Chapter 2 – Beside You, Forever
Shouko shouted as soon as she saw that silhouette, her voice sounding like she was about to break into tears.
“Hana-chan!! Thank goodness you’re alright!!”
She took off running at a speed that caused the surrounding Magitech Knights to tense unconsciously and rushed to the side of a scelephant that was tied up in the stable.
“H-How do I put it, this place is pretty intimidating.”
Feigreid had called this place a “stable”, but it was on a completely different scale compared to the stables that Yasuo knew about. After all, this place did not house horses or livestock.
It was filled with military-use scelephants.
“Feig-san, did you recognize that scelephant as Hana-chan right away?”
“No… With so many of them in one place, I couldn’t tell them apart…”
Whether it was the height of the ceiling, the size of the feeding troughs, or the thickness of the bars on the pens, everything was far beyond the ordinary. The scelephant was a giant creature that could carry four people on its back while flying through the sky, and there were roughly fifty of them here.
Despite the stables being so massive and somewhat dark, Shouko hadn’t hesitated for an instant.
“Tatewaki-san, are you sure this one is Hana-chan?”, Yasuo timidly asked. Hearing that, Shouko turned around with tears in her eyes while still gripping the bars of the pen.
“She’s completely different from all the others! Just look at the dark viridian fur and the ecru mane and speckles! How could she be anything other than Hana-chan!?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what those words mean either……”
As the two of them stood there flustered, Shouko gave them a sidelong glance and then focused on the pen in front of her. The scelephant inside stretched its trunk out towards her hand that was still holding on to the bar and let out a warm and humid breath. Despite being named after the elephant from Earth, its trunk wasn’t all that long.
“Hana-chan, are you okay? They didn’t do anything horrible to you, did they?”
“The scelephant did nothing wrong. We do not abuse animals in this country. I ask that you refrain from making such baseless statements.”
While Shouko was holding on to Hana-chan’s trunk, she heard a deep voice from behind her speaking in Japanese. Yasuo and the others turned around, and he saw a person whom he was familiar with.
“Captain Gaius Tyndall of the City Safety Patrol, commonly known as the Holstro Battalion.”
He was the one who had presumably asked Yasuo to identify himself at the museum and was also the first one to be taken out by Raia after she hijacked Shouko’s body.
“So you can speak Japanese after all.”
Looking closer, Yasuo saw that the Magitech Knight with a large build who had identified himself as Gaius was carrying a Techno Weapon on his back.
Gaius was a head taller than Feigreid and was a size bulkier when it came to the size of their muscles. The massive sword-type Techno Weapon on his back looked big enough to slice through all three of them with a single blow.
“There’s not a single person in the Holstro Battalion who cannot speak Japanese. It is part of the general curriculum.”
“Then why didn’t you respond to me when I was talking to you back then?”
It wasn’t just his stature, even Gaius’s expression was stern and intimidating. Instead of looking at Yasuo who asked the question, he glared warily at Shouko who was standing beside Hana-chan and let out a sigh.
“There are plenty of people who have learned Japanese. No matter which country, it wouldn’t be surprising to find one or two people in a sample batch of hundred who can speak it.”
Yasuo looked at Feigreid, who also nodded.
“Well, that’s probably true. Even I learned Japanese from my mother, and there are plenty of people in Gaz’s Knights Division who have learned it.”
“That being the case, there is also no end to the number of miscreants who try to put that knowledge to bad use. The things you were saying back then were obviously the sort of things a suspicious person would say.”
Yasuo finally understood why Gaius had not responded when he tried to talk to him.
“One in a hundred. That’s not a small number, but it’s not particularly large either. If some bad guy among that number introduced himself as a Japanese person or the Hero Hideo…”
“That’s right. Every year, we have a never-ending number of thieves and crooks who use such cheap imitations to trick people. And correspondingly, the number of people who fall for it is also never-ending.”
“There are a lot of similar crimes in Gaz as well. We even have a term for it, although the two of you wouldn’t understand it because it is in our language… Let’s see. If I had to translate it, it would be something like ‘The Hero Hideo’s friend scam’ in Japanese.”
“Yet another outrageous term has been coined……”
Shouko smiled bitterly, while Yasuo’s shoulders sank.
