Chapter 26 is up! It hasn't been proofread/edited so if anybody wants to volunteer to proofread, either drop me an email at [email protected] or join the discord chat and drop a message there. Also, I do expect my translating speed to slow down significantly once my semester begins (very very soon), so these weekly releases are unlikely to continue. Loading...... TL: yAmi
“I don’t really have a knack for names.”
The boy smiled awkwardly.
They were in a dark cellar that was illuminated by the dull glow of a lamp.
“Never mind that. I am not expecting anything great though?”
It does not matter. She thought.
She cannot recall her previous name.
She might have a name, but that memory disappeared.
First, she wanted him to grant her a new name, because she wanted to thank him.
With her past and present disconnected, she no longer sees herself as herself.
She is trash. A relic of a human who was defiled, hurt, broken and scorned by all.
She was doll made from such.
Her current self is incompatible with a human-like name.
That’s why any name will do.
Having been reborn, she needed a new name to live on with this body and mind.
He contemplated for a short moment before saying,
“How about this?”
“You are my number one, so I think a name associated with one will be fitting.”
Such an unthinking name fitted perfectly into the hole of her heart.
In the words of the old, it could mean ‘unification’ or ‘unit’......
Encompass everything in one.
Simply into one.
A name that sounds short and simple befitted somebody like her.
It was appropriate for the current her, who was broken into pieces and resurrected back into one.
“――？ ――. ――……”
She muttered her given name over and over again.
To allow the name to sink into her tongue and ears. To make sure she never forgets this name.
Her crude pronunciation bounced back from the cold wall.
“What do you think of it? If you do not like it, I can think of another.”
She shook her head sideways.
Her lips quivered as she tried to put the words of approval on the mouth ― that she likes her name.
That was what she intended, but was she about to pronounce it properly?
“Really? I am happy that you like it.”
Sure enough, he smiled broadly.
It was a gentle smile, but there was coldness and enthusiasm in his eyes.
For a human, those eyes were filled with contradictions. He was equally as mad as she was broken.
He was uneasy around her when she was human wreck, but now he was drawn in to her doll-like self.
“Then shall we go? I have to introduce you to everybody in the mansion.”
He said and held her hand.
The girl, who was destroyed and revived, timidly pinched the sleeves of the boy, who had revived and became mad.
She followed his footsteps with an unsteady gait, taking the stairs to go above ground.
After exiting underground, the glaring sunlight seared her eyes.
The light of life.
Her empty heart could once again feel life.
“Ahh, anyways, being alive is wonderful. Don’t you think so?”
The girl turned back to conceal her excitement and nodded to the silhouette of a smiling boy.
In a way, that was the beginning of everything.
The start was not his rebirth but the birth of her.
It was the day when the insane, man-eating monster found his destined person
And it was also the day the broken and insane doll fell in love forever.
※ ※ ※
“This really bring back the old days.”
I nonchalantly said as I surrendered myself to the mixed rhythm of horse hooves and wheels.
In reply, a fellow passenger replied unamused,
“Old days? It has just been one year. That is nowhere near nostalgic.”
That was Due. For some reason, he was unhappy. Let’s see. I wonder if he recalled something unpleasant about traveling by carriage on this path.
We were now traveling in the opposite direction on the same path we used last year.
What brought us here was the slip of paper in my breast pocket.
It was a wedding invitation from my elder brother. Wait, wait, wait. I didn’t know that brother of mine has a fiancée. I did hear his first fiancée ran away after hearing about my rumours, but when did he find a new partner?
While thinking about it, I opened my mouth again.
“Because are we in a similar situation. Even just remembering the same event does make me feel some strong emotions.”
This was the path we were on last year, when elder brother expelled me out of the capital. This time, he is calling me back. Oddly, my fellow passengers were identical.
Other than me, Due and Uni were with me. Due was my bodyguard while Uni attended to my needs.
