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Seirei Gensouki ~Konna Sekai De Deaeta Kimi Ni~ - Chapter 112

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Chapter 112

Chapter 112 [The Day of Departure]

+++第112話 出発の日

TL : Cnine

ED/PF : Aster

Part 1

「So then, have you decided on your next course of action?」

After Francois granted Rio the right to a family name as Haruto Amakawa, he asked about the latter's plans.

「I'm going to head west.」

When he answered, Francois paused, muttering under his breath.

「I see. You were originally active in the outskirts of Almond before this, no?」

「Yes, that's correct.」

「If you're going to pass through Duke Kretia's territory on the way, you should pay a short visit to the home of Cedric. I heard that you and Liselotte came to the capital together by magic ship.」

The distance between Almond and the Galwark kingdom's capital was a few hours at most, even with the most common magic ship.

Taking the highway by foot, it would be around a fortnight.

In Rio's case, however, he can fly alone much faster than a magic ship, but there's no way Francois knew about that.

「My deepest gratitude for your consideration.」

「I mentioned before that it's fine as long as you return on occasion to see Charlotte and Satsuki-dono. I'm sure they'll both miss you.」

Francois spoke their names as if to emphasize it.

「I understand. I'll do my best to visit once in a while.」

Holding back a strained sigh, Rio answered his request courteously.

☆★☆★☆★

Some time before the meeting between Francois and Rio, there were three magic ships owned by the Saint Stella kingdom anchored on the Galwark capital's east harbor.

The knights were extremely nervous, taking every precaution so to not miss any sign of intruders entering the ship after Takahisa and Liliana boarded.

Among the two-man pairs on patrol were Alice and Kiara.

「Alice, have there been any abnormal reactions around or inside the ship?」

「No~ne. If there was, I would have told you as soon as I noticed.」

Although Kiara's voice was tense, Alice remained nonchalant as ever.

「You're the only one on board with the ability to perceive magical power. I won't let you miss it a second time, so please stay focused.」

「Got it~. But come on, don't you think you're overworking me here? I deserve some rest by now.」

Her attitude aside, it was extremely difficult for someone without a good plan to creep onto the magic ship.

Naturally there were the knights keeping watch with their eyes and ears, but Alice was vigilant for the use of any magic or magic tools.

There's two necessary skills to use magic. Those are the manipulation and perception of magical power, referred to as odo by the Seirei no Tami.

Though it's possible for humans who can use magic to perceive odo, in any normal case they only feel the fixed amount being used for spellcasting. They can't feel the loose magic drifting in the air.

To say nothing of changing the phenomenon, it's impossible to discern the true nature of the magical energy with the naked eye.

This sort of high level sensory ability and perception is extremely useful for detecting abnormalities in magical power, and indispensable for learning spirit arts.

Since magic used by humans doesn't strictly demand the ability to sense pure magical power, they don't have the know-how needed to train that ability efficiently.

Of course, it's also possible for a human to learn spirit arts after dedicated training, but it's not a widespread discipline in the Strahl region.

The discipline they refer to as magic became widespread in the region thanks to its ease of use, so the high-demand spirit arts faded into obscurity.

Then there are those rare cases of a genius having a high affinity for spirit arts among humans. Such an exceptional human would be able to sense odo with high precision from little training.

Rio, who was able to learn spirit arts far more quickly than any normal human, and can even skip many of the steps involved in use, could be considered the rarest of the rare. However, Alice isn't all that far from his level.

Many spies and assassins often use strange magic and tools. As a result, a natural-born prodigy like Alice is particularly precious as an escort a living national treasure.

There are occasions where one is clever enough to use the absolute minimum required power, enough so that they can remain undetected up to the point of contact with their target. But for anyone careless enough to use spirit arts or magic within Alice's range, she'd catch it without fail.

Her exceptional talent matured at a very young age, so it was quickly decided that she be raised as a royal knight for the princess. Despite being the eldest daughter, her ability in service to Liliana couldn't be overlooked.

☆★☆★☆★

「But, we're on top of a lake, aren't we?」

Miharu muttered those words.

