Although Harold had immediately agreed to Cody’s invitation, when thinking normally, it wasn’t something that could arbitrarily be decided by a child. Maybe due to feeling curious about it, Itsuki incessantly asked Harold about how he would convince his parents, after Cody left. But as for Harold, he didn’t think that it would become a huge obstacle.
Harold’s parents were the type of people who were obsessed with appearance and titles. And entering the Saint King’s chivalric order was considered to be an extremely honorable matter.
Since the chivalric order was a force different from the county’s military, an elite troop directly under the control of the King. There was also the past that his father, Hayden, was aiming to join it when he was young.
If those parents’ beloved son was to be scouted by the chivalric order that was an elite troop, then what would happen was as clear as day.
Harold, who had obtained the Cody’s contact address, as though he had no more business with this city, left Delfit the next day.
Without even stopping by the Sumeragi territory along the way, Harold, who had returned to the Stokes mansion after a journey of 2 weeks, immediately reported to his parents.
「What is it, wanting to speak formally?」
「There’s something I needed to inform father and mother about. While I was staying in Delfit, I was scouted by a person from the Saint King’s chivalric order」
「What! Is that true!?」
「Yes. If I wanted to, it would be immediate, it seems. I’ll be the youngest person in history to enter」
「I want to enter the chivalric order. Is that fine?」
As he had predicted, their reactions after listening to him were superb. Especially Hayden’s delight, it didn’t seem to be ordinary. The dream that he couldn’t achieve in the past has been accomplished by his son, was what he might have been thinking.
When he had gone to watch Delfit’s fighting tournament together with Erika, they had encountered rioters who were making an uproar, and when he splendidly suppressed them, he was scouted- when he spouted out some convenient story like that, they didn’t even doubt him at all. On the contrary, saying, 「A banquet!」, they immediately started preparing for a celebration. Although they understood, it seemed as though they had no intention to stop him.
(Even the chivalric order leaves for danger zones though. Even if for argument’s sake, what will they do if their eldest son were to die?)
While looking at his ecstatic parents, he was thinking of such things. Well, since he had had the intention to join the chivalric order even when he knew that it would be dangerous, not being allowed to join it would be troublesome. And also, even Hayden was a militaristic man, so he must have understood about those matters.
And so, Harold, who had promptly received his parents’ acknowledgment, went around the mansion, which was in a flurry for preparing for the abruptly held banquet, as though it had nothing to do with him, and called Norman and Jake, and while at it, even Zen to his room. Harold informed the 3 of them.
「I’m going to the imperial capital to become a member of the Saint King’s chivalric order. Although the Sumeragi hold the initiative for LP farming, even if there’s no movement, periodically inform me about the situation here」
「If it’s the imperial capital, it’s quite distant」
「It isn’t a distance that can be covered by fast horses, and if we want to get in contact regularly, it’ll be limited to using letters」
「In that case, it’ll take a bit of time」
「Not a problem. In the case where you have to notify me immediately at any cost, cooperate with the Sumeragi. I’ll inform them beforehand」
To grasp the movements of the Stokes house even when he’s absent, he arranged a way to communicate beforehand. It was for the sake of responding as fast as possible when the situation changed if by chance any indications of turbulent movements were to appear.
But there was a person who interrupted them.
「P, please wait for a moment! Harold-sama, you’re entering the chivalric order?」
「That’s what I said. Are your ears there for decoration?」
「No, no, no, even Norman-san and Jake-san simply just let it go, you know! Isn’t it a normally outrageous matter!?」
Zen was quite agitated. A normally outrageous matter- leaving aside whether it was grammatically correct or not, he understood what Zen was trying to say. But since it was troublesome, Harold decided to ignore him.
「That’s all. Immediately return to your work」
Norman and Jake bowed and left the room, and even Zen, who seemed as though he still wanted to ask him something, left with them. When he was alone in the room, Harold exhaled slowly. It could be taken as breathing deeply or as sighing.
The emotions put into it, whether they were the feelings of loneliness due to leaving the house that he had gotten familiar to or whether they were the feelings of liberation being able to escape from his parents eyes, Harold himself was unsure which it was.
That was the amount of time since he had come to this world without even understanding the reason. And within that, he had spent the most amount of time in this mansion, inside this room.
It wasn’t as though he felt nothing when he was going away from that.
Nonetheless, entering the chivalric order was a predetermined route for the sake of following the original work. It was just that the schedule had accelerated up a bit.
Harold, who had promptly made a decision to stop his heart from wavering, with the polite speech and ingratiating smile that activated only in front of his parents, suitably spent his time at the grand banquet which was held the next day to celebrate his joining the chivalric order. Not even waiting for a month after he had been scouted, Harold quickly departed from the mansion.
Holding the reins in a completely familiar manner, he rode on a horse for a few hours. For the sake of meeting up with Cody, he reached the toll booth set up in the middle of the specified highway.
Even though it was called a toll booth, it was an establishment not for collecting tax or goods, but for checking whether there were any suspicious people or people who were trying to carry in dangerous or prohibited goods. A stone wall had been erected as though to blockade the highway, and one couldn’t move further if one didn’t pass through it.
