In the early afternoon, I headed for General Duras’s mansion.
The mansion near the square was certainly not as small as he himself claimed it was.
It’s more impressive than a normal house, but it’s hard to believe that this is a duke’s house.
When I was standing in front of the gate of the mansion, someone came running at me with great speed.
“Big brother Theo!”
“Charlotte. ……! You scared the hell out of me.”
I was surprised to see a girl who appeared as if she was going to crash into the gate with a gash.
“Help me! I’m going to be killed by demon!”
I looked around, but there was no sign of it. The moment I thought that.
The innocent girl screamed as she was met with a cold stare.
Before I knew it, a maid woman appeared behind the blue-haired girl and grabbed her firmly by both shoulders.
With her black hair braided and hanging down from her shoulders, the woman looked both like a girl and a grown woman.
“I’m not a demon, but…”
I wondered if this was due to the unique atmosphere she emanated.
There was no sense of anger or dismay in her quiet tone. It was just flat.
From her appearance, I don’t feel that she is simply a young maid who is being pushed around by a selfish young lady.
“My Lady Charlotte. It’s time to visit your mom’s grave.”
“No! Big brother Theo is here! He’s going to train me in swordsmanship!”
There is no emotion in the words.
Then the maid looks at me for a moment.
…… Aha. So that’s. I have a vague idea of what the atmosphere she wears is.
As expected from a maid in General Duras’ mansion. To such a woman, I said.
“I’ve been invited to General Duras’ mansion this afternoon, can I come in ……?”
“Of course. Master is in the back, please.”
Even though the murderous girl snarled while fluttering her body, the maid lady was just holding her down.
A normal woman would have been blown away by that girl’s monstrous strength in a matter of seconds.
“Could you do something about that little rabid dog first?”
“I’m sorry to show you something so unpleasant. Now let’s go, Lady Charlotte.”
“I want practice with big brother Theo!”
“You’ll do it another time. You’re visiting your mother’s grave today, right? I think you should make that your priority.”
The girl’s mood, which had been that of innocence itself, suddenly changed.
The expression on her face, which had been changing from time to time, suddenly stopped.
“…… Where is Mother?”
“You should have understood that.”
“She’s dead, right? She’s nowhere to be found. What’s the point of visiting a grave? It’s just bones buried in the ground. No matter how much I talk to her, she doesn’t answer or smile. That thing is just a shell.”
I knew from General Duras’ words that his wife had died, but this could be something with deep roots.
“My Lady Charlotte. It is said that the body may decay, but the soul remains, and the reason why the dead sometimes become the undead is because of the state of the soul. There are those who died in battle out of regret, and those who died with a grudge. It is these unresolved feelings that turn the dead into the undead.”
“So my mother didn’t have any regrets or grudges? She was killed in such a horrible way.”
“I can’t completely guess how she felt at the time. However, I do believe that it would have been better for her than become undead and continue to wander through eternity in pain. That alone would have been a relief.”
In response to these unemotional words, Charlotte suppressed her own shoulders.
She shook off the maid’s arm and turned to the maid and shouted.
“So my mother didn’t feel anything? She didn’t feel anything when she die leaving me and father? Mother not that kind of person, Elsa! Don’t speak arbitrary when you even don’t know anything about her!!”
In a fit of anger, the girl snatched the key bundle from the maid, opened the gate and ran straight away.
The abandoned maid stares at the girl. However, her face was covered with a blank expression.
General Duras is also a man who never loses his expression, but she is different from him. I wonder who this woman is.
“My apologies, Mr. Theodore.”
“I don’t mind. It seems that there were various circumstances. Are you sure you don’t want me to go after her?”
“Lady Charlotte, despite her words, is always concerned about her mother. I’m sure she’ll go to the grave once she’s out of the house and her uncontrollable anger has subsided.”
…She looks sensitive to the subtleties of the human mind.
Or was this just another rule of thumb? There wasn’t that much emotion in her words.
“I apologize for the delay in introducing myself. My name is Elsa, and I serve the Duke of Duras here.”
“I see. Nice to meet you. …… By the way, is Elsa an ex-military woman?”
“I’m glad you recognize me.”
Her emotionless words and actions, and the icy look in her eyes. In fact, she was very familiar with people with this impression.