「Isn't this tremor coming from the ship itself?」

「... Maybe. How are you feeling?」

Miharu answered Masato's question with one of her own, but before he could answer the trembling grew stronger. The ship seemed to be on the move.

「Wa the ship! Is it moving?」

Masato looked around the salon as he stabilized himself, but unfortunately there weren't any windows to look outside.

「Um, it looks like it. Did Takahisa-kun board already?」

The sightseeing flight on the ship was to wait for Takahisa to return, so she thought it would begin when he did.

「Aw, come on, I wanted to be on the deck when we took off.」

As Masato grumbled his dissatisfaction, the burden of gravity slowly lessened on them.

「Ah whoa, them.

「Ah whoa, this feels kinda weird. Let's try taking a peek outside.」

Masato headed toward the salon's door, interrupted by Aki.

「W-wait! Masato, you can't!」

And suddenly the door flung open, Takahisa on the other side.

「What's up, Aniki? Let me go to the deck when we're leaving,」

「My bad. There's something I wanted to talk about. Will you sit back down for now?」

「But we're already in the air, aren't we? I wanted to finish looking around soon.」

「There won't be any tour. We're heading to Saint Stella kingdom right now.」

For some reason, Takahisa's voice was stone cold.

Although Masato looked restless, he was completely dumbfounded. He couldn't understand what his brother just said, and couldn't say anything himself.

Next to him, Miharu was just as perplexed, only muttering in response.

「Eh?」

「What are you saying?」

「I decided to return to our country. This ship is currently heading toward Saint Stella kingdom. Everyone was supposed to come with me.」

「Hold up, I don't get this. What are you talking about?」

Masato frowned at him with suspicion.

「That's why I'm about to explain. Can we sit down first? Let's have lunch while we talk.」

☆★☆★☆★

After everyone gathered at a dining table in the salon, a warm meal was immediately served to them.

On the menu was a white stew made with Galwark native calf, fresh-baked bread, sautéed mushroom, omelette and a colorful salad.

The aroma tickled at Masato's nose and roused his stomach.

He had a lot of questions he wanted to ask, but he felt like it would have been wasteful to let his food cool. Thus, Masato promptly stretched his arms to begin devouring his slightly delayed lunch.

Frankly, it was so Masato-like that Miharu couldn't help but crack a smile at the boy who never once beat his stomach in a battle of attrition.

She thought it would be fine to start the conversation herself, but she hesitated to really do it, so Masato got ahead of her.

「So then, Send... Santo 」

「Saint Stella kingdom.」

In the end, Miharu still ended up correcting him.

「Yeah. Why are we going to Saint Stella kingdom? What happened to Haruto-anchan, and Satsuki-oneechan? Are they on board?」

Masato threw a barrage of questions at Takahisa in between greedy gulps of bread.

「They're not on the ship. They'll visit Saint Stella in the future.」

「H-Haah? I didn't hear about this!」

「Weren't we going to meet with Haruto-san this afternoon? You promised, didn't you?」

Miharu asked with a look of confusion, Masato's head spinning trying to follow along, and Takahisa desperately endured the urge to grimace.

「I'm sorry. That became impossible. That's why we're heading to Saint Stella now.」

「Eh?」

Miharu froze stiff for a moment.

「Th That's a lie! YOU'RE LYING, AREN'T YOU?!」

She completely lost her composure.

「Why? Why is the ship taking us to Saint Stella Saint Stella kingdom? Tell me why!」

「M-Miharu-oneechan, what's the matter?」

Aki couldn't keep in her shock, having never seen Miharu blow up before. Masato was stunned, as well.

She sat back in her chair, body tense.

This shouldn't be happening, so when did it come to this?

That was the only question on her mind.

Miharu's brain was on overdrive the night before. She didn't even get a moment's rest.

Or more accurately, it had been on her mind until just a few minutes ago.

The chance that Haruto might be Amakawa Haruto.

What if it was the truth? What would she do?

She wanted to know the truth. No, without exception, she had to know.