“Still, isn’t this a weird combination. Hey, master. Don’t tell me you intentionally chose this group?”
“Your suspicions are unnecessary.”
“It is simply the case of who from the Opus series are suitable for this. Only you and I are suitable.”
Drei was a dark elf with a demon eye. Just her existence alone would raise eyebrows, not to mention that if her abilities are found out, the secret of how my faction is created might be exposed. Charl is out of question. Bringing a vampire lord to the capital is akin to picking a fight with the world. Fem is not as risky as Charl. Her high performance as a golem is like the “black ships” during the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate of this world or a modern nuclear weapon. It would excessively shock the other party and most importantly, she would be considered an OOPart since she was made with the legendary metal, orichalcum. I could not have brought her.
That is why only Uni, who has been serving me from the beginning, and Due, who currently has the rank of a military officer among my retainers, could accompany me to the capital. Nonetheless, they are too much fighting power to protect just me though.
“Don’t you get stressed easily these days? Since it is not too often that we leave the rural areas, wouldn’t it be good for you to have your fun in the capital?”
As expected, Due snorted unpleasantly at my attempt at a joke.
“Don’t say absurd things. The women in Arquell, no, especially in Broussonne, put on too much perfume. And even if I wanted to try out my skills, it’s not possible for there to be a thrilling fighting arena in the capital where the imperial guards are.”
Well, there’s some truth to that. Arquell Kingdom is also known as ‘The Kingdom of Natural Arts’ and seems to be at the forefront of fashion, I think? I don’t know really know the details though. As such, perfume fashion has its roots in the capital, Broussonne. There are perfumes that some men have difficulties getting used to. The practice of bathing is not widespread yet, so without perfume, one would be even smellier though.
There is almost a zero chance that Due could meet a foe strong enough to satisfy him. Just like he had said, he most elite of imperial guards protect this city. Public safety is good, and the difficulty of nearby dungeons are not high. One reason for Uni only being a rank C adventurer after rampaging and fulfilling that many quests was this.
For Due who was born in a place as chaotic as St. Gallen, he would prefer women with a refreshing disposition. A place second to Omnia would be considered a boring destination.
Hm? Why would I know Due’s preferences? I am not born from a tree nor am I a non-living thing. I can understand that much just by observing him.
“Opps, my bad. You are one of those girls brought up in Broussonne, huh?”
Due apologised to Uni as he just remembered.
But, this is Uni we are talking about.
“? But I am the slave of master?”
She gave a doubtful look.
As expected of Due to return a stiff laugh.
Uni saw herself as a slave, as a tool before seeing herself as a female. I think it would be good for Due to have realised how Uni thinks after working together for a year, though.
Well, Uni has the capability to get angry at the sexual harassment from you-know-who so I’ll leave the misunderstanding as it is. He awkwardly tried to change the topic.
“But about that. I wonder what tricks your brother is pulling this time around.”
“Are you talking about the wedding invitation? Victor and the others did say that it was definitely some sort of conspiracy, didn’t they?”
When I received the letter, I made sure to have a discussion with them. I can only think that he would call for me at this timing to hinder my creation of the so-called faction as well as something else. This much was obvious even if nobody told me.
But as long as he was not Pygmalion, he cannot create a single person. So how was he able to find his partner? That is one thing I cannot figure out. I fear it is a political marriage arranged by Marquis Lavallée. However, each and every person in their faction have their own interests. Among them, are there any family that would gain anything from marrying into the Oubeniel family?
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. Using something as important like marriage as a tool…...he would go so far to eliminate master to use himself. Well, if it was an efficiency obsessed person like you, I would find it easier to understand though.”
“That was disrespectful. I do hate waste and futility, but I do have the heart for romance.”