The Hero Hideo had traveled all over the world, and what’s more, not even thirty years had passed since his famous exploits. There were still plenty of people who remembered what happened back then, and some of them had also gained recognition because they were acquainted with the Hero.
Looking at it that way, it wouldn’t be strange if someone who could speak fluent Japanese popped up and called themselves a friend of the Hero Hideo to trick people. Yasuo was forced to concede that Gaius’s actions at the time had been logical.
Gaius then looked squarely at Shouko.
“The number of stupid crimes related to Shii is equally large. Your group satisfied the criteria for both of these. I thought it better to arrest you rather than sit around talking.”
“Crimes related to the Shii!? You mean…!”
Yasuo’s eyes widened in surprise, assuming that Baskelgarde had already uncovered the secret machinations of the Carnelian of the Coal Mine. But the reply that he received was one that he had not expected.
“It’s a foolish scam. In the past half-year, there has been a rapid increase in detestable scoundrels who take advantage of grieving families or fear of the Shii. In the beginning, I thought you people were among their number.”
“What do you mean?”
Shouko stared seriously at Gaius, no longer bothering to hide the flame in her left eye.
Gaius stared down at the red glow that lay behind that flame, the frown on his face deepening the already significant furrow between his eyebrows.
“Do you have any close relatives who lost their lives to a whim of fate?”
“It doesn’t matter if it was because of illness, an accident, crime, war, or anything else. Is there anybody you hold so dear that you would give anything to bring them back to life?”
As soon Shouko heard that, her face grew red with anger.
“Don’t tell me they actually…!”
“There are many people who want to depend on such things. After all, it has only been thirty years since the tragedy that was Demon King Kaul’s invasion.”
Diana was sitting on a sofa in a luxuriously appointed room, accompanied by Magitech Knights equipped with ornate armor and Techno Weapons.
Her beloved light armor had been confiscated along with her Castor and Pollux. In addition, the long journey and half a day’s worth of hiding in the dilapidated house had covered her uniform in dust, which was currently leaving a white stain on the leather sofa that she was seated on.
Despite that, Diana still waited resolutely with her back perfectly straight. Eventually, she detected the presence of someone approaching the door to the room and stood up in a single, elegant motion.
The Magitech Knights did not move a muscle.
The door opened, and a man walked in. Diana mimed picking up the hem of a non-existent skirt and bent her knees into a curtsey.
He was an elderly man with a solidly-built body and a luxurious beard, wearing not the uniform of the Magitech Knights, but the formal dress uniform of a Knight.
“Your Excellency. It has been a long time since we last met, General Leonid.”
The elderly man whom Diana had addressed as Leonid looked at her with a slightly dazzled expression.
“I wondered what had happened when I heard the news, but you truly are Miss Dianaze… We haven’t met since Alexei’s funeral. You have grown into quite the beautiful young lady.”
“My country, the Krone family, as well as myself received great support from Your Excellency’s kind words at my father’s funeral. I had hoped to repay that debt of gratitude the next time I was graced with an opportunity to meet Your Excellency in person, but I must instead beg your pardon for appearing before you in such a state.”
“Stop that. As Alexei’s daughter, you are as good as my own grandchild. No matter what your appearance, I believe that you had a good reason for it.”
“I am grateful for your understanding.”
“Let me get someone to bring you a hot drink. You there.”
The Magitech Knight that General Leonid indicated snapped off a salute with sharp movements and left the room to carry out his order.
“Stand at ease. We are both short on time, are we not?”
“Yes… Your Excellency… The thing is…”
“I already contacted your mother earlier. It was a private conversation.”
Forstalling Diana’s explanation, the kindly old general spoke in a deep voice.
“No doubt only a few people in the vast land of Ante Lande have ever heard that Erijina Krone’s flustered voice. It was an unexpected benefit.”
“…What did my mother say?”
“Hmm. Before we get into that—Oh, that was quick. Even though this is an informal visit, we are still entertaining the young lady from the Krone family. I hope you have prepared a suitably high-quality tea.”
The Magitech Knight from earlier returned promptly and started arranging a luxurious tea in front of Diana.