“I thought it might be something like that. Well, I come in.”
“Yes, sir. I have to go out as Miss Charlotte’s chaperone, so I can’t offer much in the way of hospitality, but please bear with me.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything like that, so it doesn’t matter. Take care of Charlotte for me, Elsa.”
After telling her this, she bowed deeply and walked in the direction Charlotte had run off in.
After staring at it for a while, I spoke to her in the back.
“That Elsa woman looked a lot like the ‘old you’, Rena.”
When I said this to her in a pleasant mood, she seemed confused from the empty space.
I heard a voice say.
“Oh, really ……? But I don’t think I’m that bad those days.”
“Well, I feel like you were a little more emotional, but her eyes were also those of someone who lost “something important”. She is trying to forget it by spending all her time fighting. It’s just like the old you.”
“Oh, ……, was I ever that unsociable?”
“That’s what I felt when I first met you. But now you’re my beloved wife. Don’t worry.”
“Lu, Lucifer-sama! You can’t talk like this in public. ……”
I seem to have forgotten that I’m talking to her like this because no one is looking or listening.
Laughing softly, I said – back to my normal human tone.
“Well, we’ll talk about that later. For now, we have to meet the Great Hero.”
“Ho, are you sure it’s okay for me to accompany Lucifer-sama?”
“No problem. Follow me.”
No wonder Rena was confused.
I’ll reassure her like this for now. Maybe by the time I’m done talking to General Duras, her pride will be in rags.
I wonder how I will comfort her later. In the end, I entered the grounds of the Duke of Duras’ house, thinking more about how I should treat my beloved wife than about my conversation with the great hero.
“I’m glad you come.”
“Thank you for the invitation. I am honored, Great Hero.”
The young general, who was standing at the entrance of the mansion, said with his expression intact.
“I’m not worthy of being called a great hero.”
“The trump card that brought the war with the Zenan Dragon Kingdom to a ceasefire shouldn’t be talking like that.”
“Those who participated in the war and those who were involved in it. All of them gave their all for the sake of those they were supposed to protect. Some survived, some died a regrettable death. …… There were many different endings, but the ones who should be truly celebrated are not me, but them. All of them. They are heroes in equal measure, and I am nothing more than an ordinary man aided by strength and a little luck.”
“You shouldn’t be so self-deprecating, Great Hero. Without your help, the battle might have become even more bogged down.”
“It is natural for the powerful to fight. Nothing more, nothing less.”
The sorrowful blonde general said after shaking his head as if to pull himself back from the consciousness that was almost dragging him into the past.
“I’m sorry. This is not the kind of conversation you want to have at the door. Our maid has prepared some tea cakes for you. Let’s discuss it in the guest room first.”
“Yes, sir. …… And yet, I don’t think I can see any of the other servants?”
“The maid you have just seen, Elsa, is in this house.
He’s my only servant.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t look like a duke. It looks suspiciously like you may or may not have a title.”
“I can’t deny it. Our family’s financial situation is not good. I’m sure you can tell that just by looking at the interior of this house.”
Indeed, as General Duras said, the inside of the mansion is simple.
The floor is carpeted and the ceiling is decorated with chandeliers, but it’s far from opulent.
A merchant’s mansion would probably be more luxurious.
With this in mind, I was ushered into the guest room.
We sat on the sofa across the table from each other, sipping tea and a few tea cakes while talking about nothing.
During this time, General Duras did not appear to be distracted by anything in particular.
He stared at me while we talked, and only drank enough tea to wet his lips. In the middle of our conversation, I suddenly thought of something and said.
“By the way, for a duke, why do you live so frugally?”
“My family, the Duke of Duras, have made large donations for generations. I wanted to help the churches and orphanages inside the Empire, to help them make a living, even if only a little. The family motto of the Duke of Duras is ‘the rich should give to the poor,’ and I have inherited it.”
“Though, this is a bit much, don’t you think?”
“So they say. But my wife agrees with me. I keep a minimum amount of money in reserve, but continue to donate the rest. In particular, recently I have been providing support to those who sacrificed their lives in the war against the Zenan Dragon Kingdom. Even though I’m a duke, there’s not much I can do as a mere nobleman, but if I can help in any way, I couldn’t be happier.”