Fem was made in the image of my tastes and the maid attires that Uni and the M-series are wearing were also personally designed by me since using an ordinary design would be somewhat unfashionable. I am not the kind of person who would cut corners and only care about function. The only thing that I can claim to be obsessed with efficiency is our daily meals. I gave the job of ensuring the meals provide us with a balanced nutrition to a person like Professor Graumann. I might be number one in hating waste in the Arquell Kingdom, but surely, I am not that renowned across the entire Ithuselah continent.
“So, master. What do you look out for in a marriage partner?”
“Eh? Hmm…...A maid would be able to take care of my meals and I am not in need of money at the moment. Fighting power? No, no, how can I ask of that from a bride. Um, somebody who feels the same about my ideals of immortality and who would support me in realising it. The bare minimum would be to just not be a hindrance to it, though. Somebody who has a fitting social status as me currently would be better too.”
“We are back to efficiency, aren’t we?”
Due had a look of disgust.
“That is what they say, Due. A marriage between nobles is as all about efficiency. Whether the female has a matching family status, a proper upbringing, and whether she can bear children…...All these are the considerations that come before love and romance. Romance would come in the form of concubines after one has fulfilled his duty to the family. Even my elder brother would be aware of his role. Businesslike and thorough, just like how Drei does her work. Well, that’s why some nobles who cannot accept this duty escape into the fantasy of a romance when young.”
This is not some original philosophy that I made up. It is one of the way of doing things shared by all nobles in this world. In any case, because this is a feudalistic society that puts importance in the family, there is nothing that can be done about the male dominated society and lack of choices for females. To overturn this kind of thinking, people have to open their eyes to democracy and human rights. Not only am I not interested, the nobles who on authority on this matter would be reluctant to approve such ideals. Had I been born a female or a commoner, perhaps I might be eager to do something about it though.
“Also, it’s the same kind of thing for commoners, right?”
“About that. Hmm. For nobles, a wife that is lowly in status and has no hope in advancement are not preferred and for peasants, they look at how much they think the female is able to give birth. For merchants, they wouldn’t marry poor people, neither would their daughter want to.”
It boils down to the same thing no matter what your social class is. First and foremost are status and utility. Emotions come second or third.
In this world, the only form of marriage freedom is a restricted one ― where the pool of partners has been filtered from the beginning. For some people, they don’t even have such a freedom. What comes after choosing a person not from this refined pool of partners is, at best, a breakup, or in the worst circumstances, a breakup. No good end is waiting. That is why most nobles run along the path of having a mistress and ignoring their marriage. Though, that is the source of large and small tragedies.
On second thought, perhaps the social class with most freedom to choose their partner would be adventurers. Their job relies not on their partner’s status but on their skill alone. There are some adventurers with remarkable ability like Due who work under nobles too. Of course, they are unlikely to marry the King’s daughter, but even then, the broadness of their partner candidates from the lowest class to the highest ranked is overwhelming.
“Opps, looks like we went off-topic. Let’s go back to the main topic. By the way, Uni, what do you think?”
“......ah, yes. What is it?”
“About my brother’s wedding. As I have said, I do not think I will hesitate at all if the marriage was for strategic reasons.”
From Uni’s reaction to the matter, she must not think much about it. Normally, Uni would reply immediately.
“Hmm. I think master is correct.”
“Let’s see…...we are talking about that prideful Count though? I can’t imagine him happily conspiring on his on wedding.”
“It means he is at his wits’ ends if he cannot happily use such a strategy and yet he goes for it. We did shift from a defensive stance to an offensive one. My elder brother, who detests me most extremely, felt that, on the contrary, we are extending our reach to him. I won’t be surprised at whatever option he chooses at this point.”
“Now that ya say it, that seem to be right.”
“Never mind disliking my brother, this entire farce might be instigated by Marquis Lavallée. He would want this political marriage to completely suck elder brother into his faction. It shouldn’t be that difficult to smooth talk, a less than 30 years old, youngster into a marriage.”
I heard this from Victor that this level of smooth talking should be possible for that old geezer.