Since the general had mentioned a ‘hot drink’, tea was well within Diana’s expectations. However, the afternoon tea that the Magitech Knight was arranging on the table in front of Diana had more food than your average luncheon.
Moreover, an identical set was arranged opposite to Diana, and Leonid plonked his heavy body into that seat.
After glancing over the arrangements, Leonid nodded as though he was satisfied and dismissed the Magitech Knights from the room.
“I stopped smoking recently, you see. Since then, I’ve had such a large appetite that eating four meals a day has become the norm. This is a good opportunity, you can keep me company.”
Although it was supposed to be an afternoon tea, Diana caught glimpses of things like grilled sausages, bacon, and hash browns. If anything, it looked like a food spread arranged by a catering service.
“Right, now where should I begin.”
Plates stacked with plenty of food before him, Leonid initiated the conversation.
“If there is anything Your Excellency is curious about, please do not hesitate to ask.”
“Hmm. That young man. He certainly resembles Hideo a great deal.”
“He is Hideo’s firstborn son. His name is Yasuo.”
“Do you have any proof of that?”
“No Sir, I do not.”
“In that case, is that girl Madoka’s daughter?”
“She is an important friend of Yasuo’s. Her parents are acquaintances of both Hideo and Madoka.”
“I see. Is Hideo doing well?”
“His whereabouts are presently unknown.”
“Why did you and the others come to this country?”
“We were in the middle of an expedition to satisfy our thirst for knowledge.”
“It must have been quite an expensive trip, if you came all this way just for a tour of the museum.”
“There were many things we had to take into consideration.”
“I see, it looks like you’ve had your share of troubles.”
During this series of questions and answers, Leonid had already polished off one plate of food.
This person who appeared to be a good-natured old man, and was reaching for the plates like a child in front of his favorite sweets, was attempting to lull Diana into a false sense of ease and ferret out more details of the incident.
He had said that her mother was flustered, but there was no way to tell if that was really true.
One thing was for sure, the man in front of her was no longer the “Uncle Leonid” whom she had met as a child through her father, and who had visited the Krone family mansion in Resteria at every opportunity.
However, this situation was still within their predictions. Moreover, it was not Diana’s prediction, but Yasuo’s.
While being internally astonished by the proceedings, Diana could not help but feel an indescribable sense of exaltation.
“Reveal our identities and surrender!?”
Feigreid probably doubted Yasuo’s sanity after hearing what he had to say. After all, they had so far relied on Feigreid’s presence as camouflage precisely because there would be a great deal of trouble if Yasuo’s or Diana’s true identities were revealed.
If they used the name of Dianaze Krone, it would certainly be a simple matter to ensure that Shouko would be sheltered by Baskelgarde. However, that would lead to Diana’s own position becoming precarious, and it would inevitably cause friction between the countries of Baskelgarde and Resteria.
Regardless of how Diana felt about the matter, she was still a VIP.
As the sole child of braves and a member of the Krone family, her position held considerable clout all over the world. If the fact got out that such a person had gone undercover, snuck into Baskelgarde, and then proceeded to demand political asylum, there was no telling what would happen.
The investigation and validation of her story would take a considerable amount of time, and while she would be given the appropriate courtesy, she would still be placed under custody for a long time.
If something like that came to pass, they could forget about returning Shouko to Japan within a week’s time. It wasn’t hard to imagine that it would take several weeks or even months.
When Feigreid expressed his worries on the subject, Yasuo pointed at himself.
“Of course, it won’t be just Diana. I will reveal my identity as well, as the son of the Hero Hideo.”
“H-How will that change anything!?”
“It will, so long as we do things in the right order and conduct ourselves in the proper fashion.”
At that point, Yasuo seemed to suddenly lose the confidence he had shown so far and repeatedly looked around at the others in the group.
“Firstly, there’s Diana. Diana, you are probably familiar with some people in Baskelgarde, right?”
“……Yes, I am. Considering our situation, you are referring to a person from the Knights Division or nobility, someone who has influence with the top brass, correct?”
Diana quickly understood the intention behind Yasuo’s question and nodded in reply.
“Yeah. It would be best if it is someone who fought against Demon King Kaul’s army alongside my dad or your parents.”
