Chapter 14 – Falling Tears
The red-haired young man recalled those days while drinking alcohol he was not very good at. The blue-haired boy, Theodore, who was listening to this, was listening intently, unlike his usual elusive demeanor.
I found myself continuing my personal story in front of him. Such a story should not be told to others. It is nothing but a disgrace to the glorious Count Lermit family.
Even though he thought so, Keith couldn’t end the conversation.
“My father suddenly lost the power of the Holy Flame on the battlefield.”
“…… Hmm. Is there a reason for that?”
“I don’t know. Only one wielder of the Holy Flame was chosen from among the direct lineage of the Count Lermit family for generations. The blessing never left the body until the wielder dies….. Until now ”
It still unknown why this happened only to his father.
But at the time, his mother and Keith himself were more than happy to have their loved one back from the battlefield.
…… However, Count Lermit was lifeless in front of the family that greeted him.
He gave him an exasperated look and walked into the house without saying a word. He seemed to feel as if his mother and Keith himself were not there.
Recalling the warmth of a hand that once stroked his head, Keith was lonely when he was young.
It didn’t take much time after that for the fall of the Count Lermit to begin.
Not only had he lost the power of the Holy Flame, but the wounds he had sustained in battle were not healing well, and his father, as if to escape the humiliation, began to drink and abuse everyone he met.
The brunt of this soon fell on his mother and Keith himself.
“Not content with his rantings, he also gets drunk and hits things. It was probably due to the frustration of not having the strength to fight. It soon turned on the humans as well, and at first it was just a little carelessness. The old servant, whom my father had taken care of since he was a child, was also kicked to the ground and kicked in the leg over a trivial matter. The servant was forced to leave the mansion due to the injuries he sustained at the time….”
Keith let out a sigh and scratched his head.
When he thinks back to that time, he feels as if his heart is going to burst, but the words that follow are still leaking out on their own.
“I was already a prophet with divine blessings by then, so I didn’t care how many times he punched me or kicked me. It hurts, but the wounds heal quickly ……. However, my mother stood in front of my father to protect me, and desperately tried to quiet him down. I tried to speak. A mere woman with no power tried desperately to speak in order to protect me, who had no scars whatsoever – but ……”.
“Has your father started hitting your mother too?”
“Hn… Even though she was punched and kicked, even though her face was swollen and bleeding. My mother did not give up. She smiled at my father as she had done in the past. She spoke words of encouragement. Even though he was no longer strong and wounded, my father was a trained soldier. How much pain that must have caused him……I couldn’t even begin to imagine.”
“He lost his power and took out his uncontrollable anger on those around him. ……?”
Suddenly, Theodore’s tone of voice seemed to change slightly.
He looked at him and saw that he had his arms crossed and seemed to be deep in thought about something.
“But the words of encouragement may have had the opposite effect, now that I think about it. Whenever my father was violent with my mother or me, he would say things like, ‘You’re making fun of me,’ and ‘Don’t look at me like that. However, when he sobered up, his rage would subside and he would immediately turn into the lifeless expression he used to have and mutter, “You abandoned me”.
“You mean losing the power of the Holy Flame was the most humiliating thing of all?”
“That’s probably the biggest reason why things started the way they did. I noticed that the number of servants had dwindled, conversations between family members had almost disappeared, and the glamorous Lermit Family, which had been envied as the Count’s family, was in a state of ruin. I can’t stand to see that man – my father, the broad, muscular back I once admired is gone. ……”
The complex feelings he had for his father varied. He felt sympathy and pity for him. But at the same time, he felt angry.
His father’s actions, which seemed to stain the name of the proud Lermit Count family, brought the young Keith to the end of his patience
“I stopped my father’s hand from violating the servant again and asked him head-on. “What happened to the pride of the Count Lermit family? Where is the pride of the lineage that inherited the Holy Flame? Is kicking down those who have no power what the Count Lermit should do?”
“Then, what was going on?”
“He didn’t listen to me anymore. Before I could finish, I was already being beaten. I was punched so many times that I almost lost consciousness, and yet I was able to finish. I said it out loud – but my mother was covering for me again. I quickly pulled my mother off of me and tried to tell her it was okay, but that
My mother smiled at me and muttered, “It’s going to be okay,” and instead punched and kicked …… my father until he was exhausted, and even after the violence, she immediately ran to him and tried her best to comfort him. …”
“I finally realized how stupid I was. I finally understood that nothing I could say would make sense to my father now. So, in order to prevent my mother from being hurt any further, I stopped rebelling against his opinions, and all the servants tried not to provoke him. I thought that these dark days with no end in sight would be resolved in time.”
Keith found himself clutching a cup of malt liquor in his hand.
He almost feels nauseous just remembering the scene that follows.
