―― Without incident, several days pass.
In the end, I couldn’t even touch the bracelet.
But for now, there’s still time. It’s still too early to decide. If ascertaining the truth is like filling a crossword puzzle, then it’s fine as long as it is slowly filled. Deciding what’s right and what’s wrong, I can leave that alone until after I complete it.
Therefore, while maintaining the status quo, I begin thinking of how to collect the missing information.
However, I haven’t met with Lastiara ever since the promise to duel at the 『Fighting Tournament』. The same goes for Diablo Sith. Also, Snow has no interest in my memories, and Rail-san is enforcing the 『Trade』. I’m now in a situation where I can’t gather any new information related to my memories.
Therefore, I continued training my sword together with Lowen while waiting for the 『Fighting Tournament』 where I will be able to meet Lastiara, the source of information relating to my memories.
There’s no harm in raising my level. Being stronger will be useful in getting more information from Lastiara and having more MP will make it easier to maintain Reaper.
Of course, I don’t skip out on any guild work. If I were to say, then that would be my main work. I make sure to complete any request from the country and contribute to Lauravia. If they have free time, I also get Lowen and Reaper to help out.
As a result, the activities of 『Epic Seeker’s』 caused its name to roar throughout Lauravia.
Inevitably, my face became known and now many people greet me when I walk down the road.
Children who are running around, merchants at the market, guards on patrol, Lauravia’s citizens, they all show me a smile.
Recently, since 『Epic Seeker』 has been taking charge of the town’s public order, its become quite popular with the citizens. Originally I chose that job because it had the best compatibility with my magic, but in the end we also managed to get more support.
Seeing that situation, Lowen who is together with me looks on warmly.
It was as if he was seeing something dazzling, a gaze of yearning. From that, I understood that the people living unconcerned happy lives in the town, is also a part of what Lowen desires.
I’m a bit amazed at the shallowness of Lowen’s greed. His greed is shallow enough that I wouldn’t be surprised that if dozens of people were to gather and applaud him, he’d disappear right then and there.
At times, I even spot children calling Lowen 「Master」. I want to believe that his magic power weakening is just my misunderstanding.
To begin with, Lowen himself must be aware of this…….
While passing these days that are neither medicine nor poison, the day of the 『Fighting Tournament』 approaches.
And so, with only three days until the 『Fighting Tournament』, I receive an order from the country of Lauravia that is different from what is usually received. The recipient isn’t 『Epic Seeker』, but myself.
The contents are an invitation to the 『Ball』 that the country of Lauravia is holding. Different from the 『First Month’s Allied Nations’ Knight Ball』, this one is an authentic 『Ball』 meant for people to meet.
From what I heard, it seems like this was prepared since the 『First Month’s Allied Nations’ Knight Ball』 has become a place to compete for power.
As the one standing at the top of the guild, my participation has already been decided.
In a cramped outfit I’m not used to, I talk about the 『Ball』 with the usual members inside 『Epic Seeker’s』 office.
「Haa, a ball is it……」
「I’m actually jealous. Being called to such a place is proof of ones glory」
While sitting on the window frame, Lowen laments that he cannot participate.
「It’s depressing. Apparently I’m participating because Lauravia’s royalty has taken an interest in me」
「To attract the attention of royalty, that alone is enviable……. Well, I can’t tag along, but you have Snow-kun who’s used to this. If anything happens, don’t feel bad to rely on her」
The fact that Snow is also attending makes me feel a little better.
She’s the daughter of a good house so she’s probably called to places like this often.
「So I’ll be alone with Lowen. I feel my killing intent slowly coming out」
Floating near the ceiling, Reaper says something dangerous that causes me to worry.
In response, Lowen grimaces.
「Again with that. It’s because you were asking that I grouped with you. If you do anything strange, I’ll kick you out of the party」
「…… Umm, do you mean the final qualifier for the 『Fighting Tournament』?」
I ask them. In the span of a few days, Lowen completed the 『Fighting Tournament』 qualifier. Naturally, he made it to the final qualifier without any danger.
But, what concerned me is the point that Reaper joined Lowen’s party.
It seems like Reaper will appear at the 『Fighting Tournament』 together with Lowen. Reaper said that she’ll be close by so that Lowen doesn’t die by some accident, but I don’t know what her true intent is.
「Aah, I’ll finish it quickly. And I’ll be looking after Reaper, so don’t worry about it Kanami」
「So you’re planning to take Reaper to the final qualifier, will it be fine?」
「Reaper won’t have any problem with the opponents there. I don’t even think she’d get injured. And also, if it looks like Reaper will get injured, I’ll make sure to do something」
「No, I’m worried about the other participants……」
「A, aah, that……. You don’t have to worry about that either. If Reaper is going too hard at it, then at that time I’ll also do something」
These past few days, it feels like Lowen’s doting on Reaper has accelerated.