Still, Haruto showed various sides of himself, and sometimes she caught the sight of something so cruel it overwhelmed her

When she thought the truth may not be as she imagined... when she thought the time finally came for her to learn the answers to her questions... she was scared, wanted to run from it

She tried to settle herself, even just a little bit, before she met with Haruto, but for all the preparation she did her mind was slowly crumbling.

She was afraid to leave the ship to see Haruto, but at the same time she was brimming with anticipation to speak with him.

Her heart throbbed so heavily it hurt, and only more as the time to meet him again crept closer.

She never expected him to prefer doing something else.

「It has to be a lie. This kind of thing... THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING!」

Haruto confessed his love to her.

He said there was something he wanted to give her.

She didn't think he would end up going somewhere else before then.

Miharu was assaulted by indescribable anxiety.

「It's the truth.」

When Takahisa spoke, a shiver ran down Miharu's spine.

Only a moment's hesitation flickered in her eyes.

「... I have to leave.」

「Eh?」

Aki tilted her head as Miharu stood up and ran for the door.

「Huh Miharu-oneechan! Wait! Where are you going?!」

Aki scrambled after her, managing to grab Miharu's arm when she opened the door.

Nobody could understand why Miharu was acting so out of character.

「Let go of me! Please! I have to get off this ship!」

「Y-You can't! It's flying you know!」

「I still have something to do there! Where Haruto-san is! So, why did it turn out like this without any explanation?!」

Though she clearly wasn't happy with what was happening, Aki refused to release her.

「She's right, Aniki. Please explain what's going on right now. And if we're not satisfied with the reason, please send us back immediately.」

Masato composed himself and agreed with Miharu.

「It's alright. You'll be able to meet again. I've discussed it with Satsuki-senpai, and she approves as well.」

Maybe because he expected Miharu's reaction, Takahisa could reply without could reply without skipping a beat. And not just Masato, even Miharu turned around to listen.

Although, in Miharu's case, there was a strangely threatening glint in her eyes.

「If that's so, then why are you hiding all this from us?」

「... I'm sorry. It's my fault for keeping this matter a secret from you. We have a pressing issue ahead of us, so we didn't have enough time to tell you.」

「If you're in a hurry, why are you forcing us to go with you? We can't even say goodbye to Satsuki-neechan and Haruto-anchan.」

「... I'm sorry. I didn't want to be away from anyone.」

Masato clicked his tongue at Takahisa's apologies.

「I wonder if you're just trying to wear us down saying stuff like that... but there's an order for this kind of thing, right?」

「I'm really sorry.」

Takahisa's stiffened bitterly, knowing Masato was making a sound argument.

「Ah-I decided to go along after talking about it with Onii-chan!」

Unable to watch any longer, Aki forced her way in.

「Why is Aki-neechan involved in this too...?」

「I was the one who asked her. I'm an older brother. I should have been the one who protected you all. I couldn't bear staying separated from you and letting you live in a world like this with such poor public safety.」

「He's right. Why should we be torn apart again when we're finally back together?」

Aki immediately covered for Takahisa, who finally stopped lying about what he really wanted. Masato was still pouting in discontent, though.

「That's, that's right, but...」

He didn't want to be separated from his brother either.

They had their quarrel yesterday, but Masato was trying to think of a better solution the entire time.

「Maybe it's impossible for Satsuki-neechan, but why couldn't Haruto-anchan come with us?」

He wanted to know what Haruto had to say on the matter.

「I tried to invite him... But he refused. He said there was something he had to do, no matter what.」

Masato and MIharu's eyes widened hearing that. After all, Haruto himself told them the same thing.

「It seems he's going back to Almond soon. But he'll come visit after finishing his business, right, Onii-chan? And Satsuki-san, too.」

And hoping to not see Takahisa lose any more face, she added on to his explanation from what she already heard.

「Yeah. Satsuki-senpai would take some preparing, but as long as the Galwark kingdom grants permission she can come meet us. As for Haruto-san... I don't know how long it'll take for him to finish his business.」

「Haruto-san is...」

Miharu spoke like she was wringing her voice out.