Harold, who was equipped lightly, was able to easily enter the toll booth after clearing a light luggage search. It was quite lively since simple tents to rest one’s body were set up and merchants on their journey had, while taking a break, opened up compact stalls.
Finding a group that were donning white armor in one corner, Harold got down from the horse and went towards them while walking. After he got closer by a certain extent, the other side also noticed Harold’s existence, and while waving his hands, Cody raised his voice saying, 「Oooi!」. Due to that, the group’s gaze concentrated on Harold.
「Well, well, Harold-kun. We met again much faster than I expected」
「I didn’t come here to meet you. More than that, don’t break your promise to let me enter the chivalric order, alright?」
「I’m telling you, it’s fine」
There was no reaction even though he tried pushing him. Honestly, he was still doubting whether him being scouted was really true or not. Harold knowing Cody’s personality made it even more harder for him to erase those thoughts. Well, since although he might deceive but not outright lie, the possibility of scouting him itself being a lie was low.
「Say, no way Captain was talking about this kid, right?」
As though wedging into the conversation, standing next to Cody, a girl wearing the same white armor as him observed Harold as though she was appraising him.
「Hm? That’s right」
「You’re joking right? Isn’t he still a kid?」
Although, the one saying that had an appearance of a 17 to 18 year old girl. Although what the girl was saying was right since in this world, if one became 16 they, would be treated as an adult, from the senses that Harold had, the girl too was still a child. Instead, it was obvious for him to feel that he was the adult since his mental age was more than 20 years.
「Ha, then are you a miserable small fry even lower than a kid?」
That’s why, unintentionally, these words suddenly came out.
「Wh, what did you say!?」
The girl, who didn’t think that he would retort back like that so clearly, took a step backwards due to being bewildered. And there, the girl’s back bumped against something. When the girl turned back due to realizing who that was, as though substituting herself, he was pushed into Harold’s field of vision.
Huge. The first thing Harold thought was that. And next, he realized that that frightening face looked somewhat fiendish at a glance. Being exposed to that stare, it’s intensity was enough to make one submit unconditionally. While being frightened enough to almost let out some weird voice, he probed the mood of the man who seemed like he wanted to say something.
「Do you also have a problem with me? In that case, I’ll make you understand with your body together with that girl」
Naturally, his inner state of being frightened wasn’t shown outside. But at that, every single person except Cody appeared as though they were surprised. The man with the scary face asked Harold, who was worried thinking,’Maybe they drew back because my mouth was too sharp?’
「Y, you………aren’t you afraid of me?」
「I don’t understand what there is to be afraid of you. After all, even if we fought, I would be the one to win」
Harold’s mouth, without minding his true feelings at all, easily disregarded the man’s question. There had been no talk about winning or losing and this man was also from the chivalric order. Since he had enough strength to join it, it wouldn’t be just for mere show. He wanted to restrain using aggressive words as much as possible towards a person who would become his colleague. Well, Harold himself knew that he couldn’t expect this mouth to give consideration towards matters like that.
「You people, Harold-kun has only been invited and he still hasn’t officially become a member of the chivalric order, alright? To start with, how about at least introducing yourselves?」
「S, sorry about that. I’m called Robinson」
「I’m Shido! I welcome you, Harold!」
The man with the tall stature and frightening face was Robinson, the harsh girl next to him was Aileen and the man with orange hair that could be associated with a lion’s mane was Shido, was how they introduced themselves. And hearing their names, Harold’s body stiffened.
(Aren’t these guys also characters who will die!)
That was the reason. Cody quitting the chivalric order, in other words, his motive for founding Friel. The cause was because he let Robinson and the others, who were his direct subordinates, die in a certain battle.
In the original work, behind Cody’s easy-going attitude, he blamed his powerlessness in his heart, and was always worrying whether him turning back on the chivalric order had been the right choice.
Although in the final stages of the game, that kind of hesitation and inner conflicts could be resolved, the problem was that if things went in the same way as the original work, then Robinson and the others would die. A detailed explanation regarding their death hadn’t been shown in the narrative. In one of the scenes in the game, Cody would speak out their names while gazing at the moon, or Cody’s past becoming clear after he loses subordinates in an event, only these kinds of fragmented information was shown. Naturally, there was no way something like their character settings existed, and even concerning their visual appearance, he had only seen them now.
Even if he wanted to save them, because the information was almost nonexistent, he couldn’t come up with any plans. The only thing that he knew was in which battle they had participated and lost their lives. And more than anything else, if by chance they survived, it would mean even more derailment of the original work. This was because if Robinson and the others were saved, the probability was exceedingly high that the story of Cody quitting the chivalric order and founding Friel was going to be destroyed.
If that were to happen, the events that could originally be cleared by borrowing Friel’s power wouldn’t be possible. In the worst case, it would be checkmate.
In other words, Harold was compelled to make a choice. Would he give priority to his survival rate and let them die without helping them. Or would he become resolved for the destruction of the original work by evading the future that awaited Robinson and the others.
Even if it was uncertain, exactly because he knew the future of this world, he understood that his choice was literally to either kill himself or kill others. Even while knowing, but still he had to choose.
Harold keenly realized that this might be the fate, which seemed similar to a curse from which he could escape by no means, that was determined upon him the moment he decided to live as Harold Stokes.