“I can think of a few people who fit those criteria. What do we do next?”
“I want you to find the most important person among them and tell them everything about us without holding anything back. I estimate that we will spend at most a day and a half for this.”
“Hang on. Don’t you think that’s impossible?”
Shouko interrupted him, but Yasuo shook his head with a pale face.
“It’s not impossible. If it’s someone who has fought against Demon King Kaul, they will probably make their own misconceptions in the blink of an eye.”
“Yeah. You remember Catalina-san’s painting, right? Anyone who fought against Demon King Kaul’s army beside my father probably has the appearance of the Hero Hideo carved into their memory. Also, this country even has video archives that are accessible by everyone. The videos are so vivid that even Feig-san, who has never met my father, could tell that I resemble him.”
Saying that, Yasuo looked at Feigreid.
“Moreover, the daughter of braves and the son of the Hero are accompanied by a lone Magitech Knight from the Gaz Commonwealth who chose to distance himself from his duties towards his own country. Truth to tell, Baskelgarde will probably find Feig-san’s presence the hardest to ignore.”
Hearing that, Feigreid himself was only able to blink dumbfoundedly.
“I wonder… Even though I don’t particularly want to say this, I am not the type of knight who will rise much further in my career, you know? I don’t have a strong patron supporting me either. Even if I play all my cards right, I will only become the commanding officer of Galedeite at most. When you said that you wanted to reveal your identities, I thought that I would become useless at that point.”
“Absolutely not. If anything, you are the cornerstone of this entire plan, Feig-san. Most likely, we will not be able to get them to release us so easily with just Diana, Tatewaki-san, and me.”
“……I have no clue what you are trying to say.”
“In the first place, one of the reasons why my dad and I decided to travel to Resteria in secret was because we didn’t want any other countries to find out about our plans. Every country has its own Gate Tower, and every country wants to do something about the Shii. Despite that, no other country tried to make contact with us because of the clout that Diana’s parents have in Resteria. Even if some other country had initially tried to reach out to my father regarding the Shii, he would still consider the safety of the comrades who risked their lives by his side as his highest priority, and so Resteria had a monopoly over the braves from the past. However… the situation right now is different.”
Yasuo grinned while breaking out into a cold sweat.
“Whether it is Resteria, Baskelgarde, or Gaz, no country has even the slightest idea about how to resolve the issue with the Shii. Not only did the Hero Hideo fail to descend from the heavens to save them, they even lost the Swordmaster Alexei. Right now, this world needs new braves. It’s not important whether they can resolve the issue with the Shii or not. They just need to give people hope. With that in mind, if there is someone who is traveling alongside the sole daughter of braves and the son of the Hero, how do you think other people around the world would see him?”
“Y-Yasuo… You mean… I…”
“That’s right. I want you to become a candidate for the new generation of braves, Feig-san.”
Yasuo continued to speak while covered in sweat and having a pale expression.
“If it were just me and Diana, other countries could say that Resteria was just doing whatever it wanted or that I was a fake who was calling myself the son of the Hero Hideo. But what if we added the Gaz Commonwealth to the mix?”
“People would assume that… Gaz ratified Major Krone’s actions and Yasuo’s identity.”
“I’ve heard that even the Hero Hideo’s journey started out as an unofficial expedition. That’s only natural. Back then, nobody in Ante Lande knew anything about a Hero who wielded a holy sword. My father and the others did not have the protection of any country, they slowly gained fame and recognition during the course of their journey. We are going to… do a reenactment of that. And besides, we do have definite evidence that seems to point towards the true nature of the Shii.”
“……Yasu-kun, did you do that on purpose?”
“I’m sorry. It was a coincidence. I couldn’t think of any other way to say it.”
“Oh… It was a pun on Shouko’s name!!”
“While sheltering a girl who bears a Shii within her body, the daughter of braves, the son of the Hero, and a Magitech Knight who put his own country aside are traveling together. Don’t you see….”
By this point in time, Yasuo looked completely nauseated. Setting up a flashy scenario like this was too heavy a burden for a high school kid from modern times to bear.
