didn’t look like he was joking.
Before long, Garland, too, was shaking and weeping for Tigre, who had said he would fight for his brother.
“Oh Elena, lend my child Tigre your strength.”
He finally agreed as he gave her a push.
“…If I can be of use to you, I will gladly take up my sword.”
Tigre chuckled at the sound of her voice.
“Well said! I’ll spare you the beheading! Now, get ready! We’re leaving the royal capital as soon as possible.”
After that, he left the audience chamber before anyone could object.
In fact, his heart was beating strongly. He was anxious to see if anyone was following him and if he felt uncomfortable. Still, he managed to hide his mind until he reached a place where not many people were around and revealed the anger that had been played out.
After a few minutes, he lost his expression concerning the less popular place.
“If Heim is destroyed, I’ll try to be an actor.”
“Please don’t. I will not let that happen.”
Elena said slightly coldly, having heard a joke that did not make her feel good.
Tigre had never experienced such strong courage as he did now. He had never dreamt that he would willingly take such an action.
But he had to go.
──I must go to Euro, he said.