「Haruto-san really didn't say anything?」

「... He said, ’’Best regards to everyone.’’」

「Anything else?」

「Let's... ’’Let's meet again.’’」

Pushed along by Miharu's desperation, Takahisa said whatever came to mind.

He immediately regretted saying something so half-baked.



?… I’m going.?
?Eh??

Takahisa couldn’t understand what Miharu was muttering.

?I have to go. I need to go to where Haruto-san is.?
?That’s impossible, ths ship is flying at a hundred kilometers an hour.?

Takahisa tried to convince her to abandon the idea, but Miharu wasn’t having any of it, pleading with him in a shaking voice.

?Takahisa-kun, please. Please turn the ship around or let me leave.?
?I’m sorry. I can’t do that.?

He shook his head in denial, wearing a sullen expression.

?W-Why??
?I don’t want you to leave. I don’t want to have to separate from you. I want to be the one who protects you.?

Takahisa stated it plainly. In a way, this was a confession of sorts.

?I… I never asked you to do that!?

She rarely expressed her opinion so aggressively, giving Aki and Masato a shock. Even Takahisa faltered for a moment.
Regardless, his determination didn’t waver.

?But in reality, if Haruto-san didn’t protect you, you wouldn’t have survived this far, right? Can you manage to live on your own in this kind of world??
?That’s…?

He was right.
Unless she was protected, the Miharu as she was now didn’t stand a chance.

?Not just Miharu, but Aki and Masato also need to be protected by someone. Don’t you think so??
?Yeah, but…?
?I want to be the one who protects you. Can’t I??

He was trying to force out a yes or no.

?Whether you can or not isn’t the problem, Takahisa-kun. I…?

Miharu was trying to express it to him, but she was so irritated she couldn’t find the words.

?Is there a reason why I’m not good enough compared to Haruto-san??
?I have a debt to Haruto-san…?
?He doesn’t seem to feel the same. He even refused the reward for protecting you all, whether it was from Galwark or Saint Stella kingdom. Doesn’t he want you to not be bound by any favors??
?… It’s not like I’m bound by it. Even without it, I want to stay with Haruto-san.?

Wanting to be with him.
Those were the words she was looking for.
On the other hand, Takahisa seemed broken by what he just heard.

?Is it because you love him??
?That has nothing to do with my decision…?

Miharu looked like she was about to tear up.

?Then why??
?Why…?

She didn’t know the answer herself.
The likelihood that Haruto was her childhood friend?
Or simply that she wanted to know about his past life?
That might have had something to do with it.

But Miharu probably would have wanted to stay with Haruto even if he wasn’t Amakawa Haruto.
That’s what she chose to do from the start.

?Maybe we’ll go back to Earth someday. You know what I mean, right? Don’t tell me you have no intention of returning. Isn’t there something you still want to do back there??
?I… I don’t know.?
?Eh??

He had been talking frantically, but Miharu’s muttering stopped Takahisa cold.

?I don’t know if I’ll go back or not. But I don’t care… I don’t even know what’s going to happen next, or in the future.?

Takahisa was left dumbfounded at her rejection, while Aki and Masato clearly didn’t want to be in the room anymore.

?… Nevertheless, we’re unable to turn the ship around. You should think about it until Satsuki-senpai comes to visit. We’ll talk again after that.?

After a long and tense pause, Takahisa mustered an end to the conversation. He stood from his seat and moved for the door.

?Takahisa-kun!?

Miharu’s voice echoed off the walls. Takahisa loosened for a moment, but shook off his hesitation as he grabbed the handle and left the room.

?Takahisa-sama.?

After leaving the salon, Liliana, along with her maid Fril and knight Hilda, followed after him.

?Lily…?

Liliana stared him straight in the face without a word, an awkward look in Takahisa’s eyes.

?Can you prepare rooms for three people when we get back to the kingdom??
?Of course.?
?Please do so, then. I want to be alone for a while.?

Takahisa hurried off, as if he was afraid someone would call him back.

??????