Incidentally, I left Victor in charge of Marlan while I am away. He is too close to the Marquis. I have no fears of a rebellion because I tweaked his brain, but with his erratic behaviour, who knows what he might pull off. That is why I left him in Marlan. Accompanying me on a separate carriage are Laubert as the leader and my other staff members. All of them were chosen based on their weak links to the Marquis. On the contrary, there is a chance the Marquis might suspect this unnatural setup but surely, he wouldn’t think I would bring along people who were once on his camp.
What happened to Uni though? For some reason, she turned taciturn. She has always been a quiet one, but she usually does not hold back if she has an opinion.
Is something wrong with her condition?
I remember what happened a year ago. The day a maid malfunctioned when we were traveling on this path. It wasn’t a big deal since it was a mass-produced type but this type, it was Uni. She was an irreplaceable existence and I lack the arrangements to do a maintenance now. And we are heading straight for the enemy headquarters too. It is quite possible a fault in her would cause some problematic situations later.
(Still, it should be fine I guess)
I took the optimistic view.
After all, she was my ultimate masterpiece. It is inevitable for a small error to occur, but it is unlikely for a problem to derail the entire plan. If it does occur, she would handle it on her own and if it is beyond her, she would probably tell me.
That is what Uni is.
“......How about paying a lil’ more attention?”
Due muttered as he scratched his head.
He seemed to have noticed Uni’s situation. For a guy that appears like a musclehead on the outside, he was surprisingly sensitive to what does on inside a person. I could tell from that too.
However, it is of no use to worry about that now.
“What is it, I wonder?”
I played dumb and changed my line of sight to the scenery outside the window.
We were tracing back the steps we took a year ago, but the difference this time is that we did not meet any bandits.
※ ※ ※
The Oubeniel Residence was preparing for the joyous wedding ceremony. Be that as it may, it was the still the place of conspiracies.
The ringleader for this event, Marquis Lavallée, took position in the terrace and offered tea to guests as though this was his home.
“So, it is true that your relationship with the Marquis is very good?”
Linus grimaced towards the lady who said with a sigh. It was because it was clear she was being sarcastic.
“Do not say that, Lady Simone. I had received extraordinary help from him for our wedding to happen.”
“Then could you say that with more delight? Even then, your way of speaking to a person who is about to be your wife is too formal, is it not?”
She had cut off Linus’ retort with one stroke. As she has said, she was the one who would become his wife tomorrow.
They had only met a month ago. It was the night before their wedding and their relationship had not progressed much since their meeting. She showed dissatisfaction towards that at every moment, but she had the magnanimity to not show it at official events. If one were to wish for more, Linus would prefer one who was little gentler, but her looks were top-notched. The social standing of her family was not something he wasn’t bothered by, but for a political marriage, she was a good candidate.
Her…...Simone’s family was the kind of cold door which would not be disagreeable to their daughter marrying into a Count’s family. It was probably because of her status that she could so be selected as the bride of this rushed wedding. Nevertheless, she was a daughter who had received education as much as her family could provide. After the wedding was decided, and her parents came to give their greetings, they had to force a smile. It could be seen that they did not want to marry off the pearl in their palm to a notorious family. They would have definitely preferred a more upright family, even if their rank was lower.
This once again made Linus feel inferior. Comparing her parents with that annoying foolish brother of his, they were truly praiseworthy nobles. He felt somewhat guilty that he was snatching their adorable daughter like a kitten for a political scheme. With that in mind, he was unable to rebut.
“......He is making an express visit the day before the wedding. I have to offer the appropriate hospitality for that.”
“Then can we get on with it quickly? I think I will be very uncomfortable with such an important person near me.”
She was boldly saying that the leader of the faction should just get lost.
It was understandable. This wedding was organised by the Marquis insistence. Before the Marquis used her like a game piece ― no, used her as a prop for a stage, she was probably living her own life. And for the sake of the plan, it has led to this. Not just Linus alone, but the person on the receiving end, would no doubt be frustrated as well.