Forget about planning for his future, he had gone through life without even thinking about what he would do the next day until just two months ago. He was only a member of a school club on paper and just went straight home after school. For a kid like him, even spouting arrogant lines like this should have been beyond his ability.
Still what choice did he have?
If he didn’t do this, he, his friends, and other people would be in for a great deal of trouble.
“Don’t you see? What we have here is pretty much exactly what a party of braves would look like. Anyone who thoughtlessly throws us in jail under such circumstances would no doubt get all sorts of horrible things written about them in the memoirs of the new generation of braves and receive criticism from every direction.”
Diana noticed Yasuo’s abnormal tone and tried to support his shoulders, but he shook his head and declined her help.
Since he had chosen to aggrandize himself to such an extent, he had to stay standing on his own feet until the end.
“If we’re going to cause an international incident anyway, we might as well pick an option that gives us a chance for the future.”
Diana remembered how Yasuo had been driven to his limits by just pretending to be bold while explaining his plan to the three of them.
Yasuo had faced numerous situations in the past that should have been far more nerve-wracking. Even though Diana had been beside him during pretty much every one of those situations, she had never seen him affected to such an extent before.
She had even reached out to support him, but had been gently rebuffed. She felt a certain level of heroic resolve from that action. He wanted to finish speaking until the end with his own strength.
Now that they had actually put Yasuo’s plan into action, it was amusing how everything was falling into place exactly as he had predicted.
While she was having a one-on-one meeting with Leonid, Yasuo, Feigreid, and Shouko had probably gone to visit Hana-chan who had been captured at the inn where they had been staying. While the three of them had been put under surveillance by the Holstro Battalion, they had not been arrested.
Yasuo had probably been able to think of this plan by making full use of all the experience, knowledge, and memories that he had accumulated related to Ante Lande. The fact that she had been included in that plan served to further heighten Diana’s emotions.
She, Diana, was in the middle of an adventure.
She wasn’t just chasing after her father’s and mother’s pasts.
She was having an adventure of her own free will.
“By the way, I heard an interesting rumor recently. You came to Baskelgarde from the Gaz Commonwealth, didn’t you?”
“Yes, that is correct. Would you like to know which checkpoint we passed through to get here?”
“Ah, never mind that. More importantly, since you came from Gaz, can you tell me if you have heard of a certain person? Apparently, when the Shii of Demon General Balor appeared in the fortress city of Galedeite, a certain ‘Saint’ saved a huge number of people from the Shii.”
“While ordinary Magitech Knights can send off one or maybe two Shii at a time with great effort, apparently this person sent off a hundred Shii all at once without even weakening them first.”
“A hundred Shii!?”
Diana was genuinely surprised at the extent to which the rumors had been embellished. There was no need to confirm it, Leonid was obviously talking about Yasuo.
Also, the actions that Yasuo took along with Catalina and Feigreid to oppose the Shii had already spread to such an extent among the people. For these two reasons, Diana was unable to conceal her surprise.
“That’s what the rumors say. Galedeite has a system in place that uses sorcery for broadcasting sound, and given the design of the fortress city, the system is set up in such a way that the sound reaches every nook and cranny. Apparently, the Shii were sent off using that system.”
“A broadcast… so the Shii were decimated by a requiem that was amplified using the power of sorcery?”
“Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. After we heard the rumors, our Knights Division immediately prepared an experiment where we channeled the requiem through a broadcasting facility, but the measurements did not detect any amplification of the requiem’s power. At the moment, the conclusion seems to be that the so-called ‘Saint’ was just that powerful.”
“That’s… In a way, that is an unfortunate result.”
“Indeed. I feel the same way. If that’s all it took to solve the problem, I would have immediately set up a broadcasting network that covers the whole of Holstro and played the requiem around the clock.”
“I feel like that would be quite depressing.”
“It’s better than having people turn into Shii. Speaking of which, Dianaze-kun.”
“Yes, Your Excellency?”
“I think that the young man called Yasuo might be the ‘Saint’ we just discussed.”
Leonid said that all of a sudden, but Diana smoothly parried his verbal jab.
“What gave you that impression?”
“A young man calling himself the Hero Hideo’s son came here from Galedeite along with the late Alexei’s daughter. There are rumors in Galedeite about a Saint with hitherto unseen levels of power. It is not strange to think that the two events are connected somehow.”