At this point, Lowen probably no longer sees Reaper as a 『Reaper』 or 『Curse』. Whether it’s for better or worse, because of the tranquil everyday life on the surface, his view on things has changed.
「…… It’s almost time. Let’s go, Kanami」
Before I knew it, Snow stood before the office entrance.
Her outfit is similar to the one she wore when she was called to Sidrik’s house. This time the bell line dress is beige. Snow’s tied up hair makes for a lovely appearance, and this once again affirms Snow’s status as the daughter of a noble family. The pure white skin showing under her nape, and the long gloves on her hands give off an elegant feeling.
「Aah, I kept you waiting. I’m also good over here」
「…… That’s not good. You have to properly close your collar」
Snow places her hands on my neck and closes the collar.
I thought it was enough, but apparently that wasn’t so for Snow.
In response to my thanks, Snow gives a light nod and takes me outside. At the same time, Lowen and Reaper head to the venue for the final qualifier.
In front of 『Epic Seeker’s』 headquarters is a big carriage…… or at least something like it. The way it’s made is a bit different from the ones in my world.
「Lady Snow……, please……」
A old chamberlain appears from the inside and politely greets us.
It’s probably the Walker house’s chamberlain. It looks like we will be moving in this carriage until we reach Lauravia’s castle.
As the chamberlain instructs, we get onto the carriage, and head to the center of Lauravia.
The decorations inside the carriage are gorgeous, a single glance makes the wealth of the owner clear. And it’s obvious from these gorgeous decorations that the Walker house is one of the 『Four Great Nobles』 .
As I’m gazing at the first carriage I’ve ever seen, we arrive at Lauravia’s castle.
There are many named castles in Lauravia, this is one of those.
Even royalty will show up here today. Because of that, the defence of the castle is also strict.
We pass by numerous guards as we are continuously asked of our status. And then, we arrive at the castle’s garden.
「―― Then, please take care. Lady Snow, Aikawa-sama」
With a polite goodbye from the chamberlain, we get off the carriage. It looks like he won’t attend.
「…… Kanami, let’s go」
After Snow shows her appreciation to the chamberlain, we begin walking to the castle.
Today I’ve decided to pass the time listening to what Snow says. I nod and follow after Snow. We pass a giant garden that is similar to a botanical garden, a giant gate that is closer to a phenomenon, and we head to the banquet hall where the ball is being held.
And so, the door to that banquet is finally opened.
A dazzling world spread before me.
The ceiling is abnormally high and countless silver chandeliers hand down. Deeper inside there are performers holding instruments, from that I understand that that’s some sort of concert hall. At the side of the excessively large room are giant glass windows. Each of them have intricate designs that raise the value of this room.
There’s no mistake, this is the image of the venue for a ball that would appear in stories. It’s exactly, a place made for nobles. But the fact that it was as I imagined let me feel a little better.
As Snow and I enter the hall, the people chatting inside turn to look. Among those people, a few of them quickly make their way over.
Snow moves to the corner of the room and greets those people with a forced smile.
That forced smile is perfect. From that, I can see just how much the gap in our experience is.
A single man talks to Snow, and other people stand by behind him. It’s probably their manners to wait in turns.
「―― It’s been a while, Snow Walker-sama. You haven’t appeared in any places such as this for some time now, many were worried?」
After a polite greeting, the man begins talking intimately with Snow.
「It’s been a while. Since I’ve been devoting myself to my studies in Eltolaryu academy, I haven’t had the opportunity to participate. I apologize if I have caused any worry」
「No, just seeing Snow Walker-sama’s lively appearance is enough. There is no helping it if it is for the sake of studies. However, as the daughter of the Walker house, your studies must be going well. May I hear about how it is going at the academy?」
「Eeh, of course」
Because of 《Dimension》, I understood that the man is forcing that friendliness while feeling terribly tense. From that, I can see just how afraid he is of the Walker house, but also how much he wants to gain their favor.
Before I knew it, I became able to understand such subtleties with 《Dimension》. All the training I’ve been having with Lowen must have increased 《Dimension’s》 sensitivity. I have to restrain this a little more if I’m not battling. Now this is like a weapon that can discover lies.
I watch over the conversation Snow is having from behind.
Apparently that man is the head of an influential merchant house in Lauravia and he came in order to deepen his relations with the Walker house. During the trifling conversation, he mixes in talks of trading with the Walker house, if there’s any opening he makes sure to mention beneficial business discussions.
For future reference, I memorize that conversation.
And so, once the routine conversation is used up, the man’s gaze moves to me.
「May I ask, who that gentleman is? It is strange for a lady such as Snow Walker-sama to have a guard」
The man mistook me for a knight who is guarding her.