This pair had same sentiments on abhorring that demonic geezer. Their only common understanding was that.
“I understand too. That man does not intend to stay for long.”
Replying half wishfully, Linus headed back to the terrace.
The Marquis was enjoying his tea and using the servants of the residence like his own. It was the same old cheekiness. He hopes that he would kick the bucket after dealing with Tullius, but with his liveliness despite his age, who knows how long more he has to live. If one is unlucky, he might live till his nineties or hundreds.
There were vulgar rumours saying that he is growing more and more active in bed despite growing old.
―He should just just die from indulging in sex.
Swallowing that curse down his throat, Linus lowered his head.
“My apologies. Looks like I made you wait for long.”
“Lady Simone did not want to let you go? Is she jealous? Hohoo.”
The glint his eyes were cold as he gave a weak smile. This old geezer should be able to discern the enmity from the two who would be newlyweds from tomorrow. Moreover, he was able to do this, he must have a very thick layer of skin on his face.
“I beg your pardon, but was there anything lacking in my hospitality? Since you had to pay a visit.”
You were the bastard who organised this wedding. As long as you don’t go senile, surely the day of the wedding will be hammered into your head. So why are you here today?
Towards his intent loaded words, the old Marquis narrowed his eyes in what appeared to be delight.
“Don’t need to rush. Your hospitality is sufficient.”
Lavallée took another sip as he said.
And then, he revealed a rare frown as he gazed downwards.
“―Oh nobles! We have not forgotten our rage!”
What should have been the peaceful residential area of the nobles was filled with a coarse roar.
It appears that there was a male labourer with a white cloth tied around his head parading on the street. He was shouting and making some exaggerated gestures. Behind him were ten or more tired-looking men and women following. There were people holding up crudely made straw flags that had, ‘Spare the people bread!’ or ‘Noble’s wine glasses are filled with our blood!’ on them.
“We demand freedom from our oppressors――!”
“Ahh. Commoners who call themselves activists, huh?”
Linus snorted in open contempt.
There was growing number of these kind of people in Broussonne as of late. They were a shady group consisting of impoverished labourers in the city or peasants who fled from rural areas. They chant magnificent sounding slogans like cut taxes, elevate the status of commoners and so on, but in the end, they are just people, who had gone broke, vulgarly squeezing every benefit they can for their empty stomachs. Essentially, a Niji no Matsubara uprising in a different place and with some makeup. That would be the opinion of Linus…...no, the opinion of the nobles in power in the kingdom.
“What are the guards on duty doing? How can they let such a fella enter the noble’s street as if they owned the place…...What is the world coming to?”
Linus let out a sigh to the lot who were ruining his mood the day before the wedding, perhaps including the old geezer.
The foolish masses who know not of submitting to the nobles, of not being satisfied with the tax and who do not reflect upon their uneducated self before challenging the politics of the kingdom. Linus lamented that a collar would not suffice for these people and even slaves would be better than them.
“It is so, it is so. This is the result of a chaotic governance. As such, we have not a moment to lose to bring this country back to orthodoxy.”
Marquis Lavallée blurted out.
“I see the masses as works of clay. If you correct only their form, without a strong structure, they are very prone crumbling. What they need is the support of a strong foundation ― a firm and resolute pillar.”
In short, what he wants to say is about the royalty’s authority. Linus became self-aware of his face becoming grim.
“......Your great opinion is rather painful to the ears, but I am preparing for tomorrow’s joyous occasion. Please show some reserve.”
While Linus was the groom for the wedding, he was the matchmaker. He probably did not come here for a boorish political talk. Linus glared at him as such a thought spread within him. And then, Marquis Lavallée made an amused grunt.
“Which is why I told you not to be in a hurry…...My reason for today’s visit is, here, you can call it a gift for the wedding. This was something that would make your younger brother happy, something that he tried all possible means to find previously. And I finally got my hands on it. If it is agreeable, do you want to want to as the host, hand it to him for me?”