There are self-interested aristocrats in every age and every country, but he seemed to have nothing to do with such things.
In fact, it even feels like he is putting others before himself.
“I understand, General Duras, that there is no one more qualified to be called a great hero than you. In my eyes, that is.”
“…… I’m sure the people of this land trust me. But I’m the kind of guy who can’t even take care of his own family. How can I say that I am a great hero?”
“Is this about Charlotte?”
“Oh. I couldn’t do anything for her as a father. Not only at the time of the war, but even now.”
“Her inner madness is out of control. It’s not something that’s easy to fix. From my point of view, it seems to be completely ‘too late’.”
There is a monster lurking within the innocent mind. The reason for this is probably closely related to her mother’s death.
“Too late, you say. You may be right. No matter what I say to her, she can’t understand me. There’s nothing I can do.”
“Not just with Charlotte, but lately with Clarice, too.
I guess that’s how it is.”
“Yes. I’ve been called a great hero, but I can’t even support the hearts of those close to me. I am only ashamed of my inadequacy.”
The people’s trust in him as a great hero would be great.
Everyone may have fallen in love with his heroic story, and he may have given courage to children who are not yet old enough to know.
But he is not as good at dealing with those who are much closer to them than they are.
Since I came to this city, I have seen the suffering and struggles of many different people.
Among them, the problems he faces are not something that can be managed by force. As a demon king who has all of his family members under his control by “force alone,”. I can’t really feel it, but it seems that human beings are not so simple.
Eventually, as I finished my tea and snacks, General Duras changed the subject without changing his expression.
“–Now, I have heard about your actions and activities from Lieutenant General Lambert. Your ability to compare past and present incidents and successfully lead to a solution. That is truly impressive.”
“Principal Ludio too exaggerated me.I don’t think I’ve done anything that big.”
“Without you, I can’t even imagine what the Empire would be like now. Where did you get the strength to stand up to anything?”
“Nothing. I was just doing what I thought was fun. I was bored out of my mind at the time, and then I literally saw that story. I found myself unconsciously absorbed in it, and again, I found myself helping to solve the problem. That’s about it. As General Duras would say, “and I am nothing more than an ordinary man aided by strength and a little luck.”.”
“Fun, huh? I don’t really understand it, but I think there is such a way of thinking. So, I ask you, are you enjoying it now?”
General Duras’ sharp gaze shot through me.
“Do you mean about my conversation with the Great Hero in front of me?”
“I don’t have anything interesting to say.”
“I guess so, it’s not interesting. I’m not really interested in other people’s problems, though I do listen to them quietly because it’s important to know who they are.”
“So what are you most interested in right now?”
“How do I get General Duras’ head off?”
Even though he said it without a pause, the big hero’s expression did not change.
“You’re a scary man.”
“Me? What a joke. I think General Duras is stronger than me.”
I looked over at the divine sword he had propped up on the couch.
I don’t feel much divinity. But I guess that’s because it’s in its sheath.
If that sword was truly created by the Great Goddess of Creation, it would overflow with tremendous divine energy just by pulling it out of its sheath. I wanted to see that moment.
“Well, I don’t do what I can’t do, so don’t be alarmed. I don’t think I can chop off your head even in your sleep.”
“Then what else are you interested in……?”
“The recent attacks on temples in the vicinity of the Citadel ……, and then the [Goddess].”
I mutter to myself as if I were looking for his reaction. He is a man who never really changes his expression. It is difficult to gauge his true intentions.
“Then it’s time to talk. The former incident, in particular, is the most alarming one right now. Lieutenant General Lambert had also made a testimony about it. I would like you to listen to what he said.”
“I’d say that’s a good thing. Let me know.”
“Let’s change places, come to my office on the second floor.”
I did as General Duras asked and followed behind him. Then he opened the office and went inside.
He sat down in front of his office desk and asked me a single question without sitting down.
“Theodore. I told you that I wanted you to visit me alone.”
“Yeah, I remember, so?”
When I dared to shrug my shoulders, General Duras glared at me with a piercing gaze and said.
“Then who is the silver-haired woman who serves behind you?”
I guess we finally got to the point of the subject.
Let me measure this man’s true value with this. I naturally raised the corners of my mouth.