“You looked genuinely surprised when I mentioned the number hundred earlier, so maybe there was a mistake in the information somewhere… but you and others are without a doubt connected to the incident in Galedeite where there was a large outbreak of Shii, and to the defeat of Balor’s Shii that appeared in the city. What do you say?”
In the time it took Diana to drink a single cup of tea, Leonid had polished off every plate of his afternoon tea. He asked her that question while brushing crumbs of scone out of his beard using a napkin.
After taking a slightly deep breath, Diana raised her left hand and held it beside her face.
“Are you familiar with this hair ornament?”
Diana’s hair clip was set with a decorative white flower.
“Ah… That is…… Hmm? Don’t tell me… Is that—!?”
Diana, who suddenly changed the way she referred to Leonid, had a large smile on her face, while Leonid, who had not been able to conceal his sharp expression despite acting like a good-natured old man so far, dropped his gaze.
“Goodness me… Do you know the truth about that hair ornament?”
“I heard about it from my mother when I was still a child. She told me that the hair ornament was one of her important memories of the time she had spent fighting against the demon king’s army. She told me that it was a charm that was created using a magical tool that is unique to the native people who live in the northern region of your country, that it is woven from a special type of silk thread called ‘crystal cocoon’, and that it is supposed to protect the wearer against evil and death.”
“A-Ah, yes, that is certainly true, but…”
“Also… she told me that in that region, it is something that a man weaves with his own hands and presents to a woman that he loves.”
Leonid covered his eyes with his wrinkled hand.
“Did Alexei know about that as well?”
“No, my father did not know about this. Even I only found out by accident. When I was still a child, I just happened to be present when my mother was organizing her accessories one day. I fell in love with this ornament the moment I saw it and pestered her until I finally got this. It was only much later that my mother accidentally told me what happened when she was drunk, about the passionate proposal that you made to my mother when she was still young. It was a lovely story.”
“My mother was not the type of person to boast about her own beauty, but she told me when she was drunk that she was more popular than Madoka when they were young. I think she was just nursing a silly grudge from her youth. After all, compared to the various legends that have cropped up about the Great Magician Sugiura Madoka who already left this world behind, there aren’t many legends about my mother.”
“Still… I’m surprised you have taken such good care of it even after hearing that story. It is proof that some other man tried to hit on your mother, after all.”
“A whole ten years had passed between the time when I pestered her to give me the ornament and when I heard the real story… And besides, there were some men who made their own misconceptions after seeing it, so it served its purpose well in keeping away evil influences.”
While the practice of giving hair ornaments made from crystal cocoon wasn’t widespread within Resteria, anyone who was familiar with the culture of Baskelgarde would understand at a glance that the hair ornament was a present from a man. It was just that well-known.
The young lady from the Krone family had received a number of marriage proposals in her time, but there hadn’t been so much as a whisper of such from influential families of Baskelgarde. No doubt, that was because of the hair ornament exhibiting its power to the fullest.
After that, Diana boldly spoke to the old general who was reminiscing about his youth and blushing in a manner inappropriate for his age.
“No matter what, I am also a person from the Krone family. If things continue as they are now, I will be the next head of the family. While thinking about that… I assumed that it would come in useful someday, just like this.”
“……I see. Splendid. You understand it very well.”
The old general waved his hand uncomfortably and drank his lukewarm tea as if it was a shot of cheap alcohol.
“What is it that you wish for?”
“Can you really grant it, Uncle?”
“Mgh… Oh well, I have no choice. Still, I expect a certain level of recompensation. There are things that I need to prioritize over my youthful indiscretions, make sure you don’t forget that.”
“Of course! In that case, Uncle, can I meet up with my companions for the time being? I can’t decide on what to ask of you unless I discuss it with them first.”
“……Very well. Wait here for a while. Right now, they should be in the Holstro Battalion’s scelephant stables.”
“I understand. Thank you very much, Uncle!”
Diana graced him with a smile that could only be described as flower-like and bowed her head to him. Leonid received that smile with a bitter smile of his own.
“My goodness. It looks you’re more of a challenge than even your mother.”