After having left Francois’ office and making a quick trip to her room, Satsuki waited for Rio in his.
She sat in her chair with her eyes closed, ignoring the maid in the room and quietly sipping from a cup of tea with a pensive look on her face.
She was wearing cloth armor styled like a dress, with basic white fabric and black embroidery.

?Satsuki-san, so you were here.?

When Rio called her name, he gave her an earnest smile.

?Welcome back. I’ve been waiting for you.?
?Yeah… I’m back.?

He had a short conversation with Satsuki before he went to speak with Francois.
Since then, the atmosphere had been pretty heavy.

?I’d like to go somewhere with you for a while. Is now fine??
?Sure, I don’t mind.?
?It’s decided then. Come with me.?

And so, Rio followed Satsuki back out of the room.

??????

Let’s rewind a bit.

After seeing off Takahisa at the castle gate, Rio invited Satsuki to his room to give her something.
Whereas Satsuki’s room was located in one of the castle spires, Rio’s room was closer to the ground and easier to reach.
The walls of the castle’s lower floors were extremely thick, so the window panels were quite small. A bit of sunlight could get in, but ultimately lighting was provided via magic tool.
Rio and Satsuki took seats across from each other in the living room.

?Let’s start right away. Could you tell me about the previous life you were talking about at the gate??

Without any beating around the bush, Rio nodded and got to explaining.

?My previous life was in Japan. My name was Amakawa Haruto.?
?Amakawa… Haruto? Isn’t that your name now??
?It’s not my real name in this world. My real name is Rio.?

Satsuki tilted her head.

?A bit… strange, for an alias. Why use the name of your last life??
?I’ll leave out the details, but I happen to have a lot of trouble in my past here. It’s a little inconvenient to be acting as Rio.?
?Inconvenient??
?… Yeah. It was a mess. There was a time I was caught up in some trouble with a certain country, so using my real name would be bound to cause problems.?

Rio was hiding as much as possible from her.

?I see… But you’ll end up meeting someone who knows your face, won’t you? Is that alright??
?Actually, over the last few years I was travelling to the Yagumo region in the east. I expect nobody would notice me at a glance. In fact, no one has yet.?

That said, there was a girl with pretty sharp intuition.

?That so… That’s fine, I suppose. Then, may I ask why you wanted to tell me about yourself??

Rio went over his story piece by piece.
The relationship between Amakawa Haruto and Ayase Miharu.
His relationship with Tendou Aki.
How he confessed to Miharu the night before based on all of that.
And Satsuki sat there listening intently.

?Then, did you enter the same school to look for Miharu? Does that mean you went to the same school as me??

She asked in a way that said she didn’t believe it, but Rio smiled wryly in response.

?Well, I didn’t know we were going to the same school at the time, but I’m essentially your junior.?
?Junior… You’re my…??

Satsuki fell silent for a moment while her brain tried to process the information.
Soon enough, though, she raised her head.

?… Wait a minute. That’s strange, isn’t it??
?You mean the chronological order??

On the contrary, Rio’s voice was completely calm.

?Mm. You died when you were a college student, right? Then you reincarnated here. So, the you now is…?
?I’m sixteen years old. I regained my memories when I was seven.?
?… What do you mean??
?Even I don’t fully understand it, but…?

Rio stopped abruptly.

?It’s nothing. We should get back to the main topic, right??
?Right… You said you confessed the love from your last life to Miharu-chan.?
?Yeah.?

He consented with a mature smile.

?… Is this alright? Are you really okay with this??
?Okay with what??
?Them leaving, of course! You love Miharu-chan, right? And Aki-chan should be your little sister, right??

Satsuki asked those questions, barely suppressing the urge to shout at him, but Rio replied calmly as before.

?Yes. That’s why I confessed. I thought it would be better to tell them everything.?
?Are you telling me that you’ll give up this easily? Do your feelings for her only weigh that much to you??
?I’d be lying if I said I won’t feel lonely, but I can’t do anything besides cheering her on with the person she loves. It’s the same for Aki-chan; I don’t think she wants to meet someone she hates so much.?