I paid a good amount of attention to my outer appearance, but it looks like it wasn’t enough to look like a leader. Without my confidence lost, I quickly introduce myself.
「I am Aikawa Kanami. I work for the guild 『Epic Seeker』 that is employed by the country of Lauravia. I am pleased to make your acquaintance」
「Ooh ……! Pardon my ignorance. This has been overdue. I am the head of the Tarua family, Conner Tarua. However, by 『Epic Seeker』, you mean that――」
「Eeh, he is the guild master of the guild working directly under Lauravia, 『Epic Seeker』」
Snow cuts in and emphasizes that I’m the guild master.
「Ooh, as expected! The rumored 『Hero』-dono!」
For a moment, my smile broke when I heard the man’s words.
Before I knew it my reputation on the streets became something terrifying.
「I’ve been hearing the rumors for quite some time. Aikawa Kanami-sama, with talent recognized by the head of the Legacy house Palinchlon-dono, you became 『Epic Seeker’s』 Guild Master!」
I move a bit back in face of the man’s sudden vigour.
However, to my side, with a smile Snow says 「Listen」 and doesn’t let me escape.
For a while after, I had to bear hearing praises of 『Epic Seeker』, and whenever he had the chance, he also praised me. It’s obvious that he’s trying to flatter me in order to start some sort of business.
And so, once the topic of the guild is used up, the man grabs my hand.
The sensation of a hard metal is conveyed through my hand.
Through 《Dimension》 I understood that it’s a gold coin.
「This is to show our sincerity as merchants to 『Epic Seeker』. As fellow comrades that support Lauravia, I pray for your future endeavors」
「Eh, that’s, I can’t――」
I immediately try refusing but ――
「Accept it, Kanami. Otherwise it’d get worse」
Snow interrupts me. By the way, her voice is coming from an earring on my left ear
In order to always be able to listen to Snow, I attached a magic stone to myself. As long as I have this, Snow’s voice can be conveyed to me through small vibrations.
「I, I accept it. With the sincerity of the Tarua merchants, 『Epic Seeker』 will surely be able to make rapid progress for Laruavia. I am grateful for the consideration」
Loosening my face to its limit, I show my gratitude to the man.
As if satisfied, the man nods before leaving.
With this a debt has been made towards that man. That, and in a single meeting, he became someone I’m not too fond of. The fear of what transpired runs through my spine.
Before the next person comes over, I question Snow.
「S, Snow……. Have, you always been doing this……?」
「…… Of course. If you’re a 『Hero』, then this is an everyday thing」
「But, I’d rather not have any debts to people like that……」
「If you refused it then instead of 『Debt』, a 『Grudge』 would’ve been made. If a 『Hero』 were to keep others away, then it’d become something bad. I don’t recommend it. This is also work so endure it 」
「Th, this is work……?」
「There are cases where giving a single greeting here turns out to be more profitable than a thousand gold coins. Cases where getting acquainted with a single person, can turn into connections with a thousand others. Cases were agreeing on a single contract, can save thousands of lives on the battlefield. This is also a splendid job that contributes to Laruavia」
I’m not too well informed about economics. However, even I faintly understood what Snow was saying. It’s because I understood that, that I could only stay silent.
In other words, the existence known as 『Hero』 is a national interest. That’s why, even though I’m a newcomer I am still revered as a 『Hero』.
Being taught how a few minutes of talking can turn into innumerable profits, my face twitches.
If it’s to settle my original goal of paying Maria’s medical cost, then I’ll be able to earn more than enough like this. I understand that the money isn’t addressed to myself, but even then, a cold sweat comes out at the outrageous amount. I end up worrying that maybe, I reached a position that I can no longer return from.
And so, another guest approaches us. In response, Snow and I fix smiles on our faces. But once I see the line of people deeper in, that smile stiffens.
After this, Snow and I will have to deal with all of that.
Just imagining the time it’d take drains my energy.
However, I don’t show that on my face. If it shows, then that’d be rude to the guest before me. Understanding that this ball is the most difficult job in 『Epic Seeker』, I let out a large sigh in my heart.
Like this, in what felt like an eternity, we continue repeating our greeting with our forced smiles.
After a few hours, our efforts showed as the line has finally come to an end. Snow and I let out a sigh and exchange glances.
「Finally, we can take a break……」
「…… No, not yet, Kanami」
Snow swiftly crushes my hopes and begins walking through the hall.
Since I wasn’t sure how to deal with this unexpected situation, I had no choice but to follow after Snow.
As we move to the center, an unfamiliar woman talks to Snow.
「Snow-sama….., this way…..」
With a light nod, she follows the woman. On the way, she talks to me in a quiet voice.