“A gift? That is…...”
‘Gift’ was a code for the trick during the wedding.
Has he prepared the plan that controls the fate of Tullius?
Marquis Lavallée held out a box wrapped in wrapping paper to Linus, whose eyes were full of expectation.
From the feeling on his palms, he could tell that the inside of the box was light as nothing, while the wrapping itself was relatively thicker. In all likelihoods, a detailed plan was written beneath the wrapping. Linus realised it and carefully unwrapped the package to ensure the wrapping did not tear.
As expected, the wrapping which were layered over and over had detailed writing beneath them.
He was utterly amazed by the contents.
(Is it possible? Such a thing……!?)
It was a scandal related to a certain noble. In the past, he would not have believed that this noble had a relationship with his brother, but …...with a single thread, Tullius became intertwined with that incident. What a strange coincidence. And with the scandal as the basis, he can chip off the fighting ability of his foe, thus restricting his future movements. The details of such a plan was written.
“Did it surprise you? I too, did not expect to find a material as useful to this extent. To be safe, I examined the lineage to confirm it and so I was late to pass this to you. Please forgive me.”
The Marquis explained to Linus bewilderment.
To sum it up, it means he has already gotten evidence for this. Such a large-scale conspiracy. With the Marquis experience as a schemer, it was impossible for the root of the plan to be founded on misinformation.
Of all people, Linus begun stuttering. He could not help but respond like that.
If they put this plan into practice, and if they are not careful, it was quite possible for a family dispute to occur for a certain high ranked noble. There is a chance for it affect the politics in the capital.
However, Linus had no qualms at all to go public with this information. For this old schemer who lived his life calculatedly, that this was a plan by him would mean that the pros would outweigh the cons. He must have calculated accurately that no matter how many disturbances is borne out of this, ultimately, this will be a plus for them. Linus himself had no significant relation to the noble affected. Conversely, it should definitely have a psychological and political impact on the foolish brother of his. It is this kind of conspiracy.
The only problem at hand is how much does the target know about this.
“Regarding this…...does my foolish brother have any clue on it?”
“Who knows. Though if he was aware, he would have handled it appropriately.”
Linus contemplated for a short while. There are no such traces as far as he knew. In short, Tullius was completely unguarded against this conspiracy.
―It is set in stone.
This plan will surely settle him for good. Linus was strongly convinced of it.
The Marquis said as though chiding him, who became restless.
“It is just that this old man does not know what plan the youngster have. I wonder if your younger brother would receive this gift with pleasure, with only just a prick to his heart.”
He was talking about how the nature of the plan was not to drive Tullius to an end immediately.
Nevertheless, this was sufficient. If this plan were to be a success, Tullius would lose a great amount of his forces. At the very least, he is anticipating a big turmoil. From there, a second or third arrow would surely do him in.
Still, that he was aware of such a fact and prepared this level of a scheme… as expected, this monster was no ordinary person. He was his second most hated person, but he was glad to partner with him temporarily.
For the first time ever, Linus bowed his head down to Marquis Lavallée with sincerity.
“I am deeply touched by your deep consideration. I am sure my foolish brother would be very pleased with this.”
If possible, he wanted to be called to the heavens just like that.
He did not desire to fall to hell.
As long as that demonic child dies, nothing matters.
(Hurry up, Tullius…...)
The wedding is tomorrow. His loathsome brother should arrive in the capital latest by today. Arriving just barely on time was unthinkable for nobles, who should be leaving extravagance and surplus for all things. But that would prove as a blessing in disguise, as there is no fear of Tullius having an inkling of this plan.
(For now, I welcome you with my arms wide open……!)
As he was thinking, he casually gazed downwards the terrace.
The mob that were chirping aloud earlier were fleeing in all directions like the babies of a spider as the guards chased them.
There was no choice but to do this since they made sport of power and authority.