Rio answered, his smile strangely empty.

?The letter… Did you put it in your letter? The thing about your previous life.?
?Yes.?
?Then… Does their going to Saint Stella kingdom with Takahisa have something to do with them reading those letters??
?Yeah, maybe.?
?What did Miharu-chan and the kids tell you??
?That they never want to see me again.?

Satsuki’s face contorted when Rio said it lightheartedly, and shouted at the top of her lungs.

?THAT’S A LIE!?
?A lie??
?Yeah. Miharu-chan isn’t the kind of girl who’d ever say something like that.?
?You’re pretty confident about this, aren’t you??
?You don’t trust Miharu-chan??
?I do trust her. I don’t think Miharu-san reached that conclusion easily. Even I felt bad about doing it for my own sake.?
?… Can you cut it with the empty words, Haruto-kun??
?You’re not the first person to tell me that.?

Celia’s face came to the front of Rio’s mind.

?Let me ask you something: why didn’t you hand over the letters when you confessed??
?Everyone came out onto the balcony when I was about to.?
?Ah, I see… So it was our fault then. Sorry.?
?It’s not like Satsuki-san did anything wrong. I told Masato not to worry about us, but I was surprised everyone came after us faster than expected.?
?Right, Char-chan said she saw you two heading out to the balcony… and then Takahisa and Aki ran off after you.?
?I see.?

Rio visibly winced at recalling what happened.

?I get it now. Why you wanted to give them those letters as soon as possible. So you handed them off this morning??
?Yeah. Since Miharu-san wasn’t there, I entrusted them to Takahisa-san.?
?That so… You know you didn’t need to let yourself get dragged along by Char-chan, though.?
?I kind of did. A fledgling noble can’t refuse an invitation from royalty, you know? The gap in our standing is just too wide.?
?That’s true, but… Ugh, it sounds like a corporate slave having to go to business meetings…?

Maybe because she couldn’t stomach something in his words, Satsuki pursed her lips in irritation.
There was a time when her father had broken promises he made to make a meeting with his clients.
It’s not like she didn’t understand his reasoning now that she’d grown up, but they weren’t good memories.

?Wait a minute. If it’s Haruto-kun, you wouldn’t need to send the letters since you could sneak out in the middle of the night, right??
?That’s impossible, unfortunately. Your room is at the top of the spirethere’s no terrace in the lower floors for me to leave or enter through. If I went through the corridors, I’d be noticed by the palace guards since security was strengthened. And even with that, my actions in the castle are monitored, too.?

As for windows, those only existed in the lower floors for the sake of ventilation. They were too small for infiltration.

?Christ, then why don’t you just say it to her directly?!?
?… Wait, why are you so angry over this, Satsuki-san??
?Because I don’t understand Miharu-chan’s reaction! I get it, you don’t want to bother her, but Miharu isn’t the kind of girl that would just leave without saying anything! Wouldn’t it be better to talk to her face to face??

Satsuki spoke as if she was putting the blame on him.
And she was right. All of this would likely be cleared up if Rio just talked to them.
But Miharu aside, he worried if he’d lose the will to speak if Aki got emotional over it.
Even so, Satsuki knew it’d be better to say it to their faces.

?You’re right. That’s why I tried to say it when I confessed to Miharu-san…?

He sounded like he was mocking himself, eliciting a heaving sigh from his conversation partner.

?… And we interrupted you the moment you had the chance.?

His plan was to confess, give Miharu a brief explanation about his past life, then give her the letters.
But Takahisa and Aki barging onto the balcony cut him off in the middle.
Satsuki knew it wasn’t Rio’s fault.
For a brief moment, the only sound in the room was their breathing, and eventually Satsuki muttered something.

?So… I haven’t heard the most important thing yet.?
?What could that be??
?Why did you tell me about all this??
?I wished for you to not mention anything about me the next time you meet them.?

Satsuki was speechless for a minute.

?… What do you mean??
?If the topic turns to me around Miharu-san and the others, I want Satsuki-san to avoid mentioning me.?
?Why??
?I don’t want to make them feel bad.?
?That kind of…!?