「…… From now on, I’ll be talking with people from my house. You don’t need to do anything」
I silently nod. Snow’s house, that means the Walker house, one of the four great nobles. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to do anything against a person with such a high status.
Once we get closer to the center of the hall, I spot a noticeably large crowd.
Most likely, at the center is ――
「It’s been a long time……, Mother-in-law……」
Snow called a young woman her mom.
That woman looks nothing like Snow. She has bewitching gold hair, a gaze as sharp as a hawk, and a strict atmosphere. Although the dresses being used are similar, they look like the complete opposite type of people.
「Snow-san……. I’ve been hearing your name ever since the year began. It seems like you haven’t forgotten my words……」
Snow’s mother-in-law speaks in a calm but strong tone.
「Of course. I offer this body for the sake of the Walker house」
「Good……. That is why you are here. Do not mistake that……」
And so, the first conversation they’ve had in a while comes to a quick end. As if to say the conversation ended, Snow’s mother-in-law turns back.
With this the greeting to her family has probably ended. It helps me that it didn’t become anything big, but even then that was too cold. While thinking of such things, Snow chases after her mother-in-law.
「―― Ju, just a little more of your time, Mother-in-law! About the marriage. As you know, I’ve been spreading my name through the guilds activities. From here on, I believe that I will find great achievements with the guild 『Epic Seeker』. ……Even then, will the wedding still be rushed?」
「Eeh. If it’s only through the guild’s honors, then nothing will change」
The words of the mother-in-law coldly cut down Snow’s desperate plea.
「…… Yes. …… I understand」
Snow answers with her head hanging down. And so, the Walker house mother and daughter pair separate.
They aren’t far apart, but it looks like to Snow, her mother-in-law is very far away
Left by herself, Snow forces a smile and looks around.
「…… Glenn Nii-san, he’ll still take some time」
She muttered as she looked at a far away crowd. And then, she moves towards me.
Seeing how powerlessly she’s walking causes me to call out to Snow out of worry.
「…… Hey, do you not want to get married Snow?」
「…… If I were to choose, probably」
Snow doesn’t deny it. She doesn’t deny it, but it’s most likely ――
「You aren’t being clear……」
「…… If I’m being clear then it’ll turn into something bigger. If I do it carelessly, then something that can’t be undone might happen. That’s why, I have to be vague」
Certainly, Snow was working hard to not slight the Sidrik house that last time.
「Even then, being clear with your own feelings is still better…… but, do I only think like that because I’m ignorant of the world?」
「…… That’s right. Kanami is ignorant. That’s why, that’s probably correct. …… But I can’t do that. Having to choose by myself is scary. Taking responsibility is scary. Being wrong is scary. That’s why, I don’t do a thing」
Snow trembled as she repeated 「Scary」 .
It’s different from the usual aloof Snow, she said that as if she was being tormented. That weak appearance reminds me of a certain labyrinth search. Of Snow at the time of the construction on the 『Line』 with Sidrik-san.
《Dimension》 conveys Snow’s mental state to me.
There’s no doubt. Without any leeway, Snow is this afraid.
It could just be that the usual Snow is hiding under the pretense of leeway. The emotional strength of the person named Snow is remarkably low among women of the same age.
Therefore, the weak her, can’t do anything but to follow the orders of her mother-in-law.
Being too scared of choosing on her own, she ends up choosing to do nothing but simply follow the flow of events.
「……Haha, it can’t be helped. …… I’ll just give up」
With a gloomy laugh, Snow gives up on everything.
Since that way would be the easiest, the lazy her gives up. Gives up, and simply accepts.
Finally, I finally understand the way the girl named Snow lives her life.
The faint feeling I had before has now changed into a conviction.
Snow Walker gave up on everything in life.
She can only follow the flow for the easiest path. That abnormally weak heart, has entrusted every choice to others.
And that becomes obvious at the times when she accompanies the upper class. The time she searched the labyrinth with Elmillad Sidrik, and the time she faced her mother-in-law, her pretense had come apart and her weakness was shown.
The special position of the Walker house. And an unfittingly weak heart. The result of mixing those two resulted in the current Snow.
She only kept up appearances without making a choice. A girl who only goes along the easiest path.
I extend my hand to touch Snow――
「Fuun, it’s unexpected to meet in a place like this. My worthy opponent,『Epic Seeker’s』 guild master, Aikawa Kanami…..」
A voice interrupts from behind. My brows crease once I see the troublesome person’s entrance.
「…… He, hello. Sidrik-san」
Of all things, for the upper class Elmillad Sidrik to appear at this timing.
「Haa……. You’re the same as always……. If you don’t say anything bad, then it won’t be a rivalry」
「But what would happen if I were to say something bad, please understand that……」
「I said that because I understand. How it turns out depends on you」
As if he was amazed at my response, Sidrick-san said 「I understand」.