At the same time, he stole a look at Theodore’s expression, wondering if it was safe to tell him what was going to happen, no matter how much of a peer he was.
He immediately noticed the look and nodded his head.
Keith thought it would be easier to tell him everything now, so he opened his mouth.
“One day, I happened to be unable to sleep in the middle of the night and went outside the house to enjoy the night breeze, when I heard a woman sobbing outside the door. I was surprised to heard it. I couldn’t even anticipate who would be crying in front of the mansion this late at night. Moreover, I heard a voice that seemed to comfort the woman. It belonged to the old head maid who had served mansion for a long time. I opened the door quietly so that the they wouldn’t notice me, and when I saw the woman crying on the floor, I was shocked as if my heart jumped.”
The one who was sobbing was his mother.
His mother, who had always had a gentle smile on her face and had acted stoutly even after being violated by his father, was sobbing. For the first time in his life, Keith heard his mother’s voice crying.
“My mother was a strong woman. She had never cried in front of me before. My mother sobbed …… and eventually burst into tears. My mother, who had managed to stand with the support of the head maid, cried like a little child, saying, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and ‘I can’t do it anymore. ……”
That morning, he had this conversation with hee mother.
“Mother, are you sure you’re okay? ……?”
“Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll be back to his old self in a little while. So, Keith, you don’t have to worry about anything. See? Besides, your mother is strong. I am the woman chosen by the Flame Emperor. I’m not going to lose by something like this.”
“Of course. Come on, Keith. It’s time for your lessons. You have a dance lesson today. You’re good at studying and practicing, but you’re not good at dancing. I remember that man is the same as you… fufu. I’m going to help you, so let’s make sure you learn it.”
A conversation that seems like an ordinary, everyday thing.
But that night, his mother finally reached her limit.
“I had assumed that even under the most extraordinary circumstances, as long as my mother was smiling, it would be fine. But …… my mother’s heart was already broken. She was just forcing herself to smile and support herself, she was already ……”
Tears welled up in the corners of Keith’s eyes as he recalled that memory.
As the legitimate son of Count Lermit, he must not show tears at any time. He thought he had made a strong resolution to do so.
The memories that he had managed to forget by daring not to remember. He was so stunned that he couldn’t even cry, and tears started to roll down his cheeks.
“I see. So that’s why you’re afraid to hurt women.”
“I hated my father, and I hated my own stupidity deeply,……, but the thing I hated the most.”
“A holy flame that took the blessing away from Count Lermit?”
Keith nodded, covering his face with one hand to keep the tears at bay. His lips quivered as he said.
“If the blessing of the Holy Flame hadn’t disappeared, my father would have survived the battlefield as the fine man he should has been. That’s what I thought, however….. even though I hate the Holy Flame, I still seek the power of the Holy Flame. The blessing that will once again give light to the Count Lermit’s family is in my hands. …… I’ve decided that I’m definitely going to keep receiving blessings until I die.”
“But I don’t sense the power of the Holy Flame in you now.”
What was said so simply became a sharp arrowhead that cut into Keith’s heart. But it was also something he had been prepared for.
“Oh. I still don’t have the blessing of the Holy Fire. ……”
“Isn’t it because your father is still alive?”
“No. My father is dead.”
“Hmm? What’s going on?”
“My …… mother … my father…”
He couldn’t continue the words.
He tried to sort out his completely muddled mind, but it didn’t work.
He couldn’t help but feel frustrated again that he was looking so pathetic.
Why did the Holy Flame abandon his father?
Why did it have to happen like that?
No matter how much he thinks about it, he will never know the answer to his question.
He was stuck in a swamp of thoughts that he had thought about so many times before, and he couldn’t do anything but shed tears pathetically.
He wondered how much time had passed – when the raging emotions had calmed down a bit, the man in front nof him said.
“I don’t understand.”
He look up at the unexpected words thrown at him. The blue-haired boy had no expression on his face. He felt a little frightened by his face, as if he couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“Your own mother was hurt, and you finally lost your patience. That’s what caused your trauma, isn’t it?”
“…… Oh, yeah.”
“I can’t stand to see someone I love get hurt either. I understand that, but how can those feelings be directed at other women? Like Roka and Shaula, we have only known them for a short time. Eve ln the other girls are just strangers.”
“That’s true, but ……
“These girls are special students, and if you hit them hard enough, it won’t hurt much. On the contrary, if you’re not serious, you’ll lose. Especially when it comes to Roka, it’s hard to think of a way for you to win at this point.”
“What do you mean….?
“Your mother was a normal person. But they are different. Either they have special powers as prophets, or they are strangers. Why would you equate them with your blood mother?”
At this point, Keith was starting to lose track of the boy in front of him.
He was prepared to be ridiculed. This was an ugly story about the Count Lermit family, which was once known as a famous family. In fact, in the Lermit Count’s domain, there is still no end to the slander against the Count family that lost the Holy Flame.