She choked down the unpleasant words in her throat.
She nearly lost her breath looking at Rio’s pathetic grin, and realized she was getting too heated.
Satsuki took a second to catch herself.

?… Hey, you should know that Miharu-chan might love Takahisa-kun. Why did you tell her in spite of that??
?I feel like it’s better than saying nothing even if I already knew the outcome. That’s the kind of regret Amakawa Haruto lived and died with.?
?Then why didn’t you confess to her right after you reunited with her in this world??
?There’s a lot of reasons for that, but it just comes down to me being scared. Having to confront whether I was really Amakawa Haruto. And if it was true, whether or not there was any part of him that remained in me as I am now.?
?What are you talking about??
?I have no objective evidence that I’m Amakawa Haruto reborn. Was I really the kind of person my memories tell me I was? And how would I prove it??
?That’s…?

Satsuki couldn’t answer right away. Rio was answering so matter-of-factly that it was hard to refute.

?In the end, though, that’s all an excuse. To be honest, I was just a coward. Even if I really was Amakawa Haruto, the current me is a completely different person both physically and mentally. My morality and values now are vastly different from my previous life. I only decided to confess after I got the chance to talk with Satsuki-san.?
?Then… Are you tell me you can accept how everything ended??
?… Yeah.?

Rio shrugged his shoulders in surrender.

?Really??
?Even if I can’t, there’s nothing I can do about it.?
?… Sorry. But personally, I’m not satisfied with this.?
?Everyone has their own values. I think yours are fine just the way they are. But I want you to not question Miharu-san or the kids about this. Please.?

Rio bowed his head as he asked, but Satsuki ignored him and averted her eyes.

?And one other thing. Though, this is more like a proposal than a request.?
?… What is it??
?We should keep some distance between us from now on. We shouldn’t meet like this anymore.?
?W-w-wait, why??
?Because Haruto Amakawa is officially a member of the Galwark kingdom nobility. Don’t you think someone might try to use that against you if we get too close to each other??

Satsuki gasped, more that Rio said it so plainly than at the suggestion itself.

?Such a thing…?

But she couldn’t say it wouldn’t happen.
Rio was the only person Satsuki had grown close to among the Galwark nobles.
She had been spending the last few months keeping everyone at a safe distance.

?I don’t know what His Highness Francois is planning. So let’s not look like we’re too intimate, shall we??
?A little… Give me a bit of time to think about it.?

That was the best response she could give as Rio stood to leave.

?Alright. Though you should know I’m leaving the capital tomorrow.?
?Wait!?
?What’s wrong??
?One more question.?
?Okay.?

Rio took his seat once more.

?You’re trying to settle that matter of yours, right??
?Settle…??
?Your relationship with Miharu-chan and the kids. You’re not trying to make it seem like nothing, right??

His eyes opened wide at hearing that.

?… Yeah, you’re right.?

Though he answered, Satsuki didn’t miss the pause beforehand.

?You’re not giving up in despair and desperation either??
?Not in the least.?

So he answered again, more firmly this time.

?… Okay then. Thanks. Then I’ll see you later.?

??????

And now Rio was being led by Satsuki to the castle’s training area.
There were soldiers and knights training in the field, but several knights who looked like they had a high rank stopped to greet them.
Among them was Kyle, a knight and one of Rio’s acquaintances.

?Good day, Satsuki-sama, Haruto-dono. We’ve been waiting for you.?
?Sorry for such a sudden request. About the things I asked for?
?Already prepared. Please wait a moment.?

The knight responding followed along with Satsuki smoothly, the former a senior in his prime. Seemed like the two had matches before themselves.

?Oi!?
?Ha?

When the senior knight called, Kyle and another young knight were already off running.
They returned immediately, each carrying a wooden spear-type weapon called a glaive that was around two meters long.
One knight gave his to Satsuki, the other to Rio, and Satsuki led him out onto the field.
She didn’t give him an explanation, but with a training implement in hand he had a hunch.

?Let’s have a match, Haruto-kun.?

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