In other words, he confessed to trying to ensnare me in a trap. Or perhaps he simply wants us to exchange abuses at each other.
I felt less hostility from Sidrik-san than I expected. If I were to do what he asked for, then maybe it would turn out fine.
With a difficult expression I think over it, Sidrik-san lightly laughs and moves to Snow.
「Excuse me for the delayed greeting, Snow. How did it go with your Mother?」
「…… Lord Sidrik, how do you do. Yes, my mother…… it ended without a problem」
「That’s good. At any rate, it’s good that everything is progressing smoothly」
Snow somehow manages to maintain a perfect smile.
However, I couldn’t help but worry after I saw how she was just moments before.
Snow’s good at keeping up appearances, but most likely, underneath that forced smile is an equally weak inside. However, I still don’t have the influence to cut into a conversation between two of the four great nobles.
「Aah, I’ll introduce you. The is Cain-dono from the famous Coffelt house that specializes in overseas trade」
And so, going along with the flow, another merchant is introduced.
Although this the job being here entails, I never want to go through such an experience again.
It looks to be the same for Snow. I don’t overlook the fact that Snow flinched.
「I’m honored to meet you. I specialize in the spice trade in southern Griad ――」
The man took a step forward and greeted Snow.
Feeling something unpleasant, I look behind the man. And as if it was natural, a new line is forming with their destination being here. This one might even be bigger than the last.
While hiding out inner thoughts, Snow and I greet the people.
It wasn’t only merchants, there were also many nobles from other countries. Rising nobles within the continent and great nobles from far away countries, all of them sought a point of contact with the Walker house.
They also took the chance to greet me, this is too much.
It’s too much ―― but the anxiety Snow is feeling must be even greater.
There’s no doubt that she received quite the shock from the conversation with her mother in law. Honestly, I want to take her to a calmer place so she can cheer up.
However, people continued appearing one after another, and they gave her no time to rest her heart. And so, after having greeted many people, just as we are about to be released, another topic comes up.
「―― Then has Lord Sidrik and Snow Walker-sama’s marriage been decided?」
I could understand even without 《Dimension》. For an instant, Snow’s face hardened.
「Aah, that’s right. There were many suitors seeking Snow due to her intelligence, but now I’m the only one for her. Isn’t that right, Snow?」
Instead of stopping the conversation, Sidrik-san turns it to Snow.
「Eh, ah, yes. That’s right……」
Snow answered while maintaining her forced smile.
「This is a joyous occasion. In that case, my merchant house must prepare a gift」
It was then that a man a bit back entered the conversation. He probably decided that if it’s for a gift then he’d be able to exaggerate the amount.
But instead of reproaching it, Sidrik-san welcomes it.
「Hahahaa. However, the formalities have still not been decided, forgive me. But once the season changes I will gladly accept it. At least until after the 『Fighting Tournament』 ends……」
Surrounded by the merchants with hidden intentions, Snow’s expression gradually darkens.
「Haha, I see. I was a bit too fast. Then when the formalities have been decided, be sure to inform my business. We will be able to prepare many articles to congratulate you at your ceremony. …… Snow-sama, if there is anything you require then please say so. We will prepare it with all our might」
「I, is that so……. Umm……」
Just looking at it is hard. Snow’s forced smile is splendid, but it’s obvious to me just how bad her current condition is.
I can’t look at this any longer.
「―― Please wait」
It was quiet, but I made sure it could be heard.
With that single line, the attention of the surroundings gathered on me.
The merchants, and the nobles, all of their movements stopped at my words.
My stomach hurts, but there’s no coming back from this so I can only continue forward.
「Although they are engaged, the marriage has yet to be decided. As it has not been decided, please refrain from speaking of anything that can increase Snow-sama’s anxieties」
I made sure to convey, 「Stop saying unnecessary things」.
「…… Eh? 」
Snow was shocked.
The surroundings were bewildered,
And Sidrik-san was impressed.
「It seems that Snow-sama is feeling unwell. Please make way for her」
Although they were polite words, I forced the surroundings to move and I pull Snow’s hand.
With her mouth open, Snow follows along.
The men who had their conversation interrupted glare at me in anger. While warding that off, I move to the corner of the hall. And then, from a door at the side I move to the balcony. I’ve already confirmed with 《Dimension》 that there was no one around.
The outside of the castle is cold, but now only Snow and I remained under this moonlit night sky.
I quickly take out a carpet from 『Items』, and after spreading it on a stone bench, I make Snow sit.
「Are you okay?」
Snow returns a small nod.