But it’s different. Theodore does not have any verses that despise Keith.
He’s just genuinely “I’m not understand,” as he said. The blue-haired boy gave off such a vibe.
He doesn’t feel sorry for him, nor do he mocks him. It was as if he just has the strange impression that he didn’t fully understand the mind of the human being. Keith wondered if he had been mistaken in his drunkenness.
When he thought about it.
“You once said you wanted to be Grand Marshal. Do you still feel the same way?”
“…… Oh. That’s not going to change.”
“Then I guess it’s too much to ask. If you don’t have the power of the holy flame, and you hesitate to attack a woman who is at least as powerful as you, it’s no use.”
“I know that ……, but I want to ask you the opposite.”
“What is it?”
“You have no mercy for the opposite sex, including Roka. Normally ordinary people would be hesitant. In fact, many of the men at the military academy are hesitant to take on a woman at first.”
Theodore tilted his head.
“Warfare …… No, where is the need to worry about gender, even in practical exercises? The other party is in an adversarial relationship with you. What mercy should I have? What’s the point? I don’t care if you’re planning to capture me alive and handcuff me or take me prisoner.”
“What are you talking about, ……?
“What I’m trying to say is this. Appearances can be deceiving.”
“What I’m saying will eventually lead to that, and on the battlefield, women, as well as children, can be soldiers. Enemies should be mercilessly manhandled and killed as soon as possible.”
“It’s unethical. ……!”
“Do you want to die because of ethics?”
Theodore’s tone of voice changed as if he had become a different person. When he was puzzled and did not understand, he continued.
“What is the role of the Grand Marshal? Let me hear it.”
“It is your duty to …… confront the enemy and defend your country.”
“It’s no different than being a regular soldier, but that’s okay. Let’s think about it from your current position. Keith, you have people behind you that you need to protect. …… It can be anything, your mother, your girlfriend, or even an unnamed citizen of your country. And in front of me, there is a pretty girl from another country. She has a sword in her hand. She stands before you as your enemy. The objective is simple and clear. To fight your enemy. If you don’t fight, the people behind you will die. Now what?”
He is usually somewhat aloof, but has a gentle disposition. The red-haired young man was pressured by the boy’s cold question, but he answered.
“I’m going to fight, of course.”
“Let’s make some assumptions. The opponent is as strong as you. You can’t take her alive. The only way to stop the girl is to kill her. Now, what do you think? A man who is aiming to become a grand marshal can’t even defeat a single woman in front of him, and he’ll leave the people he has to protect to die?”
“No! I would never do such a thing! If I had to…. I would kill!”
His eyes meet the blue-haired boy’s.
For a moment, he thought he saw red in those green jade eyes. The boy talks while resting his cheek on the table.
“You can’t even kill without being cornered to that extent? If you’re in that situation, you may already have a pile of dead bodies of your own people lying nearby.”
“That means you can’t kill your enemy, whether it’s a man or a woman.”
“I know. …… I know.”
“I cannot fully understand your feelings, but I do know that the feelings that are nesting inside you will not be healed soon. And at this rate, you will not live long enough to stand on the battlefield. If you survive six months, it will be a great achievement.”
A man who looks like something completely different from the usual boy tells him.
“It is necessary for those who stand at the top of all beings to put aside their personal feelings, to take the flesh and blood of enemy soldiers into their bodies, and sometimes to stand on the battlefield without the sacrifice of their allies. If you are aiming to become a Grand Marshal, you must keep that in mind and do everything you can to protect those you really need to protect.”
“You may not be ready yet, but you will be strong. Your mind will come with it. I’m not saying you have to leave the past behind, but you have to get over it. Keith, I’m counting on you.”
The blue-haired boy said arrogantly and left his seat. He hurriedly tried to follow him but he kept sat down in his chair, unable to find strength in his legs.
“Hey, Theodore ……, are you really Theodore?”
“What’s wrong with you all of a sudden? I’m me. I think you had a little too much to drink.”
The blue-haired boy laughed when he couldn’t say anything else because of how much he had changed.
“You should get some sleep. I’ll pay for the drinks.”
Just when he thought the boy’s eyes were glowing red again, he thought he was completely awake. The drunkenness that he had been feeling went through his whole body again, quickly taking over his consciousness that had been confused by past memories and sorting out the events in front of him.
Keith couldn’t stand the feeling of weakness in his whole body and plopped down on the desk, falling asleep within seconds.
A few hours later, the owner of the tavern knocks him out.
When he looked around, he saw that there was no one left but himself.
With a slight headache, Keith wobbled his way back to his dormitory at the military school after being told that he had already paid.
When he reached my room, he tried to figure out what had happened, but a muddy, sticky sleepiness overcame me and he fell asleep again.