“Don’t be mean, Uncle. There’s no way I can match my mother.”
Leonid stood up hurriedly and left without saying anything else.
Most likely, he intended to take action on his own without involving any other people in order to prevent the information from leaking.
Diana looked at the door that closed behind him and slightly bowed her head.
“I’m sorry, Uncle.”, she whispered.
Diana had not uttered a single lie.
The fact that Erijina possessed a hair ornament that she had received from Leonid during the battle against the Demon King’s army, and the fact that Diana had coveted it as a child, this was all true.
“This hair ornament was made by my father.”
Erijina hadn’t been able to get rid of the present that she had received from Leonid. The reason for that was exceedingly simple, both she and Leonid had been accomplished members of the Knights Divisions in their respective countries even before the battle against the Demon King’s army.
Even leaving out the sentimental aspects of it and considering it from the perspective of diplomatic courtesy, she had no choice but to hang on to the item that she had received as a gift.
However, there was no way a mother would give something like that to her daughter.
At her wits’ end, Erijina had reached out to Alexei for advice. Alexei had immediately arranged to have crystal cocoon imported and stayed up all night making ornaments for his wife and daughter.
It was an irreplaceable memory of her father that he had made for her despite not being skilled at such things. Diana had never imagined that she would end up using it in such a way, but her father was not so petty that he would sulk about something like that.
According to her memories, her father had given her the hair ornament less than a week after she had first asked for it.
It was possible that her father had not known about Leonid giving her mother the hair ornament until then, and he made the ornaments because he felt jealous about something that had already been settled years ago.
Diana clenched her fists on top of her legs.
She remembered the creature that had appeared in Tokorozawa in the past, the one she had delivered the final blow to with her own hands. It had looked like her father, but it should not have actually been him.
However, she remembered thinking that it might have actually been him.
When she saw the one called Raia Calgani, the Shii inside Shouko, her heart had wavered for just an instant.
If the Shii had a will of their own, then maybe her father had recognized the people in front of him at that time?
Maybe there had been a way to save her father that day?
Maybe her father was…
“E-Excuse me, I’m coming in!!”
At that instant, Yasuo, Shouko, Feigreid, and an unfamiliar Magitech Knight with a large build entered the room along with Leonid.
The moment she saw Yasuo, who was standing at the front of the group, the darkness in her heart dispersed.
Her father was dead.
He was dead, and Yasuo had been the one to send him off with the requiem.
Despite the fact that she had stolen his peaceful life from him, that young man had still sent her father off in her stead.
After standing up to greet them, Diana took hold of Yasuo’s hand and gave him a small smile.
“Thank you, Yasuo. Somehow, I feel like I was able to change a little.”
“Eh? W-What do you mean?”
Yasuo’s face turned red and he panicked at the unexpected smile and words of gratitude.
Shouko, who was standing a short distance behind him, had a scary expression on her face, but Diana thought that it should be okay for just a little while.
She had been born as the child of braves, and everyone expected her to carry herself in a manner befitting the child of braves. Despite that, nobody ever thought that she herself could become one of the braves, and yet here she was, trying to change the world of her own free will.
Diana walked to stand in front of Leonid while still holding on to Yasuo’s hand.
“Uncle. I said some mean things to you earlier. To make up for that, there is something that I’d like to tell you.”
“Hmm? What is it?”
Diana faced Leonid who kept a dignified face in front of his subordinate Magitech Knight and spoke to him.
“The ‘Saint’ of Galedeite you mentioned before, this is him.”
This wasn’t a part of Yasuo’s plan. They only needed Leonid to accept that Yasuo was really the son of the Hero Hideo.
Still, what did it matter after coming so far?
Both the Hero Hideo and Swordmaster Alexei were now existences from distant legends.
In that case, for just a little while longer…
Since he himself had decided to pursue that path, it couldn’t hurt for people to recognize him on his own terms.
“Yasuo Kenzaki. After I went to Japan to ask for help, he saved me and other people from the horrors of the Shii on several occasions. He is ‘Saint Yasuo’.”
※ The Japanese word for evidence (Shoko/証拠) has the same pronounciation as Shouko’s name (翔子).🠕