「…… I’m okay. But Kanami, just now you left a really bad impression」
「…… Looking at it from a different view, it’s like you threw away the chance to earn a thousand gold coins. Kanami, you lost the chance to make a thousand gold coins. ……That’s not good at all」
「You know……. You’re my labyrinth searching partner Snow. Helping you is not something that can be measured in status or gold coins……」
Annoyed at Snow for calmly calculating the gains and losses, I admonish her in a strong tone.
Snow happily accepts it.
「…… Is that so. …… Thank you. You’re amazing Kanami, you can do things that I can’t」
Snow showed her best smile yet. And she praised me with that cheerful smile.
「Anyways don’t force yourself. You can always rely on someone during tough times」
Those words naturally came out of my mouth. I can’t help it since seeing someone like Snow have to endure something like that by themselves is unpleasant. Because of that I thought「that’s enough just rely on someone」.
As a result, I ended up doing something like this. I’m reflecting, but I don’t regret it.
In response to those words, Snow makes a face as if she had just found a truth.
「….. That’s right」
As if she found comfort for the first time in her life…… an expression such as that.
Snow’s cheeks blush, her eyes become moist.
The moonlight causes Snow’s lovely hair to sparkle. Beneath this night sky, the town of Lauravia acts as a light. With that natural show light on Snow, she is more beautiful than anyone participating in this ball.
Thank goodness I helped this beautiful girl, is what I think from the bottom of my heart.
Snow looks up at the stars shining in the night sky, and once again, she slowly repeats herself.
That mutter disappears into the night.
「…… Nn. I’m fine now, Kanami. I calmed down」
After having a bit of time to cool off on the balcony, Snow’s condition had made a complete recovery.
With a bright smile, she urged our return to the hall.
「Is that so. Then, let’s return……」
Judging that that brightness isn’t a lie, I approve of it.
And so, as we’re about to return to the hall, a lone man enters the balcony.
「―― tto, excuse me」
A man with short copper red hair and a gentle face. The outfit he’s wearing is high quality even among the nobles, it resembles the clothes Snow is wearing. I move my eyes to Snow to question his identity.
「…… Good work, Nii-san」
Snow nodded and called this man Nii-san. In other words, this person is――
「Aa, I’m tired……. I’m super tired. Tired enough to die. Aah, I want to die……」
「…… Although there aren’t any people around, you should be a bit more careful with your words」
「Ah, yes. However, greeting Snow-san is my time to rest. Really」
I immediately 『Observe』.
Name : Glen Walker HP331/342 MP92/92 Class : Scout
Level : 28
Strength7.22 Vitality8.55 Dexterity11.78 Agility13.79 Intelligence10.01 Magic5.26 Potential2.19
Innate Skills : Good luck1.02 Bad luck2.75
Acquired Skills : Earth magic1.22 Armed combat1.17 Search1.11 Vanishing1.56 Doctor1.10 Stealing1.66
―― This person is, Glen Walker.
The searcher within the Allied Nations who was given the title of 『Strongest』.
Naturally his talent and level are high. However, his status is more unbalanced than I expected. The amount of skills he has are his strong point, and he doesn’t seem like the type to fight head on.
However, this is…… If it goes bad then Snow might――
Glen-san sluggishly moves towards us and greets us with an amicable smile.
「Nice to meet you. You are 『Epic Seeker’s』 Kanami-kun correct?」
「Ah, yes, nice to meet you, I am Aikawa Kanami」
I deeply bow and introduce myself to Glen.
「Hee, you’re completely different from what Palinchlon told me…… No, I mean it in a good way? Don’t misunderstand that? I’m not saying anything bad? Don’t hate me?」
Honestly, 「Completely Different」 is what I’m thinking.
For this person to be the 『Strongest』 『Hero』 that everyone yearns for is unexpected.
After Glen-san scrutinizes me with his eyes, he strikes my shoulder with a wide smile.
「Un un, nice. You really are nice! Ever since that time, I’ve always been your fan. That really was amazing. You’re a 『True Hero』 different from a pathetic imposter like me!」
It’s there that Snow cuts in in a panic.
「―― Glen Nii-san! About that time……!」
「Eh? A, aah, I know, Snow-san. I, I didn’t forget? I’m not lying?」
Glen-san withers away at Snow’s anger. As he peeks at Snow’s complexion he piles on excuse after excuse. Since their heights are about the same, it’s hard to tell which one is the older one.
Clearing his throat with a cough, Glen-san collects himself and once again turns to me.
「Anyways, if it’s Kanami-kun, then that’s more than enough to entrust my sister. I carefully looked and talked, and I’m now convinced. You’re a good person. There’s no doubt about it」
For some reason, Glen-san’s likability towards me is abnormally high.
He repeatedly hits my shoulder as he praises me.
And so, in his excited state, Glen-san makes a fist as if to emphasize.
「Until now I haven’t been able to give much to Snow-san, but I can at least push back your wedding. Finally, I finally managed to grab onto that much influence. Even the fellas at the top won’t utter a complaint! …… Probably!」
「Eh, push back the wedding……?」
I repeated the words I couldn’t overlook.
「What are you saying……, Nii-san……」
Snow’s the same. She sought an explanation from the brother who suddenly uttered something strange.
「Eh? Aren’t you two getting married?」
As if it was our confusion that was misplaced, Glen-san answered as if it were a matter of fact.
「Ha, haa!? Eeh!?」
Snow and I showed our surprise.
「Huh? Palinchlon has been saying it for a while now? He said 『I found an appropriate guy to be Snow’s husband. I’m counting on you Glen, can you use your strength to act as an intermediary between the two?』」
With a terrible impression, Glen-san repeated Palinchlon’s request.
「Th, that bastard……」
I curse at Palinchron, and the festive Glen-san continues speaking.
「I also completely agree with the marriage between you two. To have that Kanami-kun that I admire as my step-brother, I’ve never been this happy. Pailnchlon and I will give our recommendation so that you can be Snow Walker’s fiance! No matter what happens, I’ll make sure I see you two get married!」
Glen-san declared his resolve as he disregarded Snow’s confusion.
To my side Snow trembles and then mutters.
「…… I didn’t hear anything. …… Something, …… Something like this」
「Aah, I also didn’t hear a thing. That bastard, he went and did something on his――」
As if she’ll agree with me―― Snow interrupts.
「I didn’t hear anything…… but it isn’t bad. That’s not a bad idea. Eh, but that means ――?」
Snow continues muttering to herself. She continues questioned herself, and what she arrives at is ――
「Eh, that……, that’s what it is……?」
In the same way as before, looking at the palm of her hand, she shows an expression as if she has found something for the first time in her life. Glen-san and I have no idea what answer Snow reached. But I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt in face of that abnormal condition of hers.
「To do what I want, is that what it is? In other words, Palinchlon too…… ?」
And then, Snow’s face gradually brightens.
Her sluggish voice slowly becomes clearer, and in the end she speaks in a perfectly clear tone that is unlike her.
「Aah, finally……, finally! I finally understand!」
At this point, Snow’s trademark apathetic way of talking has completely disappeared. It’s like, she became a normal girl. A clear face as if she had rid herself of an evil spirit, and then, she stops gazing at her palm. Glen and I were perplexed by that sudden change.
「Snow……. What’s wrong……?」
「U, uum, Snow-san……?」
However, Snow ignores our confusion, and with a refreshing smile she questions me.
「―― Hey, Kanami do you hate the idea of marrying me?」
That question, was the heaviest thing I’ve ever received in my life.
I felt shaken at that abrupt confession that is unlike Snow.
「Ha, haa!? Snow, what are you saying!」
「Because, everything will be resolved if I marry Kanami! The duty to the Walker house to get a husband will be fulfilled if I marry Kanami, everything would be resolved!」
Snow gripped my hand and spoke with an innocent smile.
The innocence in Snow’s figure has a cuteness that is incomparable to the listless her until now.
―― Cute, but that isn’t something I can easily nod my head to.
「…… Duty to the Walker house? What do you mean?」
「Un. Any child that is adopted by the Walker house, has the duty to spread the Walker name. They won’t accept it if I don’t work like Glen Nii-san. They won’t accept having taken in the dragon newt descendent Snow. …… But if it’s Kanami, then they will accept it. If Kanami has the strength of 『Hero』!」
「You’re saying I will spread the name of the Walker house? As Kanami Walker?」
「That’s right. With the help of Glen Nii-san and the Legacy house, a marriage with Kanami isn’t a dream. Then, then I won’t have to be married off to another family as waste!」
「Ca, calm down, Snow. I know that you’re flustered because of everything that happened. But deciding something like that so quickly isn’t good. Marriage is something important, it’d be better to think more carefully about it」
At least, this isn’t somethign that can be decided on a whim.
「…… I thought about it. It’s because I thought about it. Marrying Kanami will be the easiest. That’s why, I want to marry Kanami!!」
That confession was done with the least amount of consideration.
It isn’t a marriage because Snow likes me, but because it’ll be the easiest.
「…… Th, that won’t work. Something like that isn’t good. For Snow to marry for a reason like it’s the 『Easiest』. There’s no way I’d accept a confession like that」
Of course I refused that proposal.
At least, there’s no way I can agree after seeing the current Snow.
However, Snow acts as if the response is unexpected and with a stiff smile, she replies.
「Eh, eh? Huh…… ? Ka, Kanami……, won’t, help me……?」
「It, it isn’t that I won’t help you! But suddenly getting married is ridiculous! And also, I also want the privilege of choosing my own partner!」
「No way……. I don’t have the privilege to choose, but Kanami has the privilege to choose, coward……. That’s cowardly」
Once Snow comprehends my refusal, her face warps.
This is the first time Snow has ever shown so many emotions. At this rate it’ll turn into something that can’t be undone, I tightly grip Snow’s hand and answer.
「Snow, you can relax. Everyone has the right to choose their partner. If the Walker house says anything, then I’ll definitely do something!」
Devoting my all to it, I try relieving Snow of her worries.
However, those emotions don’t reach. With tears accumulating in her eyes, Snow moves closer.
「…… He, hey. …… let’s give up together Kanami? It’ll be easy if you give up?」
「No, like I said there’s no need to give up! Snow can freely choose, I’ll help! The current me can do that!!」
「If you’ll help, then marry me? That’d be the best for me. Ehehe……」
With teary eyes, Snow flirtatiously laughs. She’s forcing herself to use any means to get me to agree.
I don’t want to see Snow like that. Naturally, I shake my head.
「That’s not enough. What I can do is only help in letting you choose your own partner」
「I, if I can freely choose, then I choose Kanami! Kanami will spoil me the most! You have the strength to spoil someone like me! A person like that hasn’t appeared in my life until now! I won’t have to be scared of the Walker house, and you’ll spoil me, the only one who can do that is Kanami alone!!」
Tightly gripping my hand, Snow draws closer. However, I continue shaking my head.
Once she sees that, Snow releases my hand and staggers back.
「H, huh, why……? You took away that person……, but you won’t take me away……? Why? Was I wrong again……? As expected, it’s my fault…..?」
And so, she begins another soliloquy.
Once again she drops her gaze to her palm as if questioning herself, and then falls to her knees.
―― This isn’t normal.
This is something I’d never expect from the usual Snow.
Of course, I 『Observed』 her 『Conditions』 to make sure. But, there’s no abnormality whatsoever. It’s certain that she’s in a bit of an excited state, but there’s nothing other than that.
In other words, this is Snow’s bare heart.
Was Snow without her leeway this weak……?
In front of the heart of Snow that was weaker than I thought, I am unable to say any words.
Instead, Glen-san extends his hand as if used to it.
「Sn, Snow-san…… I’m sorry. It was so sudden……」
Supporting the staggering Snow, he sits her on the nearby bench.
The seated Snow arranges her breathing, and little by little she calms down.
They definitely are siblings. This most likely isn’t the first time Glen-san saw Snow in this condition. Judging that it’d be better to leave the rest to her brother, I simply watch over.
…… That’s right.
I couldn’t do anything but watch over Snow break into tears.
As she was breaking down ――, I couldn’t do anything to stop it ――
―― There’s no doubt, right now, not only Snow, but many things have crumbled.
As if to say you can’t maintain the status quo, I hear the sound of something crumbling at my feet. As if, I’m being rushed to decide the path I will progress in.
No, I already understand. It isn’t just anyone.
―― It’s him. (Palinchlon)
It’s when she suddenly remembered his words, that Snow state suddenly changed.
In other words, Palinchon had already arranged this situation since long before.
A few days ago I declared to him that I’d unearth the lie. But, a scene that causes that resolve to waver now spreads before me. I couldn’t separate my eyes from the crying Snow.
…… Aah, damn it.
I feel like I can hear Palinchon’s voice within the dark night.
As if threatening ―― If Aikawa Kanami unearths the lie existing in Lauravia, the tears of this girl who longs for you won’t stop.
As if whispering into my ear ―― Kanami, Maria, and Snow will become 『Unhappy』.
But, if you become this Allied Nations 『Hero』, you will surely be able to make everyone 『Happy』 ―― a boastful laughter echoes in my head.
I growl, into the dark night, in a voice that no one could hear.
Faced by the difficulty he prepared, I couldn’t help but growl.
And for some reason, I understood that that difficulty is a 『Trial』. Not long ago, Palinchlon said that if it were me then I’d be able to get over an even more amazing 『Trial』.
That 『Trial』 has now begun. No, since long before ―― it might have begun on the day I first met Snow.
And there’s one more thing that I clearly understand. That is the 『Time Limit』 of this 『Trial』.
The 『Fighting Tournament』 itself is the 『Time Limit』. If nothing is decided by then, I will lose again.
I have such a conviction.
That’s why, once more, I have to fight against my fate ――
―― In order to protect that oath ――
In the depths of my body, that’s what my instincts cry out.
It’s well past night, the moon has fully risen, and the day that was today has ended.
―― There’s still two days until the 『Fighting Tournament』. In two days everything will be decided.
Before that, I have to chose a path to progress on. Next time, I mustn’t 『Fail』.
For the sake of the girl who has broken into tears before me as well. And for my sake as well.
I will not make the wrong choice again. Never ――